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Helldorado - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Not Rated.

Educational use only; do not reuse.

103 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 103
Hads: 416
Avg: 4.29
pDev: 14.69%
Wants: 151
Gots: 248 | FT: 30
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.
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Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 103 | Hads: 416
Photo of CraftFan5
4.7/5  rDev +9.6%
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 +5.4%
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 Chcshammonde
4.51/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Not going to post a fine tuned review. This beer is lovely - a complete change of pace from other barleywines. You do pick up a bit of lavender but it is just complementary. Nice honey notes on top of the rich malty-booze barleywine flavors. Bourbon is great on this.

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.2/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A barleywine for summer? If IPA can be made for the winter's palate, then why not. A quick manipulation of ingredients can turn the heavy, dark and malty beer into something lighter and softer, then a summer barleywine is what we've got!

But its more of a light amber with shades of goldenrod that peaks through the bready haze, casting forth a creamy white foam stance and billowing aromas of bourbon, candy, butterscotch and tropical fruit. But its the honey-dipped sweetness that conjures the memories of circus peanut candy.

And as the middle palate unfolds, the softly caramelized barley is sweet and weighted- perfect for the vanilla, butterscotch, coconut and delicate toasted oak to wrap around the candied malts and to seduce the palate with each sip. With dried pineapple, apricot, mango and orange playing on the tongue, they soften the blow from the strong bourbon overtones to come.

Full but yet not intensely chewy, the beer's soft and malty pillow dissolves on the tongue like cotton candy. With such finesse, the bourbon stands even taller- numbing the palate with its honey liquor character. But its the savory, candied sweetness of those circus peanuts that the mind and the tastebuds just can't get around.

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Photo of KYGunner
4.29/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

This starts with a huge butterscotch wave before settling into caramel, toffee, peanut brittle and honey. It started way too boozy but as it warmed it became silky and thick and presented a far more drinkable beer.

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Photo of jzeilinger
4.24/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A - Golden copper color with a thin but full lacing ring.

S - Vanilla caramel aroma, oak, and alcohol effervescent.

T - Light caramel, vanilla oak, bourbon, very low alcohol burn for the ABV but fusel in the back of the sinuses.

M - Thick / full bodied, sticky.

O - Another big, boozy, flavorful proprietor vintage from Firestone.

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Photo of uvachief
4.13/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Bottle into wine glass because that's all I could find. Pours a golden opaque light brown much like a shot bourbon with a tiny thin layer of head. Smells of light hops and honey. Tastes like an ale with honey and bourbon added. Little oak and vanilla. More bourbon on the back end. That's it. Nothing exciting to me. This is not a barleywine. It is a blonde ale. Ton of booze and ABV burn. Hot. Smooth though. You drink this to get messed up not to enjoy or if you don't have access to bourbon. Really underwhelmed. I'll pass.

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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 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 SteveB24
4/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Drinking this side by side with several others as part of a bottle share, the color is a, well, very honey like brown. Pours a small amount of head comprised of large bubbles that quickly dissipate.
This one might do better after a year or two, the booze is slightly overpowering. Nevertheless the honey is there, along with sweet caramel, oak, vanilla, and the honey, which imparts a present floral character. Worth trying, not sure if id spring for it a second time.

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Photo of Fcolle2
4.17/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours hazy burnt golden in color with a nice fluffy head and some nice small carbonation bubble all around the snifter. Aromas of sweet malt slightly earthy hops meld with caramel and oak aromas. Taste has a predominantly honey malty flavor forward accentuated nicely by the toffee caramel and vanilla flavors of the barrel. Medium to light body relative to expectations but this is a deceiving booze bomb. Very nice addition to an already solid barrel project.

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Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.1/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle shared by Isaac at The Olney Place in Penn Yan, NY.

This one pours a light clear golden color, about as un-barleywine as it gets. That's the blond barleywine style. There's a very small head and no lacing.

This smells like vanilla, graham cracker, coconut, bourbon, and oak.

This is one of the lesser of the Firestone boxed beers for sure, but still a pretty interesting take on a barleywine. It's not too sweet, it's got a honeyed malt flavor to it, with lots of graham cracker flavor, some vanilla, coconut, and oak from the barrel, delicious as always, with just a little bit of bourbon. There's some light caramel and toffee too. It's fairly boozy, with a burn on the end of each sip.

This is pretty light bodied for the ABV, with a lower level of carbonation.

Pretty interesting beer here. Firestone has done better, for sure, but still tasty. I imagine this will age quite well.

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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 stephenjmoore
4.41/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Blonde body with a slight orange hue. Thin ring of white bubbles on an almost otherwise non-existent head. Aroma is caramel, burnt sugar, hints of toasted oak, herbal tea and honey. Flavor is big on the barrel influence. Oaky booze, sweet caramel, vanilla, herbal tea, hints of honey, slight woody char. The feel is thin, warming, medium carbonation, slightly syrupy. This beer is crazy complex with a huge influence from the barrel. Aroma is as close to a spirit as I have had and is very different than most BA beers.

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Photo of mrn1ceguy
4.06/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Very clear for a barrel aged beer. Not a good nose, very hit. Taste has some good hearty barley I it. Finish is fairly smooth but quick. Overall solid beer.

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Photo of Moose90
4/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance – (4/5) Coming packaged in the typical Firestone Walker box, it doesn’t really scream off the shelf, it blends in nicely with Sucaba, Stickee Monkey, Double DBA, and the like, sadly Parabola was not in attendance on said shelf. Once out of the box it presents nicely enough with some nice golden accents on the label, perhaps a hint of things to come. As it pours out of the bottle into the snifter, it’s got a massively heavy and thick appearance, honey-hued orangey yellow appearance into the glass. There is a tall white head that forms, but it fades and settles into a thin layer, leaves behind some sticky and clinging lace along the inside of the glass.

Aroma — (4/5) Lots of character here, and a huge alcohol hit. Very strong initially, almost harsh. As you dig you will find nice notes of oak, vanilla, cinnamon, brown sugar, bourbon, cognac. As it warms there is a really nice, fresh honey component, like a heather-honey floral component. Somewhat unexpected.

Taste — (4/5) A great depth of flavors abound in this brew, though there is an incredibly assertive and dominant alcohol punch, this beer certainly errs on the “hot” side of the spectrum, it’s almost too hot and booze forward, but thankfully there is enough depth of flavors to hold everything together without veering too far off course. Great notes of dark fruits, plums, figs, a light golden raisin presence. Balanced with a cinnamon and vanilla kick, little bit of brown sugar, vanilla, bourbon, and oak. Quite a lot going on.

Mouthfeel — (4/5) Full bodied, this is rich, thick, heavy, lasting finish. This is a sipper if there ever was one, really rich, heavy, bold, and boozy again. Really nice, though it would be difficult to get through the 22oz bottle in an evening.

Overall — (4/5) A great beer for sure, but in the family in which it lives, with brothers and sisters like Parabola and Sucaba, this one just doesn’t quite breach the same mark set by its siblings. It is very very good, but it comes across a little hot and sweet, could use either less alcohol, or more of a bitter punch. I have set one or two aside, to see how these develop with some time. If it is anything like the others, it should improve a bit.

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Photo of Jjski
4/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Buttery,bitter, slightly hoppy with sweet bourbon notes. Agree with the noted wheatwine attributes: honey & grassy. Nothing grabs my well worn attention: too subdued, yet lacking the slickness of the anniversary brews, Scucaba, etc. perhaps the blonde malts?
IMHO underwhelming for a barrel FW beer. I'm going to age one.
The brewery is world class. I will drink anything they produce with relish. This offering is not quite there. I really enjoy BIG sweet barrel beers, yet this is not moving me. Not to be sentimental, but I've got 6 DDBA in the cellar waiting to mature. Some were way too hot fresh. Maybe I'm just stuck in my ways, and these Helldorado will turn into gold. Time will tell.
Alternative: Annularity from Fifty/Fifty was well executed.

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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 bhyndthebottle
4.28/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Beautiful color in the glass, not quite blonde, but crystal clear red gold hues. Lots of bourbon sweetness on the nose, with honey and vanilla. A very different taste, with almost a floral honey taste mid body. Very smooth finish with an almost watery mouthfeel. Hard to detect the 13.2 % ABV. Very interesting and can't wait to taste again after one year in cellar.

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Photo of Kevinpitts
4/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Disappointing beer. Expected far more. Tasted like a lighter wheat wine beer to me. Nothing special about it whatsoever. Not terrible, but far over-rated IMO.

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Photo of HattedClassic
4.32/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured in a Firestone Walker 6 ounce snifter and paired with creamy blue cheese from Boar's Head (because I'm fancy like that) while listening to The Ink Spots (Band whose songs have been used in the recent Fallout games) before moving to the Flaming Lips.

The beer pours a fairly small head that dissipates very quickly. The beer itself is a clear solid gold; not deep or medium or pale but the color of an actual bar of gold. The look so beautiful I can't help but be entranced by its beauty.

The smell is very good if a bit one dimensional. The malt notes are certainly very sweet to where they are very close to a sweet honey smell. The smell also has a strong vanilla note, which, unfortunately, blends so well with the honey that it actually overwhelms it a bit. Furthermore, while the hops are there, they are overpowered by the malts and vanilla. My best guess is that it would be floral based on what I can get and the overall character the brewers were aiming for.

The taste is fantastic and a bit more complex than the smell. You still have the same vanilla and honey notes from the malt and barrel aging but the other notes are also a bit stronger and give more character to the beer. The hops are definitely stronger and floral. It adds a nice bitterness to a beer that sorely needed it and helps it from becoming too sweet a beer. There also slight char or toasted malt notes but those might be the burn from the alcohol.

The feel is really good. Very little carbonation on the tongue and a smooth bordering on velvety but not quite getting there makes for a good time. I can't begin to tell how well and how easy this beer went down. Also, a slight alcohol warmth as it goes down does it in all the right places.

Overall, a fantastic beer and I look forward to working my way through the rest of the series. This is a really good beer with its honey sweet character and vanilla that make it unique among Barleywines.

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Photo of snaotheus
4.26/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

22oz boxed bottle split between a pair of large snifters. 2015 vintage, #1. Tried to keep most of the sediment in the bottle.

Pours golden and slightly hazy, with almost no head. Moderate amount of very fine continuous carbonation. Smell is strong bourbon, and I can't really detect anything else. Maybe vanilla.

Taste is again strong bourbon, but with a much stronger vanilla presence that actually made me think of vanilla ice cream. Surprisingly hoppy, with a nice bitter finish, although there's plenty of sweetness. Huge, rich flavor overall. Some of the bitterness is just alcohol, I think.

Mouthfeel is rich and smooth. Overall, very nice beer.

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

Poured on tap into a tulip glass. A beautiful translucent blond body, some white bubbles leave nice lacing. Smells is rich with vanilla and bourbon. Taste matches, never had a blond barley wine but wow. The taste is vanilla notes, bourbon and oak, cherries, there is also a nice sweetness from the honey. It's also deliciously warming from the booziness.
Mouthfeel is great. Medium carbonation, smooth, velvety, a delicious sipper.

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Photo of breadwinner
4.09/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Pretty nice nose greets you on this one, some honey notes, a touch of something that's not so much coconut (as so common in FW barrel aged barleywines and stouts) as something almost floral. Hard to pin down. Palate is pretty big and punchy, and I can't help but understand why this has up to now been used solely as a blender in the FW Anniversary series. It's a novel sort of beer to barrel age, and I dig the ingenuity. Not my favorite of theirs, but undoubtedly well done.

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Photo of Parmesan
4.45/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Look: Beautiful golden orange color. Very translucent. Pours a small white head that didn't linger for too long and minimal lacing.

Aroma: Lots of smell of wood, vanilla, bourbon, stone fruits, cherries and some toffee with hints of apple.

Taste: Similar to the aroma, wood, vanilla, bourbon, stone fruit, cherries, toffee and the apple comes through a little bit more here. The booze is also very apparent.

Feel: Medium, with good carbonation. Lots of warming from the alcohol.

Overall: Another really good beer from Firestone Walker.

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Helldorado from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
94 out of 100 based on 103 ratings.