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Firestone 14 - Anniversary Ale - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Firestone 14 - Anniversary AleFirestone 14 - Anniversary Ale

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BA SCORE
97
world-class

642 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 642
Reviews: 290
rAvg: 4.4
pDev: 9.09%
Wants: 205
Gots: 555 | FT: 21
Brewed by:
Firestone Walker Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Strong Ale |  12.50% ABV

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes/Commercial Description:
This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

The blend consists of: 31% Double Double Barrel Ale, 29% Sticky Monkey, 27% Parabola, 7% Velvet Merkin, 3% Good Foot, 3% Black Xantus

(Beer added by: ZX6Chris on 11-02-2010)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 642 | Reviews: 290 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of panicspread33
4.93/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

the numbers say it all with this beer. Had it at binnys south loop after the terrible bears game.

Appearance-dark burnt black with a touch of brown. Tan chcolate brown lace from the head.

Smell-a upfront roast similiar to a faint espresso, with a touch of earthy hops.

Taste-a touch of bourbon with a great dark fig and plum note. In perfect balance a large toasty stout note.

Mouthfeel-smooth carbonation with a nice rich silky body that slides back to an amazing finish.

Drinkability-off the charts the easiest drinking beer at that abv that I have had in a long time. Thank you firestone for coming to Chicago!

panicspread33, Jan 24, 2011
Photo of Applewood
4.5/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This years FW Anniversary 14...I paid a shy over $20 for this release, and beyond happy with the experience. I believe one or two more for my cellar is in the near future.

Great work to all involved with the blending process, and I can taste that special Black Xantus blend in there too, just wanted to say thanks for that as a side note.

Applewood, Jan 23, 2011
Photo of Daniellobo
4.8/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Essentially one of the best brews I´ve ever tasted. Long, complex, and masterful sipper.

Presentation: 22 oz boxed brown capped bottle. Copper colored box with the seal of the brewery presiding it and highlighting the name. Back box label notes history of the brewery, expertise aging brews in barrels, intent of ales and blending process. Inside the box a detailed two sided page offers and extended note about the anniversary, collaboration with winemakers, detailed tasting notes, and an overview of their barrel aging program including a careful breakdown of the different components of the blend. Bottle offers a label with similar colors and presiding brewery seal. 14th anniversay: vintage 2010. Notes 12.5% Alc. by Vol. Served on a snifter.

A - Clear deep brown pour, small brown head, moderate retention, faint surface memory and hardly any lacing. Nothing great to look at but in sync with a brew of this magnitude.

S - Beautiful nose, complex reception with notes of chocolate, caramel, bourbon, dash of coffee, spice... Dash of dark fruits. Uff, pretty complex and long.

T - Taste follows and expands with mastery the nose. This defies my current range of words to describe a brew. Without a pushing note, or an overwhsdelming character it offers a long and complex sweet sense with a nice bitter hint at the back picking up the flow. Plenty of bourbon, brown sugar, caramel, touches of spices... Fruity notes of figs, prunes woven back to boozy chocolate dashes. A bit of coffee shines through occasionally, touches of vanilla/oak, woody hints, even a note of red wine woven in the fruity hints before going back to the caramel/bourbon/toffee dominant flows... And back to the other nuances.

M - Medium/full to full body, moderate to low carbonation, smooth and creamy sense with a well woven boozy presence.

D - A perfect sipper. Top notch without a reservation. If one likes this range of brews this one flows with such a complexity and synchronicity that it is outstanding.

Notes: Whoa, whoa, it has all the range, the nuances, the dexterity that makes one regret every missing sip. Yep, I was quite blown away. One of those strong memories that come back, 24 hrs later I could for an instant feel the distinct memory of the brew.

Daniellobo, Jan 23, 2011
Photo of muttyd
4.33/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Deep brown body with a huge tan pillowy head as I pour it into a tulip glass. Coats the glass as I swirl it around. Nose is very complex. Pleasant aromas of oak, toffee, tobacco, vanilla and some citrus. I swear i get a different aroma with every whiff. Sweet toffee malts, mocha-vanilla latte, leather, tobacco and slight citrus hops dominate the flavor profile. Very roasty as well. Beautiful silky smooth feeling on the tongue. Truly the perfect mouthfeel. Dangerously drinkable at 12.5% abv. Very surprised with this brew due to my experience with FW13.

muttyd, Jan 21, 2011
Photo of russpowell
4.65/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This one is courtesy of Bitterbill, a great trader! I love the complete/detailed background on the beer you get from the box info & the scroll included inside, beer geek heaven! Cheers Bill...

Pours an effervescent mahogany with a pinky of Mocha colored head. Viscous appearance to this. Above average head retention & some lacing

S: Nice Bourbon & oaky notes, plums & raisins too.

T: Rich dark fruittyness, dryness, prunes, vanilla & oakyness up front. Nice plummy notes as this warms, some hints of leafy hops, Bourbon sweetness, oakyness & dryness once warm, along with caramel, & dark cherries. Finishes dry, warming with dark chocolate, vanilla, cherries, rich Bourbon flavors, a slight kiss of coffee

MF: Chewy & warming, very little carbonation, so rich

Drinks fantastic for the style & ABV. Rumor has this brewery is headed this way in 2011. Here's hoping if we don't get it here, a neighboring state does, I like/love most of their offerings...

Still waiting for the 3-6 inches of snow we are supposed to get tonight, I wish it would have showed up with this in my glass, bummer that weather didn't deliver, the beer sure did!

russpowell, Jan 20, 2011
Photo of Urbancaver
4.15/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance- Dark but not opaque. A bit of head. Not the prettiest beer

Smell- Smells of bourbon and lots of malt. Some great hops on the nose as well. A very complex beer.

Taste- Lots of bourbon. Thin but crisp with bitterness from the hops. An interesting very complex beer...

Mouthfeel- Too thin for my taste. Seems like it should be thicker given its complexity and strength

Drinkability- very drinkable for a 12.5% beer. I definitely would have gone back for more if I could

Urbancaver, Jan 14, 2011
Photo of maximum12
4.2/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to dbg3, errantknight, & lothore for bottles of FW XIV. Huge fan of the Anniversary series, & I've been looking forward to it since it first came out; the least of these have been excellent. Split the bomber with my hard-working wife, whose eyes lit up when I told her what was in the glass.

Once I carved & wrestled the tape off the cap, the pour is breezy black, with light leaking in around the bronzed, muscled edges. Smells a lot like Velvet Merkin, that distinct oatmeal edge, & a gorgeous shot of bourbon, vanilla, & glorious malts.

Firestone Walker XIV comes with a prestigous heritage, & can hold its head high in the halls of its forefathers. Still pretty hot & boozy at this tender age. Nutty vanilla bourbon heartily malted cheesecake. That's it. I could end this review right now. The bourbon is beautifully cooked into this brew, coming across in the vanilla, whiskey, & a shot of heat that warms the toes. Scarce glances of amaretto, chilled dark fruit, bare chocolate sneaks in at the end like a thief in the night. A thief bearing gifts.

Creamy as all get out, once again a la Velvet Merlin. Drinks like a champion, mostly because of how lovely it tastes. Low carbonation.

Excellent beer that lives up to all that has come before. It seems that most of these beers have peaked for me after at least a year or rest & recuperation; I'm eager to see what some time will do to this wild boar. Thanks again, Firestone Walker.

maximum12, Jan 12, 2011
Photo of GregSVT
4.28/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22oz bomber into a snifter

A: Pours a dark cola color with a small tan head that fades to a ring quickly and leaves a small bit of lacing on the glass.

S: The nose has subtle aromas of chocolate milk, cocoa, caramel and vanilla. At first all I could smell was the cocoa/chocolate but as it warms you get more vanilla and caramel flavors. Damn near smells like a candy bar.

T: The taste is wonderful...lots of rich flavors like vanilla, molasses, and a slightly hoppy element on the finish. Everything is rich yet not overdone. The alcohol is very well hidden for a 12.5% strong ale...

M: The feel is medium-full bodied and slightly oily in nature...coats the mouth and lets the flavors last on the finish.

D: While this is expensive and has a high ABV it's still damn tasty and I would drink this again with no problems.

Blending is an art and I think Firestone Walker is on the forefront of that movement. I wouldn't be surprised if more breweries started doing this more often.

GregSVT, Jan 09, 2011
Photo of yourefragile
4.33/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 oz bottle poured into a snifter.

A: Bronze-chestnut color. Bubbly, khaki head. Average retention, dots and dashes of lacing.

S: Toffee, caramel, licorice, anise, alcohol, vanilla, oak, hops that fade as it warms, bourbon.

T: Molasses, milk chocolate, leather, citric hops, oak, tannins, brown sugar, toasted malt, light char, coffee.

M: Medium thick, mildly syrupy, light fine, fizzy carbonation.

No real major surprises going into a FW anniv. beer at this point. I haven't tried any others this fresh, so I don't have a great reference point for it at this age, but this is sweeter with a stronger accompanying hop presence than others. The contribution of Parabola, while noticeable, is not as strong as last year's blend. Alcohol presence becomes more potent as the beer warms. For such a large, complex beer this is drinking pretty nice right now, but hopefully will smooth out a littler more with time. My least favorite of 11-13 so far, but not to say this isn't a world class beer. Buy a few, drink a few, age a few, whatever, you won't lose.

yourefragile, Jan 09, 2011
Photo of Arbitrator
4/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Re-review off a bottle shared by a friend (which I gave him for Christmas). Uh... thanks Arbitrator?

This has come a long way in the bottle. Next to Melange No. 3 and Cherry Adam, this had the most complexity in the nose and aroma.

The delicate esters I had previously picked up in the nose were still present, but they played second fiddle to brown sugar, brandy, molasses, and caramel. Vanilla, chocolate, and cherries (that's new!) in the nose as well.

This actually tasted very similar to Melange No. 3. When cold, it was driven primarily by brown sugar, molasses, maple, vanilla, and chocolate. As it warmed, the taste shifted more toward oak, leather, and (when warmest) cherries. I was surprised; this is much more complex than when it was fresh. It's really coming together.

The mouthfeel has improved, too. The slightly harsh, boozy nature of the young bottle has receded in favor of a mild heat that could almost be mistaken for a spicy bite. It's smoother than Melange No. 3.

Unanimously the favorite of the night. Still not as impressive as I had hoped, but it's better than before.

~~~

Original comments (I had given it a B):

Chilled bomber into a glass, courtesy of mfielden. Thanks, Mark.

I drank this without looking at the blend sheet for the first half of the bottle. Most of the fun is figuring out what went into it, and seeing what I can detect.

A: Pours an extremely dark brown, so dark that it appears nearly black in my snifter. During sips, I can kind of see through the thinner regions of the glass, which glow with a ruby translucence. The foam is a light tan cap that vanishes quickly, leaving a moderate, big-bubbled collar on the beer. A few clumps of lace appear while I'm sipping, but nothing that sticks.

S: If I close my eyes and sniff, I start to feel like a tripel is involved. There's an estery, nearly floral presence that I can't quite figure out. It's overridden by brandy, molasses, caramel, and oak. It vaguely reminds me of Velvet Merkin, probably from the hints of vanilla and chocolate that flit across the nose. It's actually quite a nice aroma, and as it warms, it becomes more so. But, also as it warms, it gets boozier, with a little nose hair singeing going on.

T: Molasses, brown sugar, brandy (or at least a grape-based spirit like port -- it's quite strong, bordering on raisiny). An earthy, dark chocolate bitterness surfaces before leading into caramel, toffee, and just a touch of bourbon that reflect the Parabola that unmistakably went into this beer. The finish is oaky and nutty, with caramel that lingers on the tongue. A mild heat closes off the experience. A complex flavor for sure, and there's a lot going on, but it reminds me of a Dogfish Head strong ale (specifically, Palo Santo Marron). It lacks the delicacy and balance I appreciated in 13, and is more brash in comparison. In terms of flavor, I'd put 13 first, then 12. This ties with an aged 11 (which didn't hold up that well) or even slightly behind it.

M: Full-bodied, with carbonation closer to low than medium. It produces a silky body with sticky flavor. A slight astringency in the finish reveals the numerous barrels that went into this beer. When I first start drinking, there's a low heat to it; nothing brash, and it feels good on this chilly [for California] evening. But as it warms, the heat becomes stronger, to the point of becoming a flaw.

D: I've only had the 13 and 14 fresh. This is similar to 13 in that it's basically ready to drink now, though a few months of age may cause it to peak slightly (like 13 did for me). That being said, I'm not going apeshit over this like I did with its predecessor. I don't know what it's missing, but it doesn't have that oomph. Then again, it took me a couple of bottles to warm to 13, so maybe that's what this one needs. It's just that at $22 a pop, I'm not looking to give this multiple chances unless they're forced on me.

It's true what they say. Black Xantus ruins everything.

Arbitrator, Jan 08, 2011
Photo of drink1121
4.65/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A-Pours a deep mohagony with very little head and no real carbonation but it seems like this is what it's supposed to be like

S- Caramel, vanilla/oak, sweet bourbon, maple syrup, cinamon and a slight peperry spice - all the good stuff u would expect with a bourbon barrel aged beer. No real malt or hop presence

T- Not really the same as the smell. Not nearly the same bourbon character but more things like tobacco, black licorice, dark fruits and very slight booze at the very end, but it's great year

M- Not thick at all but I wouldn't say watery by any means either. It's a thin, dense feel with no carbonation. Reminds me of a wine feel.

D- Pretty high on this. Sharing with a few non BA friends but could do the brunt of the damage myself on this one. I am glad I have several more to go through in the next 10 years or so.

drink1121, Jan 08, 2011
Photo of waltersrj
4.68/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured on New Years Eve.

Nose was absolutely intoxicating...a rich blend of roasted chocolate malt, sweet tobacco, bourbon, vanilla, caramel, charred oak, cherries, fig, citrus hops, and slight smoke.

Taste was also incredible, a beautiful array of bittersweet chocolate, roasted malt, slight roasted coffee bitterness, bourbon soaked cherries, chocolate cake, fig, caramel, burnt oak, bourbon, vanilla, and slight toffee with a smooth bourbon finish with hints of tobacco.

Mouthfeel was slightly creamy, moderately viscous, just near perfect.

Pour gave me around one finger of moderately creamy, dark tan head. The lacing was decent on the edge of the glass and the legs were swirling beautifully until the last drop was gone.

Final thoughts: An amazingly well blended barrel aged beer, combining many of my favorite aspects of barleywine and imperial stouts. Rich and decadent, a true showcase of professional brewing, barrel aging, and blending...a masterpiece.

waltersrj, Jan 04, 2011
Photo of axeman9182
4.83/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

22oz bomber, allowed to warm some before being cracked to help ring in 2011. It was poured into my Duvel tulip.

FW14 pours black, but a shade or two lighter than most imperial stouts. The khaki colored head only rises to about two fingers in height. Retention is solid, but the lacing falls a bit short of being impressive. The aroma is an absolutely intoxicating blend of rum soaked figs, burnt brown sugar, and some citrusy hop notes. I was expecting a lot after catching the nose of this beer, but it manages to even surpass that. In addition to the previously mentioned flavors, notes of rich dark chocolate and caramel are added to the mix. The balance among all these flavors is superb, one sip might taste like burnt sugar and caramel, the next dark chocolate and grapefruit. Every component is just about picture perfect in its intensity. The mouthfeel couldn't get any better. The body is rich and full and creamy, and even a little bit silky. Carbonation is very middle of the road, enough verve to elevate the hop notes, while quiet enough to let the malty flavors shine through. This bottle of Firestone Walker 14 was consumed partly in 2010 and partly in 2011, and I feel very confident in saying it would be near the very top of the "best of" list for both years.

axeman9182, Jan 01, 2011
Photo of charlzm
4.25/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Consumed December 31st, 2010 in my trusty Triple Petrus tulip, served at 48 degrees F.

Beer pours a clear, deep brown, making a small light brown head that disappears fast. Soon, there's only a tiny crown of foam clinging to the sides of the glass providing minimal sheeting.

Aromas - there's a lot going on here. Oatmeal, wood, smoke, bitter chocolate, pitted fruit, mocha, hint of citrus...

Flavor - follows nose, with the oatmeal stout component of Velvet Merkin... ahem, Merlin the dominant flavor. Also a hit of some spirit (brandy? Bourbon?) from barrel aging, I presume.

Mouthful - smoooth and chewy with a bit of alcohol heat.

Hard to rank this for drinkability - it's a massive beer, almost too much for a single non-alkie to handle. I drank it all, but it was a monumental feat. It's not hard to drink, but it's so heavy and substantial that it's not so easy getting through a whole bomber solo.

charlzm, Jan 01, 2011
Photo of Gueuzedude
4.35/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A solid pour into my Lost Abbey Teku glass produces a two-finger thick, lightly browned, dark tan colored head. The beer is a dark, deeply concentrated brown / amber color that shows clear, brown tinges around the edges when held up to the light. The aroma smells of deeply caramelized wood (think toasted coconut and vanillin) and malt; the malt gets rich and concentrated enough to smell umami like with notes of savory, chewy, at times almost smoky raisins, deep caramelized sugar and even some slight sherry / nuttiness. Touches of roasted grain seem to add to the sherry notes some how and in the finish there is definitely some light touches of noticeable roasted character that contributes dark toasted / burnt, whole grain bread-crust aromatics as well as a hint of dark espresso roast character. The up front barrel derived caramel and vanillin notes accentuate a concentrated, caramelized fruitiness that reminds me of rum soaked raisins, dark molasses and notes of brandy. At times this can seem a bit too focused on the barrel / wood character, but the whole thing is so well integrated and there is truly a lot of complexity noticeable in the subtle portions of the nose.

Thick, chewy and viscous as it first hits my palate, the beer lingers for quite some time almost seeming to coat the mouth with a layer of viscous, sweet beer. Somehow the beer does not end up being cloying, much of this is due to the complexity of all the flavors. The long finish sees a bitter, herbal hoppiness meld with some roasted bitterness as well as some warming / spice from the alcohol and some additional spiciness from oak. Up front the beer tastes of deeply caramelized malt sugars, some notes of molasses, rum or even brandy soaked raisins and dates as well as really reminding me of a dense, sweet, incredibly moist, brown sugar and molasses focused cake or bread. Showing up in the flavor is a rich, umami like malt character that, while not quite as expressive as in the nose, still produces flavors that hints at salty-smoky peat and savory concentrated malt notes (not really teriyaki or soy, but that is the best I can describe this flavor with). There is actually a fair amount of herbal hop character (including the bitterness) that this beer has; I don't know why but I wasn't expecting a lot of hop character from this beer. A biting bitterness (that is honestly a bit overwhelmed by the rich malt), a nice herbal / pine / touch of hemp oil hop flavor in the middle and perhaps a hint of citrus character that gets subsumed in the rich maltiness of this brew.

Coming back to this beer after dinner, my changed palate has me noticing subtle notes of dark cocoa in the finish that melds quite well with the rich molasses like malt character. The herbal hop character seems to also play a more prominent role now as does the spicy, warming alcohol.

This is drinking very nicely right out of the gate, while not a dominant character, I am really enjoying the vibrant hoppiness that this beer currently has. Wow, again I am just quite impressed with how tasty this beer is right now; I haven't had 13, but this beer is definitely starting out much stronger than any of the other beers of this series have for me. This is purely a contemplative sipping brew, there is a ton of complexity and it is way too sweet to be something to be drunk quickly; despite the ample sweetness I am quite enjoying this beer, I expected / wanted it to be rich and satiating, and this beer most definitely is. I wish I had quite a bit of this beer in my cellar right now and not to age, but so I could drink a lot of this beer this winter.

Gueuzedude, Dec 31, 2010
Photo of CourteManche
4.28/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Served into a glass snifter.

A - Very dark. Medium-brown head. Slight carbonation.
S - Explosion of bourbon with sweet, subtle hints of coffee and chocolate.
T - Very complex. Less bourbon taste than expected (from the initial nose), with a profound, hot finish and sweet, malty, smoke-like linger. Sweet flavors apparent, but very subdued.
M - Full-bodied, syrupy.
D - Limited release, so potentially hard to come by. High ABV, overall hot beer. Despite this, very complex and highly recommended -- especially if you like thicker beers and bourbon.

CourteManche, Dec 31, 2010
Photo of kzoobrew
4.33/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Review input from notes, enjoyed 12/09. Big thanks to Carleton for the bottle. Cheers buddy!

Pulled from cellar poured into Darkness snifter.

Moderate pour down the middle produces a one finger malted milk colored head. Body is a dark chestnut color. Limited retention though the lacing is a bit impressive.

Aroma is full of darker scents off the bat. Chocolate, coffee, dark fruits and toffee. Bourbon is the dominate spirit flavor though the brandy can be noticed. These darker scents fade with warmth and a sweeter sticky buns breadiness begins to emerge.

A lot of complexity without muddling the flavor. Sweet malt and caramel transition to a coffee, chocolate and toffee flavors before ultimately winding its way back to caramel. Booziness moves from bourbon to brandy. Warming bite to the alcohol. Vanilla is laced through out though stronger towards the rear of the palate.

Medium bodied with soft carbonation. Finish is moderate though much drier than I expected.

A great beer, I am very impressed. The blend was masterful and the final product is a beauty. A sipper without a doubt but each sip is welcomed and enjoyed. The price could sway some but you owe it to yourself to pick up a bottle if it is within reach.

kzoobrew, Dec 29, 2010
Photo of CrellMoset
4.05/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22 oz. bottle in the traditional fantastic FW Anniversary presentation tradition, purchased for $23 at Greenwood Gourmet in Crozet, VA. Poured in to a tulip.

Appearance: Pours a bronzed, burned bistre, hazed at the pour and around the edges but a deep enough shade that it's practically opaque. It's a surprisingly still looking beer, capped by one finger of moderately tanned and unspectacular head, which fizzles out of existence pretty quickly, unsustainable in the high abv environment with only a few faint streams of carbonation attempting to replenish it. The lacing is similarly average, with a few dashes and streams managing to stick to the sides of the tulip but most slinking back to the morass about as quickly as they emerged, slippery and glittery. It's a decidedly average looking beer, but it's an average looking beer with a 12.5% abv and a ton of barrel aging character, so I have to give it a little credit where it's due.

Aroma: Hoppy notes dominate when colder, but this one turns in to pure alcohol notes when it warms, and is likely this beer's weakest component. Parabola dominates the nose, particularly as this one hits room temperature (which is where I am now - for some reason, I usually review the aroma last) - slightly burned malts, toast, and bittersweet cocoa mingle with dark fruits and vanilla. A little leathery around the edges, transitioning well enough though a little roughly in to some spicy, tobacco-like hop notes and a few lighter fruit nuances.

Taste: Sweeter than the previous FW Anniversary beers, though with enough of a hop kick to balance it out a little. But first, this beer. First impression is that it's much lighter and more syrupy than I would have expected - the DIPA component dominates here (unsurprisingly, given the % of the blend that it represents), rendering the malt base very honey-like, with a strong caramel compliment. The malts increase in depth and roastiness, and it's a fairly seamless transition - toffee, brown sugar, molasses, cocoa, toast, coffee, faint burned astringencies (likely courtesy of the Sticky Monkey and Parabola, primarily). It's a complete if top heavy malt base, and is complimented nicely by the malty dark fruit notes contributed by the Parabola (dark cherries and raisins, fresh in my mind from the fresh Parabola I had last night) and the lighter, daintily tropical notes (peach, mainly) that I presume come from the barleywine.

More hop balance than usual (required and expected from a beer this much sweeter) provides a nice, bracing bitterness but also a slew of tobacco and tropical and citrus fruits - mango is strong, as are grapefruit, orange, nectarine, and the aforementioned peach (which is one of the few fruits I get from both hop notes and malt notes). Toasted, even charred coconut mingle with both green and smoky oak notes as well as leather, and the barrels contribute a nice - but not anywhere near overpowering or even prominent - vanilla. The barrel notes are - as always - prominent, and they develop nicely as it warms (as does the rest of this beer - I'd recommend 58 to 62 degrees as the optimum serving temperature). Bourbon dominates, spicy, sweet, roasted, and earthy, and most of the brandy is lost in the heat, sweetness, and barleywine malt and hop fruit notes, though I can sort of detect where I imagine it fits in to the flavor profile here.

Mouthfeel: Initially, this one was perfect or at least nearly perfect - viscous and chewy, but remarkably smooth, creamy, oily, and even. It becomes a little more erratic as it warms, oddly - typically, you'd expect the opposite, with the dying of the carbonation rendering the body smoother - but it's still pretty nice, one of the beer's better aspects.

Drinkability: I've had four of the five now (the four you expect), and I'll echo what seems to be the community sentiment - they're going a little downhill. This one was just a little too hot and sweet, and though I accept that part of that is probably youth, part of it is also a result of a blend, with the lighter "base" beer not being able to withstand the booziness while fresh. I imagine age will both decrease the residual sweetness as well as blend and subdue the alcohol notes, but the definition of a world class beer is one that's great fresh and great aged. So while this beer may be great with some age on it (and I imagine it will be), right now it's a little rough around the edges (and not worth the $23 I paid for it to drink fresh).

But part of this is expectations and quibbling, because I think I speak for many BAs when I say that these FW Anniversary beers are some of the best, most cutting edge, enjoyable beers around. And if past history is any judge, the fact that this beer wasn't amazing doesn't mean for an instant that FW15 won't be the single most amazing beer ever produced for human consumption. And with what I know these guys are capable of, I wouldn't be surprised if that were the case.

CrellMoset, Dec 29, 2010
Photo of barleywinefiend
4.8/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A: Poured a deep brown, almost black with a small brown head and bubbles. Looked good to me as I knew it was already.

S: Wood, Earth, vanilla, oak, bourbon, some liquorice at time

T: The nose is fantastic, I mean very good. Take the caramel, toffee, smooth chocolate, wood, oak, vanilla, hints at coffee. Wow.

M: Low on carbonation, sticky, sweet so much flavor, big body, just right on the booze

D: One of the easier to drink strong ales I have had and I still think it is one of the best FW anny beers yet.

barleywinefiend, Dec 28, 2010
Photo of Mora2000
3.8/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to mar for sharing this bottle. I have been looking forward to this one.

The beer pours a dark brown coilor with a white head. The aroma is a disappointment. It it not bad, but it is not what I was expecting. I get a lot of soy and toffee, as well as some leather. I also get something that resembles trash. Hopefully the flavor will be better.

For the flavor, I get a lot of roasted malt and chocolate, which is coupled with a lot of barrel-aging characteristics. I get a nice amount of oak and maple, as well as quite a bit of vanilla. Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation.

Luckily, the flavor was much better than the aroma, which salvaged this beer. Glad I got to try this one.

Mora2000, Dec 28, 2010
Photo of Gfunk720
4.38/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Fresh bottle out of my Sierra Nevada 30th Anniversary Tulip.

A- Dark brownish black, slightly opaque. Light brownish-tan head, but fades with no lacing.

S- Nice and balanced. Coffee, chocolate, hops, and malt.

T- Sweet and chocolatey, hints of brown sugar and molassas. Just the right blend of bourbon, and a touch of hops.

M- Great. Nice and creamy, good blend of all flavors. Not a lot of carbonation, which is a good thing

D- This stuff was very tasty, and easy to drink. Me likey...

Gfunk720, Dec 27, 2010
Photo of xnicknj
4.53/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle poured into snifter glass - big thanks to phan869 for sharing this.

Pours dark mocha with some brighter cherry red tones towards the bottom of the glass. A small head fades out into film with a nice collar of spotty lacing.

Complex nose with chocolate, coffee, toffee, oak, vanilla, bourbon, tannin, leather. Is there anything else?

Ultra smooth sweetness with milk chocolate and toffee. Molasses and syrup sweetness. Rich bourbon with vanilla and smooth oak. Notes of piny hops. Leather and warm alcohol towards the end with some dry bitterness. Finishes with touches of smooth sweetness and light boozy warmth.

Excellently smooth and velvety around the mouth. Drinks really well, especially considering the alcohol, alongside great flavor throughout. A fantastic bal aged beer.

xnicknj, Dec 26, 2010
Photo of Phelps
4.2/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Enjoyed during a vertical (diagonal?) tasting of FW Anniversary 12, 13 and 14 with tlay10. This one was poured from the bottle into a snifter.

Light mahogany, like Dr. Pepper in color. A little clear, ruby highlights when held to a light. A half finger head of khaki fizzles out quickly, leaving a super tiny head behind, and no lace.

This smells like chocolate truffles. Pretzels, vanilla, heavy coffee, dark cocoa powder, cabernet, a bit of oak and dark cherries amidst well-incorporated alcohol.

The flavor begins sweet and tangy. Maraschino cherries, dark chocolate, vanilla, plum sauce and maple all make appearances. Then: an oddly tangy and drying finish, leaving lingering coffee flavors. There's a good amount of alcohol singeing my nose hairs, and a bit pops out in the flavor as well. All in all, it's very comparable to FW 12, but fruitier.

Medium carbonation creates a moderate fizz. The alcohol burn is a little too big, giving me some heartburn-like warmth in the chest. The body, however, is medium in fullness, with a nice velvet smoothness.

Surprisingly, 14 holds its own against past anniversary beers; in fact, I may have enjoyed this the most during our little vertical. Having tried this vintage both on tap and in the bottle, I have to say I like it in this format better. It seemed sweeter and more complex, somehow. Another year or two could improve it greatly.

Phelps, Dec 25, 2010
Photo of flexabull
4.35/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Ah... It's Christmas eve, family has gone home, time for a late night treat.

Pours a dark brown with a nice brown head that quickly fades.

Aromas are nutty, with booze, oak, and some dark fruits notes. Smells nice, but a bit overpowering.

Taste is very complex, but not a huge powerhouse like the nose suggests. Dark chocolates, stewed fruits, coconut, booze and oak. Finish is warm from the alcohol, has some caramel sweetness and earthy bitterness.

Mouthfeel is nice, full and smooth, with just enough carbonation. Would like more body though.

Drinkability is quite good. Another superb Firestone Anniversary beer. I think with a couple of years in the cellar, this one might smooth out nicely. Probably my least favorite of the series, but as my scores indicate, this is still a wonderful brew. Congrats on 14 years Firestone!

flexabull, Dec 25, 2010
Photo of calir1
3.63/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

So I must say that I appreciate the barrel aging thing, but this beer is like a beer whiskey. It looks good, smells like a bourbon barrel and tastes like whiskey covered in beer. It tastes great, but sip after sip of this taste gets to me. The first few were really good, but it seems I missed the beer part of this and drank a diluted beer induced bourbon. I get that this beer was aged in these containers, but I assume it takes on the flavor and not be the flavor. It is good, but way to much alcohol flavor for me.

calir1, Dec 25, 2010
Firestone 14 - Anniversary Ale from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
97 out of 100 based on 642 ratings.