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Helldorado - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Not Rated.

Educational use only; do not reuse.

98 Reviews
no score

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Reviews: 98
Hads: 402
Avg: 4.29
pDev: 14.92%
Wants: 149
Gots: 244 | FT: 28
Brewed by:
Firestone Walker Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

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 (87) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 98 | Hads: 402
Photo of Beer_Line
5/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours like gold with a sweet vanilla and honey smell

taste is very similar with strong oak, vanilla and fruity flavors. Mouthfeel is not too syrupy which I was very much pleased with.

Another world class offering from Firestone Walker. Such a great variation from a normal BW

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Photo of GSThorn
4.87/5  rDev +13.5%
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 WindUpBird
4.81/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Poured from a bomber into a tulip.

Rich almost glowing amber, very little head and champaigny bubbles rising to the surface (I know that's not a word, lol).

The aroma is first of vanilla, then other fruits underpinned by a hint of oak

The taste is gorgeous: sweet but not cloyingly so; boozy and substantial...wow I like this!

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Photo of seedyone
4.78/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

From bottle at home. Hard to find. Cheese. Tart & salty cheese. That's what this needed to put me in a place I want to be.

On it's own I saw a light haze, thin head but a honey hued amber. In the aroma, all was revealed. What you smelled, is what you got. Rock candy, coconut & a vague barley. You could sense the sweet through the nose, the taste was strong & distinct but not overpowering in any one direction.

The flavor lingered without being cloying. I considered a chaser but thought better. The thought of diluting the fullness of the flavor had me doubling down with a cheese side. Black rind Gouda hit the spot.

I really enjoyed this. The sweetness playing off some cheese reminded me of what this is all about.

Glad I was able to acquire 2.

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Photo of Impfan
4.77/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Immediately, I was impressed by the shimmering golden hue, the creamy head, and the nose, which is redolent of vanilla, and wildflower honey/lavender.

The body is lighter than I expected, and I consider this a plus, having grown a bit surfeited with syrupy textured barleywines. The flavor contains the same elements as the nose, but also clotted cream, coconut, and bourbon.

The finish was the really pleasant surprise for me, as it it was much drier than I was expecting. There is a bit of excess heat at this youthful age, although I suspect that it well mellow nicely.

Helldorado is a very worthy companion, and also a wonderful counterpoint to the wonderful Sucaba, and a must try for anyone looking for something different in a barleywine.

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Photo of bgold86
4.75/5  rDev +10.7%
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 Emberwake
4.69/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.75

I've had the privilege of enjoying this rare concoction twice now: once at a tap takeover at Harry's Hoffbrau in San Jose, and again at the 2013 Firestone Walker Invitational. While the experience was consistent, I'll base my review on the recent 2013 invitational.

Served in a 6oz tasting snifter (filled to the 3oz mark)

A - Pours a deep, cloudy, gold color with a small, fine head that quickly dissipated leaving tight lacing.

S - Sweet, slightly fruity, and boozy. Very slight oak barrel.

T - Rich, sweet, slightly buttery booze in balance. The hop character is so mellow it can be difficult to pick out at first. No burn despite the 13% abv, and no aftertaste to speak of.

M - Medium-heavy mouthfeel. Very little carbonation. Clean finish.

D - Simply the best barleywine I've ever encountered, and a shining example of barrel aged american ale. Its a shame FW doesn't bottle this. If you ever have the opportunity to try Helldorado, do not hesitate.

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Photo of 303beer
4.66/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours golden color. Few floaties . Quickly dissipating head. Sweet aroma. English yeast but almost smells like Belgian yeast. Wow. That's a tasty barrel flavor. Fine job. It is sweet but delicious.

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Photo of oldn00b
4.66/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a slightly hazy dark gold. Little to no head formation.

Nose is big on bourbon, lots of Bourbon and a bit of booze, toffee is big. Smells delectable.

Booze is softer than expected which is nice. Big vanilla and oak comes out. Smooth caramel and lingering sweet bourbon finish with a ice touch of warmth on the back.

Feel is a wonderful body. Edges, if any, feel mostly smoothed from the barrel. I do wish there was a touch more carbonation on this one to help balance out the sweet. Its body is great, and it's great all around. It's just a touch sweeter than I'd like on the end.

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Photo of justintcoons
4.65/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

22 oz bottle poured into a wine glass.

Golden with a short head that dissipates quickly. Good clarity with light carbonation.

Butterscotch, honey, caramel, toffee, and bourbon. Hint of vanilla and coconut.

Robust amounts of caramel, honey, toffee, and butterscotch. Well integrated notes of bourbon. Lesser notes of vanilla, oak, and coconut. A hint of pineapple juice.

Full bodied, smooth, silky, sweet, and warming.

Rich, decadent, and candy-esque. Excellent barrel aging and overall awesomeness.

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Photo of ThickNStout
4.64/5  rDev +8.2%
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 jmkoller11
4.63/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

2015 22oz Bottle

Look - Shimmering golden/orange ale with small foam bubbles around the outer parts of the glass. Looked beautiful in the Better Half snifter glass.

Smell - Big sweet nose from the honey with a slight hop smell as well. Similar to DDBA but more sweet. Expected a little more barrel aromas but not disappointing by any means.

Taste - Once again expected more barrel in this but it turns out it wasn't needed. SOOOOO delicious! Honey is on point and comes through all the way down to the last sip. Its like a more mellow DDBA, which, IMO, makes this even better than that Prop Vintage brew.

Feel - Absolutely what I had hoped for in the mouthfeel. Almost like a blonde stout that a lot of places are making nowadays, but with more carb surprisingly.

Overall - Completely blown away. Was feeling pretty darn good after taking down the entire bottle on a Monday night. If my luck hasnt run out yet, I will be trying to get another bottle.

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Photo of bowzer4birdie
4.62/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Another world-class barrel aged offering from FW, they can do no wrong in my book. Exceptional color with moderate head which dissipates somewhat slowly. Very drinkable for a 13% beer and the honey and barrel influence are incorporated exceptionally well.

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Photo of HopHead84
4.6/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5


On tap at Hamilton's.

A: Yellow with nice transparency and a white frothy head.

S: Big floral notes with pronounced lavender honey. Malt is rich and complex, reminiscent of toffee, caramel, and bread. Vanilla wafts from the glass with each swirl. Bourbon is light.

T: Caramel accompanies toffee and a firm earthy bitterness. Honey is pronounced. The beer is lightly sweet with hints of vanilla. I get a little bourbon and oak, but I read nothing about this beer being barrel aged.

M: Lower medium body with upper medium carbonation.

Overall: Very impressive. They should barrel age this and release it as their next anniversary beer, forgoing the blend. This is dangerous shit for 12%. It goes down like water.

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Photo of Phigg1102
4.6/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Buddha Beer Bar in NYC. Poured a golden amber color with a finger of foam. Vanilla and caramel are first in the nose with apple and pear coming through as well. The aroma reminds me of bread pudding. Rich mouthfeel with a touch of carbonation that cuts through it, more apple and caramel in the taste. Not overly boozy at all.

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Photo of BWood
4.59/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Creamy orange look with no head retention. Smooth as silk bourbon taste with the barleywine bite at the end. As it warms it gets even better. Not as good as some of the other FW box beers, but still phenomenal.

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Photo of ihazabucket7
4.59/5  rDev +7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a snifter. Light cloudy golden color. Very sweet smell and taste. Was a little boozy but with age I bet this beer would be amazing. It is already amazing but with age it would lose that boozyness and it would be left with a sweet, barrel aged goodness that you would cry when finished. Cheers!

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Photo of vfgccp
4.57/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Special thanks to Jman for picking up this 2015 bottle at Bottleworks, opened Aug 2015

A – Bright orange amber body with lively carbonation in the glass. Grey-sky white head settles into a medium halo with great retention and low lace.

S – Ouuhhh. That is absolutely fantastic. Bright honey, butterscotch, and golden raisins with a fantastic backbone of woody white oak, plantains and vanilla. (It's a combination that's reminiscent of some of my favorite parts of the nose on Allagash Curieux)

T – Beautiful. Opens smooth and sweet with honey, butterscotch, amaretto, and caramel blondies. Rich tawny port, warm cognac, vanilla, and oak blend through the center. Warm booze, oak and soft caramel through the finish.

M – Medium-light frame with a boozy and surprisingly creamy finish.

O – Firestone Walker is just ridiculous. For those who know the local NY brew scene, think of this as a high-end luxury version of Super Kitty.

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Photo of Beer21
4.56/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Look - (4/5) - Amber color that is quite unusual for a barleywine. Minimal to no foam. Clear.
Smell - (4.75/5) - Terrific aroma with malt forward caramel notes. Bit o orange. Can definitely smell the alcohol content at 13%+. I love it
Taste - (4.5/5) - High alcohol with a touch of sweetness. I an only taste raisin and oak. Alcohol is somewhat too forward for me.
Feel - (4.5/5) - thick and sweet. Quite warm feeling with the alcohol.
Overall - (4.5/5) - I really like this take on a barleywine. Very alcohol forward, warming, sweet, and damn good!

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Photo of Beerandraiderfan
4.55/5  rDev +6.1%
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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Photo of Odysseyalien
4.55/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

On tap at Upright Brew House, New York City.

Pours golden with a small, maybe 1 inch head into my snifter. Head disapates quickly leaving a fairly thin lacing in its wake.

Vanilla on the nose dominates. On the tongue as well. The signature Firestone barrel aged flavor comes through. A little hot with the alcohol; almost like sipping a scotch really.

The vanilla becomes more prominent as it warms. Yum yummy!

Firestone is one of my favorite three brewers. They do not disappoint with this work of art called Helldorado. Glad to have found this tap opportunity as now I can leave my one bottle of the stuff to age for a couple years. Can't wait to see how that comes out.

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Photo of Sumdeus
4.52/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured on tap, a flight with Bourbon County Barleywine, Big Worster and Mirror Mirror.

A: a hazy golden pour with some light cream head. It looks like an unfiltered wheat beer but with less head. Some minor lacing.

S: smells awesome!!! Best smelling of the 4 by far. Great sweet fruity and malty aromas. One of the best beers aromas out there.

T: fantastic smooth citrusy sweetness. Can't taste the booze at all.

M: moderate thickness, low carbonation and smooth and clean finish.

O: fantastic beer, I early wish I could get bottles of this.

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Photo of Jacksteinberg
4.51/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

I taste a lot of vanilla which gives it a creamy texture. Definitely boozy tasting with it being 13.2% abv. A great bourbon barrel aged beer and very creative with the blonde. I enjoyed it a lot!

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Photo of crob3888
4.5/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a hazy golden color with a small off white head. Smell and flavors of stone fruits (apricots, nectarines) and honey drizzle with hints of sweet bourbon. Overall a great beer but I think it could use some more time to age so I'm putting a bottle of this away for a while and I may revisit this score later.

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Photo of vic21234
4.5/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bomber poured into a snifter. 2015 Vintage number 001.

A- Pours a fairly clear golden color with a small amount of off-white head which fades quickly to the sides of the glass.

S- Toffee, caramel, oak and bourbon on the nose.

T- Much of the smell carries into the taste, as I initially get some caramel flavors along with some hints of vanilla. FW BA beers always have great barrel presence, and this one surely doesn't disappoint with nice bourbon flavors at room temperature.

M- Medium bodied, bourbon forward yet easy sipping.

Great beer overall and nice barrel character.

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Helldorado from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
94 out of 100 based on 98 ratings.