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Helldorado - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Not Rated.

Educational use only; do not reuse.

118 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 118
Hads: 494
Avg: 4.27
pDev: 15.46%
Wants: 146
Gots: 290 | FT: 38
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.
View: Beers (83) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 118 | Hads: 494
Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.19/5  rDev -1.9%
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.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
4.4/5  rDev +3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

the huge firestone walker beers in barrels is what makes them special. its not the everyday stuff or the wild ales or anything else, its beers exactly like this that keep them above so many other breweries, this stuff is pure magic. honey barleywine, with the honey being present in nose and taste, more than just sweet, its seasonal and earthy and floral and really pretty lightening to the whole thing. some grain weight to this, but no alcohol in the nose at all. the bourbon and the honey go so well together in the nose, with the vanilla picking up the honey sugars and carrying it through to that oaky mature space later on. the flavor follows a similar trajectory, but the beer itself has an english flare. i dont know if its the yeast or then malt, but it is more english than american and not just because there isnt much hops here. the bourbon barrel is dominant in the finish, really nice balance until then though. mouthfeel ranks it higher too, like some of the other huge firestone beers, its thick as jelly, spreadable almost, but slippery going down, as textured as any beer out there, and never getting alcoholically hot in the least. so woody, so much honey, so much bourbon, its a major statement beer. i wish this was packaged and released instead of draft only and stashed for blending. its a beauty to say the least.

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.2/5  rDev -1.6%
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 largadeer
4.27/5  rDev 0%
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.

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Photo of wethorseblanket
4.42/5  rDev +3.5%
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.

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Photo of kojevergas
2.83/5  rDev -33.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

BOTTLE: Comes in a fancy shmancy cardboard box - probably intended to evoke a fine Scotch. 2015 vintage. 650ml. Brown glass. Classy understated label design. Black papered-over pry-off crown cap.

13.2% ABV. 25.5 Plato. 25 IBUs. 3500 cases produced. 12 SRM.

Served cold into an oversized snifter/tulip hybrid glass and allowed to come to temperature over the course of consumption. Expectations are low given the batshit style and the brewery. Reviewed live.

No bubble show forms as it's poured.

HEAD: 1 finger wide. Off-white colour. Decent thickness and creaminess. Recedes fully within 2 minutes. No lacing sticks to the sides of the glass.

BODY: Vibrant gold. No yeast particulate or hop sediment is visible within. Clean and filtered.

It's a nice look for a beer in general terms. More bonde ale than barleywine.

AROMA: Honey, booze, butterscotch, faint vanilla (probably from the barrel), pale malts, white oak, creme brulee, and ample malty sweetness.

Aromatic intensity is average. I don't pick up on any overt hop notes or off-notes.

TASTE: Boozy and honey-forward, with traces of lavender and heavy barrel sugar sweetness. Barrel presence tips more towards vanilla/creme brulee than oak, with no real rich white oak or toasted presence. Pale malts disappear beneath the barrel, which overwhelms the beer. Alcohol presence is obvious.

I like the vanilla, but I wish the sweetness wasn't so overt; it throws the beer out of balance. It's built alright, I guess, but it's neither much of a blonde nor much of a barleywine. I don't dislike it, but that alcohol presence is hard to get past. Average flavour duration and intensity. Below average depth of flavour.

TEXTURE: Heavy and viscous on the palate, with a somewhat syrupy presence. Thick and hefty. It's a lot to handle, and the boozy warmth is bothersome.

OVERALL: It's a decent sipper. I'm glad I have company to help me finish it. Far from world class, and not a beer I'd encourage friends to try. I wouldn't buy it again meself. We'll finish it with some effort. I'm not sure why it's so well-regarded, but then I could say that about this brewery as a whole. Overpriced and of subpar quality.


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Photo of mdfb79
4.38/5  rDev +2.6%
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.

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Photo of mothman
4.19/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

On tap at Max's.

Golden yellow color.

Lots of coconut and honey. Caramel and other malts. Lots of oak, bourbon, and vanilla.

A slight amount too much carbonation. Sticky feel. Minimal heat.

Solid offering. Well worth a try.

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Photo of smakawhat
3.82/5  rDev -10.5%
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 Zorro
4.61/5  rDev +8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Chill hazed golden colored ale with a small white colored head.

Smells strongly of bourbon. Big scents of vanilla, coconut and caramel. Strong scent of sandalwood. Strong pepper rides on the ethanol fumes. Exceedingly aromatic beer, it punches you in the nose with scent but in a good way. Strong scent of Marigold flower.

Starts out sweet with a strong vanilla and caramel flavor. Abundant tastes of Bourbon whiskey and coconut. Unexpected passion fruit flavor. Flavors of butterscotch and honey. This is a powerful beer this is like a 2X4 or flavor broken across your tongue. Decidedly boozy, this is a powerful beer that will just get better with age.

Mouthfeel is damn close to syrup. You could probably pour this on pancakes.

Overall just an outstanding flavor bomb. This will just get more complex over the next five years, right now it is young. Best beer I have had this year.

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Photo of HopHead84
4.6/5  rDev +7.7%
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.

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Photo of TheSevenDuffs
3.73/5  rDev -12.6%
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 Wasatch
4.12/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz. Bomber
2015 Vintage (Box)
No. 001
3500 Cases Produced
Black Foil/Capped

Poured into a chalice a very nice slightly cloudy golden orange color, very nice carbonation, with a very nice quick, creamy, small off-white head, which leaves some nice sticky lacing behind. The nose is malty, slight yeast note, some vanilla, oaky, bourbon, some dark fruits. The taste is very nice, malty, slightly yeasty, vanilla sweetness, oaky, nice bourbon note, nice touch of dark fruits, slightly spicy. Full body, ABV is hidden fairly well, a complex brew. Overall, a pretty tasty brew, quite a different take on the style.

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Photo of John_M
4.34/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Cracked open a bottle at the 16 tons bottle share last night.

The beer pours a golden amber with good head retetnion and considerable lacing. This is one of those beers that has the look of something that has seen some serious barrel aging (which of course, I guess it has). On the nose, there is a HUGE aroma of fresh clover honey, coupled with considerable vanilla and light bourbon. The flavor profile replicates the nose in this sweet, boozy beer, and mouthfeel is very full, with a long, sweet finish. At this point, the alcohol is very prominent in this beer, and I really think it needs some time to settle down a bit. Frankly, if I were to buy any bottles, I would try to sit on them for a few years, to see if the alcohol integrates into the flavor profile a bit better. Still a very fine beer, but right now, the sweetness and high abv. are a bit overwhelming.

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Photo of JohnGalt1
4.24/5  rDev -0.7%
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.


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Photo of vfgccp
4.57/5  rDev +7%
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.

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Photo of LiquidAmber
4.4/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a Fremont small snifter. Pours a slightly hazy medium orange amber with a thin white head that dissipates to patches with light slippery lacing. Aroma of non-citrusy orange, vanilla, caramel malt, light honey; dominant bourbon with a bit of booziness. Flavor is similar, with the main fruit flavors as sweet orange, maybe a little apricot, vanilla, honey and bourbon. Medium bodied with light creaminess, light carbonation. Initial flavor is dessert-like orange, with rapidly developing vanilla and wood elements with bourbon, almost like a light aperitif. The finish is lighter than expected and shows the high alcohol a bit. Somewhat lighter in flavor than a typical barleywine and leaning more in the direction of an English style one, but the initial flavors are pleasant and surprising; orange is rarely a dominant flavor in this style and that really makes this stand out. Very enjoyable and it's obvious why this might be considered for a component of the anniversary beers, it has a great flavor. Interesting and tasty. I have no idea how this one will age, but I'm going to find out.

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Photo of Beerandraiderfan
4.55/5  rDev +6.6%
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.

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Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.1/5  rDev -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 lupercmda
3.75/5  rDev -12.2%
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.

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Photo of mrn1ceguy
4.06/5  rDev -4.9%
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 maximum12
4.26/5  rDev -0.2%
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?

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Photo of cbutova
4.02/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Moe's Tavern. Full notes taken.

A- Fairly murky medium golden pour from the taps into a tulip. Small white cap, foamy consistency sees it dying to almost nothing. Poor retention and lacks any lacing.

S- Vanilla bourbon and degraded woody oak. Golden raisin fruit esters, alcohol, medium caramelized malts hinting at sweetness.

T- Mostly like the nose with the main woody, vanilla, bourbon, alcohol and spicy fruit. Very much laid back as far as sweetness goes especially considering the heavyweight ABV, really clean fermentation.

MF- Medium-thick and slick oily overall feel. Texture is frothy but only ever so slightly as it is a bit syrupy.

The heat from the ABV comes out later on in this huge but very smooth brew. Lots of vanilla and oaky barreled flavors.

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Photo of ArrogantB
3.79/5  rDev -11.2%
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 Rutager
4.01/5  rDev -6.1%
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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Helldorado from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
94 out of 100 based on 118 ratings.