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Helldorado - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Not Rated.

Educational use only; do not reuse.

71 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 71
Hads: 295
rAvg: 4.31
pDev: 7.19%
Wants: 152
Gots: 180 | FT: 22
Brewed by:
Firestone Walker Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Barleywine |  13.00% ABV

Availability: Rotating

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

Honey infused Imperial Blonde Ale aged in Heaven Hill barrels.
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Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 71 | Hads: 295
Photo of Beer_Line
5/5  rDev +16%
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 (278 characters)

Photo of GSThorn
4.87/5  rDev +13%
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! (372 characters)

Photo of WindUpBird
4.81/5  rDev +11.6%
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! (329 characters)

Photo of Impfan
4.77/5  rDev +10.7%
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. (749 characters)

Photo of Emberwake
4.69/5  rDev +8.8%
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. (960 characters)

Photo of 303beer
4.66/5  rDev +8.1%
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. (197 characters)

Photo of oldn00b
4.66/5  rDev +8.1%
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. (599 characters)

Photo of jmkoller11
4.63/5  rDev +7.4%
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. (956 characters)

Photo of HopHead84
4.6/5  rDev +6.7%
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. (727 characters)

Photo of Phigg1102
4.6/5  rDev +6.7%
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. (336 characters)

Photo of BWood
4.59/5  rDev +6.5%
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. (210 characters)

Photo of ihazabucket7
4.59/5  rDev +6.5%
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! (310 characters)

Photo of vfgccp
4.57/5  rDev +6%
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. (956 characters)

Photo of Beerandraiderfan
4.55/5  rDev +5.6%
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. (1,425 characters)

Photo of Sumdeus
4.52/5  rDev +4.9%
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. (547 characters)

Photo of crob3888
4.5/5  rDev +4.4%
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. (311 characters)

Photo of vic21234
4.5/5  rDev +4.4%
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. (590 characters)

Photo of whatthehull
4.5/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a wine glass from a 22oz bottle

A - a interesting semi translucent golden copper, one finger fairly white head and little to no lacing/legs

S - vanilla, tobacco, boozey, alcohol soaked oak, charred wood, Marciano cherries, baking yeast, slight floral, ripe fruit, caramel or maybe a sasparilla like molasses, a hint of orange and lots of sugar

T - very richly sweet, very boozey up front, crisp sweet malts, vanilla, backwoods tobacco, lots of brown/green earth, blended red wine barrels, over ripe fruits, lots of simple grain, sweet malts, orange citrus and a slight bitter sweet hop end

M - full bodied, medium acidity, medium minus carbonation, nice balance, great complexity and a very boozey sweet to bitter sweet finish

D/O - very drinkable, huge flavor profile that is almost over the top but peeks very near perfection. This beast can be drink right away or age and will age beautifully -- all the complexity but with an even better balance it what I am for seeing

Final thoughts - the price point is a bit high at around $15 per 22oz but, the 13+% ABV will leave you done after one or willing to open another to share (1,147 characters)

Photo of nataku00
4.47/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap poured into a tulip glass. Beer poured a dark golden yellow color, mostly clear, with little to no head. Quite a bit of alcohol legs on this one, and a few bubbles of carbonation floating up every now and then.

Nose is really interesting, lots of vanilla and light caramel, toasted biscuit malts, charred oak woody aromas, and a sweet sugar cookie like aroma.

Taste follows the nose, vanilla sugar cookie describes the flavor well. For a very high abv beer, the alcohol is completely hidden and the beer was very tasty and easy to drink.

Medium body, with some light carbonation, the beer was very enjoyable. I wouldn't mind this being bottled instead of it being a component in some of their blended beers. It is very tasty and easy to drink. (755 characters)

Photo of itsThatBoyE
4.47/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Bomber snifter pour. Pours a lovely clear amber. Nose is phenomenal. Coconut, vanilla, oak, bourbon. Taste is definitely not your typical barleywine. Honey, oak, some heat. Medium mouthfeel, minimal carbonation. Overall a solid offering. Definitely share this one. (264 characters)

Photo of Donco
4.46/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured into my trusty Stone tulip glass.
Look: Very golden and minimal lacing in the glass.
Smell: After warming up for about 20 minutes, vanilla, oak and bourbon. Just beautiful smelling brew.
Taste: Again, after letting this warm from fridge to about 55 degrees, heavily bourbon/vanilla/caramel/toffee/honey/oak. Just light and delicious.
Feel: A bit thin but full mouthfeel.
Overall: Much better than the first incarnation of Stickee Monkey which I found too sweet. This is truly a unique and enjoyable addition to the incredible lineup of BA Firestone Walker beers. Different than Sucaba and Double DBA. Stands on it's own. Terrific addition from my favorite brewery. Be careful because that 13% is nowhere to be found and it will get 'ya! (745 characters)

Photo of JamesStreet
4.45/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 22oz boxed bottle into tulip
Look - Pours a clear, honey-gold color with a slight pack of white bubbles that fades of in the blink of an eye. Lacing is non-existent.
Smell - This is really beautiful here. Big bourbon flavors mixed with some honey, butterscotch, toffee, , vanilla, charred wood.
Taste - The taste follows the nose in unison. Really nice balance here with the El Dorado hops doing a good job of not letting this get cloyingly sweet. Literally tastes like those little butterscotch candies dipped in a shot of bourbon and then finished off with a dash of honey.
Feel - Medium-bodied but does pack some heat, as expected at 13.2% abv. Carbonation is on the lighter side and sip falls off nicely without much of a lingering aftertaste.
Overall - I'm always impressed with FW's barrel-aged beers. They do them very well. This is no exception. Really great melding of the bourbon with the sweeter flavors of the honey. (947 characters)

Photo of mhksuccess
4.45/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Served on tap at Buelton brewfest poured into my brewfest glass
it is a golden color and my pour had a lot of head which dissipated fairly quickly
the smell is omg smooth and sweet and hard to explain but you know you want more
the taste was not hott but more of a boozy sweet goodness and so easy to drink
at the ABV 13% this could be dangerous cause consuming this was so easy
you could drink a 750 no problem
i was happy to get a few glasses of this and overall think it is a great beer
wish you could get a bottle and enjoy at home (539 characters)

Photo of ehammond1
4.42/5  rDev +2.6%
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. (748 characters)

Photo of wethorseblanket
4.42/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap for the first time at the Daily Pint's FW deconstructed event during LA beer week. A component in the forthcoming 15th anniversary blend.

A: Pours lovely hazy, golden orange with a trace of white head which quickly retreats to the edges of the glass. Faint, barely there lace.

N: Deep and complex combination of: honey, grainy malt, oak, booze, caramel, vanilla, floral, and citrus hop.

T: Somewhat sweet from the honey malt, but not overly so. Follows the nose. Warms to marshmallow, vanilla notes, and boozy. Quite the sipper.

M: Full and rich. Deeply textured. Very well balanced body.

O: A newly rediscovered hop - el dorado was used in dry hopping this creation. Combines the best of centennial, cascade, simcoe, and amarillo. Aged in barrels for 9 months. (773 characters)

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Helldorado from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
94 out of 100 based on 71 ratings.