Firestone 15 - Anniversary Ale - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Firestone 15 - Anniversary AleFirestone 15 - Anniversary Ale

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BA SCORE
97
world-class

1,042 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,042
Reviews: 299
rAvg: 4.36
pDev: 11.01%
Wants: 160
Gots: 745 | FT: 35
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: 1,042 | Reviews: 299 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of oline73
4.25/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I had this on-tap at Max's. Served in a sample glass.

Appearance: Pours a dark mahogany with a layer of smooth off white head. The head disappears completely.

Smell: Very sweet with some dark fruit and bourbon barrel. Caramel and alcohol with a very mild hint of soy sauce.

Taste: Quite sweet from the malt with some vanilla and caramel from the barrel. There is some bitterness and very hot alcohol in the finish.

Mouthfeel: Thick body with smooth carbonation and a slick finish. There is a warmth from the alcohol.

Overall: I thought this one could use some age, but I still enjoyed the blend. The sweet aftertaste was good and the taste was still able to shine.

Photo of MasterSki
3.65/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Mike (AgentZero) for sharing this. Served in a Bell's tulip.

A - A finger of off-white foam settles to a thin collar, leaving behind a near-complete wispy cap and a few splotches of lace. Transparent dark cherrywood body. Quite attractive considering the high ABV.

S - Lots of oak up front, and perhaps a bit of spicy alcohol presence as well. Behind that there's some milk chocolate, honey cakes, nuts, a bit of fig, and perhaps a hint of anise. Lots of wood for sure, and also a slightly aged, oxidized quality that makes this beer seem older than it is.

T - Extremely sugary - a mix of turbinado, oaky vanilla, maraschino cherries, milk chocolate cherry cordials, and a honey and burnt crème brûlée finish. It's complex, but becomes cloying and overly saccharine very quickly. Alcohol is better hidden in the flavor.

M - Smooth, medium body, with lower carbonation, and a decidedly light tannic character. Alcohol isn't particularly present here, and there's a very mellow aged character.

D - Just too sweet for my tastes - the blend is basically all barleywines and brown ales, most of which have added sugar or honey. There's not enough whiskey or roast character in the flavor to balance out the intense saccharine qualities of this brew. Might be good as a 4oz dessert pairing, but it was a struggle for Mike and I to consume the 22oz bottle. Almost certainly my least favorite beer of the series. I also don't anticipate this aging well as it already tastes kind of old.

Photo of mendvicdog
4.5/5  rDev +3.2%

Photo of drabmuh
3.5/5  rDev -19.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks Thorpe, at the time of this review, this is the #15 beer on the "Top Beers - American Strong Ale" list. I've had all of these anniversary ales and this one is a relatively big disappointment for me. Too thin, not enough barrel comes through. They should just make the 13th over and over again.

Beer is brown, dark, but clear, thin lazy head of small bubbles, minimal carbonation, minimal lacing.

Aroma is mildly sweet, a little toffee, interesting yeast character, and some bourbon.

Beer is thin in body, sweet, a little bourbony, not boozy at all, moderate finish. I was expecting something totally different. This should be called FW anniversary light.

Photo of Rifugium
4.23/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

First had: on tap at Pinocchio's, Media, PA

Poured a semi-cloudy, semi-opaque, dark brown color with a delicate ring of bubbles on top; nothing really to speak of in ways of retention or lacing, other than a bit of streaking on the glass. Aroma was pretty malt-dominant, with notes of caramel, chocolate, and woody bourbon. Nice complex taste, full of heavy malts, caramel--barleywine seemed to be the dominant factor here--definitely pretty boozy, with notes of oak, toffee, vanilla, roast, and a touch of bitter hops in the finish. (I guess I should pick up a bottle of this if I can.) Full body, smooth, and very drinkable.

Photo of beernads
4.25/5  rDev -2.5%

Photo of DrunkinYogi
4/5  rDev -8.3%

Photo of mdfb79
4/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From 12/31/11 notes. Big thanks to Ian for sharing this one. Poured from a 22 oz. bottle into a tulip, served side by side with the FW 14th Anniversary ale.

a - Pours a transparent dark reddish brown color with one inch of light tan head and low to moderate carbonation evident. The 14 was much, much darker.

s - Smells of vanilla, oak, bourbon, fruity malts, tropical fruits, light citrus hops. A lot of bourbon/vanill and fruit, which surprised me a bit.

t - Tastes of bourbon, vanilla, fruity, malts, caramel malts, tropical fruits, citrus, oak, roasted malts, toffee, and alcohol.

m - Medium body and moderate carbonation. Pretty thick body.

o - Overall I thought this was a good beer, but the 14 blew it away. While I know they are different blends, this reminded me of the 14 fresh in that they are both bourbon forward, and a bit boozey fresh, though good. With a year on it though, the 14 has become a really great beer, like some of the earlier anniversary beers, so I am hoping that happens to the 15 as well. 15 seemed a little more barleywine-ish while the 14 seemed more stout-ish, but I think this will age nicely. I'll open my bottle next winter.

Photo of drewone
4.75/5  rDev +8.9%

Photo of Rochefort10nh
4.5/5  rDev +3.2%

Photo of kojevergas
3.65/5  rDev -16.3%
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.

B

Photo of InspectorBob
4.5/5  rDev +3.2%

Photo of Gueuzedude
3.61/5  rDev -17.2%
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.

Photo of Halcyondays
3.78/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22 oz. bottle,

A: Pours a dark brown with a light tan head. Good retention, no lace.

S: Lots of vanilla and caramel, notes of coffee and dark chocolate.

T: Very boozy initially, but does blow off, though the whole beer has an ethyl undercurrent. Lots of toffee and caramel. Lots of malt character with a nice complex finish with some vanilla which I like.

M: Medium to full-bodied, not overly sugary which is nice. Hot to a point though I wouldn't call it boozy. Light aftertaste.

O: Better than 14 fresh for sure, reminds me a lot of 13 at this stage which aged great. 11 and 12 still are on another level early on.

Photo of Gavage
4.35/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: brown in color with a one inch head that slowly falls.

Smell: nice woodiness of oak, caramel, and a hint of alcohol.

Taste: big malt presenece here. Caramel, hint of milk chocolate, some vanilla, a nice amout of oakiness, a moderate bitterness, and some warming alcohol create a well balanced beer.

Mouthfeel: heavy in body. Smooth from start to finish. Long lasting aftertaste.

Overall: this is a great slow sipping beer, esepcially as a nightcap or after dinner drink. Wonderful flavors and easy to drink despite high alcohol levels.

Photo of orangesol
4.25/5  rDev -2.5%

Photo of imperialking
4.5/5  rDev +3.2%

Photo of dbrauneis
4.24/5  rDev -2.8%
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.

Photo of yourefragile
3.5/5  rDev -19.7%

Photo of duceswild
3.5/5  rDev -19.7%

Photo of stakem
3.43/5  rDev -21.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Bomber into a snifter. The brew appears a dark mahogany color with ruby clarity seen when held to the light. A khaki head appears across the top and is quick to fade. Some faint spotty lace sticks to the glass.

The aroma is sweet with vanilla, caramel, toffee and a bit nutty to fruity alcohol inclusion. A bit of toasty coconut blends into some wood notes and herbal to medicinal character.

The flavor includes dark fruity hints of alcohol reminescent of raisin. A bit of oxidation and nutty grain across the middle with a boozy alcohol addition. More sips reveal cardboard, earth and herbs. Some barrel character like vanilla and caramel is noted towards the back.

This is a medium to light bodied brew with a low level of carbonation. I was not really a fan of this. It has some nice barrel presence but the booze comes out and the flavor falls apart with the light body. This is one of those cases where the sum is not as good as the individual parts.

Photo of corby112
4.3/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark chestnut brown color with a two finger, frothy beige head that slowly settles into a thick, lasting ring. Streaks and spots if lacing left behind.

Complex aroma with a very prominent barrel presence along with some dark malt and a surprisingly strong hop character. Sweet and boost smelling with lots of bourbon, toasted oak, marshmallow and vanilla. The barrel is countered by some roasted malt and a really nice hop presence that gives off hints of pine needle and citrus fruit.

Medium bodied and incredibly complex with a great balance of barrel, sweet, boozy spirits, roasted malt, dark fruit and hops. The barrel character is very prominent with lots of dry oak, vanilla and toasted coconut. There's plenty of delicious bourbon but it's perfectly integrated into the flavor without overpowering the other notes or giving off any heat. As the beer warms and I slowly sip, I can pick up elements of each component of the blend. Some leathery malt and lavender from the barleywines, dark roast and sweet malts from the stouts and brown ale and complex hops from the Double Jack and high IBU beers. Sweet notes of caramel, toffee, hazelnut and dark fruit countered by the complex hop profile. Some dry, earthy pine bitterness along with some citrus and tropical fruit notes. Very faint heat in the finish but overall the ABV is excellently masked. I can't believe that this beer is almost 13%!

Overall, this beer is incredible. Complex, flavorful, well balanced and dangerously drinkable. One of the best FW Anniversary blends yet.

Photo of superspak
4/5  rDev -8.3%

Photo of weeare138
4.6/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appears a dense mahogany with a beige head that slowly fades into a mild cap and collar. Scattered spots of lacing are left around the glass.
Smell is of oak, rum, bourbon, cocoa, vanilla, caramel, molasses, and brown sugar.
Taste is of the aromas with a huge chunk of nougat and vanilla with caramel and cocoa.
Mouthfeel is full bodied, chewy, ballet, with some heat in the background.

Photo of lacqueredmouse
4.11/5  rDev -5.7%
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.

Firestone 15 - Anniversary Ale from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
97 out of 100 based on 1,042 ratings.