Firestone 14 - Anniversary Ale - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
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Ratings: 626 | Reviews: 287 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by Pahn:
4.25/5 rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
22oz bottle into a Duvel tulip. Bottled 10/25/10. Kind of dreading writing this review, since I hate my longer reviews, but there's lots to say about this one...
Appearance: Free pour yields a half inch frothy tan head that dissipates steadily and leaves a tight, short-lived ring of lacing. Pours a very dark red brown with red highlights. Looks about as good as a blend of 6 barrel aged beers could, really.
Smell: While pouring, the room fills with the smell of chocolate and coffee. Putting my nose to the glass, the coffee is gone, and I'm greeted rather with some mild oak, a hefty note of banana / raisin like malt, and a small hint of chocolate. Some foresty hops come out with warmth, as does a ton of oak, bourbon, and cookies.
With time, the smell comes to be dominated by oak, bourbon, yellow cake, and alcohol. These are four things that are very dear to me, and I'm compelled to bump the smell score up another half point.
Taste: Thoughts at first sip: "Oh my God, what a taste!" Thick bourbon, oak, caramel, toffee, ripe banana / plump raisin, with a tingly finish of coffee and chocolate. A beer that could taste like that all the way through is a beer that deserves a perfect score. The first sip of this beer is, perhaps, my ideal beer; the god beer.
At the second sip, I'm rocked back into reality by heavy hop bitterness and flavor (piny, herbal, grassy), and a hot hit of alcohol. The cookies and caramel remain, but the character is much different.
The next several sips leave me a bit confused... of course, it's not strange that the beer tastes like a big English pale ale plus English barleywine plus Russian Imperial Stout (plus a ton of oak)... but it's not quite clear that this combo works. Sometimes I get smooth, decadent oatmeal stout characteristics, others I get highly bitter, pale ale notes that seem to clash. Does this beer make any sense?
These bold flavors are all, on their own, very very good, but a) do they work together? And b) are they masking the underlying subtleties that could render this beer world class?
I'll spare you the novel that is my notes on the journey of this beer, but i will say: regarding (b), only a few years in the cellar will answer that, and on that front the beer, at the moment, fails (because those underlying subtleties are glimpsed in various sips, but far too rarely).
Regarding (a), the answer is yes, these bold flavors achieve a great harmony. The high IBUs (this is a very bitter beer, but it's all hop bitterness, no roast) and powerful alcohol heat compliment the extreme richness of the thick stout and barrel flavors. In the end, the flavor settles into a surprisingly simply but delicious, bitter mix of hops, heavy barrel, caramel, cookie influence, with some highlights of chocolate. The aftertaste hints at a greater complexity, but the main perceptible flavors work very well.
Mouthfeel: Full side of medium bodied. Notably smooth and creamy. Heavy heat, heavy hop bitterness. Long, good aftertaste.
Overall: As much as this bold, somewhat palate-wrecking beer hints at higher heights than it reaches, I really enjoyed this bottle. While it may not deliver on all of its promises, it's a surprisingly effective (and identifiable) mash-up of three styles of beer.
I can't tell if the beer's problems would be solved by age, or are rather genuine dilemmas. The heat could stand to be tamed, but wouldn't the defining barrel character also fade with time? Honestly, I doubt that time will bring this beer to its great potential. Still, a remarkable beer that I would happily drink again.
Serving type: bottle
08-16-2011 01:13:09 | More by Pahn
More User Reviews:
2.93/5 rDev -33.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3
Dark brown with a pure tan head. Smells of milk chocolate, ripened cherries, plum and dark bread. Taste is limited to milk chocolate, vanilla and dark fruits. Cloying and too rich to handle with the alcohol coming in overly strong to add insult to injury. A highly rated, but simple and lopsided beer, which of course makes me question my "beersanity" but confirms my perception with another sip. Might be good in small doses, not unlike cough syrup or moonshine.
Serving type: bottle
06-17-2014 00:50:14 | More by stephens101
Firestone 14 - Anniversary Ale from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
97 out of 100 based on 626 ratings.