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§ucaba - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Not Rated.

Educational use only; do not reuse.

823 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 823
Hads: 4,628
Avg: 4.45
pDev: 20.45%
Wants: 1,291
Gots: 2,704 | FT: 262
Brewed by:
Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
California, United States | website

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.
View: Beers (85) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 823 | Hads: 4,628
Photo of thstevens12
4.42/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2011 vintage served on tap at American craft

Appearance: Least appealing part of beer (but not unattractive!). Dark brown, amber at the very edges almost no head visible

Smell: Typifies an English barleywine--Deep sweetness from stone fruits and date. I'd say boozy but that carries a negative connotation-this smells wonderfully rich and caramelly. Touch of blended whiskey on the nose. 

Taste: I prefer this to any fw# I've tried. Flavors from the nose are muted but present on the palate. I detect a touch of milk chocolate, brown sugar, and blended whiskey flavor that brings all into balance. 

Mouthfeel: Much less dense than the nose would imply. Oily. Finish is smooth with a touch of fume from the barrel. The taste lingers quite long. 

Overall: Really great beer-I'm so glad I have a few for my cellar. I can see the the profile of this beer reflected In the fw # series. Highly recommended. 

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Photo of Huhzubendah
4.88/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I split a bottle of this with a couple friends on Saturday. We've all been anxious to try this beer for a few years now.

The color is a beautiful dark ruby, as stated on the label. The head is rather small and fades rapidly to virtually nothing, leaving some faint lacing on the glass.

The aroma is inviting, with scents of bourbon, malt, caramels, and oak.

Delicious! Balanced? Oh yeah. Flavors flow together beautifully. Brown sugar, caramels soaked in bourbon, oak barrels, hints of vanilla.

The feel is truly exceptional. The beer goes down effortlessly, with nary a hint of the supposed 13% abv. It would be no problem to finish a bomber unaided. No need to age this masterpiece, as it's already silky smooth.

Overall, a terrific beer and a stellar example of a barrel-aged barleywine. Highly recommended.

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Photo of colforbin73
4.7/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

wandered into BEER REVOLUTION in Oakland last night.... Abacus on tap!

never had it before -- now i see why people talk about it and seek it out.

pours a beautiful rich black with a little head but perfect carbonation -- good and rich and the right amount of fizzy all the way through the glass.

the first hit is all coconut milk goodness.... and it is rich and sweet and complex all the way through -- molasses, dates, sweet, rich... only the mildest of bitter sensation.

BARRELS rule the day at Firestone Walker. their barrel aging process is giving their beer a next level taste profile. you do not just appreciate the ingredients -- the beers are conditioned in such a way -- you go from 10 to 100 very quick.

Abacus rates in the 90s -- it is an incredibly rich, yummy, complex brew... it is not something you would casually give to your dad when he asks for a Beer.

ethereal stuff! and double cheers to Beer Rev for charging their usual price. $6 for a 12oz pour.

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Photo of tbern007
3.79/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2010 bottle. obtained from Total Wine in LV
Pours very dark brown with dark ruby. No head, no lace.
S - barleywine smell. Fruity, sweet, earthy.
T - Very strong in general - chocolate, coffee, toffee, dark fruit.
M & D - sipper. Can't drink a lot. Syrupy and chewy. Creamy.

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

Aroma is very complex and the initial smell is more that of good bourbon than beer. It is followed by a leathery, tobacco smell that fades of to that of a slight bitterness. The appearance is a darker amber/red color with a khaki head. The taste is just as complex as the aroma. The initial taste is sweet bourbon that is followed by a slight bitterness that is quickly beaten into submission by the malt flavor. Great beer with not too much bourbon flavor

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Photo of rtepiak
4.15/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

pour is copper with and off brown head. Nose of tofffe, coconut, almond, caramel, wood, toasty biscuit, soy sauce. Palate is intensely english barley wine, sesame seed, vanilla, heat, honey, lamb meat, pineapple, fig flesh,and brown sugar. This was my experience. But it may be different for you. With that said i can see this beer being a bit over accessible, as in this beer is so broad and hides the abv so well that its a slow approach which in turn makes it a success in that it must be drank slowly. Carbonation is better as it sits.

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Photo of OakedCanuck
4.42/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

200th review. 22oz bottle poured into snifter.

A - This beer pours a ruddy brown with ruby edging. Virtually no head.

S - Lots of variety in the nose. Chocolate, vanilla, some pepper, plums, caramel sugars, slight florals.

T - Incredible depth of layers of flavours. The two prominent layers are a very nice, subtle, sweet cherry. The other is the bourbon. The bourbon brings a nice oakiness with it as well as some 'young' back end heat. Between these two, you pick up hints of vanilla, toffee, chocolate, coffee, slightly burnt sugars.

M - Creamy, medium, slight tackiness from the sugars. Still a bit hot.

O - An incredible beer already. This will just get better after a few years in the cellar.

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Photo of silentjay
4.32/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

fresh, 2011 vintage

deep mahogany that barely allows light to penetrate with a decent sized khaki head that sticks around a while and laces okay.

lots of sweet, dark malts and tons of oak in the aroma. swirling brings out some vanilla, nougat, chocolate, maple syrup, molasses, brown sugar, bourbon and booze. nice, smooth aroma.

ahhhh. so smooth. a bit boozy, but flavors abound. oak is there in abundance, and is a bit bourbon-y. molasses, maple syrup, and vanilla with some light chocolate, mocha latte, toffee and a plethora of deep malts mixed with a good amount of oaky bourbony booze heat.

a tad thin for the strength of flavors with a good amount of heat, but velvety smooth.

very good beer. pretty complex, very tasty. gets better as it warms.

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Photo of Tawnos
5/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is labeled (here) as an American Barleywine, but really reminds me more of an English one. Since they used a British yeast, I will be rating this as if it were English.

A: Quickly dissipating head with almost no lace. Large bubbles that make loud popping as they disappear. Swirling in glass causes a brown coating on the wall, indicating high sugar.
Cola brown with reddish highlights

S: This beer hits you fast with the sweet smell of overripe pineapple and perfectly ripe coconut (almost a pina colada), hints of chocolate and a slight sweet-sherry smell follow.
The malty smell is reminiscent of sweet dark rye bread. Very small butterscotch upon opening hints at diacetyl, but that quickly fades.

T: Sweet toasted malt gives way to a chocolate and bourbon palette with. There's no hop bite, the bitterness is slightly subdued behind the sweet chewy toffee. Slightly alcoholic, but not too much. It leaves a coffeelike aftertaste going down, which turns to coconut.

M: It's creamy and delicious and not too hot or biting on the tongue. The balance is perfect.

I would drink this again and again, though probably only one a night if I want to wake up the next day. It is truly a world class beer, one of the few 5.0s to a style I have seen. Judged as an English Barleywine, I cannot find a flaw.

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Photo of Tucquan
4.43/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had this on 2011-03-28 in Redondo Beach, CA (2011 vintage in the bottle). Had it again on-tap on 2013-04-20 in Downingtown, PA at the Station House 3rd anniversary party. I changed my reveiw accordingly.

A - Dark brown with a glimmer of mahogany at the edges. One-finger tan head that fades immediately. Mild lacing that slides quickly down the glass.

S - Plum, leather, bourbon, spice, vanilla, wood, mild chocolate. Pleasing. Reminds me of a liquour-laden, high-quality fruit cake.

T - Complex to say the least. Taste runs much like the smells with a bit more wine-barrel flavor, caramel and some hop bitterness. The chocolate remains mild. Alcohol is readily apparent.

M - Medium-heavy body and light carbonation. Thick and creamy. Lip-smacking good.

O - This is one fantastic beer. Liked it a lot in the bottle. Loved it on-tap. Seek this out!

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Photo of JoEBoBpr
4.78/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Poured into a tulip glass from a 22oz bottle.
Vintage: 2011

A - Pours a reddish murky dark mahogany with a thin off-white slightly creamy head that has some dense bubbles. A vigorous swirl just barely generates a head of about .25 inches. Very nice red ruby hues on the corners of the beer.

S - Molasses and caramel sweetness come up front. Dark fruits and some nice brown sugar. The sweetness is almost indescribable. Nice, complex and full but at the same time not too cloying. There is some nice yeast phenols to, surprisingly. There is some slight woody notes and there is a faint hoppy spice in the nose.

T & M - Flavors are soft but full. Not too intense, very well balanced. There is some nice smooth caramel and vanilla sweetness. Some intense but inviting bourbon notes mixed in with the sugar hints and the delicious vanilla sweetness. This beers malts profile is near perfection to me. The hops are there but they just compliment the malts. For an American Barleywine they stay away from the intense hop notes. There is some slight grassy and dry citrus but the star is the malt. Awesome. The mouthfeel is almost, creamy and viscous. Carbonation on the lower side but still good.

O - Great AB. Probably top 5 in my book. Its good to see a AB that is malt heavy and the barrel aging adds to the sweet side.

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Photo of ArrogantB
4.46/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle from Beerdy, thanks a lot man! Dark chocolate color with a good little head at first. Smells a little oaky, woody, boozy, shredded coconut, good. Taste is like nice chocolates, hardly a hint of the alcohol, very well done. Overall, this is probably the second best firestone beer i've had after FW11.

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Photo of nickfl
4.35/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - poured with a small head of off white foam on top of a black body with clear amber highlights showing through. The head settles quickly and leaves little lace.

S - Earthy aromas of chocolate and cinnamon with lots of toffee and a hint of pine hops.

T - Sweet, dark caramel and toffee up front. Spicy cinnamon and chocolate flavors come out in the middle. The beer finishes with fruity notes of red apple and licorice with molasses and thick caramel. Pipe tobacco and brandy linger in the aftertaste.

M - A thick, slightly oily body, moderately low carbonation, and a fairly sweet finish.

D - Complex, interesting, and intense. This beer is very drinkable for done thing of this strength, though it really should be served in a small snifter. I imagine that this is the sort of beer that would continue to improve for years, though it didn't seem to need any age when I had it.

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Photo of steelerguy
3.97/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a dark walnut brown, can only see a bit of light around the edges. Small head that fades quickly and ends up looking like flat cola after a few mins.

S - Lots of vanilla, chocolate, dark fruit, hop aroma absent. Can smell that this has spent some time in oak.

T - The smell translates to the taste very well. Very complex, again you can tell this has been aged in bourbon barrels, the vanilla flavor really comes through. Lots of chocolate malt and a bit of dark fruit, almost reminds me of a port. Again, lacking in hop character and bitterness which should be present in an American barleywine.

M - Nice, smooth, and warming. A little alcohol bite at the end. Wish it had a little more body to help balance the 13% ABV.

O - This is a good barleywine, would be even better if judged as an English style, but it is a bit lacking as an American style in the hop category. Definitely a barelywine to be tried by all loves of the strong style.

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Photo of alcstradamus
4.62/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep cola brown with a finger of head that dies down to some bubbles.

Aroma is ultra rich toffee, vanilla, and milk chocolate. Holy cow this is big, bold, clean, and appetizing. Notes of pine and floral hoppiness deep in the background.

The flavor is a stellar mix of the above mentioned characteristics--rearranged a bit. The pine hoppiness jumps out up front as well as lingers in the finish. The toffee and milk chocolate are present but are overtaken by the vanilla sweetness. A dry oaky characteristic in the finish. As it warms, the hops subside back down and the chocolate and toffee jump back into the forefront. This is a complex and evolving flavor profile, and is pretty much exactly what a barrel aged barleywine should taste like.

The body is in between medium to full and the carbonation is a bit stinging yet somehow finishes with a little bit of creaminess.

Overall this beer is one of the best barleywines on the planet for sure. Right up there with The Perfect Storm '09 and Central Waters Bourbon Barrel Barleywine '09 competing for the status of the best to ever cross my lips.

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Photo of steve8robin
4.47/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

So glad to see FW get distributed to Mass! Got this at a local beer store. 22oz bottle, 2011 vintage...

A: Looks very dark with a small tan head that fades quickly to a nice bubbly lace atop the brew. Good.

S: A nice creamy bourbon character upfront with some nice caramel vanilla notes in the middle. Some nice toffee on the backend. Very good, love the bourbon character. Almost a strawberry character hidden here.

T: A nice creamy bourbon character upfront with some nice vanilla and coffee flavors quickly followed. Some nice chocolate notes on the back. Some toffee on the back. Very good.

M: Full bodied with a great carbonation. Creamy dry finish. Very good.

D: Goes down surprisingly easy. Very good.

All in all, this is a very good barleywine. Great for the style if you get the chance to try. So definitely try if you have the chance.

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Photo of SolomonGrundy
4.37/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Be jealous...yes, be very jealous...SOMEONE in the Sonoma County area is going to be very upset that they didn't get their bottle, since I told the folks at BevMo! that they were holding some for me!!!

Beautiful reddish amber...Closer to red than amber or even brown. Beautiful, creamy head...Tiny bubbles of carbonation and plentiful they are. Nice sticky lacing..Very purty thus far...

Aromas are amazing, like many of the FW Barrel aged brews...I get toasted coconut, bourbon, vanilla, some roasted chocolate malt, but just a hint...very robust...A certain sweetness too, very nice...

Flavor is incredible..It's tough to describe...There's certainly alcohol in it...You get that late middle and in the finish, but it's not cloying...Initial burst shows off some of the brewing technique: nice carbonation sets up the blast of flavor...Early middle gets a large, sweet-roll going on: a chocolate and bourbon sweet roll! The sugary sweetness is fleeting, though, and quickly is replaced by the barrel aging notes: some char, some liquor (I get rum also, but that can't be right)...This is downright d-effin-licious...Finish is a TOUCH too bitter from the alcohol, that will mellow with age. This will be Earth shattering beer if cellared for a couple years...

Now the basics: Nearly impossible to find bottled, when you do it's $14.99/bomber (YOWZA!!) and 13% ABV (Holy Moley)...

What I like most: The awesome aroma profile and nice early flavors...

What I like least: Certainly the price and noticeable alcohol flavors...

Verdict: A touch below stuff like Xantus, but still top tier. If you can find it, try it...

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Photo of LtCracker20
4.33/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had on-tap at Armsby Abbey in Worchester, MA.

A- Poured a deep dark brownish red with a thin head that stays around for a little while and leaves some decent lace.

S- Bourbon, slight hops, and a giant slam of coconut. It was a pleasant surprise, the coconut was strong, but mixed right in and really complemented the bourbon flavors. A nice oaky vanilla aroma as well.

T- Wow, exactly like the smell. The only difference is that as it warms, the coconut dissapears and the bourbon shines through. The alchohol makes itself well known as it warms. Also, the vanilla comes out as well as it warms. Almost a different beer 30 minutes in.

MF- A nice smooth body that's about moderate to just about full.

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Photo of younger35
4.09/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Just recently received a fresh load of brewski's from the PeprSprYoFace; included was this beauty. I've had this brew a couple of times (Dark Lord Day & Night of the Barrels) and it's mighty tasty. Barrel Aged Barleywines (especially English) are some of my favorite all time brews (Perfect Storm, Wooden Hell, etc...). Drank from my Ithaca Excelsior tulip.

Appearance- Pours a dark ruby red brownish with a small quarter finger creamy off-white head. After a few minutes no cap or collar remains along with ZERO lacing.
Smell- Rich and caramely with that great sort of burnt Barleywine sweetness that oozes out of the nose. A fair bit of vanilla is detectable amongst the nice subtle wood and faintest booze. Maybe a touch of chocolate that adds a Tootsie Roll like aspect. Plenty of hops do make their way into the nose adding a bit of a dark fruitiness that gets more potent as the beer warms.
Taste- Starts out fairly soft with a sort of butterscotch sweetness that is lightly accented by the barrel. A touch of vanilla and maybe a bit of chocolate but its feint. Sort of a cola/root beer thing mixes in. The caramel is definitely dominate and I almost feel this brew is sort of one sided. The booze is very well hidden but the hops aren't as assertive as the nose led me to believe. I need something more to counteract that sweetness.
Mouthfeel- Nice rich mouthfeel with a light bit of carbonation. A bit cloying (nothing game ending) with a touch of alcohol warmth in the finish.
Drinkability- Definitely a tasty brewski but it might need a touch more time. At this point it's slightly too sweet and I don't find it as complex (or delicious) as PS or WH. Maybe that's an unfair comparison but that's what it's up against in my mind (right?). It's just not quite there yet. Thanks much Corey!

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

Bottle from jbtice0315, thanks a lot!
Pours with a strong vanilla bourbon and oak odor that permeates the room. Alcohol is present, but not overly so. Little head, and much darker than I thought it would be. Not much lacing down the side.
The nose makes me drool.
The first taste is all smooth oaky bourbon. The second shows the 13% but it is not that too strong. Some plum notes actually come out, but not very much. Best thing to compare to would be the mother of all storms. It is right up there, but I think the Moas is a bit better. I think a few years would make this unbelievable though. It is good now, but could use a bit more time.
Great beer, glad I got a chance to drink it, and hope I can try one in a few years. Thanks again jesse.
Edit: as this warms the booze really comes out of this. The nose is strong with alcohol... lowered my rating of the smell.

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Photo of UnknownKoger
4.7/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had on tap at Naja's during their Firestone Walker event because their keg of 14th Anniversary blew in the hour and a half interim before I got there (insane!).

Poured into an 8 oz glass. Appearance is dark with shades of ruby and brown. Smells sweet and malty. It's making my mouth water.

Taste is absolutely exceptional. Very surprising. It's pretty sweet. There are definitely some fig or prune notes in there along with some malty maple syrup goodness and just a slight hint of coffee/toffee. At 13% the booze is there but not entirely noticeable

This is way too drinkable and dangerous. It's an eager sipper. Mouthfeel is great and it goes down smooth. This is an outstanding beer. Cheers

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Photo of Patrickbrusil
4.85/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured into a founders sniffer from a 22oz bottle. I'd never thought I'd say this but big ups to blanchards in Allston for the 3 bottles I got.

The beer pours a wonderful dark red hue. Similar to a coca cola on ice. Nice lace on the glass

The smell is intoxicating. Sweet, bready, oakyz, bourbony goodness. Some chocolate and coffe.overtones.

The brew goes done smooth and feels amazing on the tongue. I had it below cellar temp so the taste may have been off but I noticed little heat while enjoying the flavors of wood, cream laced bourbon, mocha flavoring as well.

An exceptional barely wine. Proud to have this be my first review.

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Photo of Retsinis
4.09/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Was forunate to have a friend, and fellow BA (Thanks Brian) bring this to a tasting on Saint Patrick's Day to share.

Poured from a 22oz bottle into a Firestone walker taster tulip.

A:The beer pours a clear copper amber color, with a light red hue. Lightly carbonated, even on the intial pour, just a ring of bubbbles, no lacing at first.

S: A bit surprisingly, I get cherries in the nose. Followed by scents of toffee, bourbon, and vanilla. Booze come through as well.

T: The flavors in the taste were of lightly roasted caramel malt, maple syrup, vanilla bean, toffee, bourbon, and light oak.

M: Buttery, and a little heat. Lighly carbonated

O: Great barley wine, but for me, it needs some time to mellow out, as I also got what I would describe as a spice, or cinamon note in there, which was a bit off putting to me. No one elses at the tasting got that in this, so maybe it's just my palate, but it was subtle, so hopefully that note will fade out, and the other notes will have more promience. I Have three bottles in the cellar, so will what some age does to it.

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Photo of mdfb79
4.52/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

From 03/11/11 notes. Had two samples of this on tap at NOTB up in Boston, MA. 2011 vintage.

a - Pours a deep mahogany brown color with an inch of off white head and light to moderate carbonation evident.

s - Smells of caramel malts, bourbon, oak, and toffee. Maybe a hint of chocolate as well.

t - Tastes of caramel malts, oak, bourbon, vanilla, toffee, and toasted malts.

m - Full body and low carbonation, the body is insanely smooth and creamy. Very easy to drink for a 13% ABV barleywine. Perfect mouthfeel for a barleywine.

d - I thought this was an amazing barleywine. Lots of caramel and oak, mixing with some sweet vanill and bourbon, especially in the taste. The mouthfeel was great and this was scary drinkable for 13%. Can't wait to get bottles of this one when it comes to VA.

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Photo of Zorro
4.22/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Clear deeply brown colored beer a very small tan colored head.

Smells strongly of bourbon. Vanilla, oak and chocolate are the next strongest scents. Smells sweet with coconut cake aroma. Some patent malt in here and a faint scent of ashes. Super complex scent probably 10 things I missed.

Starts out sweet with a strong bourbon whiskey flavor. Lots of chocolate, coconut, vanilla and caramel in the taste. This tastes more than a little bit like German Chocolate cake. After it gets warm it gets more boozy than cold but it is still quite tasty. This is very much a whiskey beer.

Mouthfeel is good.

Drinkability is OK. High alcohol level and the whiskey taste make this on a little problematic in the drinkability department. To bad this isn't in 7oz bottles.

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§ucaba from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
98 out of 100 based on 823 ratings.