Dismiss Notice
Subscribe to BeerAdvocate magazine and get 12 issues / year of fresh beer content delivered to your door each month.

Already subscribe? to manage your subscription.

§ucaba - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Not Rated.

Educational use only; do not reuse.

801 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 801
Hads: 4,470
rAvg: 4.44
pDev: 3.38%
Wants: 1,234
Gots: 2,625 | FT: 262
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.
View: Beers (83) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 801 | Hads: 4,470
Photo of Retsinis
4.09/5  rDev -7.9%
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. (1,079 characters)

Photo of mdfb79
4.52/5  rDev +1.8%
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. (793 characters)

Photo of Zorro
4.22/5  rDev -5%
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. (763 characters)

Photo of largadeer
4.42/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bomber into a tulip, 2011 batch. Clear ruddy brown in the pour, more foggy in the glass. Seems a shade or two lighter than batches of Abacus I've had on tap in the past, more of a traditional barleywine color than a near opaque dark brown. The off-white head doesn't last long, receding to a crown after a moment.

Smells good. Really good. Plenty of brown sugar and toasted coconut, with a leathery, earthy note of oxidation. Some alcohol is evident, but not much considering how fresh this is. There's a lot of barrel here, contributing the expected caramel-vanilla richness, and beneath that I pick up subtle dried fruit sweetness, somewhat date-like.

At this point, it tastes even better than it smells. Alcohol again is noticeable, but pushed aside by layers of caramel, coconut and and roasted nuts. Oxidation isn't as present on the tongue as it was on the nose, I only get a faint trace of cocoa and leather. It's a rich, sweet beer, but remarkably easy to drink - maybe because it isn't terribly syrupy or hot, but I find myself drinking this a lot faster than most barrel aged barleywines.

There is a slight heat to the finish, especially as it opens up, but it's nothing that a couple months of age won't solve. Toffee and tobacco linger in the finish, along with a slight woody/tannic note.

Overall, yeah, this is awesome. At $15 per bottle, there isn't much to complain about here. I wish it were easier to find, but that isn't the beer's fault. World class stuff. (1,480 characters)

Photo of woosterbill
4.53/5  rDev +2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2011 bomber into a Birra del Borgo tulip. Huge thanks to Tony for sharing this highly-anticipated beauty.

A: Clear, deep, radiant ruby-brown body underneath a solid head of super-fine tan bubbles. Great retention and lacing for such a big beer. Simply beautiful.

S: Surprising. Fruity and floral. Grapes, raisins, candied figs, and apple blossoms. I'm stretching to pick up the barrel aspects, but they just aren't coming. Still awesome.

T: Bourbon shows up right away here, backed up by rich toffee, dark fruit, oak, and butterscotch. Some booze on the finish, but ridiculously little for a 13% beer. Completely different from the aroma, and somewhat better - certainly more typical for a barrel-aged barleywine.

M: Soft, smooth full body with light but ever-present carbonation. Quite nice indeed.

O: I read the box after taking my notes, and the aroma makes way more sense to me now that I see it was aged in a mixture of wine and bourbon barrels. The wine completely dominates the smell, with the bourbon asserting itself on the palate. Both are lovely. What's most impressive about this beer is how supremely smooth and drinkable it is, despite being astronomically strong. I wouldn't have guessed it was anything over 10%, much less a full 13%. Wow.

Cheers! (1,269 characters)

Photo of DanOLeary
4.59/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Aroma: A huge bourbon barrel and deep oak nose right up front. There's no mistaking the barrel aging on this one. Alcohol spice is present but not overpowering or fusel. Black pepper and burnt caramel also come out if you dig for it.

Appearance: Deep brown to nearly black with ruby red highlights along the sides when held to the light. Head pours medium with rocky off-white bubbles, though this fades quickly to but a ring of head at the sides.

Flavor: Caramel and oak blended with a powerful alcohol and bourbon presence up front on the palate. Through the middle malt sweetness kicks in just for a moment with dark melanoidin character. Alcohol comes back in the finish with spicy pepper. Hop presence is noted only with a lingering bitterness in the finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body with medium carbonation. The 13% alcohol content is providing quite a bit of warmth throughout the palate with a tingling presence on the roof of the mouth and a burn at the back of the throat.

Overall: The bourbon aroma coming off the top of this beer is outstanding! Though one could argue that the aroma is rather one-dimensional and you do have to look for the other aroma characteristics. But that's really being picky. Flavor and mouthfeel are balanced. The alcohol is a little hot, but this will tone down nicely with age. An excellent barleywine. (1,355 characters)

Photo of perrymarcus
4.89/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

22oz bottle served in a snifter.
2011 vintage.

pours a dark though translucent caramel tone, sits a deep mahogany in the glass. pour yields just shy of a finger's worth of head that, as expected, dissipated fairly quickly into a collar around the glass. lacing in patches.

nose is just exceptional. one of the best aromas off a barleywine i've come agross. assertive notes of caramel, vanilla, bourbon. a bit of coconut, maybe dark fruits. i'm not usually a big fan of the descriptor 'wow' but, well... wow. well bleepin' done.

taste is phenomenal, just really flavorful and well-blended. the caramel, boubon, vanilla, et al come together to produce a delicious melange; a few sips in and i'm already thinking this is probably my favorite barleywine - english or american - to date. nice hoppy presence in the finish, as well as some warming booziness. my one (slight) criticism would be that it is pretty hot (at 13% ABV this is to be expected). luckily i bought a second to throw in the cellar for a while.

medium-full bodied mouthfeel with some chew to it; average to slightly below average carbonation.

overall? world class, no question. just an amazing beer. well worth the cost IMO. (1,194 characters)

Photo of SpdKilz
4.5/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had on tap at Draught's in Thousand Oak's.

Appearance - Given to me in a 10oz...mixed drink glass? A brown murky color with some nice ruby/mahogany shade. Slight lacing is on the sides of the glass.

Smell - Wonderful notes of vanilla, coconut, dark fruits, and bourbon. The aroma is just remarkable and FW seems to have nailed this quite often with their beers. The nose just gets you excited to taste the actual beer.

Taste - As the nose would indicate, vanilla and bourbon with a hint of the dark fruits. Raisins and plums are prevalent along with the slight coconut smelled in the aroma. This almost doesn't taste like a barlywine to be honest. The beer then has a big malty backbone with chocolate and toffee noticeable also.

Mouthfeel - Medium bodied, very creamy, and decent carbonation.

Drinkability - This is one of the best barlywine's I've ever had. Incredibly smooth and tasty. Another hit from FW and I'm glad I have plenty of bottles. (952 characters)

Photo of thatsfine
4.47/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A:Dark brown color, much darker than any other barleywine I have seen. The head is quite thin, but what is there is off white and creamy.

S: Bourbon is front and center on the nose, which I love so my bias knocks this up another 0.5 points. Behind it is vanilla, caramel malts, and oak.

T: Carmelly and sweet, with a nice bourbon punch. I am a big fan of bourbon so this hit the spot for me. The only thing keeping this from being a 5 for me was that it is difficult to see what the base beer is like. This is one of the better beers I have tastted.

M: Very thick and creamy but very drinkable at the same time, especially with the high ABV. The alcohol is noticeable but not overpowering. This was quite a treat. After having it on tap, I must get my hands on a couple bottles to age. (788 characters)

Photo of bigbelcher
4.82/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A great whisky barrel aged barleywine. Beer is dark brown with no head. Heavy warm whisky and sweet malt notes. Bought a bottle to age. The beer changed a lot as it warmed up. Very fruity notes as it warmed versus the more whisky type aroma at the colder temperature. An excellent beer. (286 characters)

Photo of rowingbrewer
4.83/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

this beer is absolutely phenomenal. the beer pours a copperish color with light ruby hues and a decent white head. the smell is sweet bourbon and malts. the flavor is sweet and complex the bourbon is evident up front followed by a wonderfully complex malt and hop flavors. the mouthfeel is full, a little fuller than I was expecting bnut not a bad thing. overall this beer is definitely the best barley wine i have ever sampled by far. I will definitlely be stocking up on some bottles for aging. (496 characters)

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

Pour: Dark cola brown with a red hue and a small one finger off white head, slightly bubbly, slightly fluffy and slightly lasting, turning into a finely beaded ring around the glass.

Nose: toasted oak, vanilla, coconut, coffee, dark bakers chocolate, brown sugar, bourbon soaked cherries, some noticeable dark fruit like plum and dates.

Taste: God this is great. An amazingly well blended barleywine where the bourbon accentuates the great parts of the base beer. An English style barleywine that isn't overly malty sweet but just right. The initial flavors are bourbon cherries, brown sugar, coconut, dark chocolate and vanilla. This turns into slight coffee, slight plum and dates as well as some more bourbon. The malt is well balanced with the bourbon and the vanilla, coconut, cherry and dark bitter chocolate round out nicely with notes of charred oak.

Mouthfeel: Very well done, well blended and not overly syrupy or cloying but definitely in the medium-heavy thickness range. It is also nicely carbonated once it hits the back of your mouth.

Overall: an extremely well blended English barleywine and an exceptionally well crafted barrel aging masterpiece. My favorite barleywine. Great both on draft and in bottle. Wow! Cellaring should do wonders. (1,262 characters)

Photo of yemenmocha
4.37/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours cola brown with thim head that recedes quickly. Nose is impressive with a hint of toasted coconut, dark rum booziness, and rum cake. Toasted coconut is there on palate too with some raisin jam flavors, minerals, roasted malty flavors, and rum infused dessert flavors at the end. A bit hot too. (299 characters)

Photo of champ103
3.39/5  rDev -23.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A huge thanks to Dajtai007 for sharing a bottle.

A: Pours a clear dark ruby/brown color. The clarity is a bit surprising for me. A two finger beige head forms with excellent retention. Plenty of lace is left behind.
S: Up front is a lot of wood an barrel aromas. Very strong and sharp vanilla and sweetness. Fruit, molasses, and alcohol lingers. Lots of wood and alcohol.
T: Follows the nose. The barrel is up front and center. Wood, toffee, molasses. Very sweet.
M/D: A full body with good carbonation. So smooth and creamy. Easy to drink. This is a very nice treat.

I really do enjoy this, and am very thankful for being able to try this. Though there are other barrel aged Firestone Walker beers that I prefer. Still very much worth a try. (744 characters)

Photo of FosterJM
4.42/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

323rd review on BA
bottle to snifter

App- Dark garnet dark with a chocolatey look as it poured from the bottle. At the end of the drink looked very bourbon/whiskey like in color. A very quick one finger head was present then vanished. No lacing on cling.

Smell- More like a big stout to me which was fine and it smelled great. Had a big oaky, vanilla with a rich boozed infused scent.

Taste- This is finally the big GIANT barleywine I have been looking for. I always imagined barleywines to be a big beer and this hit it spot on. Big malts with a little chocolate. Dark fruits are very prevalant but well balanced against the stronger flavors.

Mouth- Full bodied with a medium carb level. The fruits and molasses tastes are thick to me but mellow down as this warms.

Drink- This was big, flavorful and very stout like. I have a couple more of these to sit on and I am very glad I picked the extras up. This was flavorful and powerful and I think it can only get better with age. (989 characters)

Photo of jlindros
4.42/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Tap at Armsby Abbey

Fluffy 1/2 finger head fades at med pace over super dark brown color

Nose lots if aged soft malts, dark malts, crystal, caramel, molasses, toffee, some dark fruits, lots of aged malt aromas, very light earthy hops.

Taste aged malts, dark fruits, light fig and raisin, light fluffy malts, crystal and caramel, molasses, toffee, bit of minerality but not much, bit of a very dark roast, some booze but not much for 12%, light earthy hops. Chewy, soft, light choc, tasty. Finishes a bit bitter, light minerality, aged malts lingering, drier, it gets a nice earthy and slight spicy hop on the finish.

Mouth is a bit heavier bodied with decent carb.

Overall great, cross between old ale and barleywine. Very soft, delicate and tasty. (753 characters)

Photo of jamie2dope
3.9/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I grabbed this bottle at Yankee Spirits in Stubridge today. I tried this last weekend at EBF, and was impressed, so lets see how it hold up from the bottle. It pours out a rosewood color, with half a finger of whitish heading. The color is nice, here; a mix of red and brown. Lots of caramel and alcohol come through in the nose, along with just a little bit of dark fruit. More of the same from the taste, but the alcohol is much more in the forefront than in the smell. The mouthfeel is thick, creamy and chewy all at the same time. The ABV on the bottle is listed as 13% as opposed to the 12% I see above. In any event, the alcohol is pretty hot on this one right now. I am thinking this beer tastes great now, but will do even better with some age to it. This is a beer to buy two of; one to drink now and one to cellar for a while. (836 characters)

Photo of zeff80
4.3/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Poured out a dark, dark burgundy color with a small, off-white head of foam. Nice retention with a soapy residue of lace.

S - It smelled of sweet caramel malt with some floral notes and sweet citrus fruits.

T - It tasted spicy with a sweet caramel maltiness. It had a nice toasty flavor, too.

M - It was crisp, sharp and smooth. A medium to full bodied ale with a dry, snappy finish.

O - This is a really good barleywine. Delicious on tap. (447 characters)

Photo of PeprSprYoFace
4.89/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

So glad they decided to start botteling this beer.

Poured into my Russian River wine glass.

Pours a dark ruby red/brown color with only a ring of head. No lacing.

Aroma is amazing. Bourbon, vanilla, dark fruits, caramel. Awesome.

Tastes just as it smells. Soo flavorful. Dark fruits, caramel, vanilla, oak, bourbon. Amazing what a barlywine can become.

Mouthfeel is a bit heavy and makes it hard to drink an entire 22oz bottle.

Overall an amazing beer. Glad I grabbed a few to age. Get some for sure. It's going to age very well. (535 characters)

Photo of DovaliHops
4.57/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2011 Vintage/13%ABV. I was SO EXCITED to try this one, considering every time I've gone to the brewery, they've never had it on tap. Pours a dark amber-reddish color with almost no head at all. Almost like some cherry cola after the carbonation has settled. Scent is OAK...and lots of it. The oak and bourbon flavors are absolutely lovely and predominant in the aroma. The description on the box doesn't specify which barrels were used, but some of the barrels definitely left some amazing bourbon notes behind. Taste definitely has that oak flavor as well, along with delicious cherry and vanilla notes. There are also hints of chocolate and dark fruits. Bourbon is blended in very nicely with all these flavors. Absolutely phenomenal! Mouthfeel is full bodied and smooth with such amazing complexity. Drinkability is high for a 13% barleywine. (845 characters)

Photo of KhourysBeerGuy
4.87/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - Darkish brown, almost cola-like, but a few shades lighter.

Smell - Caramel, molasses, hints of orange oil and banana candy. Orange circus peanuts? My friend Kate said, "it smells like something's happening."

Taste - Molasses, vanilla, marzipan. Hints of almond liqueur and citrus. The more I drink it, the more the cherry sticks to my palate.

Mouthfeel - Viscous, oily, slick... all in non-offensive ways.

Drinkability - There's an unsurprising boozy bite that I think would keep me from going too deep into this. Having said that, it hides 12% remarkably well and could be very dangerous.

Overall, this is a fantastic beer that will only get better and better with age. One customer remarked that he thought this could be kept for 5+ years and I can't disagree. This is going to be a beast and I'm glad that I caught a taste of it before it goes back into hiding. (884 characters)

Photo of vince4953529
4.14/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The color was dark woody brown like a dark tree bark.

Smell of raisin and vanilla. The taste was complex, I could discern the raisin, some spiciness, more vanilla, and finished up with lingering moderate sweetness.

The spiciness element was a bit biting to the tongue, a little alcohol burn was felt but that's negligible.

Abacus was a successfully blended barrel-aged brew. The taste was excellent, but I found a lack of uniqueness among these barrel-aged beers. Nevertheless I enjoyed sipping Abacus because it gave me the enjoyment of tasting a recherche and tasty beverage. (582 characters)

Photo of julian
3.83/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A: deep dark malty brown amber color with a nice almond colored head. It does dissipate rather quickly but leaves behind a lasting bubbly tan ring around the edges. Lacing is expectedly very oily and slides down the side of the glass quickly leaving little to admire.

S: very boozy, sweet, dark sweet fruity/fig like aroma mixed with molasses. Lots of booze, which isn't surprising at 13%

T: Mmmm very nice. The booze is in the nose is very well hidden in the taste. Lots of malt with an earthy hop bitterness. Some mild bourbon,

M: creamy, smooth, medium bodied, definite throat warming feeling from the high ABV.

D: High ABV will limit drinkability of this. (665 characters)

Photo of DaveHS
4.85/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A-Pours the color of dark stained wood, with a thin bubbly light mocha head. Leaves almost no lacing.

S-Bourbon, vanilla, creme brulee, butterscotch. Smells great.

T/M-Jesus Christ. This is, as Charlie Sheen once said, "Epic." My 10,000 year old vatican warlock brain can't even begin to comprehend the range of flavors. Deep, lush vanilla sweetness, perfectly integrated bourbon barrel character, creme brulee, fresh whipped honey butter...I'm going to call it. This is the best beer I've had from Firestone Walker.

D-Love it. (531 characters)

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

Had this on tap at the Firestone Walker night at Sam Hornes tavern in Folsom on 2/25 during Sacramento beer week.

A-Came out in a small tulip and appeared much darker than i expected. It was a deep ruby color that was bordering on black. Nice tan 1 finger head that had decent retention and left rings on the glass as it went down. Overall looks very appealing.

S-This was my first beer of the night and at first the smell seemed very heavy on bourbon and slighly boozy. I think i was suprised by the heavy nose on this beer and as the night went on it became more and more appealing.

T & M - WOW this is good, i think it delivers a little bit heavier on the nose than on the taste which is a good thing, very complex mix of flavors with some subtle and some strong. Overall a nice barleywine slightly over the top though.

D-Well, I had about 5 of them so it was pretty drinkable however i would not recommend more than one or two in a sitting to truely enjoy it.

Overall, I am excited to get some bottles of this and enjoy over time. Nice work on this one! (1,062 characters)

§ucaba from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
98 out of 100 based on 801 ratings.