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Firestone 15 - Anniversary Ale - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Firestone 15 - Anniversary AleFirestone 15 - Anniversary Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

951 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 951
Reviews: 294
rAvg: 4.35
pDev: 11.49%

Brewed by:
Firestone Walker Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Strong Ale |  12.50% ABV

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes/Commercial Description:
This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

18% Helldorado (11.7% ABV) Blonde Barley Wine.
17% Sticky Monkey (12.5% ABV) English Barley Wine.
17% Bravo (13.5% ABV) Imperial Brown Ale.
13% Double Double Barrel Ale (11.5% ABV) Double Strength English Pale Ale.
11% Good Foot (14.3 ABV) American Barley Wine.
10% Velvet Merkin (8.6% ABV) Traditional Oatmeal Stout.
9% Parabola (13% ABV) Russian Imperial Oatmeal Stout.
5% Double Jack (9.5% ABV) Double India Pale Ale.

(Beer added by: brew3crew on 11-08-2011)
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Ratings: 951 | Reviews: 294 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of ricknelson


4.25/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Firestone's 15th Anniversary Ale came in 2nd in my recent 8 beer tasting of Firestone Walker's top beers. Out of the seven BA guys we had at the tasting, 15th Anniversary got great reviews for a beer that was about 3 years old. It beat out 16th & 17th Anniversary Ales, Double DBA, Scuaba, and Double Jack and Wookey Jack. Would have loved to have had it when it was fresher, but age did not seem to hurt it all.

Serving type: bottle

03-26-2014 23:02:22 | More by ricknelson
Photo of AndyAvalanche


4.49/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

22 ox. bottle poured into a Duvel Tulip style glass. Liquid comes out of the bottle a nice amber brown color. While it collects in the glass a bit more of a reddish amber then brown. Off white to tan colored head with medium sized bubbles. Goes away faster than expected, but there's a ring of very small nitro looking bubbles that leave a ring around the edges. Not too much in the way of lacing, but there a little.

Smell is really good. It isn't overly strong, but it's complex, it has a hint of everything. Hints of bourbon, caramel, toffee, candy coated figs, and a very slight citrus hop presence. All of that is coated in a vanilla woody aroma. There's also a nice sweet decadent candy presence, sort of like if haribo did some type of sugar coated grape gummy bear.

Much like the smell, the taste is complex, layered, and delicious. Lots of oaky vanilla and a generous amount of carmel and toffee are extremely strong with a back hint of a mild coco in the back. Sort of like a barley wine blended with a reasonably robust porter at a 80/20 ratio in favor of the barley wine. Some of the above sugar coated figs and also cherries are present, as well as the candy coated grape flavors again. There's a nice citrus peele happiness masked in the back to provide just the right amount of bitterness. Alcohol is well hidden by the rest of the flavors.

Mouthfeel is straight up perfect. A hard medium to the lighter end of full bodied. It's got a lingering flavor that you'd expect in any full bodied beer, but it's not that heavy on the tongue, sot of thin, not something easily accomplished. Nice medium carbonation level that complements the feel quite well. It's sweet, in the best way possible, it takes the sweetest part from the barley, hops, and bourbon without this making it the slightest bit of a sugar bomb. Well balanced, perfect amount of bitterness from the hops and heat from the alcohol. As I said, the heat is present, yet I still wouldn't say this would pass the 12% range, still at 12.5% if someone were to tell me this beer was sub 10%, I wouldn't argue. Drinkability is ridicules, so easy to polish this one off. I've had it fresh, with a year on it, 2 years, and now a little bit more and I gotta say they are all delicious. Love what Firestone Walker is doing with blending and barrel aging beers, this is delicious.

Serving type: bottle

01-29-2014 02:10:57 | More by AndyAvalanche
Photo of Odysseyalien

New Jersey

3.7/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Firestone Walker's biggest competitor is Firestone Walker. This 15th Anniversary bottle is two years old and has aged well. The alcohol is still hot though the flavors have blended well in two years. Still, while this is a delicious strong ale or barleywine, it competes in my book with their Sucaba offering which is an amazing English barleywine. ---Rated via Beer Buddy for iPad

Serving type: bottle

01-26-2014 21:17:22 | More by Odysseyalien
Photo of elNopalero


4.66/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Updated from 2013:
I tasted this as part of a flight at an epic bottle share. The review is from my notes, based on at least 1 ounce and at most 2 ounce pours. In most instances this would be an insignificant sample size but considering the fact that I could quite possibly never even see this beer again, well, I couldn’t pass it up. [This is my standard intro to my tasting notes from the series.]
This pours a dark caramel hue, like a malty amber orange brown. Great lacing!
I get a lighter aroma than other offerings, with a subdued caramel malt, touch of candied orange and a light hint of stone fruits. The flavor has notes of vanilla and toasted coconut, along with a subdued malty-candied orange. There’s a bit more booziness in this as well.

From 2011:
This year’s vintage is a blended barleywine and it’s absolutely fantastic. Drink it now, or save some to sit on—but definitely try it!

This pours a rich caramel color, a light molasses-tan in the light. It smells fantastic--sweet, with a light caramel and some toasted coconut. It’s flavor is just as fantastic—such a rich, intense, rounded, flavorful barleywine, with caramel, coconut, a rich maltiness and warming alcohol that doesn’t dominate. Smooth, even young. Light and delicate, for a barleywine, yet lingering. Followed my first snifter with another—to share. Could have had a third, easily. Yum.

Serving type: bottle

01-06-2014 02:39:18 | More by elNopalero
Photo of KYGunner


4.26/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Dark mahogany coloring allowed a creamy like body. The head was bubbly and thick but sat atop for nearly the duration of the drink.

The aromas are classic Strong Ale with raisin, prune, dark candied fruits, chocolate and caramel malt.

The flavor is big with strong chocolate and caramel. There is a dry malt and grain at mid palate and then in an interesting turn I catch Apple and even pear.

The feel is very crisp, very easy and so easy to drink.

This was a very nice surprise as it was my first FW brew.

Serving type: bottle

01-06-2014 01:57:58 | More by KYGunner
Photo of HalfFull


4.2/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bomber purchased about two years ago and cellared since. $15.69 at the time, a bit better than the $23.99 I was surprised with this year. Some but not too much age so a balance I hope for, though these blends are likely better a bit fresher I find. Finally a pre Thanksgiving excuse arises to justify its accompaniment.

Served up in a large wine glass, the XV pours a deep mahogany brown. Lighter in color than pryor and later versions yet with a bit more carbonation and foam retention as well. Mostly clear with a bit of haze but no deterring floatsam.

Aroma of sweet fig, brown sugar and some roasted malts beneath a pleasant barrel infused background. Some bourbon and wood are detected but not overdone. The aroma matches well to the blend given the preponderence of barleywine in the mix as well as the combination of brandy and bourbon barrels. Some milk chocolate notes with warming.

Taste kicks it up a notch and is smoother and less viscous sweet than expected from the nose. Nicely carbonated giving more of a spritz of body to the finish. Touch nutty on the finish with a lingering and everpresent barrel influence.

Feel is quite pleasant for what comes across as a BA Barleywine in that the sweetness is subdued and well balanced with oak and some caramel malt influences. This beer may have sung a different tune two years ago however. The ABV is felt yet quite well integrated after two years in the cellar. Overall quite good though I prefer the Stoutier anny blends.

Serving type: bottle

11-24-2013 04:28:26 | More by HalfFull
Photo of lacqueredmouse


4.11/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz boxed bottle purchased from Belmont Station in Portland, OR, approximately 18 months ago, when it was already a little on the agèd side. Brought back to Sydney, where I sat on it for a while and then shared it with Rich and Sam.

Pours a pleasant deep umber brown colour, with a pale beige head that seemed to form swiftly, but in the end turned only into a mass of large bubbles around the edge of the glass. Body is thick, and it holds what minor straggling carbonation it has very firmly. Looks thick and old. That's good.

Nose is oaky and a little flat, perhaps with a tad of oxidation coming through, giving a slightly buttery note. Stacks of sweetness, but more oak. Slight vinous notes, a little roast and a hint of balsamic. I do think that it has a fair amount of oxidation and age on it, but there's still plenty to enjoy here.

Taste is very smooth and very pleasant. Here, the oxidation has been kinder, leaving a pleasant smoothness to complement the intrinsic oak notes. There's some roast and a richness on the back of the palate, suggesting sultanas and baked rye bread. Some estery notes still come through, more of those raisin notes and a touch of sweet overripe banana. It's very pleasant.

Feel is good, but has lost a bit of carbonation: just a fine tingling would help it a lot, but I fear that's something that has come and gone.

Overall, this is still great stuff, but I feel as though it's showing its age. As much as I feel as though you should be able to cellar these beers, the ones I've had in the past have been much superior to this one, and I had them sooner after their release. The next time, I'll choose to drink my FW anniversary ale earlier.

Serving type: bottle

10-26-2013 07:29:07 | More by lacqueredmouse
Photo of WoodBrew


4.94/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

HOLY SH&T!!! This beer is AMAZING. A buddy has been holding this one for about a year and it is AWESOME!!! The beer pours hazy brown with thin white head that is not leaving much of a lace. The scent is dominated by bourbon with hints of oak. The taste carries bourbon, vanilla, molassis or perhaps a dark cherry cream soda. The mouthfeel is full in body with smooth carbonation. Overall this is a F'CKING AMAZING BEER!!!

Serving type: bottle

09-29-2013 00:10:18 | More by WoodBrew
Photo of kojevergas


3.65/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Served on-draught into a stem-tulip at the Verdugo Bar in Silverlake, Los Angeles. Reviewed from notes taken during Verdugo's anniversary event. Due to the nature of the event (standing room only with few surfaces), I wasn't able to review as in-depth as I'd like. I intend to return to this beer if I'm given the chance.

A: Pours a half finger wide head of tan colour. Recedes in less than a minute; that's disappointing but explainable given the high ABV. Nice thickness and creaminess.

Body colour is an opaque solid black.

No yeast particles are visible. No bubble show.

Sm: Bourbon, light oak. Chocolate malt. Dark malts. Syrupy notes. Caramel. A light aroma, and not a particularly evocative one - especially considering the blending. You'd think there'd be a lot more depth here.

No yeast or hop character is detectable. I do notice some alcohol.

T/Mf: Syrupy. Smooth bourbon. Dark malts. Chocolate malt. Caramel. Well layered and balanced, but not real rich or evocative. It's somewhat reticent, actually. Has nice complexity, but it should be more subtly executed. Well put together as a blend I guess. Hides the alcohol quite well. It does lack a prominent focus. It's tasty, if understated.

Smooth and wet. Thick and syrupy. Viscous. Good carbonation. Doesn't have any bite. Has a pleasant alcohol warmth, but it's not hot or boozy per se.

Dr: Very drinkable for the high ABV. I'd get it again, but it's not worth seeking out or paying top dollar for. A good beer on-draught; age has done it well. Well blended and quite mellow. Impressive work from Firestone Walker.


Serving type: on-tap

09-25-2013 18:21:09 | More by kojevergas
Photo of dogfishandi

New York

4.6/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz bottle a bit above fridge temp poured into a snifter

Pours out nearly opaque black, maybe a super dark brown? About one fingers worth of light tan to yellow colored head off the pour that quickLy fades to a thick ring and patchy foam. Lacing is quick to fall back into the beer, but some really nice alcohol legs.

Lots of bourbon and barrel character in the aroma, vanilla. Maybe a bit of brandy as well. Quite warming. Lots of wood. Sweet caramel, and maybe even hints of some sort of grain, maybe rye? Or maybe this comes from the wood?

Very nice, flavors meld together so nicely. Bourbon at the forefront with some brandy as well, a nice barrel character, oaky vanilla, quite warming on the palate. Lots of sweetness, dark caramel, maybe a bit of burnt sugars. Some grainy wood.

Thick and sweet, but not overly so. Boozey and warming all over.

This beer really brings it with bourbon and brandy flavors and some amazing barrel characteristics. Warming for sure, but quite amazing how it can have some much bourbon flavor without being overly boozey. Quite possibly one of the best BA beers I've had.

Serving type: bottle

09-22-2013 18:55:29 | More by dogfishandi
Photo of timc100


4.36/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.25

A: Looks like a great BABW. Murky brown, ruby red - still decently clear. For the abv, complex aging process and blending, there is a remarkable head - light beige, nice sticky lacing with big alcohol legs. Gorgeous beer.

S: The aroma is FW through and through - a lot of oak tannin, toasted coconut and oaky vanilla. The DDBA really shines through, if not dominates. I did not have an opportunity to have it fresh, and I am sure it was very different 2 years ago. Some fig and other dark dried fruit come through as well as some toasted brown sugar. When it warms there is some bourbon/brandy booziness as well as almond and hazelnut. No heat to speak of - has completely balanced out.

T: Oaky coconut and vanilla, almost no spirt booziness. Some chocolate kicks at the back end. Incredibly smooth and easy drinking. Rich caramel and toffee, some dark fruit and brown sugar sweetness. After warming up to room temp, chocolate and nuttiness comes though as well as brandy and bourbon booze, though not hot.

P: Perfect for the flavor profile. Incredibly smooth, minimal carbonation, kinda sticky, medium body.

O: This is a great beer, but I am disappointed at it's lack of vibrancy. It is incredibly similar to DDBA and I was anticipating something more complex and over-the-top given the extensive blending and aging process. That being said, it is another success from FW's barrel program and a phenomenally well balanced and blended beer.

Serving type: bottle

09-09-2013 03:57:34 | More by timc100
Photo of argock


4.1/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22 oz brown bomber into a clear glass snifter. Shared with my wife on my recent birthday. Reviewed from notes.

A: Dusky lightish brown with short-lived and slightly foamy beige head which leaves no lacing.

S: Caramel notes with some light herbal and citrus hopping. Some bourbon and vanilla character. Alcohol is surprisingly fairly tame in the aroma. Very lush and sumptuous aroma.

T: Falls on the sweet barleywine side of the equation, although there are plenty of dark malt flavors, light roast, some dark chocolate, and also a good dose of citrus and herbal hops despite this being 1+ years old. The barleywine components dominate with a range of caramel malt flavors accentuated by the wonderful, nicely balanced barrel character with light bourbon and a pretty hefty vanilla note. Bitterness is low-medium. Alcohol character brings a little sweetness but is not obtrusive at all.

M: This seemed way too thin for the style. The carbonation was fairly low but not too surprising for a big beer. The body was medium at most and left a little bit of a watery impression in the finish.

O: A really nice beer although not as good as previous FW Anniversary beers I have had previously, mainly due to the mouthfeel and that this falls on the sweet side.

Serving type: bottle

09-03-2013 00:57:05 | More by argock
Photo of Gueuzedude


3.61/5  rDev -17%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampled January 2012
A vigorous pour into my Lost Abbey Teku glass produces a four finger thick, pale amber tinged, tan colored head; as the head slowly subsides it leaves some patchy lacing on the sides of my glass. The beer is a concentrated amber color that shows a clear, bright-amber hue when held up to the light. The aroma smells of caramelized, toasted grain and pine-like / herbal hops up front. A second take sees me noticing some spicy, woody, slightly astringent / sharp oak character along with a supple buttery note, a fruity Bourbon-like character, soft nutty notes and a soft, supporting vanillin note towards. Between the hops and the Barrels, the nose picks up an almost holiday like spiciness as it warms up (cinnamon, and perhaps a touch of allspice).

The beer is a bit too cold to start out, but still has a nice nutty not up front, somewhat of a bitter hop bite, some lingering pine like hoppiness and a finish that has some Bourbon / Oak spice and warmth to it. The alcohol warmth and the hops mix in the finish to get a touch harsh, but this gets reduced as the beer warms up. A hoppy citrus character contributes a marmalade like flavor as the beer warms up; this is also accentuated by the deep caramelized character that makes up the malt character in this beer. Lots of barrel influenced flavors play the dominant role in this beer, especially as it warms; flavors of sweet, lightly toasted coconut, ample vanillin, richly caramelized character, molasses coated toasted-nuts. This beer is certainly a rich, sipping beer, it is not excessively heavy, or even cloying though; it hits the right balance of being rich, chewy and viscous, without being excessively heavy.

The hop character isn't actually nearly as expressive as my description might seem, in fact it is less than I had been expecting, but it is noticeable and certainly an contributor to this beer. Really thought, the barrel character and malt play the more leading roles in this beer. At times this can be a bit hot & I bet this won't peak for a year or two once the heat has had some time to mellow.

Serving type: bottle

08-22-2013 03:14:18 | More by Gueuzedude
Photo of emerge077


4.26/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

FW vertical sampling at Luda's annual cellar clearance, thanks Ben for bringing this one!
Served in a mini-nonic, quick review from transcribed notes.

Dark brownish black color with ruby glints in the light. Creamy surface foam, little bit of spotty lace after each sip. Better clarity than the older aged bottles.

Aroma is rich and full of vanilla, nutty toffee, and chocolate.

Vanilla flavor is big as well, chocolate, molasses, tobacco leaf, barrel notes are more defined. Rich and full bodied, viscous creamy feel, mellow carbonation but still lively. Not showing any signs of age yet, seems to be in the sweet spot right now.

Serving type: bottle

07-28-2013 15:46:28 | More by emerge077
Photo of Smurf2055


4.43/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours really dark mahogany/ruby with a half finger of off white head, leaves quick.

Smells rich, vanilla, bourbon, oak, caramel.

Taste is super rich, very sweet vanilla caramel up front, roasty flavors in back. Very little hop or alcohol presence.

Sipping beer, but smooth on the palate. Very good beer.

Serving type: bottle

07-18-2013 05:58:09 | More by Smurf2055
Photo of dar482

New York

4.59/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

The beer comes in a dark mahogany with a small off white head.

The aroma has some dark fruit, almond, and coconut, but mostly sweet caramel, toffee.

The flavor follows, but with a big hoppy bitterness. The Double Jack definitely comes through to give this a dimension of bitterness that goes well with the sweet barleywine notes. In general, the beer has tons of barrel, vanilla, toffee, and caramel sweetness.

I guess this is hard to rate because I had this with Melange 3, which I really loved a decent amount compared to this. However, that is not to take away from how delicious this beer is. It's almost like a huge American barleywine with the bitterness that contains.

Despite how good this beer is, still a disappointment I would say. I do prefer Sucaba and Parabola, the other barrel aged offerings that I've had from Firestone.

Serving type: on-tap

07-02-2013 04:37:40 | More by dar482
Photo of scottfrie


3.99/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

22oz bottle into Block 15 snifter.

A: Pours a deep ruddy brown-maroon color with a finger of light tan head that faded into a bubbly collar. Wispy soapy lace was left down the glass.
S: Boozy notes of raisin, coco powder, Hersey syrup, hop resin, port, and bourbon. Smells awesome.
T: Chocolate fudge, slight vanilla and leather, bakers chocolate, fig, cinnamon, and bourbon come through up front with a hoppy barleywine-like finish. Tastes like a barleywine mixed with fudge brownies.
M: Very low and soft carbonation, full body, smooth overall, with integrated booze and a very solid bitterness.
O: More chocolate, more barleywine-esque, and more bitter than I remember the past blends being. Really really smooth and enjoyable, probably one of my favorites out of all the years so far. Cheers.

Serving type: bottle

06-09-2013 03:22:36 | More by scottfrie
Photo of cvm4


4.29/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A - Since this is such a mix of different beers I wasn't sure what the norm "look" was. Poured an off color amber, may'be murky brown with a light tan head.

S - Vanilla, boozy, oaky, bourbon and semi-sweet chocolate. Dark fruits are faint, but there.

T - A whirlwind of flavors... Sweet malts as a base, oak flavors are very present, dark fruits peak through, bourbon is there but not overpowering. A great mix with each flavor peaking through and fading as it goes through your mouth. As it warms, it can be a little sweet.

M - Medium bodied and carbonation. Very smooth and velvety.

O - It's amazing they can mix all these beers and the end result be drinkable.

Serving type: bottle

06-01-2013 00:35:12 | More by cvm4
Photo of SHerninko


4.71/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

FW is a great brewery. Always seek them out. This special Anniversary edition is on my purchase list (wish list) each year.
Enjoyed on the deck for Memorial Day w/ my bud Lee Shelly.

Poured into a snifter glass and the tan head is just frothing with non-stop tiny bubbles. They explode and new ones appear. Very nice. The mouth is not carbinated though.

What can I say---from appearance, smell, taste---it is ALL GOOD.

This 15th Anniv. has a lot of Barleywine and the base stouts are there, but this tastes like a dark Belgian Quad (closests style to this blend).

It is very enjoyable, recommended. Go get some!

Serving type: bottle

05-30-2013 15:33:11 | More by SHerninko
Photo of rand


4.33/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

From 22 oz bottle to snifter

A: Mahogany in color, the brew forms a small coffee-tan head. A few dots of residue speck the glass, but the majority of lacing cascades down the glass under the weight of the brew.

S: Complex nose with notes of chocolate, vanilla, anise, booze. There's a lot going on here, even hoppy citrus notes pop through the rich, chocolaty malt-base. Plenty of alcohol volatiles deliver the rich bouquet.

T: Malt-forward on the palate, the rich caramelly sweetness anchors the flavor profile. Notes of chocolate and anise are distinct, and touch against oak and clove. Ripe fruit rolls in mid-sip, plums, cherries, maybe a touch of banana. The booze isn't masked, but along with a hoppy punch works to dry the palate. Finishes long and sweet.

M: Rich and viscous, chewy. Could use a touch more carbonation to scrub the sugary aspects, but given the booze and hop bite it's not a big complaint.

Another delicious barrel-aged blend from Firestone. I wouldn't be surprised if this came back in a similar form under a different name.

Serving type: bottle

05-17-2013 04:14:34 | More by rand
Photo of Kendo

New York

4.45/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured from the bomber into my favorite Piraat tulip/snifter-type glass. Body is dark brown with a small khaki-colored head on top.

S: A lot going on in the nose - dark fruits, raisiny port, alcohol, caramel, toffee and brown bread. Wood also noted, along with a touch of vanilla extract.

T: Wow - a lot going on taste-wise too: big sweet malt foundation - i.e., caramel, brown sugar and butterscotch. Also dark dried fruits again - figs and raisins come to mind. Vanilla, wood, toasted coconut and a hint of bourbon are there in the middle and then, surprisingly (given that this beer is about 18 months old, I think) some solid citrusy hops. Alcohol is noted as a drying force in the aftertaste and also as heat in the belly. But it doesn't detract from the taste or take away from its drinkability - I know I should be sipping this slowly, but it tastes so good that I keep coming back for the next sip far more quickly than I should. Lingering taste of coffee in the aftertaste is noted after a few sips. Interesting all around.

M: Body is full in heft; carbonation is pretty modest, though it doesn't feel slick or syrupy. Well, maybe slightly syrupy - but not enough so to take away from the overall experience.

O: I'm impressed. Curious as to what it tasted like when fresh, but right now at about 18 months since bottling, it's quite tasty.

Serving type: bottle

05-11-2013 00:37:59 | More by Kendo
Photo of sweemzander


4.5/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

22oz. bottle poured into a snifter.

(A)- Pours a murky dark mahogany brown color that produced a subtle tan head.

(S)- A nice and rich chocolate covered caramel meets a raisin-rich oaky bourbon note.

(T)- A really nice combination of chocolate covered caramel meets raisin soaked oak and subtle vanilla from the barrels. Ever so slight bits of cinnamon and leather as it began to open up and warm.

(M)- A super nice smooth carbonation level and a nice balance with the time on it aging at this point. Rich but quite nicely balanced and smooth. The 12.5% ABV is so well hidden.

(O)- I really like the stage this is at right now. Very smooth but rich and showing the barrel very well. I think this might easily be my favorite version of their anniversary beer, even though the 11 aged so fantastically. If you have a few of the 15, crack one now because it is showing really well now.

Serving type: bottle

05-06-2013 17:23:42 | More by sweemzander
Photo of JamesShoemaker


4.16/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle poured into two snifters. This bottle was the subject of some controversy in a recent thread, from which I learned much about being a better BA. Thanks to all the vets who provided useful criticism/advice. The bottle must be at least fifteen months old, but I imagine that it was cellared properly, considering the temperature control and the encasement.

A - based on the blend notes, it's actually darker than I expected it to be. Just under 40% barleywine, it pours more like a strong ale, dark, dark brown, lightening on the periphery. Very little head on the forced pour, no lacing. Nothing remarkable.

S - very sweet, very malty, just like you'd expect from an EBW. There's a little booze on the nose, but it's not overwhelming. Definitely the most pleasant aspect of this brew. Lingering chocolate, some butterscotch.

T - sweet, sweet, sweet. Caramel, lots of syrupy malt and barley, almost like some honey was integrated into the brewing process. It finishes sweet and pleasant. Nothing bitter. I think this bottle has benefited from its age.

M - as with most BBBWs, there's a stinging bitterness right on the end, but it's velvety, smooth, and finishes sweet on the cheeks. A burst of sweetness makes it a smooth finish. The alcohol doesn't dominate at all. Again, I think this beer has really benefited from its year+ on the shelf.

O - if it lingers, I may get another one. FW's BA program continues to impress. I've got a bottle of 16 waiting for the Elite Eight.

Serving type: bottle

03-30-2013 02:48:06 | More by JamesShoemaker
Photo of Daniellobo

District of Columbia

4.48/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Beautifully blended sipper.

Presentation: 22 oz boxed brown capped bottle. Black colored box with the seal of the brewery presiding it and highlighting the name. Back box label notes history of the brewery, expertise aging brews in barrels, intent of ales and blending process. Inside the box a detailed two sided page offers and extended note about the anniversary, collaboration with winemakers, detailed tasting notes, and an overview of their barrel aging program including a careful breakdown of the different components of the blend. Bottle offers a label with similar colors and presiding brewery seal. 15th anniversary: vintage 2011. Notes 12.5% Alc. by Vol. Served in a snifter.

A - Clear deep brown pour, nice fizzy creamy head, moderate retention, fair surface memory with a good surface ring and spotty lacing.

S - What a nose, plenty of malty bourbon notes, fresh pineapple and vanilla

T - Nice long complex expansion in the palate. Sweet, molasses, caramel, notes of barrel oak, vanilla, pineapple, light charred notes, hint of coffee, as it settles the flavors start to coalesce and expand with further nuances… The pineapple has tropical touches of mango and even a tiny citric touch. Touches of cocoa and a floral boozy note punctuate the flow.

M - Medium/full to full body, moderate carbonation, smooth and creamy sense with a well woven boozy presence that lingers nicely.

O - Delightful sipper. Very glad I could finally get my mouth on this one.

Notes: Memorable barrel aging and blending, truly memorable. This might deserve higher notes, but I was actually floored by XIV and at least on this tasting this feels a small notch below.

Serving type: bottle

03-10-2013 14:10:03 | More by Daniellobo
Photo of dbrauneis

North Carolina

4.24/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A: Pours a clear very dark amber in color with some moderate amounts of visible carbonation and some dark brown highlights. The beer has a finger tall fizzy light beige head that quickly reduces to a medium-large patch of extremely thin film and a thin ring at the edges of the glass. Light to moderate amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Moderate to strong aromas of bourbon, oak, and vanilla with some moderate aromas of caramel, brown sugar, and just a touch of dark fruit (plum). Just a touch of alcohol.

T: Similar to the smell, there are moderate to strong flavors of bourbon, oak, and vanilla with just a touch of caramel/toffee malt sweetness. Very light notes of dark fruit (plum and raisin) along with moderate notes of brown sugar. Very light amounts of bitterness that fades almost immediately. Light amounts of alcohol are also present.

M: Just shy of full bodied with moderate amounts of carbonation. Silky smooth and creamy.

O: This is a great beer and is very enjoyable - lots of complexity to both the smell and taste. The combination (sum) of the different beers blended to make this are greater than the individual components. There is a slight amount of alcohol present but the barrel aging of the different components makes this a great sipping beer.

Serving type: bottle

02-09-2013 01:54:25 | More by dbrauneis
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Firestone 15 - Anniversary Ale from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
96 out of 100 based on 951 ratings.