Firestone 15 - Anniversary Ale - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

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Firestone 15 - Anniversary AleFirestone 15 - Anniversary Ale

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1,042 Ratings
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Ratings: 1,042
Reviews: 299
rAvg: 4.36
pDev: 11.01%
Wants: 160
Gots: 746 | 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 Gatch
4.38/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at Papago Brewing in Scottsdale, AZ for a Firestone Walker special event on 11/18/11.

A - Deep, dark brown with no head whatsoever. Alcohol sticks to the glass like legs on a wine.

S - Caramelized sugar, alcohol, a brandy-like smell.

T - Holy hell. Sweet alcohol that tingles the taste buds. Toffee. Butterscotch. Vanilla. Brown sugar. Browned butter. Poached fruits. Has a syrupy character. You can almost taste each beer in the blend. Definite barleywine accents and even some roastiness from the Velvet Merlin.

M - Alcohol lingers like scotch and dries the throat. Smooth, sweet, syrupy but not cloying. Heavy malt profile. Definitely some unfermented sugars.

At first I scoffed at the thought of a blended beer. Especially a beer with eight or so different beers blended within it. But Firestone Walker resides in wine country and has a wine background so I knew they would pull it off well. It's an amazing and unique beer and I'm grateful to have the opportunity to try it.

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

On tap at Far Bar in Little Tokyo

Pours a deep burgundy color, no apparent head, lots of creamy swirls around the top of the glass. A faint ring appears along the rim of the glass, stick very well, no bubbles or any sign of carbonation, looks very much like cognac. The aromas are strong alcohol, malty grains and tangy dark fruits, nice balance that is both strong and bold but also sweet and inviting. The flavors are very strong, lots of cognac flavors, strong alcohol and malty grains. Raisin, plum and tangy grain also make appearances, the alcohol is very firm but not hot at all. The barleywine elements are the clear winners here, very strong on the barleywine. It's very thick and syrupy, no carbonation at all, but it's not a bad thing. This is pushing the limits of beer, really more of a fine liquor, it's definitely good now, will do amazingly well with age, will have to grab a bottle and see where it ends up in a few years.

Photo of ArchEnemyBrew
5/5  rDev +14.7%

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

Tasted nov. 19th 2011 (from notes)


A - an almost root beer looking color (much more red though), not a lot of off white/tan head and no head retention or lacing

S - very sweet and boozey, vanilla, molasses, licorice, red wine blend, nutmeg, hops, toasty malts, almond extract, bourbon, bread yeast, flowers, red wine and whiskey barrels, lots of wood, earth, cherry, dried fruits and just all around fruity

T - vanilla, nuts, red wine, tons of oak, terrior, bourbon, chocolate, anise, dessert spices, to s of toasted and very sweet malts, a very slight coffee, toffee, fruity, a very slight but fruity hop, cherry, very dark chocolate dipped berries and more booze

M - medium minus body, low acidity, huge complexity, balanced for the level of complexity and very long finish

D - this is a wonderful beer. Wouldn't say any novice should even attempt this beer, but anyone who likes a huge, boozey, very complex and delicious ale, you should give this one a whirl. I think aging this beer would and will taste great with nice aging

Final thought - $20 a bottle is high in price, but this beer is good now and will be amazing later

Photo of BeerOnTheWall
4.53/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 oz bottle poured into snifter.

Pours dark chocolate brown with some reddish-caramel colors near the edges. 1 inch egg shell colored head with small bubbles surprised me...for a beer with 12.5 abv I was impressed that it stuck around for a few minutes before dissipating. Minimal lacing with long alcohol legs.

The nose on this is outstanding! Toasted Coconut, caramel, toffee, damp wood, figs, dried cherry, coco, vanilla, some bourbon-like alcohol. All are layered in perfectly with only the coconut being a dominant component. WOW!

Taste is almost as impressive as the nose. It starts out firing off flavors quickly...hops, coconut, dried plums and figs; then it starts to slow down and develop with a very nice blend of oak-caramel-leather-earthiness. Alcohol hits you just before giving way to a luscious coconut/chocolate finish that lingers as the alcohol burn comes back to hit you in the back of your throat.

This is medium to full bodied with good carbonation for the style. Lots going on with this but it never feels too heavy, very mouth coating.

This is the most complex beer I've had in a while and I enjoyed it thoroughly. The depth achieved speaks volumes about the barrel aging program that Firestone Walker has put together and shows that blending is not a lost art. It's just an art reserved for a select few. Well done!

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

Thanks to MrVonzipper for the bottleshare

Look: Pours a dark brown color with light traces of brown picking up the edges of the beer. Sadly the pour yielded no head and it had no lace

Smell: The nose carries very nice notes of brandy vanilla and some dark fruits

Taste: The beer taste like a very young old ale. Is that a oxymoron?? But seriously the beer has some nice characters to it the plums and figs are there with a vanilla oaky sweetness to it. Surprisingly I did not get to much bourbon I was hoping for more

Mouthfeel: Full body with low carbonation and a bit oily feeling

Overall: Right now and fresh this Anniversary is my least favorite of Firestones anniversary beers but that is not saying that it is not a good beer its just not great like some of the others. I have several bottles to age and I will re-look at this one after a period of time

Photo of emaciated
5/5  rDev +14.7%

Photo of leschkie
4/5  rDev -8.3%

Photo of baseball1976
1.27/5  rDev -70.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1.5

I had this on tap at Papago Brewing in Phoenix. It was recommended by one of the workers. I was put off by the price, but when others around me said that it was quite good, I gave in and got one. Let me say, I wish I had passed.

It came in a snifter, so I knew it was going to be strong. Here is what I thought:

A - looks great. I love a dark beer, and dark this is.

S - I was put off by this. The first warning sign. It did not smell appealing at all. It was almost as the beer was spoiled. It just had a unique smell.

T - Not good. All I could taste was bitterness and alcohol...and lots of the alcohol. The aftertaste was better, almost sweet, but the alcohol lingered and was not enjoyable.

MF - well, if I did not enjoy the taste, there is not much sense to go into any further detail here.

Overall - a let down. I was expecting the holy grail of beer and what I got was something loaded with the taste of alcohol. Chaulk it up as a loss.

Sadly, I think I am the only person who did not like this.

Photo of Devi0us
4.5/5  rDev +3.2%

Photo of rtaps
4.38/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Shared with mrvonzipper,darthkostrizer.
pours almost black until deep red wine highlights are shown when held to the light, with a small khaki head decent retention leaving lacing on the glass.

smell is very nice. getting raisins, vanilla, some oak, and hints of the bourbon

taste is nice with is still fresh, similar to the smell. raisins, vanilla, chocolate, fruit, some oak and bourbon. all balanced well

full bodied little carbonation, and smooth the a bourbon way.

overall pretty satisfied with this beer and holding up to the hype. will be aging some to enjoy at a later date.

Edit opened a bottle with a friend that new to the craft world

Aroma is alot more fig like the taste also brings alot more fig to it and chocolate. Kind of a Brady more than a bourbon now it's good as it warmed it got a little more "hot"

Photo of TotallyHosed
5/5  rDev +14.7%

Photo of MrVonzipper
4.35/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Not as dark as i thought it would be. A dark Mahogany with a touch of red. Underwhelming tan head with very little retention and lacing if any.

Nice nose with notes of raisin, vanilla, dark fruit, caramel and French oak.

Nice flavor. Needs to age a but I think and it will grow into something amazing. Notes of dark fruit, vanilla, faint bourbon, light French oak and rum raisins.

Full bodied mouthfeel. A little sticky and chewy. Low carbonation.

Overall it's a very nice beer, but young. I think this will be a phenomenal be with 1+ years age. Can't wait to revisit it then

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

953rd Review on BA
Bottle to Snifter


App- A bit of a whiskey brown this year without bringing that crimson, red, purple note to it. A small off white one finger head came and went and fell to only the thinest of bubbles around the edges. From the edges get lighter to darker as a spirit would.

Smell- I like one posters description of bubblegum. This smelled like a liquid pink bubblicious with some dark brown sugars, vanilla, oak, bourbon and malts. There are many layers to this one and a warming effect needed to happen to bring them all out. Although even saying all this still very much like a full rich BW overall. Seemingly the stout/ipa additional blends get lost to me.

Taste- Very much like all the components blended with Abacus, this seems to be a well done oak-aged Barelywine. More smooth, rich and lush flavors from the BW with a malt presence a little bit of wood notes, some earthiness and just a touch of bitter from the addition of the double jack. A little bit of ABV feel from being over the 10% mark and reaching to 11%. This was assertive not but not stingingly boozy. A little sweet on the back on the tounge.

Mouth- A bit thin this year. More taking a cue for smoothness versus being a filling feel. The body was a good bit of medium with a little bit of residual bitter notes from the hops of the double jack. The carbonation level was a low medium and left some nice bubbles.

Drink- Overall, for the series this comes from and where this was intended to go, I feel it missed the mark a bit. It had the addition of the DJ for the first time and it was nice but I feel it could've been left out. Especially for the % that was included in the final blend. FW makes some good beers and this is still one of them. I can't speak for everyone who has had 10-15, but for me, I've had 13-15 and Ill rank them in that order 13-15. Not sure about aging this one either. I don't feel as it sits it will do much. I do have another bottle for my 30th Bday in May 2012. So we will see.

Photo of JoeySchlitz
5/5  rDev +14.7%

Photo of Ynot2
5/5  rDev +14.7%

Photo of MrTopher
4.85/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

8oz serving into a New Belgium Goblet.

A – Dark rich brown/mahogany approaching the color of midnight black. No head, but could have been because of how the bartender poured it, there was some bubbles on the edge of the glass and they lingered. Pretty much no lacing as all.

S – A lot of stuff going on here, and its all GREAT stuff, the complexity of the smell just makes me drool. Some dark fruit (cherries, plumbs, etc), toffee, dark chocolate, brown sugar, caramel, tobacco, oak/earth tones. There is just so much going on in the nose it makes the mind spin.

T – WOW, this is just as complex as the smell if not more. Dark rich chocolate, those dark fruits like in the nose, some good earth notes layered with some oak, inviting and warming vanilla, sweet molasses/caramel/toffee, rough leather also, there is a bit of a hop presence, but hard to get the profile, but seems more citrus than pine/grass.

M – Pour didn’t develop a head, but the level of carbonation was perfect. And this beer isn’t too thick, but it is a little on the thicker side of the spectrum.

O – Freaking loved this beer, I think it’s the best thus far, then again I have only had 14th, I have a bottle of 12th and 13th as well as a 14th, so I’m looking forward to doing a vertical of these soon. But between this and 14th, I loved this one more just the complexity level is mind blowing.

Photo of micstache
4/5  rDev -8.3%

Photo of waltersrj
4.93/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2011 Vintage...obviously.

Pour: Completely black, pitch black, like the night. A tiny, bubbly off white (almost tanned) head. Perfect head for a high alcohol beer.

Nose: Complex. Wow. Toasted coconut, toffee, and tobacco from parabola, chocolate covered cherries, vanilla, slight citrus hops, brown sugar, caramel, dark chocolate, and lavender.

Taste: Chocolate covered cherries, leather, tobacco, vanilla, charred oak, dark chocolate, raisin, brown sugar, citrus hops (pineapple and mango), slight smoke, more tobacco, and toasted coconut. This is an amazingly complex profile here. Can't wait for my XIII to XV vert.

Mouthfeel: Moderately thick at first, viscous, and oily but transitions into a velvety and creamy mouthfeel.

Overall: This beer (as always) is an amazingly complex and superbly executed blend. FW does no wrong in my eyes and once again surprises me. I hope they eventually bottle good foot, he'll dorado, or sticky monkey since they do do much in characterizing this beer. Thanks Adam and David! Amazing stuff here.

Photo of matttttYCE
4.65/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured into my Stone IRS Snifter/Balloon glass, the head on this was about a finger high, off white, and very creamy. Color of the brew is a marvelously deep brown, nearing black, but still with hints of ruby and purple when held to the light. Looks very nice.

The smell of this beer is very inviting and very complex to say the least. I'm getting a lot of sweetness, like a sweet liquor, along with vanilla and vanilla custard (almost custard creme filled doughnut), coconut, bourbon barrel juice and light spice, dark chocolate, toffee, dark fruit, prunes, figs, dates, chocolate covered cherries, and brown sugar. Then I sort of realize what else I'm smelling and it's the hoppy notes of citrus, tropical fruit, mango, etc. from the Double Jack. Not only does this have a fantastic aroma, but it's probably one of the more complex I've ever smelled. This smells like a nice and hoppy Barleywine was blended superbly with barrel aged version and with a portion of Parabola.

Taste does not disappoint after such a great and complex aroma. The taste is comprised of milk chocolate, dark chocolate, dark fruit/fig, toffee, caramel, brown sugar, lots of bourbon qualities, vanilla, light coconut, oak, slight leather, and slight tobacco with light notes of the citrus, mango, tangerine hops (come out a little more on the finish I think).

The consistency is silky, nearly velvety, the carbonation is creamy and round, the body is medium-full but not heavy, and the finish is actually pretty light and quick. This is seriously too smooth and drinkable for 12.5% ABV

Overall this beer is phenomenal. The aroma makes me think the beer is going to be Barleywine heavy, or skewed towards Barleywine taste, but the taste is actually extremely balanced, amazingly integrated, and just a little skewed towards a darker beer, like Parabola. I'm not so sure they didn't just blend a hoppy Barleywine with Parabola and call it a day. But seriously, it's an amazing blend of beers that I plan to have again and again after I go buy about half a dozen more bottles.

Photo of youradhere
4.33/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours dark amber with orange hues, minimal tan head falls to leave nice lacing. Smell is toffee, vanilla, chocolate, loads of caramel and milk chocolate. Sweet toffee and milk chocolate, caramel candy milk duds, figs and rum bread, mild coffee tannin, nice mellow bourbon vanilla- just the right amount. Mouthfeel is medium thick, carries the flavors nicely; carbonation is medium and prickly. Overall pretty damn good, my favorite of the vintages and right up there with parabola batch I.

Photo of stabzmcgee
5/5  rDev +14.7%

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

Served from the 22oz anniversary bottle, poured into a FW tasting snifter...

A: Pours a transparent brown with a 1 inch cream lacing diminishing into a 1.5 finger head.
S: The nose is full of licorice, bitter chocolate, and vanilla with hints of bourbon.
T: The front pallet is full of dark fruits and vanilla, transitioning into a very nice vanilla-bourbon nuance on the mid-palate. The finish is a nice balance of raisin with an ample amount of hops.
M: Medium to heavy with a clear appearance of viscosity from the Brandywine.
Overall: A great brew that entices the palate and offers a multitude of dimension. With a few years, this anniversary ale could be their best yet.

Photo of kevwcamp
4.25/5  rDev -2.5%

Photo of PlinyBubbles
5/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Served on tap at Draughts in Thousand Oaks, CA in a New Belgium snifter glass.

Deep brown opaque color. Half inch thick head. Gorgeous, with fine, but ample carbonation. Taste is rich, but not overly heavy or sweet. Very complex with oak, vanilla, caramel, and cocoa. Very drinkable considering the alcohol level. Glad I picked up a bottle of this. Curious to compare against having on draft, since my experience seemed better than some of the other reviewers who tasted from bottle. One of the best beers I've had. Maybe shouldn't have had on my lunch break though. Oops.

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