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Helldorado - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
HelldoradoHelldorado

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
94
outstanding

129 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 129
Hads: 560
Avg: 4.27
pDev: 7.49%
Wants: 161
Gots: 342 | FT: 49
Brewed by:
Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
California, United States | website

Style | ABV
American Barleywine | 13.20% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: wethorseblanket on 10-21-2011

Honey infused Imperial Blonde Ale aged in Heaven Hill barrels.
View: Beers (85) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 129 | Hads: 560
Reviews by abeeronthebeach:
Photo of abeeronthebeach
4.29/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A - Glows orangey gold. Opaque. Surprisingly young and light looking.

S - Honey, sponge cake, vanilla, brandy.

T - Tastes like a freshly dry-hopped english barleywine (this is my first true american barleywine). Brandy alcohol, piney toffee.

M - Resinous and syrupy. Low-medium carbonation.

O - Alcohol is quite prominent. Lacks the depth required to take it to the next level and has more of that fresh, clean IPA feel to it. Bitter toffee. Does not quite have the depth of a true sipper, yet is too bitter and boozy to do approach it in any other way.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of DoubleSimcoe
4.21/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Was surprised to find this on tap at Strangelove's in Philly. The color is surprising for a barleywine indeed, so light and golden. Smells sweet and heady, all the brown sugar and caramel you expect from a barleywine. Taste follows nose, with some honey, clover and winter spices tossed around. Reminds me of Drambuie liquor.

Mouthfeel is the weakest part of this jawn- thin and a tad watery, with very low carbonation and low body. But overall, this is a lovely brew, so drinkable. I may just like it better than Sucaba because it is less sweet and heavy and a lot more drinkable.

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Photo of TheSixthRing
3.69/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

2015 release

Apppearance - Pours cloudy with a hell of a lot of sediment (not that I mind) with less than a finger's width of off-white head. Sub-par retention results in a completely bare surface with few clumps of suds around the edge. Virtually no lacing.

Smell - Predominantly boozy, with lesser notes of honey and lemony citrus. Maybe a hint of lemon cake? Hot, sweet and slightly tart booze is the best I could generically describe it.

Taste - Follows the nose. Sweet honey with lesser notes lemon and white bread, quickly met by a punch of bourbon booze and coconut to round out the predominant flavors. Hints of caramel? Rum raisin and oak come through mid-taste and into the finish. Quite hot as it peaks and slowly drifts into the woody, coconut-like aftertaste.

Mouthfeel - Full in body with low carbonation. There's certainly a quality of light stickiness behind it, and there's also a moderate level of difficulty with each swallow.

Overall - Not too far off from their usual 'BA brews' but lacks the ideal depth that accompanies their more palatable offerings. Parabola has plenty of flavor outside the Barrel Aging influence. This one? Not so much. If you like your BA brews without the heavy boozy influence, look elsewhere. Like your local creepy neighbor, this one is naked and aggressive. That's obviously a joke, but buyer beware. Do you like straight shots? If so, go for it. I can appreciate the effort, but this one is not for me. Like DDBA and Velvet Merkin, the base beer simply doesn't hold up to the harsh BA process.

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Photo of Catracho5
4.35/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: Golden blonde, no head at all, very little carbonation, clear, no lacing, looks thin, looks like liquid honey.

A: Bourbon, toasted coconut, sweet charred oak, honey, definitely smells like a Firestone barrel aged beer, did not get much alcohol on the nose.

T: Bourbon, toasted coconut, toffee, vanilla, charred oak, honey marmalade, some bitterness, lots of alcohol, like other FW barrel aged beers I’ve tried fresh it’s hot, honey moves forward as the beer warms.

M: Creamy mouthfeel for a barrel aged beer, hot, lots of heat on the palate.

O: Another well brewed beer from Firestone Walker, big nose with bourbon, sweetness, honey, and floral aromas. Subtle flavors of honey, floral, oak, vanilla, toffee, caramel. It's hot, I've got one in the cellar to see how it changes over time. Once the heat subsides I believe the other characteristics will move forward.

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Photo of JohnGalt1
4.24/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2015 bottling... I've had it draft a couple of times now and enjoyed a bottle tonight while doing some late night lawn watering... Draft from PreFunk was pretty great, but seemed a bit hot.. The bottle tonight is cleaner and not nearly as hot.. Sitting back and writing with weird EDM from Radio Boise on the stereo.. Pours mostly clear light orange... Big oaky vanilla hit on the nose with plenty of malty notes, but they don't carry the EtOH at all right now.. Almost a honey note with warmth. Flavor begins with a big vanilla oak hit and moves responsibly into the malty element.. the beer is "big" for sure but never verges on overdone, nice right now, but will do well with some time in the bottle.. The barrel elements are really well done. This is gonna be a killer with a year or so but is too hot right now.

4/4.25/4.25/4.25/4.25

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Photo of ThickNStout
4.64/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Black foil capped 22oz bottle from LambicPentameter (thanks man!). No bottling date but this is the 2015 vintage, released in July. Served in a Toppling Goliath teku.

Pours a deep gold with orange highlights and a finger and a half pale sand hued head. The bubbles remain as a milky haze across the surface and deposit only a few pin pricks of what I will generously label as lace. The brew it's self is beautiful.

Sweet inviting aromas of bourbon, caramel, oak and cereal grains. The caramel and vanilla quality from the barrel are more pronounced as it warms.

Tastes really opens up and expounds upon the nose. A rich, whiskey caramel reduction note kicks off and becomes a delicious, overarching theme. Additional notes of bourbon, toffee, honey, wheat, cereal grain, vanilla tinged oak, faint berries, a hint of maple and a healthy dollop of booze. The sweet flavors blend beautifully and cover the considerable alcohol quite well. The closer to room temperature this gets, the smoother and more delicious.

Medium full body, somewhere between oily and creamy with supple carbonation. The finish is a rich, delightful mix of caramel, bourbon, wheat and vanilla.

As I had hoped Helldorado, labeled a blonde barleywine, is ever so close to a wheatwine. Looks and tastes like what I expect from wheatwines but it could just be the sweetness from the honey and barrel aging that threw me off. Whatever the style, Firestone Walker has hit this one out of the park.

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Photo of GSThorn
4.87/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

2015 bottle served abt. 60 degrees and poured up in a full tulip glass. A beautiful pale gold. The nose is an essence of Highland malt and richer than the color prepares you for. The flavor profile is amazingly complex for a single malt, single hopped brew! I kept thinking... is this really a beer? It drinks like one but tastes like a favored Speyside . I'm just in awe!

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Photo of bgold86
4.75/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Poured into 12 once brandy snifter, pours a lightish orangish, tons of vanilla and caramel sweetness on the nose. Taste is laid back, definitely still a sipper, but pleasant for a bourbon barrel aged barley wine.

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Photo of CraftFan5
4.7/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

How is this one gonna work out? Another shout-out to my opponents on the west coast. Let's go Mets! 22 oz. bottle into a wine glass.

A - A beautiful translucent orange. It's not a light orange by any means, but it almost seems to glow. No head whatsoever, so a ding for that.

N - Smells like pure FW barrel to me. Lots of vanilla and caramel, and a slight bitterness. I even get some tropical fruit, although not hop-wise.

T - Mmm! Not too disimilar from Sucaba, although not quite as luscious. Very sweet, but not too sweet. It's like drinking dried apricots. Exactly that, dried apricots.

M - Hmm, it's somewhat thick, and I get plenty of coating, but it's not really frothy. That's a strange combo. I mean this is really hanging around, like Matt Damon in Rounders. Like I took 30 seconds or so to look up which movie it was, and even now it's all over the place. Very well done.

O - I'm surprised how good this is. The extra ABV really takes the blonde-ness of it to another level. Really enjoyable.

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Photo of monkeybeerbelly
4.52/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

this was bizarrely amazing! i wasnt sure how to rate the look because it looked like a golden strong ale, beautiful blonde color and sparkles like duvel. smells nothing like it looks with the nice dark barrel aged barley-wine appearance, and none of the color. nice notes of vanilla butterscotch, and toffee coming through.
Tastes divine, again vanilla, bourbon, caramel, butterscotch, and booziness that i hold so dear. Mouthfeel is where this beer really shines, super creamy, like drinking a creamsicle.
A truly enjoyable experience. now i need to get another bottle for a really special occasion

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Photo of Chris_Huston
4.49/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2014 bottle poured close to 12/2015. I've grown less fond of barleywines, esp. American barleywines, but this one is a keeper.

Immediate vanilla scent when popping the cap. The alcohol also gallops to the nose once poured, reaffirming its barrel quality and backbone, and its status as a proper barleywine despite its "blondeness".

Taste is a proper match to the smell with vanilla and honey sweetness that tames the barrel alcohol that is so often poorly restrained in barleywines, but far from eviscerating it. It adds a dangerous smoothness (at 13% ABV) and sweetness that cooperates superbly with the spirits, making an exceptional drink that I think works even better than its darker English-style cousin, Sucaba.

Great, appropriately medium-light body and smooth feel. This is one smart blonde.

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Photo of t2grogan
4/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of SanFranJake
4.56/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Photo of SkiBum22
4.28/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Photo of freshflesh
4.46/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Photo of JayGreezy
4.67/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

2013 scores higher. Aged 2 years is perfect

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Photo of JakerLou
4.13/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of Hoppity1
4.45/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Photo of mmcurran
4.52/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of mctizzz
4.71/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Photo of aquazr1
4.45/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Photo of PSU_Mike
4.09/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of ehammond1
4.42/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On Tap

Firestone Walker Brewing co.
Paso Robles, CA

Dark yellow and light gold with a small near-white head that leaves dots of lace down the glass. This looks a bit oily, though not at all thick or syrupy--an appropriately pretty blonde barleywine.

The aroma is quite lovely, with expressive amounts of vanilla, caramel, and toffee, along with mild citrus, freshly baked biscuit, and oak.

This is a decadent dessert disguised as a beer: this reminds me of freshly baked shortbread cookies topped with bourbon whipped cream, with just a hint of burning alcohol. There's expressive oak and mild citrus zest as well. Complete.

Medium bodied with moderate carbonation.

Fantastic. If they bottled this and called it Anniversary 16, I'd be happy.

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Photo of HoppySeb
4.5/5  rDev +5.4%

Photo of Beerandraiderfan
4.55/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at the FW tasting room the day before the FW fest. Came with high expectations, one of the dudes from largadeer's crew was like "better than annularity" which, annularity blew my flippin' socks off.

Pours really light, this is definitely a blonde barleywine, equal parts yellow and orange. Thin ring of head on it. Aroma was nice, mild citrus, oak, caramel, toffee. No hops.

Taste is where its at. Exquisite. Honey, caramel, vanilla, coconut. It is indeed, one of those great barleywines, somewhere between annularity and abacus. Mild hop presence shows itself, maybe aged hops, but whatever they did, it works, as the beer is so far from bitter, but tastes so good and relatively complex without throwing a bunch of shit for the sake of doing it. Sweet aspect delivers just the right amount.

I should probably point out how amazingly easy to drink this is given the massive amount of alcohol to it. Just a phenomenal beer to sip, but if you wanted to drink it a little faster, it wouldn't be much of a challenge (now standing and maintaining balance, that might be a challenge). Carbonation was right where it needs to be, a little less than your average beer, but just right for this one. Pretty light body for the amount of flavor going on in this one.

Another stunning beer. Summer 2012 has definitely been the season of the blonde barleywine. This beer makes a trip to Paso Robles worth it in and of itself.

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Helldorado from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
94 out of 100 based on 129 ratings.