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Helldorado - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Not Rated.

Educational use only; do not reuse.

103 Reviews
no score

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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 SportsandJorts
3.14/5  rDev -26.8%
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

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Photo of mychalg9
3.36/5  rDev -21.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Look: Looks decent

Smell: Kinda flat. Sticky malty barrel kinda thing going on

Taste: Meh. Some barrel on top of weird other barrel flavors? Can't even make sense of it.

Mouthfeel: The best part of this one.

Overall: Would not buy again

Gotta be honest, this is the worst FW barrel aged beer I've had by far. Bring back DDBA please, it was loads better than this.

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Photo of Mattygross44
3.7/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

This def needs to be aged like 2 years its not like the other vintage ones in the series where you can pop a 2015 parabola and it still is amazing... This has a very sharp dirty taste and after taste that lingers. Its very boozy which i like but like a cheap beer boozy going on which i dont like. I was very disappointed just hoping it gets better in time because i have 6 more bottles i bought.

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Photo of Sludgeman
3.72/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured into a snifter at Rustico/Arlingon.

More like a hot Belgian dark strong ale. But the light color fools your taste buds a bit. Good but not a typical barleywine. - 3.75

A - Pours a beautiful, slight cloudy golden orange with almost no head. - 4.25

S - Alcohol, spice, raisins - 3.5

T – Dark fruits, spicey, more bitter than malty, some residual sweetness though, hot (even a bit solventy). - 3.75

MF - Medium heavy, Semi dry finish, warming - 3.75

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Photo of TheSevenDuffs
3.73/5  rDev -13.1%
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.

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Photo of lupercmda
3.75/5  rDev -12.6%
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.

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Photo of ArrogantB
3.79/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

22oz bottle $16.99. Blonde color, not much head. Aroma was bourbon barrel, sweetness. The flavor had a touch of honey and bourbon barrels (or some kind of booze). It has a really good barrel character but I just didn't care for it in comparison to their other boxed proprietor's series beers. I'm glad I only bought a single bottle.

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Photo of smakawhat
3.82/5  rDev -11%
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.

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Photo of Rollzroyce21
3.9/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

- 2015 vintage
- 22oz. bomber poured into Lost Abbey Teku on 29-Jul-15

Straight up tasted like a barrel-aged high malted DIPA with some heat that could benefit from some aging to settle it down.

Of all the FW BA brews, this one is on the lower tier when fresh. But overall enjoyed the bottle and looking forward to seeing it develop more as it ages.

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Photo of TruePerception
3.92/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Firestone's Helldorado, blonde barley wine. 13.2% ABV.

A: Slightly dark orange/sienna. A finger of head; fades to just a thin ring. Decent sheeting. Thin lacing.

S: Deep, warm oaky caramel. Slight earthy/hay note. Toasted oak, toffee.

T/MF: Grassy/vegetal toffee hits around mid-tongue. Subtle, sweet, milky caramel on the tip. Wood pulp on the finish. Interesting collection of flavors. Slight bitterness on the finish. I think it could use some bourbon or anejo tequila to smooth it out. Slight coconut husk.

Poured from a 22 oz. bottle, into a Belgian tulip glass.

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Photo of Bsquirrelbrewer
3.93/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

On draft at strangeloves.

Very light brown color, almost a pale caramel.

Smell is pleasantly sweet and boozy.

Taste bring a nice blend of sugar and booze, but it lacks the caramel present in sucaba.

Mouthfeel is rich and full bodied. It lingers on the palate.

Overall another solid offering from Firestone!

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Photo of chefbigjon
3.96/5  rDev -7.7%
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.

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

while I was able to take down the entire bottle myself (and quite twisted from the feat thank you very much)...ddb hit this one on the head. sort of big for the sake of being big. not bad, a bit sweet, but akin to some of the bruery beers that are big and not bad but not that you would seek out again. this one is better suited for blending. glad to have the tick but would rather have most other FW brews.

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Photo of Rutager
4.01/5  rDev -6.5%
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.

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Photo of maxifunk777
4.02/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Warm this is very much a traditional barleywine in the English style concept. Not similar to Sucaba but definitely has its roots based there. A little boozy for a 13% abv beer. I think this could be a work in progress for FW future renditions will be better. But still all a very good beer almost a great beer but those who love Sucaba will love this as well. Highly interested in the 2016 version already. I got 8 bottles 6 of which are going to the east coast to spread the love.

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Photo of Thirstygoat
4.04/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured into Firestone walker Barrelworks glass , The orange color with off white head that matches many DIPAs

Smells of wood, alcohol and fruit, maybe pear?

I like a little wood, alcohol bite and that is the strongest impression I get here. Some caramel, faint trace of hops

Rather thin for a 13.2% barleywine

I have a couple more that I'll let cellar to see if the wood & alcohol settle down ?

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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 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 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 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 fox227
4.17/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

This beer pours like a golden ale, with very little head, which is expected from such a high alcohol barrel aged ale. The aroma contains notes of stone fruit, musk melon, whiskey, vanilla, and oak. The flavor more or less follows the nose but the totality of the flavor is perhaps not as complex as some of the other Firestone Walker barrel aged offerings. To elaborate, no definite elements of flavors assert themselves in swirling counterpoint (think of J.S. Bach), but rather settle into a shallow pool of muted flavors. The mouthfeel is surprisingly medium in the face of such a big beer. This is a good thing. I find Helldorado to be almost illegally drinkable. I can taste some heat from the alcohol, but not in a detrimental way that would suggest caution in the moderation of consumption.

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