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Helldorado - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Not Rated.

Educational use only; do not reuse.

59 Reviews
no score

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Reviews: 59
Hads: 264
rAvg: 4.33
pDev: 6.47%
Wants: 147
Gots: 159 | 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: 59 | Hads: 264
Photo of Mattygross44
3.7/5  rDev -14.5%
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. (396 characters)

Photo of TheSevenDuffs
3.73/5  rDev -13.9%
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 lupercmda
3.75/5  rDev -13.4%
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 ArrogantB
3.79/5  rDev -12.5%
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. (332 characters)

Photo of smakawhat
3.82/5  rDev -11.8%
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 Rollzroyce21
3.9/5  rDev -9.9%
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. (353 characters)

Photo of TruePerception
3.92/5  rDev -9.5%
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. (571 characters)

Photo of Bsquirrelbrewer
3.93/5  rDev -9.2%
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! (311 characters)

Photo of Rutager
4.01/5  rDev -7.4%
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)

Photo of maxifunk777
4.03/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4.5 | 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. (481 characters)

Photo of fox227
4.17/5  rDev -3.7%
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. (796 characters)

Photo of Bosoxfan20
4.18/5  rDev -3.5%
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 UCLABrewN84
4.19/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

On tap at the 2013 Firestone Walker Invitational held at the Paso Robles Event Center in Paso Robles, CA.

Pours a hazy orange with a foamy bone head that settles to wisps of film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace slowly drip into the remaining beer on the drink down. Smell is of malt, grain, honey, caramel, and toffee aromas. Taste is much the same with caramel and toffee flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of woody bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a very good beer with some great aromas and flavors. (622 characters)

Photo of raynmoon
4.2/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Blonde in color, no head to speak of, as expected. The smell is of hard liquor candy (if that exists) and honey. The taste follows with the nose but is much more mild than expected. Honey, bourbon candy, hops dominate. The rest goes down semi-sweet and mellow. Overall balanced, but nothing close to Parabola, Sucaba, and the rest of the proprietor's series.

DDBA is definitely a step up from this beer. I had the 2013 vintage of helldorado on tap recently and that was better than this one too.

I'm not convinced this one is going to get any better. Firestone is known for barrel aged beers ready to drink. This one is just different. DDBA aged the best. We'll see with this one. I just don't see Helldorado sticking around longer than another year. (753 characters)

Photo of DoubleSimcoe
4.21/5  rDev -2.8%
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 JohnGalt1
4.24/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2015 bottling... I've had it draft a couple of times now and enjoyed a bottle tonight while doing some late night lawn watering... Draft from PreFunk was pretty great, but seemed a bit hot.. The bottle tonight is cleaner and not nearly as hot.. Sitting back and writing with weird EDM from Radio Boise on the stereo.. Pours mostly clear light orange... Big oaky vanilla hit on the nose with plenty of malty notes, but they don't carry the EtOH at all right now.. Almost a honey note with warmth. Flavor begins with a big vanilla oak hit and moves responsibly into the malty element.. the beer is "big" for sure but never verges on overdone, nice right now, but will do well with some time in the bottle.. The barrel elements are really well done. This is gonna be a killer with a year or so but is too hot right now.

4/4.25/4.25/4.25/4.25 (839 characters)

Photo of EdwardAbbey
4.24/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A really nice beer, distinctive for a barrel-aged offering and easy to drink (which is always impressive for a beer of this size), but something short of great. It looks like a DIPA, but smells and tastes like some kind of honey-coconut-vanilla liqueur, with a hint of bourbon and a touch of bitterness. I definitely enjoyed it, but as some others have noted, it's mid-tier by FW's exalted standards. So, still excellent. It just lacks that little bit of richness, complexity and depth that make the upper echelon of Parabola, Sucaba, and their Anniversary Beers so outstanding. Maybe time, a year or two, will help elevate this one to something truly special. (665 characters)

Photo of Beer-A-Lot
4.25/5  rDev -1.8%
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 FosterJM
4.25/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

1539th Review on BA
Draft to 6oz Snifter

@Firestone Walker, Paso Robles, CA

App- A mixture of a couple different yellows and golds in the glass. When the server poured it, it looked a bit flat, but with a little bit of swirl some good bubble activity presented and made it look better. The cling was just slight. A bit clearer than I was thinking as well.

Smell- A large beer to say the least. Really a lot going on in the aromatic department. It started with the honey and with me being not the biggest fan of honey I was quite suprised to enjoy the melding of the honey, oak, vanilla, toffee and a slight bitter.

Taste- This is where its at. The ABV on this is very large as is most of the beers that go into the Anniversary blends from FW and this was deceptively smooth and rich. A bit creamy. Larger amounts of the oak shine through as well as the vanilla and a malty candy sweetness. A bit rich and smooth and more atune to a bourbon syrup flavor.

Mouth- A very large medium body with a semi medium carbonation that was a bit prickly. It was deceptively silky on the tounge and drank just amazingly. The residual flavors are the oak, the vanilla and a little dough.

Drink- I was flabbergasted when I saw this on the board. I had made the decision to go to FW on a whim because of the large detour. So glad I did. If you can ever get your hands on this I suggest you do. FW Please bottle this in a reserve series lineup!!! (1,433 characters)

Photo of draheim
4.26/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

22oz (2015) into a tulip. Pours a hazy glowing golden orange w/ a thin white head that settles to a narrow collar and film.

Aroma is fruity, malty, sweet and a touch citrusy, with an underlying alcohol presence. Definitely a balance here between lots of malt and lots of hops, but of course with a barleywine the malt is dominant.

Taste is bright and juicy on top of a heavy pale malt backbone. 13% ABV pretty well hidden. Mandarin orange, sweet honey. Hops (El Dorado, evidently) balance out the malt but definitely play second fiddle. Oak and vanilla give it the smoothness of a fine single-malt.

Mouthfeel is heavy-bodied but not syrupy. Lingering aftertaste.

Overall a really unique beer, almost a cross between a triple IPA and a barleywine. (750 characters)

Photo of Dope
4.26/5  rDev -1.6%
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 maximum12
4.26/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz. bottle with the inevitably minimalist/gorgeous packaging from Firestone split with my wife. Picked up on vacation at Big Bear Liquor in Pueblo, CO. Damn are we having fun!

The pour – into plastic hotel-room glasses, judge me if you must, boners – is gold with a surprisingly robust head. The smell is light but sweet, with a side of vanilla & strong steel cable of wood holding it up. Not aggressive, but pleasant.

Helldorado is best consumed while reclining at your ultimate destination. Booziness is evident in an immediate 12 degree increase in belly temp, flushing my insides a deep, pleasing red. High clover content honey coats the palate & lends a light, airy delight to what it usually a genre cloaked in heavy, somber tones. Beneath that sweetness is buzz-cut oak, lingering bourbon heat, with sidecars into white pepper, earthy hops, a tequila-like note, & light finishing bitterness. As with all Firestone barrel-aged beers, this is drinkable enough to warrant some kind of red-letter warning.

Well, damn. I was hoping this would be in the good-not-great category so I could avoid lugging a bottle or two more home with me, but I can see that was a hope akin to wishing the Twins into a 2015 playoff berth. Supremely tasty, different take, excellent results. Per usual, I must ask when FW plans on coming to MN & reducing my hefty FedEx bill? (1,369 characters)

Photo of largadeer
4.27/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Draft at Beer Rev. Pale blond body with a thin head that doesn't last long. Sweet butterscotch aroma, completely pale malt and barrel dominant. Big sugary caramel notes, stonefruit, little booziness. Smells great, though perhaps a bit one-dimensional. The palate is good, medium-light in body, rather rich and sweet. Body could use more heft, but it isn't overly thin. Big caramel and butterscotch notes meld with warming bourbon, though this doesn't taste 13%; very clean fermentation here. Finishes sweet with mild tannins, and a bit of lingering dried fruit. Pretty damn good, a little too easy to drink for the ABV. (619 characters)

Photo of abeeronthebeach
4.29/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A - Glows orangey gold. Opaque. Surprisingly young and light looking.

S - Honey, sponge cake, vanilla, brandy.

T - Tastes like a freshly dry-hopped english barleywine (this is my first true american barleywine). Brandy alcohol, piney toffee.

M - Resinous and syrupy. Low-medium carbonation.

O - Alcohol is quite prominent. Lacks the depth required to take it to the next level and has more of that fresh, clean IPA feel to it. Bitter toffee. Does not quite have the depth of a true sipper, yet is too bitter and boozy to do approach it in any other way. (558 characters)

Photo of neurobot01
4.29/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Bomber into a Teku at fridge temp, allowed to warm.

Look: like a beautiful double or triple IPA: rich orange-yellow, though with very little head and minimal carbonation.

Smell: orange creamsicle, oak, booze.

Taste: vanilla, orange bitters, booze, oak, coconut, almond extract.

Feel: alcohol heat, thick side of medium, a little lacking in carbonation.

Overall: this grew on me as it warmed. Middle of the pack in FW's Vintage series... which means, pretty darn good. (472 characters)

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Helldorado from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
94 out of 100 based on 59 ratings.