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Sneak peek! BeerAdvocate magazine #104 (September 2015) featuring Leah & Oscar from Highland Brewing in Asheville, North Carolina. Learn more ...

Helldorado - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Not Rated.

Educational use only; do not reuse.

66 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 66
Hads: 285
rAvg: 4.32
pDev: 3.47%
Wants: 153
Gots: 175 | 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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Reviews: 66 | Hads: 285
Photo of Phigg1102
4.6/5  rDev +6.5%
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 SportsandJorts
3.14/5  rDev -27.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

Appearance: pours a yellowish golden color. a finger of a white head that fades fairly quickly and leaves little lacing behind. strong clarity and brightness

Smell: boozy and astringent. a strong caramel and some light butterscotch and honey. strong vanilla.

Taste: opens up with some strong maltiness, grainy and full of caramel/crystal. different sugars come through hugely, with notes of honey, butterscotch and burnt sugars. bourbon is hugely present with notes of vanilla and slight oak character. Booze is often astringent.

Mouthfeel: light, boozy and warm. lingering sticky sweetness.

Overall: I love boozy, sweet beers but this one falls short. it comes of thin and watery. the sweet flavors lack any balance and the bourbon is fairly one dimensional (764 characters)

Photo of chefbigjon
3.96/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

To me, the least impressive I've had from this series. Potential is there, it just lacks something. Everything is there to be awesome just isn't as flavorful has I hoped it would be. I will reevaluate with some age on it, I have 3 more bottles, but I was hoping for more. (271 characters)

Photo of JamesStreet
4.45/5  rDev +3%
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 pagriley
4.3/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

22oz into a snifter

L - Pours golden honey with a touch of amber. thin white head with little lacing. Thin legs
S - Like a bourbon soaked werther's original - all booze and caramel goodness
T - Sweetness up front followed by booze and a bit too much bitterness for my preference
F - Medium to light bodied, moderate carb.

Overall, really solid barrel aged beer that is different to almost everything else out there. In that regard alone, this beer deserves praise for taking a risk and veering away from bigger/stronger/badder/bolder in that it is subtle and soft, yet very drinkable. In 6 months when the hops have settled a bit more and integrated this will be like a caramel milk shake. (695 characters)

Photo of vic21234
4.5/5  rDev +4.2%
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 PsilohsaiBiN
4.36/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Appearance: Straw colored with white head that quickly collars.

Smell: So decadent. Huge vanilla, caramel, toffee, brown sugar, bourbon, rich dark fruit. I liken this to smelling an awesome vanilla and sugar laden dessert...I just wanna smell this all day.

Taste: Caramel sweetness at the front of the tongue, with vanilla and subtle bourbon in the middle. Finishes wet with booze and lingering bourbon with some bitterness. Although you can taste the alcohol in the finish, it's not boozy; pretty smooth. Not heavy on the barrel.

Mouthfeel: A bit livlier than many in the style, but that's not a problem. It just works. It's nice to actually have some carb left when you're down to the end of your drink.

Overall: A solid barleywine whose smoothness belies it's strength. The aroma is world class. One knock I have against it is in the bitterness found in the finish, but that's a minor quibble. (901 characters)

Photo of TheSevenDuffs
3.73/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A - Bright medium yellow colour; translucent. Definitely true to the "blond" barley wine label.

S - Barrel aromas dominate: vanilla, toasted oak, bourbon and a light coconut aroma all come through. The base beer adds some cereal, toffee and caramel notes.

T - Barrel up front, as the nose indicated: toasted oak, vanilla and bourbon all come through. A big caramel sweetness is present from the base beer along with a touch of honey. Very sweet overall with an alcohol presence providing some balance.

M - Medium body, bordering on full body. Slightly over-carbonated for the style. (598 characters)

Photo of smakawhat
3.82/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured from the bottle into a large snifter glass. Vintage 2015.

Bright apricot to peach orange, with a lighter lemon hue out of the bottle. Mild filmy top, but also quite clear and very shiny. Head manages faint tan of about two fingers to dissolve to a good bubbled collar. Quite nice looking and very nice dark blonde appearance.

Woody oak, and mild sensing caramel notes hit at first. A bit of booze action though as well. Small sensing stone like fruit a bit, but the caramel action and sweetness is large, but also very good. Fairly good mix of barrel aging, but not sure where this is going.

First sip is quite wet surprisingly. Palate though gets a lot thicker like flavors but also comes out with lots of honey syrup qualities. Very noticeable boozy finish, and quite warm. Wet candy like taffy fruit of peach and orange, almost a little Splenda like strangely. Large but without a lot depth to it. Real fleeting and flat finish that doesn't last, even traces of banana.

It's got some great barrel character, but the base beer is just not really taking this well. Surprisingly wet and not full rounded mouthfeel, but also some great oak and caramel to butterscotch notes. (1,198 characters)

Photo of Greywulfken
4.32/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Brings plenty of tropical and wet fruits to the fore, toned with vanilla, oak, honey, and whiskey. Subtle and smooth, little bit of tingle; medium-full body, a little syrupy, muted carbonation - pale fruit flavors and aromas, honey and floral elements; whiskey notes were well-represented. (289 characters)

Photo of arizcards
4.31/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Picked up a bomber from BevMo Tempe on 8/5/15 for $15.99. Batch 1 bottled in 2015.

Beer poured a golden orange with a thin head that was tall upon the initial pour.

Nose is sweet with nice barrel notes imparted.

Taste is on the sweet side but not cloying. Vanilla, oak, honey, and light bourbon meld so nicely together.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and very smooth.

Overall this is dangerously drinkable, sweet and without huge barrel impartations. I am sure the folks that are looking for the big barrel effect will be disappointed. For me this is very nice and an improvement over DDBA. (595 characters)

Photo of Donco
4.46/5  rDev +3.2%
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 Beer-A-Lot
4.25/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Not as good as Sucaba, but still quite tasty. It definitely improves as it warms, making the barrel flavors more pronounced. Hints of caramel, buttery malts, honey. Have a bottle that I will age a couple of years to compare. Very enjoyable. (244 characters)

Photo of oldn00b
4.66/5  rDev +7.9%
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 mdfb79
4.38/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

From 08/20/15 notes. 13oz. pour in a snifter at Gingerman in NYC...was very excited for this one.

Pours a somewhat hazy reddish dark orange color with less than an inch of off white head and low carbonation evident. Lots of caramel malts, toffee, sweet bourbon, toasted malts, honey, leather, dark fruits, figs, plums, and sugar. Molasses too. Very nice. Medium body and moderate carbonation, not hot.

Overall I like this a lot. Not as much as BA Behemoth or MoaS but very good. Would love to grab a bottle. (509 characters)

Photo of Dope
4.26/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Batch 1, 2015.

A: Pours a hazy red/orange. Small soda-like tan head that fizzes out almost immediately. No lacing at all.

S: Massive bourbon aroma. Huge amount of caramel. Lots of vanilla. Sugary sweet. Mild alcohol sting when swirled.

T: More of the same. Loads of bourbon up front. Caramel and honey with stinging alcohol. Burnt sugars. Oaky vanilla, lots of it - especially in the finish. Nice sweet...pound cake? Must be the malt. Big alcohol burn in the finish helps this one from being too syrupy. Lingering oak and vanilla between sips too.

M: Heavy and super smooth. Lots of alcohol sting to keep it from being too cloying.

O: Hell of a brew. I was expecting hoppy for some reason (maybe the mention of el dorado hops?) but it's not really hoppy or bitter at all. Very malty and very, very bourbon-heavy. Great sweet flavors. Big alcohol sting as I mentioned (at least twice already) but it helps liven it up and not make this like drinking maple syrup. Really well done. (984 characters)

Photo of whatthehull
4.5/5  rDev +4.2%
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 lupercmda
3.75/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours a thick caramel golden color. Smells of cotton candy predominantly. Taste is overly sweet and the barrel gives it some oakiness but does not balance out the sweetness of this beer for me. Moderately thick mouthfeel. (221 characters)

Photo of mac31
4.42/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Bomber to tulip
Sweet, soft hoppy nose
Bright gold, light amber

(About 50F) Big bourbon barrel sweetness up front, vanilla (extract), pale sweet malt, fresh cut cedar, soft hoppy bitterness, alcohol heat more evident as a result of the light malts, thinner bodied (than it's counterparts ), hint of cereal grains in the finish. In the finish is a detectable hint of dark roast-unusual given the color. This beer Starts sweet, finishes fairly dry.

As the beer warms (closer to room temp) the malts become more bready, flavors come in to better balance. Some fusel alcohols remain. Body softens. Those familiar and trademark barrel age FSW flavors show up. I will definitely cellar my last bottle for at least a year before opening it.

A great beer, very unique. While it still looks up to the likes of Sucaba, FSW has done it again. Another notch on their belt. (866 characters)

Photo of DoubleSimcoe
4.21/5  rDev -2.5%
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. (582 characters)

Photo of GSThorn
4.87/5  rDev +12.7%
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 Bosoxfan20
4.18/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours a honey pale color. Aroma of straight bourbon and vanilla with a touch of honey. I thought the booze would over power the depth of flavor and take to astringency, but why should I ever doubt FW Proprietors series. Honey again comes through nicely and blends well with the hops and barrel notes, creating a rich, sweet, fruity, vanilla filled punch with each sip. Feel is full bodied, creamy, sharp, but not overwhelming. Absolutely stunning. (448 characters)

Photo of jmkoller11
4.63/5  rDev +7.2%
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 303beer
4.66/5  rDev +7.9%
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 Rutager
4.01/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Picked up the last bottle the other day down in Bellingham. New FW, sweet!

Pours a decadent looking orange-gold with a half finger of white head. Getting big pineapple and coconut off the top. Maybe a touch of bourbon, definitely a ton of coconut barrel goodness. A bit of caramel candy, we have dessert here.

Very sweet. A bit of citrus, lots of smooth bourbon barrel, honey and a touch of caramel. A bit over the top in sweetness for me.

Medium-full body, low+ carbonation.

It's good but I won't be buying it again at the premium price it goes for. Smells pretty amazing, FW seems to nail that often. (608 characters)

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Helldorado from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
94 out of 100 based on 66 ratings.