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§ucaba | Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

845 Reviews
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Brewed by:
Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
California, United States | website

Style: English Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 12.50%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
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.

Added by SacoDeToro on 02-21-2008

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Reviews: 845 | Ratings: 4,793
Photo of Maniv_Steel
5/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Amazing, one of the best beers I've ever had.

L- dark Amber color, tan head that quickly dissipated

F - definitely has some body but not too much. Moderate carbonation

S - instantly I knew I would like it once I smelled it. Big vanilla and toffee.

T - similar to the nose. Pretty sweet with the same caramel, toffee vanilla flavors. Some booze but it perfectly balances the sweetness. Finishes with caramel corn, a slight butteriness.

O- I usually don't give out 5* ratings but this deserves it. For me, a perfect BA beer. Only question is what to do with the other 2 I have. My feeling is it will continue to get better, but don't hesitate to drink now.

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Photo of 1000lbgrizzly
4.47/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Ruby-brown body, slight haze. Head and lace only appear as faint collars.

S: Oak, vanilla, caramel, tons of warming maltiness, some diacetyl, and even a bit of alcohol that is well-integrated.

T: The malt and butter is most prominent, a combo that usually results in a cloying and sickly rich beer, but this is amazingly balanced by the non-harsh oak, vanilla, and coconut notes. Alcohol is nowhere to be seen here- I wonder if just a glimpse of it would add or detract. Either way, it's already incredible.

M: Warm alcohol, full bodied.

O: Amazing balance, and for an arguably straight-forward and heavy style, this one presents its flavors with grace and even just a little restraint, where appropriate. This is my definition of a crafted beer.

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Photo of BradfordStuckey
4.49/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

One of the best barleywines out there. every sip delivers different oaked flavors. Swetness and sharp notes ranging from tobacco and burnt or smoked wood. All overtaken by the incredble carmel noted of a deep malt bill overshadowing all hop profiles. Happy to see that there is plenty of this great beer out there.

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Photo of drmeto
4.76/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

2015 version

-pours a clear ruby with almost no,quickly dissipating head,beige in colour
-low-medium carbonation visible
vanilla,coconut,Bourbon,prunes,caramel,toffee,strawberry jam,brown sugar,dried orange peel,alcohol
-Full body,low carbonation
-alcohol quite present,naturally with 13% abv
A tad too sweet,otherwise a perfect Beer

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Photo of retry4z
4/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Cork and Craft. Caramel and cherries on the nose, some locorice, and alcohol. Color is brownish-amber. Full bodied with moderate to high carbonation. Big malty body with taste or candi sugar and licorice, vanilla, and resin. Alcohol (13.5%) is evident. Comparable to Bourbon Country Barleywine, but has some interesting fruity complexities, and even a hint of sourness. Decent barrel-aged Barleywine, but would have to give it another try to make a better assessment.

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Photo of KevChiTown
4.93/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

One of the best beers I've had in a really long time. Super smooth and complex. Tons of everything going on but in a balanced approachable way. Highly recommend

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Photo of Sparty1224
4.56/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Serving: 22 oz. bomber poured into a Founder's CBS snifter. No bottling date, but it's likely just under 4 months old at this point.

A: Pours a deep, dark brown with a reddish hue. A faint 1/4-finger off-white head with an aggressive pour that dissipates quickly. Appears a bit thin.

S: Vanilla, molasses, brown sugar. Plum, chocolate-covered cherries, raisins. Also a bit of a cinnamon french toast quality here as well. Bourbon integrates well here, it's very smooth and has some fruity notes that complement it well. It's not an overwhelming or powerful aroma, but it's still very nice.

T: Lots of sweet molasses, brown sugar, dark fruits. Some maple syrup, vanilla, oak. The bourbon integrates so well with the natural flavors from the barleywine that you almost forget it's barrel-aged. They really play off each other nicely here.

M: This is where the beer falls from elite status for me. It's very, very thin. Almost has the consistency of water, and that's no good. Also, it is extremely boozy. 13.3% is high to start, but there's a way to work it in and it's been done before, but just not here. It's very hot on the finish, almost like a dry red wine.

O: So this is my 2nd review of a "boxed" beer from FW, and I've encountered the same problem twice now: poor, poor mouthfeel. This beer is way too thin and way too boozy. And that's a shame, because it takes away from an otherwise stellar beer. Great, great aroma here. Great flavors, with the bourbon complementing the rich sweetness and dark fruit flavors of the English-style BW. But the mouthfeel just prevents it from getting to that next level for me. I even let it sit for 4 months, and it still came out hot!

Recommendation: Don't let my review scare you, this is still a great beer. Definitely seek it out or trade for it, but maybe let it sit for 6+ months. Maybe at that point some of the heat has faded, making this beer much more drinkable.

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Photo of Budinetz
5/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2014 vintage. Poured from the bomber Into a wide snifter. Pours a dark brown color with a half inch head that dissipates quickly and leaves very little thin foam at te surface.very little to no lacing present around the glass. Smells of Madeira, port wine and fig. Tastes of dates, figs, caramel, subtle oak, whiskey, port wine. Great mouthfeel, solid malt base, and overall very drinkable for a 13.5% abv brew. Would absolutely seek this one out!


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Photo of everyman
4.51/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

This 'Suca' is packing heat! Beware, if you don't give her some time to mellow out, it's gonna be boozy. Pour as hard as you like - resulting head will be minimal. However, that's not bad. This beer has no intention of being highly carbonated. The focus seems to be on body and aroma. Genetically, Ssucaba probably isn't actually a beer at all. Barley wine is really something between beer and liquor. It's 'barely' beer;) For example, the liquid itself is thick (liquor like). Instead of lacing the glass as a sticky double IPA would, Sucaba slowly slides down and the thickness drags all residue with it (almost like a whiskey that's been sloshed around in a glass). <--not a turn off. Just expect strong; '15 at least. On the nose it's sweet and inviting. A little hard for me to pick apart, but I think the bourbon and vanilla come through first. One might deduce that toasted coconut or cocoa - not likely through the heat though. As for taste and mouth feel, think quad. This one is heavy, and the forward encounter is slightly sweet and near syrupy. Toward the back, it warms in Booz-like fashion. Share. It's better that way.

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Photo of dboon
4.41/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle. Dark brown with no head. Caramel and dark fruit aromas. Caramel, dark fruit, brown sugar, vanilla flavors. So much going on here, and it’s all GOOD..........

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Photo of JMS1512
4.23/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Sight: A dark amber, with an SRM of maybe 30 or so. Red highlights. Tan head that sits smooth and creamy. It eventually dies down. Lacing thick and generous.

Smell: Oak, vanilla, caramel. Malty sweetness. Dark fruit suggesting raisins, dates, or figs. All the hallmarks of a BBA English Barleywine.

Taste: Mimics the aroma, plus a mature presence of booze, more evident as it warms up. The chill I had on it makes it a little crisper, as it were.

Feel: Smooth, creamy. Long finish, due in part to the barrel aging. Luxury in a glass. Pulling air through it a-la a “wine taste” gets me a little more length, and even makes me cough a little from the booze. A confusing treat.

Overall: FW, I commend you, and now, I can let this one go. Excellent example of the style.

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Photo of KVNBGRY
4.58/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Brown sugar, toffee, caramel, subtle coffee grounds, dried fig/date. This is one of the most complex and best tasting barleywines I've ever had.

As it warms, A hint of vanilla and oak shine. I can only assume this is the bourbon barrels. As a normal barleywine doesn't have this level of complexity. This is by a long shot, one of the best barleywines I've ever had. Thanks FW crew!

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Photo of hopsputin
4.49/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2015 Batch. Drank 3/6/15

a: a murky dark brown color with some deep purple and ruby red notes. no real head, just some off-white bubbles hovering around the side of the glass - probably being kept there by the etching at the bottom of the glass

s: a very rich and luxurious aroma. vanilla, oak, tannins up front. baking chocolate. plums, fig, raisins. dark rich sticky caramel. dark sweet cherries, a very small hint of licorice. ends with the mellow barrel character

t: oak and vanilla tickle the front of the tongue. dark cherries, fig, prunes, raisins. sweet caramel, some of that bitter baking chocolate. there is a tingle of alcohol on the tongue, and it is there on the back end of the flavor along with the (bourbon?) barrel - but it isn't harsh, which is amazing given that this is coming in at 13.3%. very well crafted beer. if left to sit, and the the alcohol mellowed this would be taken to a whole different level

m: surprising light. its medium with a lot more carbonation than i expected. no head, but definitely a bit fizzy in the mouth

o: my impression is that drinking this fresh (as i am) i can tell this beer is extremely well-made, and on its own its really good. very nice base flavors in here that are harmonized well. also the fact that this is 13.3% and drinks as well is it does is super-impressive. well done. i would definitely recommend getting one and sitting on it for at least 1 year. if allowed to blend in the bottle further, this will be something extremely special

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Photo of pagriley
4.65/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

22 oz into a snifter.

L - murky mahogany with a few chunks and a head that recedes to nothing.
S - caramel, molasses and bourbon goodness.
T - like a wurthers soaked in bourbon.
M - touch too much carb but thick and rich

Overall a stunning bourbon forward brew

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Photo of uvachief
4.05/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Draft. Really disappointed. Poured a light opaque brown with head that dissipated very quickly. Little lacing. Smells of coconut, vanilla, dried fruit, caramelized sugars, malts and a few other things I couldn't identify. Tasted thin in the mouth like most barley wines. Flavors are as above but it didn't knock my socks off. Over hyped before drinking maybe? After taste is vanilla, dried fruit and Barley. Good but not out of this world good.

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Photo of badgustav
4.85/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

A remarkable Barleywine. Great color, aroman, and flavor. Head dissipates quickly, no lingering foam. Flavour follows the wonderful aroma. Hints of honey, Madeira, whiskey, and toffee. Sweet, malty, and smooth. Enjoyed the 2013.

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Photo of NavyGoat
4.69/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

I stopped by a neighborhood friend's house today to drop off some Ballast Point Sculpin Grapefruit (would recommend this brand also) and boy did he treat me to Sucaba! The bottle looks really neat and the barley wine inside was yummy! Smooth, great scent and wonderful taste! I am very appreciative to have been treated to such a top-notch beer!!

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Photo of SierraFlight
4.52/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

On draft at Simzy’s LB poured into tulip. Nearly opaque chocolate brown with a tan ring that revives with a swirl of the glass. Aroma is of coconut, dried fruit, bourbon, caramel, brown sugar, and vanilla. Taste is outstanding with strong fruit and caramel sweetness and mild barrel wood bitterness. Full body, silky texture, surprisingly moderate carbonation, and a sweet boozy finish. Excellent!

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Photo of john0721
4.09/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle, 2014 vintage aged 1 year+

dark brown, off white head.

Dark fruit (black cherry) in the nose.

Cherry, Vanilla, caramel, brown sugar in the flavor.

The cherry with a touch of vanilla is what stands out for me.

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Photo of smcolw
3.86/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Brown color brew with a decent off white head. No lace, though.

Semisweet with an alcohol kick. A bit of berry to the nose as well. Closer to an apertif in the smell than a beer.

Strong alcohol, almost a Chambord taste. There's a slightly burnt flavor to the swallow. Rich body with a diminished carbonation. Think brandy with carbonation.

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Photo of NickSD
4.24/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

This we ok after reading the reviews and the bottle I was expecting a little more. Overall a good tasting beer started and finished well I just didn't like the feel

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Photo of More_betterness
4.46/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A: Deep ruby with a khaki head that recedes immediately. Slightly cloudy body.

S: Rich caramel, bourbon, and dark fruits upfront. Layers of dark cherry, milk chocolate, and vanilla. Glorious.

T: Vanilla, coconut, and booze from the bourbon, followed by woody oak and a boozy finish. Fricken fantastic.

M: Medium bodies with a long lingering finish. Dry astringent finish from the oak.

O: What more to say about Firestones barrel program? Masterful. My favorite BBA Barleywine behind Great.

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Photo of TheBrewo
4.48/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

We pull our bottle of 2012’s “No. 002” from its protective cardboard sheath, and remove the foil and cap. Pouring into our three-quarter sized tasting snifters, we discover a remarkably dark barleywine the color of deep rosewood. A quick one finger head of loose, soapy, tawny foam heads the beer before dissipating into a solid ring of lacing, with wispy satellites extending across the surface of the glass and the liquid alike. The top looks like an oil slick. No haze or sediment is noted, and carbonation appears to be light. The aroma is rich, savory, and hot, blending together huge buttery diacetyls, densely biscuity and sweaty roasted chocolate and caramel grain, bright honey sugariness, chalky Flintstone vitamin tartness, metallic date and fig jam sugars, warming and fusel bourbon booziness, toffee fudge, pumpkin flesh, soft peaty char, dried nutmeg spice, brown sea glass, oily cashew and pecan butters, dried rosy florals, acidic lemony juiciness, burnt mallows, unpopped popcorn kernels, copper, tea leaf tannins, and distant vinous mossiness. The flavoring is wonderful, extending perfectly from the aroma through liberating waves of intense cloying sugariness of strawberries, red apples, and dates, iced plum pudding, brown breadiness, singed molasses, syrupy yet dusty caramel, amber, and soft coffee malt roast and wash, rinsed barley rawness, huge buttery woodiness of oak, charred chicory, biting and puckering bourbon flavoring, creamy vanilla, aluminum, soggy Cornflakes, mineral water, English yeasty bitters, hot gingerbread and mild cloven phenols, salted caramel, nori vegetals, and oily leathers. The body is full, oily, and chewy, and the carbonation medium, but more soft and foamy than prickly. Slurp, smack, cream, and froth are all excellent, softening the heaviness of the sip, and folding the mouth over upon itself in velvety goodness. Following this coating creamy softness, the palate tightens into a tannic puck. The abv is appropriately large, and the beer sips forever.

Overall, this beer certainly lives up to the hype. Even after a solid two to three years maturing in our cellar, this 2012 stock retains its intense buttery woodiness, dense caramel sugariness, and warming bourbon booziness. Aside from these obvious necessities, you get ever shade of complexity to fill in the gaps across the nose and palate. Although we don’t have a great base of comparison, if seems that nothing has faded or taken to the top. The balance remains supreme. We tackled this as part of our recent “Whale Hunt”. Our cellar space is being dramatically reduced in the upcoming months, so we’re systematically going through the “drink now” beers we’ve been aging. This beer, more or less, is helping to kick that off. In this vein, it was nice reading about the history of this beer. It seems that this was one of, if not the, genesis beer of their “Reserve Series”, and it fits so well. We’ve obviously not sampled them according to their order of release, but it meets that same quality of barrel-aged wonder that the rest of them have attained. §ucaba is a phenomenal beer, and something every true BeerAdvocate should seek out for reference point and blissful enjoyment.

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Photo of WoostaBia
4.85/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

One of the best Barleywines I've ever tasted. Smell of toasted coconut, caramel, cherry, vanilla and bourbon. Taste: Brown sugar, vanilla, roasted coconut, light chocolate and coffee tones. No alcohol detected, really drinkable. Amazing beer.

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Photo of flagmantho
4.28/5  rDev -4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured from 22oz bomber into my Salish Sea pint glass. This is the 2015 vintage -- I couldn't wait to crack this one open.

Appearance: rich ruddy-brown hue with a clear body and a light effervescence. Head pours a finger of frothy tan foam. I think it's quite beautiful.

Smell: richly malty with a subtle but effective dark-fruit character that lurks beneath the big vanilla-ey oak. There's just enough complexity to be interesting, but the big story is really with the depth of the malt, dusky fruit and vanilla -- wonderful.

Taste: big, rich malt up front which slowly subsides revealing a boozy, hot and barrely finish. The flavor elements are much like the aroma, with an emphasis on the oak and vanilla, although the big alcohol adds a little sweet, light fruitiness in the finish. An excellent beer, if a little boozy.

Mouthfeel: big, big body with a low carbonation that nevertheless yields a wonderful creaminess and exceptionally silky-smooth texture. Outstanding.

Overall: I this this is a wonderful beer, but it's booziness is just a little too much for me. Perhaps I will buy another of these and cellar it for a year to see if that edge wears down a little.

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§ucaba from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
99 out of 100 based on 845 ratings.