§ucaba - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

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797 Reviews
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Reviews: 797
Hads: 4,430
rAvg: 4.44
pDev: 3.38%
Wants: 1,235
Gots: 2,605 | FT: 258
Brewed by:
Firestone Walker Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
English Barleywine |  12.50% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: SacoDeToro on 02-21-2008

2011 Reserve Series Bottle Notes:
O.G. 27 Plato
F.G. 4.7 Plato
I.B.U. 42 units
Yeast: British Ale (House)
Cases: 1500 produced
Color: 36SRM (Dark Ruby)

2014 Bottle Notes
O.G. 27 Plato
F.G. 4.7 Plato
I.B.U. 42 units
Yeast: British Ale (House)
Cases: 3500 produced
Color: 36SRM (Dark Ruby)

Matured for 1 year in a blend of Heaven Hill, 4 Roses, and Old Fitzgerald barrels.
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Reviews: 797 | Hads: 4,430
Photo of Clints1991
5/5  rDev +12.6%

I'm not much of a barley wine drinker. Sucaba definitely makes an exception. It has a strong nose on it, pour a nice dark color. Has a a strong flavor profile and still goes down smooth. It pours a dark color with a tan head that doesn't last long. It has aromas or fruits, malts, sweetness and alcohol of course. It has strong notes of spices, dates, figs, caramel, wood-aged. It is strong but is very smooth on the palate. This is my first one, 2014 edition and will be buying more of these in the future!! (508 characters)

Photo of GarthDanielson
4.5/5  rDev +1.4%

2013 Vintage. Poured into a snifter, the beer is a dark, cloudy, opaque, caramel-toffee coloring with a sparse coating of light tan head that recedes into a halo. Nose of rich caramel, molasses, apples, toffee, booze, roasted nuts, date and fig, wood spice, and earthy notes. Some highlights of raw honey and sugar candy, too. Wow! Flavors of rich sweetness, layered indefinitely, with notes of caramel, honey, toffee, sugar candy, roasted notes, butterscotch, booze, and earthy highlights. Quickly warming in mouth, with a dose of hops bitterness to keep some semblance of balance. Heavy and big. The body is robust and smooth, with an underlying dryness. The aftertaste is almost like candy, with a heavy dose of old world fruit and booze. Tangy and richly sweet linger on a smooth, drawn out finish. Very solid brew. (822 characters)

Photo of minterro
4.38/5  rDev -1.4%

500th rating!!!! Pretty exciting day. Been off BA for the past week or so because of visiting friends and try decided what I would rate. I picked this beer because I wanted to do something special and this one the only beer I was aging that I felt would be both great and good to go (aging wise) for today (maybe not perfect but close enough). Poured into a snifter and paired with almonds, water, and a movie with occasional breaks to think and rate.

A&S: Woody, vanilla, lots of dark fruits (raisins) as it warms. Surprisingly as it warms I get more of a hoppy presence than before. Quite complex. Head is initially very fizzy causing me to think the head was going to die fast, however it does hang around in a thin top layer. Light brown colored head. Bottle nails the color as dark ruby. Pretty lively carbonation.

T&M: Not nearly as in my face as I expected in the taste. A little boozy, it has a very solid malty, dark fruit mix. I’m tasting more cherries than raisins in the taste. Very smooth even without being super thick as far as body.

Overall: Not my favorite English Barleywine, but it was up there. Felt it could be a tad bit more sweet and intense in favor, but the aroma was spot on. I would be interested to see how more aging would affect this beer, but honestly, since it was more mellow than I expected, now was probably a better time to drink it. One of the few big ABV over 12oz bottles I would recommend not sharing. This beer has a extremely long development time, unless you drink it super slow you miss out on more than the usual brew. (1,571 characters)

Photo of mlhyatt
4.7/5  rDev +5.9%

2014, bomber poured into tulip glass

A-pours a rich dark black that fills the glass like oil. Small off white head that dissipates very quickly into an outer lace.

S- tons of bourbon, rich, malty, sweet and hot. Some dark fruit . Overall it is a very sweet hot smell.

T- bourbon first, then a blend of sugar and vanilla. There's a sweet taste of berries but I can't pick up on which one. There also might be some cherries in there.

M- full bodied, thick, hot and creamy!

O-one of my top barleywines. It rivals king henry and bcbbw in my opinion. The heat keeps it from being perfect but I will definitely seek these out in the future. (642 characters)

Photo of Phenom
4/5  rDev -9.9%

Not quite bitter enough. The mouthfeel is a little too medicinal. Too much vanilla, presumably from barrel aging, for the style. Good but slightly off. (155 characters)

Photo of seedyone
4.32/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

04/16/14 On tap at Rattle n Hum, NYC.

As I set about the task of trying to capture all that's going on in my mouth/nasal area, I'm struck by how this drink actually is not refreshing. Perhaps it's the cloying.

In the world of port wines, I find their sweet-yet-astringent taste has a mildly refreshing aspect due to a dry finish.

I guess the problem is that I'm drinking this taste marvel with out the benefit of counterpoint. It's extremely smooth. Deceptively so. The 13% ABV is not so much masked as assimilated into the whole.

The oak & bourbon are in the front row all dressed in a rich vanilla, with a slightly less chocolate aroma that manifests very subtly.

My problem here is trying to decide what accompaniments will help & which will hamper.

The rarity doesn't help the prospects of finding a solution but I refuse to be deterred.

I'll just have to have another.

BARKEEP... (899 characters)

Photo of hail_seitan
4.76/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Poured from 22 oz. bottle into tulip glass

A - Warm ruby body with a foamy latte-colored head. As the head settled down, a nice lacing of foam lingered on the sides of the glass.

S - Very rich and tantalizing - caramel, vanilla, cherry and plum dominate. A whiff of alcohol astringency and a peat-like smokiness.

T - Warm toffee and caramel lead of the tasting. The come wave upon wave of vanilla, dark cherry, and dates. The malt has a caramel sweetness to it. The finish has a bit of whiskey and oak.

M - Thick but not overly sticky. Carbonation is pleasantly toward the low side.

O - A great barrel-aged beer. Whereas most of the barrel-aged beers tend to taste more like bourbon, the English-inspired malts in this barleywine lend a more Scotch whiskey flavor. Worth checking out, even thought it is expensive. (819 characters)

Photo of larryarms847
4.73/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Pours a dark ruby/rust red in appearance with a soft and plump two-finger head.

Aromas of raisins, plums, roasted malts, and bourbon are most prevalent, a little sharp in the nose for my taste.

Dark fruits, slight vanilla, mainly sweet malt, finished with a splash of bourbon.

Mouthfeel is the only score here that did worse off, though a delicious beer, the mouthfeel of this is too grainy (IMO).

Overall this is another delicious example of Firestone doing everything right. (480 characters)

Photo of abeeronthebeach
4.31/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A - Very dark ruby red. Head was a a little soapy and coarse-grained for my liking.

S - Predominantly sweet and fruity. Fruitiness is of raisins and sherry. Sweetness is of maple and caramel. My favourite part of this beer.

T - I'm picking up the sherry-fruitiness from the nose, although not any one fruit in particular. Not as sweet as I would have expected and not particularly sweet overall. I was hoping for a little more vanilla, a little more coconut and a little more spice. Where this beer is not found wanting is in tobacco flavours. This beer had me racking my brain to see if I had a cigar stashed somewhere in the house. It's sort of dirty and a tad leathery but I like it. A little bitter malt and bitter bourbon on the finish as well.

M - Thick enough, but like the rest of the beer it's just not quite there.

O - At first I was quite disappointed, however this beer definitely benefits from time spent in the glass. The most relatable beer I've had to Sucaba lately was Fremont's Bourbon Abominable, which for me, was clearly the superior beer. This was malty, sweet and sherry-like with nice tobacco notes, but I wanted more bourbon, coconut, vanilla, oak and spice. Sadly it did not live up to expectation. (1,228 characters)

Photo of JulioH
4.33/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Very hard to pinpoint.

Pours a caramel color beer, dark. I don't remember any carbonation, maybe a light foam around the edges of the glass. I smelled some oak, some brandy, but all very faint, and the beer doesn't really lead you anywhere. Taste reveals a sweet barleywine, very light, not heady, not strong, but very tasty. Not many notes picked up. Body is medium, not a light bodied beer. (393 characters)

Photo of stephens101
4.44/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

2014 Bottling.

Sixty degrees out and rainy and it's Barleywine time in the middle of an Oklahoma July.

The tan head is thin and fleeting. Color is dark brown, near black.

Fresh baked brown bread wafts to the nose, followed by cherry, burnt sugar, subtle caramel and some rye way off yonder.

Tastes of sweet bread, more cherries, allspice and caramel. Has a bitterness that is hard to discern, but it's there. Leaves a nice coating of syrup on the lips.

You could call this delicate if it weren't for the bold, lingering, fusel alcohol. You could also call-it dessert-like, and on that count you would be completely correct.

I recommend opening this one for an occasion. It is that good. (697 characters)

Photo of Ciocanelu
4.65/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Very balanced and extremely drinkable for a barleywine. Alcohol is present only in the aftertaste giving a warming sensation as it goes down. The barrel is very present, along with a lot of caramel and even some hops on the finish. Syrupy body, very easy to drink. (264 characters)

Photo of JohnnyHopps
5/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Appearance: The beer was a cloudy shade of black with an off-white colored head crowning the glass.

Smell: The nutty notes jump to the front, but malt and bourbon are also very detectable.

Taste: I love the nuttiness that starts the taste. Nuts, caramel, sweet milk chocolate notes balance in the taste. The bourbon does not overwhelm the taste, but lends itself to balance. The warming aftertaste makes each of the taste notes glow a little brighter. This is orgasmic!

Moutheel; The mouthfeel is a little syrupy and resembles a port. Of course, this allows the taste to linger for an exceptional amount of time.

Overall: This is my first perfect score on BA; I really can not say anything bad about it. I certainly wish it was more accessible. (748 characters)

Photo of blankenhoney
4.43/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bomber of the 2014 vintage, enjoyed from a snifter

A: an inky shade of plum with a light, soapy whitish head

S: delicious aromas of mellow bourbon, caramel, thick brown sugar, vanilla, and booze-soaked cherries or figs

T: the dominant flavor was burnt brown sugar and vanilla-bourbon sweetness. there's also a bit of tart dark cherry flavor and chocolate-covered coconut shavings. the finish had some light char and tobacco notes. this beer gets nice and boozy as it came to room temperature.

M: vinous and lightly syrupy, with some resin and heat on the finish. nice, but a bit lacking; i would've liked it a bit thicker and creamier.

O: an outstanding BA barleywine. aroma is top-notch and flavors are delightful, but mouthfeel left a bit to be desired. (765 characters)

Photo of beergoot
3.99/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Deep, dark cherry red body with a respectable one-finger thick head. Soothing aroma of figs and dates, alcohol, caramel, tobacco. Toasty roasted malt flavor with an equally satisfying boozy warmth; raisins and plums; a cinnamon-like spiciness. Heavy bodied and thick sweetness with a dry element to the feel due to the ABV.

A well-done take on the barley wine style. Rich, deeply complex flavors, and great sensory experiences with aroma and mouthfeel. This beer was tried two years+ after it's release date and seemed to age well, still packing plenty of punch and delivering exceptional flavors. (598 characters)

Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.44/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Had this on tap at the Old Toad in a properly kept and poured keg, so I will re-review the beer and change the score. The old review will be kept for history purposes or whatever. Original scores- 4/4.25/4.25/2/4.25

The aromas and flavors are similar, but a bit more amplified with the proper amount of carbonation. Looks the same, essentially. Tons of brown sugar, toffee, caramel, cherry, dark fruits, coconut, and bourbon in both the taste and aroma. Great mouthfeel, thick, but not crazily so. A much better beer now.

On tap at the Owl House in Rochester, NY.

Pours a dark red brown-ish. Visible active carbonation. One inch head forms quickly, but dissipates very quickly as well. Not much lacing.

Aromas include brown sugar, toffee, cinnamon, bourbon, chocolate, and cherry.

Lots of similar flavors. The bourbon is well integrated, and the barrel aging provides oak and vanilla flavors- with a lot great barleywine flavors- toffee, caramel, chocolate, cherry, with a slightly noticeable alcohol kick.

A bit of a weird mouthfeel here, and makes me feel like the keg wasn't filled properly. The body is a bit thin, with the most carbonation in a barleywine I've ever tasted. The thin body could just be the high carbonation playing tricks on my taste buds- but the carbonation keeps some of the flavors kind of muted. I can tell the flavors are great, but I know I'm not getting the full effect.

I can tell this beer is great, but I want to try it again, either out of bottle or a properly kept keg. (1,516 characters)

Photo of Tastesalot
5/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A: deep copper/brown pour, brief tan head

S: bourbon, sweet liqueur

T: bourbon, butterscotch liqueur, toasted coconut, dark fruit, sweet, oak bitterness, boozy, complex

M: full-bodied, thicker

O: This barrel-aged beauty is a sipper, and gets even better at the end of the bottle. Is even more complex as it becomes less cold. I find myself wanting more. Definitely world class -- what a beer! (396 characters)

Photo of garuda
4.38/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A - Mahogany, slightly cloudy, off white head has good retention and decent lace.

S/T/M - Deep, rich caramel, vanilla, oak, bourbon, toffee, dark fruits. Full body, medium to low carbonation. Dry bourbon finish.

O - Very solid, although I'm not intrigued to plunk down the dough for a bottle. I can't help but compare it with Bourbon County BW. I like how the BC BW finishes with the stout/chocolate flavors. (410 characters)

Photo of Catracho5
4.62/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 ounce bottle poured into a brandy snifter.

Appearance: Dark red, amber color with some ruby on the edges, a vanilla colored head that dissipates pretty quickly. Head is gone within a few minutes after the pour, no lacing. Looks beautiful in the glass, fairly clear.

Smell: Very sweet aroma, coconut, some toffee, not a lot of alcohol on the nose.

Taste: Nearly same as smell, getting some alcohol on the flavor, nice sweet coconut, the bourbon is not as prevalent as the other flavors, very smooth, the flavors flow really well.

Mouthfeel: Little to no carbonation, not very thick, some heat on the tongue from the alcohol.

Overall: Another winner from Firestone's barrel program. First time having this and will definitely pick up in the future. A world class beer, worth a try. (788 characters)

Photo of SportsandJorts
3.68/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Appearance: dark garnet to a mahogany. A finger of a tan head that fades slowly leaves a strong lacing. Pretty dark and almost opaque. Strong brightness with the light.

Smell: toffee and maple sweetness followed by bourbon and a little bit of oak. Some alcohol.

Taste: strong bourbon, oak, and alcohol taste. Underlying layer is full of malts, from toffee to nutty and maple.

Mouthfeel: medium to heavy. A little on the dry side. Some alcohol warmth.

Overall: ehhh. I think the bourbon English barley wine has a lot more potential. The bourbon seems to clash with the malts rather than adding to. I think it would be a little better with some age though (661 characters)

Photo of Treyliff
4.82/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 5

2014 Vintage, poured into a Teku glass

A- pours a dark brown in color with some ruby hue creeping through when brought up to the light, small fizzy light-khaki head eventually reduces, leaving just a ring around the edges with small carbonation bubbles shooting to the top

S- huge aromas of caramel malt is complimented by sweet toffee, maple syrup, dark fig, plumb & raisin, concord grape, dark cherry juice, rum and sherry. The barrel gives aromas of oak, walnut, toasted coconut, vanilla and bourbon. The aromas seem to go on for days.

T- caramel and toffee flavors consume the palate up front, notes of toasted coconut, graham cracker and brown sugar kick in, followed by black cherry juice and a toasted walnut nuttiness. Oaky barrel juice kick in with more caramel flavor on the linger with hints of bourbon and vanilla bean. The caramel lingers on the palate long after

M- medium body with low carbonation leads to a slighty foamy mouthfeel and a creamy and chewy finish, lots of alcohol warmth on the linger, that is needed to stand up to the plethora of flavors and aromas

O- the longer I sip this beer, the more flavor and aromas come out, the complexity is unlike any other beer. It drinks pretty hot, but actually is needed for such a big beer. I can't wait to try one with some age on it to see how it changes (1,327 characters)

Photo of Kruxx
4.98/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

This is the gem that opened my eyes to barley wines. Why can't they all be this good. The chocolate, bourbon, and coconut notes are a real joy. 13% abc not a chance by the taste! but wow how good you feel once you polish that bottle off. Wish this was more readily available!!! (277 characters)

Photo of themind
4.94/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is an amazing, balanced beer! truly a masterpiece. The beer is smooth with no ABV burn, has an incredible subtle taste mixture of bourban and the base beer. For the style this is the best beer I have ever had. If you have never tried this you must seek it out. Really just a great beer.

Bottom Line: Lives up to the hype. Cant wait to age a bottle. (354 characters)

Photo of reebtaerG
4.7/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

On tap at Frisco Taphouse in a goblet on 5/28/14 being 13%

A-Brown with an amber tint with little head. Some lacing.

S-Wonderful bourbon aroma with raisin, fig, cherries, vanilla and chocolate.

T-Taste awesome with a big malty start. A lot of bourbon flavor, oak barrel, raisins and vanilla. Very flavorful and complex.

M-Mouthfeel has a slick medium body and well balanced.

O-Wow this is awesome only down side was the appearance would love to try a vintage bottle. (472 characters)

Photo of rand
4.64/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

From 22 oz bomber to snifter.

A: An almost perfect mahogany in color; the viscous, weighty brew forms almost no head on a moderate pour.

S: Caramelly, boozy bouquet. The aromas are anchored by the huge malt-backbone, with notes of oak and vanilla and anise adding complexity and layers. There's a hint of bubblegum at the edge of the bouquet.

T: Even more layered than the nose, the flavors slowly unravel in distinct components. The front is vanilla-sweet, with notes of licorice and bubblegum. Oaky, toasty in the middle, with drying spice notes, paprika and pepper. The finish is boozy, a little phenolic, and long, with sticky residuals between sips.

M: Actually, not quite as chewy as expected, but no question a full-bodied beer. Light carbonation amplifies the viscous complexion.

Some time ago I would have put barleywines at the bottom of my go-to list. I find beers like Bigfoot and Old Guardian somewhat of a chore to drink. Barrel-aging completely changed my opinion, and I look forward to Firestone's annual release of this incredible beverage. (1,068 characters)

§ucaba from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
98 out of 100 based on 797 ratings.