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Walker's Reserve - Porter - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Walker's Reserve - PorterWalker's Reserve - Porter

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

1,577 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,577
Reviews: 633
rAvg: 3.89
pDev: 10.8%
Wants: 65
Gots: 161 | FT: 5
Brewed by:
Firestone Walker Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Porter |  5.80% ABV

Availability: Year-round

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

A singularly distinctive beer that represents our finest brewing efforts, Walker’s Reserve is a elegant dark ale featuring robust flavors of toffee, caramel and bittersweet chocolate. This brew employs five specialty malts, as well as oat and barley flakes, for added complexity and flavor.

(Beer added by: Jason on 11-15-2002)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,577 | Reviews: 633 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Cavery
3.13/5  rDev -19.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

750ml shared with Klym

poured into Stone Nonic

A: Dark brown decaff coffee body with a small rise of boiled stew foams around the edge of the glass. The body is completely opaque, but it really has much more of a brown character to it than a black. You could look at this and pick it out for a porter, and not a stout. Glad to see a beer that knows what it is!

S: Civil war hard tack, cheap burned pita breads over a beach campfire. There's a real cutting sweetness to the nose that's a bit dissonant. The sweetness is almost like moldy bread. A bit of salt water stings the nose with too big a sniff.

T: Straight forward coffees, not of the highest quality. Odd notes of charred driftwood makes me re-think another rip of that size. This malt has been waterlogged! The flavor isn't bad, but the details on the coffee notes are a bit meh. There's no real roast to speak of, nor is there any real creaminess. This is really quite a straight forward cup-a-joe. Good at least for what it is: coffee-like.

M: lighter mouth that could almost pass for a dark german bock. The bubbles fizz and then go, leaving an almost dark lager like body. I think this characteristic really conspires with the flavor to give some watery notes.

O: While many of the characeristics do what they can to keep this beer from being just above mediocre; in the end it is its worst fear. With so many other good cheap porters on the market (stone smoked porter!), it's hard to justify making this a peer of the already established. Where other porters have unique textures, flavors, and wafts of smoke -- this beer offers soggy driftwood malt. The flavor here is only good for building a raft, and even then it might not float.

Cavery, Jul 14, 2011
Photo of Klym
2.7/5  rDev -30.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Pours black with reddish brown edges in the light. Slightly violent pour that gave near a two finger head. Plenty of lacing but the bubble construction on the head is pretty unattractive; more reminiscent of dish soap than a good porter.

S: I never wanted to make this comparison in my life, but when I smelled it I was shot back a bit to Bayhawk Chocolate Porter, which, in case you're unfamiliar, should have a spout attached to the bottom to make it easier to drain pour. Old, cheap, and stale chocolate in the nose with overly roasted nuts and some smoke. The smells don't seem very robust for a porter that goes by the name, but we'll see.

T: Roasted nuts and char with old, stale chocolate feebly pumping in some questionable sweetness. The flavors seem to float in the beer instead of having the beer itself embody the flavors. More reminiscent of drinking water with lots of 'beer floaties' in it than drinking actual beer. I just don't get this one.

M: Watery with prickling carbonation that does little to help or hide the flavors. No smoothness or creaminess.

O: I've had nothing but good experiences from firestone walker so far so this came as a surprise. This was a very mediocre porter and I don't see why anyone would drink this more than twice if they've had other porters of even reasonable quality. I still have great respect for Firestone Walker as a brewery but this one shouldn't have left the lab.

Klym, Jul 14, 2011
Photo of DrinkThemAll
3.78/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 22oz bomber into a pint glass...

A-pours just about opaque black, has a 2 finger caramel or tan head with decent lacing...

S-sweet chocolate espresso with roasted nutty malts, brown sugar and some molasses...Smells very nice and sweet...yum

T-chocolate espresso notes up front with some sweet molasses,roasted brown sugar malts and a nice mid oak dry hops finish...Hops are very light but still present...nice

M-medium bodied chocolate creamy robust oak mouth...Like the smooth and creaminess here...

O-decent porter, refreshing and smooth...No super wow factor, a tasty beer none the less

DrinkThemAll, Jul 14, 2011
Photo of afrokaze
3.88/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a Stone IRS snifter. Slightly aged, dated 3/5/11.

A - Pours a deep ruby brown with a finger of tan head that settles slowly with little lacing.

S - A mix of brown sugar/molasses, copper kettle, dark ripe fruit, roasted malt, dark chocolate.

T - Toffee/espresso notes mix with unexpectedly strong alcohol fumes, dark cherries & chocolate. I believe this is partially barrel aged, or else I'm just imagining a lingering hint of wood in the aftertaste. Finish is nice, long and moderately dry.

M - Nice and creamy from the first sip to the last. Has plenty of body to stand up to warming up despite it's low ABV.

O - A pretty good beer edging on greatness. It could honestly stand up to being about 6.5% ABV, although I commend them for keeping it simple and traditional. It looks the part but doesn't quite catch me like the other reserve series beers. As stereotypical as it sounds, an imperial version at around 8.5 - 9% ABV and 100% barrel aged would be an interesting propsition indeed.

afrokaze, Jul 14, 2011
Photo of brentk56
3.58/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a dark chocolate color with ruby highlights; the tan head pancakes the liquid and leaves many clumps of foam behind

Smell: Chocolate, oak and coffee

Taste: Lots of surprises here; starts out with the anticipated chocolate flavor and adds some oaky complexity but by mid-palate, the hops jump to the fore, adding a pithy balance; a touch more vanilla and oak builds in the aftertaste but they are dominated by the hops

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate carbonation; somewhat aqueous

Overall: In a sense, this is the father of the black IPA, with the major difference being the amount of chocolate in the malt bill; in any event, I don't think the flavors work together particularly well so the beer just doesn't match up to some of the others in its category

brentk56, Jul 13, 2011
Photo of cavedave
4.25/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Three fingers of tan foam ride a darkest brown and opaque beer. It's a thick and lasting lather that leaves lacy shaving cream on the glass.

Some chocolate and roast in a mild aroma that also carries some floral hop and caramel.

Medium taste that is sweet at start, and bready, with caramel and toffee ushering the roastier elements into a marvelous sip. The roast is just right, not ashy, not too bitter, perfect to allow the coffee and chocolate notes of the taste to shine. It stays sweet into a finish that does get a bit of herbal bitter and deeper roast to dry it , carrying it off without being cloying or overbearing. Very clean and balanced. Nice.

Creamy, light on palate, maybe a touch thin for the flavor it carries, perfect low/med. carb., and a finish that is somewhat short of Ed Fitz and Smutty Robust, but quite fine.

One of the 5 best American robust porters on market. A must try for lovers of this style.

cavedave, Jul 12, 2011
Photo of FanofHefe
4.25/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz. bottle poured into a Duvel tulip; no dating on the bottle or label. Deep, dark brown body that does not let any light through. Two-finger mocha head that leaves plenty of sticky lacing and a small foam cap on top.

The prominent aroma is definitely roasted malt, but there is a bit of sweetness that resembles dark fruit. A little dark chocolate and toffee blend into the aroma as well.

The flavor follows the aroma fairly closely. Nice roasted malty flavor that blends very well with chocolate and coffee notes. A hint of dark fruit and a slight notice of earthly hops as well.

The mouthfeel is not as smooth as some other porters I've had but this one drinks well overall. Excellent porter. Well done.

FanofHefe, Jul 11, 2011
Photo of smcolw
4.08/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Huge beige head that leaves ample, chunky lace on the glass. The liquid is mahogany brown where a scintilla of light passes.

Lots of hot chocolate aromas. There's a touch of mocha as well. Inviting.

Despite the low alcohol level, I note some warmth in the swallow. Less chocolatey than the smell suggests, which might be because there seems to be far more hop to the flavor. Nicely balanced. Perhaps the only distraction is the body which seems lighter than most American made Porters. All in all, a very drinkable beer.

smcolw, Jul 10, 2011
Photo of GarthDanielson
3.98/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bomber into a pint glass, the beer is almost jet black with a huge, frothy, yellow-cream colored head that settles quickly, but leaves a huge lacing. Auburn-brown highlights on the edges, this beer has aromas of coffee and not much else. Nose stays smooth with a round, roasted feel to it. Flavor is all coffee as well, with a much lighter profile than the aromas would lead you to believe. The flavors stay light and smooth on the palate, with some roasted and smokey character throughout. The body is almost creamy while you drink. The beer's aftertaste is the dark roasted coffee character again, with a hint of mocha flavor. The beer has a clean and smooth finish, and leaves just a hint of the coffee behind on the palate. Very smooth and very balanced, this is a tasty Porter.

GarthDanielson, Jul 09, 2011
Photo of nrbw23
3.85/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- Pours a brown color with a nice tan head. Head becomes a thin layer of foam and leaves some really nice layered lacing.

S- Smell is huge on roasted malts, a light coffee, toffee and chocolate. A bit of nuts as well.

T- Taste follows the nose pretty well. Earthy hop bitterness here, bitter chocolate, coffee, caramel, roasted malts, and a very light touch of darker fruits.

M- Lighter side of medium and carbonation is medium. Has a nice creamy feel to it.

O- This one drinks really easy.

nrbw23, Jul 08, 2011
Photo of CooperEllis
3.95/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I was expecting to like this more. I'm a big porter fan and I typically enjoy Firestone Walker offerings. A very good selection though.

22oz into 12oz 'pint' glass.

It's pretty. I mean that in the purest way. The body is dark, but has subtle colors throughout, with a ruby coloring towards the edges of the glass. There is a nice head of tan that slowly dwindles to a thin top covering which leaves fluffy lacing as you drink.

Aroma is good. It smells a bit like mash for me to rate it higher, but the malt aroma is there.

It is creamy up front, but there is a nice bite at the same time. Very well balanced. You can almost taste the 'brite' in it.

Solid, if not exceptional. I don't know what it costs in most markets as I had mine flown in from Chicago a few months ago but I could see this rivaling Founders porter as my go to if it was readily available in my market.

Full disclosure: I sampled this after sampling Dark Horizon 2.0 which I felt was very heavy on the booze. There may be boozier notes in this that I'm not catching because they're too subtle.
Does really impact my rating, but in reading my review I didn't note any booze notes and there may be some faint note I'm missing.


CooperEllis, Jul 08, 2011
Photo of shangwang
3.6/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Picked this up at the brewery during a West Coast swing a couple months ago. Bottled on 4/7/11.

Poured into a traditional pint glass. Lots of foamy tan head initially, and it gradually dissipated leaving big chunks of lacing on the glass. Deep black-brown color. Smelled of roasted coffee, bakers chocolate, and honey. Tasted much mellower than I expected - lots of roasted malt flavor with very little bitterness. Not a very heavy aftertaste and a clean finish. Watery mouthfeel with lots of carbonation.

Not a whole lot of complexity to the flavor - it's very straightforward and for a porter I'm surprised at how little coffee/chocolate there is in the taste. Drinks more like a brown ale than a porter, but doesn't seem to have any other funky characteristics. Solid, but nothing special IMO.

shangwang, Jul 07, 2011
Photo of OWSLEY069
3.78/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep amber to black in color with a light tan head. In the aroma, dry cocoa and a nice roast. In the taste, cocoa, roasty, a bit toasty, and almost feels a bit Belgian like. A nice hop bite and medium bodied mouthfeel, with a dry small roast and small cocoa in the aftertaste. Almost Belgian like, quite pleasant.

OWSLEY069, Jul 06, 2011
Photo of BeerFMAndy
3.2/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

22 oz bottle split in a Bruery tulip.
5.8% ABV, no date.

A - Slivers of clear dark mahogany show through the bottom of the black tulip while mounds of tan head fade to a thin skim while leaving gorgeous lace on the glass.

S - Heavily roasted dry cocoa, this porter smells incredibly dusty with a full earthy hop nose. It reminds me of cheap wood paneling in a dingy liquor store. Not entirely pleasing.

T - The gritty, dirty flavor follows through from the aroma. Roasted malt is big but messy and thin finishing with a fairly present metallic taste. Earthy hops complete the dusty, dirty spectrum.

M - This porter feels exceptionally thin for a porter but is really medium-bodied, just high carbonated with a bite to the finish. Very, very dry.

O - I'm not a fan of this one. It's overly dusty, dry, and near the point of being cloying. This porter just doesn't live up to the caliber of the other FW brew's that I've had the pleasure of sampling.

BeerFMAndy, Jul 06, 2011
Photo of sethmeister
3.9/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Opaque dark brown in the glass but shines red when held to the light. Large cakelike tan head. Excellent lacing and retention.

Nose is toasted, molasses and caramel. Leafy hop note.

Taste is sweet molasses. Milk chocolate and an almost fudgy note. After the swallow a nice mild bitterness emerges and lingers. Toasted and nutty flavors. Smoke. Hints of coffee.

Mouth is very soft, rich and creamy without actually being heavier than medium. Low carbonation.

A very tasty English style porter.

sethmeister, Jul 03, 2011
Photo of bld81
3.68/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle poured into a pint glass:
A: dark brown, appears lighter as the edges, no head or lacing, maybe an older bottle?
S: faint coffee and toffee, more chocolate as it warms,
T: smoked and burnt malt, sweetness with caramel
M: the lack of head hides the carbonation and nice texture
O: the word Reserve raises the bar for me, this is very good and very drinkable, this is very solid but not highly impressive.

bld81, Jul 02, 2011
Photo of tlazaroff
4.08/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a dark dark brown with brown highlights when held to a light source. It is topped with a thin tan head that quickly dissipated for me.

S: Roasted malts, kind of a bitter-smokey quality, but not overpowering. I get a sweetness out of this as well. The smell is quite nice!

T: On the palate I get slight coffee notes with a finish of hops and dark chocolate.

M: Mouthfeel is great. It is light in body with moderate carbonation.

D: Easy drinking beer here. At 5.8%, this is quite quaffable.

tlazaroff, Jul 02, 2011
Photo of Jesstyr
4.03/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I've now had this in bottle and draft form, and it is definitely on of my favorite stouts. In this case the draft was better than the bottle, but I'm reviewing the bottle form.

Pours dark brown with light reddish amber hues. Sizeable head, a little more than 2 fingers, is perfect, and lingers nicely with excellent lacing. Nose is very malty, but with a perfect mix of smokiness, that really balances it nicely.

Taste is a little bit of burnt dark malt, with a taste of chocolate or coffee. Lots of roast in there, but its balanced nicely with a good smooth finish. Medium body is perfect for drinking, but pretty standard for a good porter. All around one of the best hand full of porter's I've ever had, and parabola was even better...

Jesstyr, Jul 02, 2011
Photo of Rifugium
3.88/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

First had: on tap at Misconduct Tavern, Philly, PA

Poured into a pint glass, a dark brown with a thin, wispy, almost non-existent head. Roasty aroma of dark malts, coffee, and a touch of semisweet chocolate. Big roasty taste, earthy, rich dark malts, pleasantly bitter coffee notes, and a touch of ash. Not quite full-bodied, but very flavorful and very drinkable.

Rifugium, Jul 01, 2011
Photo of Kinsman
4.08/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a rich and dark brown/black colored body and is crowned by a dense, sticky, and rocky dark tan colored head. Slowly fades to leave a thick and clumpy lace behind.

Initially sweet on the aroma with some vanilla and fruity notes before the bittersweet chocolate aroma comes along and dominates the rest of the nose. Finishes with just a slight roasted coffee note that reminds you of a robust porter.

Bittersweet and roasted notes duke it out with the sweeter caramel and toffee notes and the slight oaky-vanilla flavor. Lighter caramel malts and wood flavors keep the robustness in check making this a bit sweeter and lighter in flavor than some other porters.

Mouthfeel is relatively light but with a nice creamy texture that makes this drink so easily. Overall, I'm really enjoying this porter as something a bit different than the normally strong robust porters that I reach for. Plenty of flavor and a sweeter flavor that make this a nice dessert beer.

Kinsman, Jun 30, 2011
Photo of pmarlowe
3.83/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tulip glass.

Pours very dark brown, three fingers of great looking foam with very good retention, and some lacing. Big tobacco and smoke up front, leather, very austere freshly cut oak, burnt caramel. Taste is primarily smoke and some tobacco, a faint wisp of coffee and malt, with a little bit of coffee bitterness on the finish. Medium carbonation, medium body. Overall, very drinkable and well done, but more towards the smoky side of the porter spectrum; I tend to prefer less smoke and more coffee in my porters. But a well done effort.

pmarlowe, Jun 30, 2011
Photo of biegaman
4/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Walker's Reserve is not darkness, but more like dusk. It is dark, to be sure, but like a summer's night sky still has some colour and clearness. A kind of reddish-brown tint, made more obscured by the muddying contents of the bottle's bottom quarter, is readily visible to the light. Its head is foamy, with a squiring lacing that any seamstress could work with.

Chocolate fudge overtones share the bouquet with cherry-ish esters and roasty dryness, but the trio comes together as a rather mild and temperate ensemble. Bready-sweet malt character is detected far above and beyond any caramel or toffee-like dessert notes, although such notions could be partially entertained (but not like in a high-gravity stout).

The brewery no longer advertises it, so I'm unsure whether or not they still age this beer on oak; it certainly tastes like they do. It has a dry, woody resonance that mellows the bittersweet chocolate, tobacco leaf and roast smokiness. The barrels also (assuming they're still in play) lend an almond-like nuttiness that, again, breaks up those heavier flavours.

Probably because of the prestige attributed to their anniversary offerings, Firestone Walker is often thrown into discussions of America's most cutting-edge micros. But look more closely and you'll see that most of their lineup are British inspired and most follow the classic English (not American) guidelines, if not to the letter, at least to the spirit of the law.

Walker's Reserve (a British sounding name) is a perfect example. It has the faint fruitiness, sooty smokiness, leafy hops and roasty dryness that you'll find in traditional examples. It certainly doesn't have the aggressive roast or hoppiness or decadent, rich flavours of most modern American examples. For a Californian beer, it's actually a bit of an oddball.

Don't let the Paso Robles location fool you, this porter is cut from the same cloth as traditional English offerings. It is an agreeable, serviceable dark beer that is neither too heavy, rich nor too strong to discourage continuous pints; unlike many Firestone Walker offerings, this one calls for no special occasion at all. It is best enjoyed simply for the sake of being enjoyed.

biegaman, Jun 28, 2011
Photo of doughanson78
3.95/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz. bottle poured into a snifter.

A: Very dark, although not pitch black. Brown hints around edges when held to the light. Very frothy two finger head, tan in color, excellent head retention, and great lacing.

S: Burnt caramel. Dark coffee. Roasted malts. Light chocolate and a slight oatiness.

T: Roasted malts. Light chocolate and vanilla. Very mild oats. Finishing with a mild burnt caramel/coffee flavor.

M: Medium bodied. Slightly creamy. Light mouth coating. Medium carbonation.

O: I was very disappointed with my first Firestone Walker beer. This definitely makes up for that. Solid porter. Nice roastiness to it.

doughanson78, Jun 27, 2011
Photo of bennetj17
4.35/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Black, with thin tan foam, not much head really, just a little ring. Aroma of sweet chocolate with a good smokey balance. Nice.

The flavor focuses on the roasted malts, with little sweetness. Fine bitterness and drying finish. It seems clean and well crafted. The low ABV is excellent for such a flavorful brew. Foamy carbonation, semi-thick body yet not coating. It's easy to drink and doesn't finish heavy.

This beer has amazing drinkablility, considering the depth of flavor and 5.8% alcohol. A good value as it is, but I would like to see it in 6-packs of 12oz bottles.

bennetj17, Jun 26, 2011
Photo of Gmann
3.68/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a near black color with a huge khaki colored head that settled into a sparse cap with some lacing on the glass.

The aroma is of chocolate, brown bread, and scorched caramel. Some wet wood and other earthy notes.

The taste is of a toasted brown bread, some burnt edges. Light caramel and honey notes. On the finish there seems to be a grassy bitterness. The beer reminds me more of a robust brown ale.

The body is full and has prickly carbonation which helps break up the malt body. Starts lightly sweet on the palate and finishes with a roasty and slightly grassy hop bitterness.

Despite the fact that this tastes more like a brown ale to me, it is a tasty beer. Porter or Brown, not the best I have had but still very good.

Gmann, Jun 25, 2011
Walker's Reserve - Porter from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
87 out of 100 based on 1,577 ratings.