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Firestone 16 - Anniversary Ale - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Firestone 16 - Anniversary AleFirestone 16 - Anniversary Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
95
world-class

158 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 158
Hads: 1,063
rAvg: 4.29
pDev: 3.26%
Wants: 145
Gots: 487 | FT: 37
Brewed by:
Firestone Walker Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Strong Ale |  13.00% ABV

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: AgentMunky on 11-15-2012

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

23% Velvet Merkin
22.5% Stickee Monkee
20.3% Double Double Barrel Ale
10.8% Parabola
8.1% PNC
5.4% Helldorado
5.4% Bravo
4.5% Wookey Jack
View: Beers (83) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 158 | Hads: 1,063
Photo of foobula
4.12/5  rDev -4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4.5

Apperance is dark brown, nearly opaque. Small tan head dissipated quickly. Aroma when cold is limited, mostly sour & a little bourbony sweetness. Taste-wise, after letting it rest on the palate, it's bourbony up-front. Some booze. some tangy flavors. Sweet honey. Some citrus flavors, coconut, some sourness. On the back of the tongue there's a bourbony finish, and that finish pleasantly stays with you for an hour or longer. This beer definitely shines with temperature, as would be expected (and as indicated in the accompanying literature.) Mouthfeel is on the thin side of medium. Carbonation present but somewhat lacking. When it first came out, I had this side-by-side with XV and was unimpressed by the lack of in-your-face bourbon. But separately, it stands on its own as a big tasty beer, despite being less of a syrupy bourbon-bomb than its predecessor. (864 characters)

Photo of aleigator
4.01/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Thank you very much for this, Jason! Dark brown, almost black color, with a small beige lacing.

Aromas of honeyed malts, coated up by gentle bourbon aromas, both warming and fervent.

Earthy, warm malts form the first impression, which turns sweeter, as coconut flavor along with a huge enjoyable bourbon and rum note become visible on the palate. Alcoholic notes get detectable, as they wash over honeyed malts. Still, the overall balance of this beer remains, due to a complex chocolate defined body, wrapped up in intriguing cocoa and mocha flavors, which get softened on the palate by a fantastic oakiness. Bourbon flavor adds a gentle, stinging complexity to the toffeeish malts of the beer. Subtle coffee bitterness, along with warm alcoholic notes shape the complex aftertaste, completed on the palate by wooden oak. Full bodied beer with a very smooth mouthfeel, fantastic balanced. (893 characters)

Photo of Tele
4.46/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: 4.5 Very dark brown (almost black) with a half inch light tan head.

S: 4.75 There's a lot going on with this beer and you can smell different elements as the beer warms up. First, the various barleywines are present with vanilla, caramel, figs and dark fruit. Floral aromas, spice and tequila from the PNC also show up, but they're fairly mild. Coconut comes last when the beer is a room temperature.

T: 4.25 Quite sweet, but is very similar to the nose. More barleywine coming through than the stouts. It really develops as the beer warms. More fruity and coconut than on the nose and very little bitterness. Bourbon, figs, coconut, and chocolate when at room temperature.

M:4.5 It could be a little thicker, but it’s very nice for a barleywine. Silky smooth and no burn.

O: 4.5 An excellent beer and an interesting experience tasting all the beers that went into it. Based on the percentage of the component beers, the stouts could be a bit more forward to offset some of the barleywine presence, but it overall it was really great. (1,046 characters)

Photo of beergoot
4.17/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Deep brown body with a thin yet foamy and lasting head; minor lacing on the glass. Light caramel and roasted nut aroma; ripened dates and figs. Rich caramel and tobacco flavors mixed with vanilla; brown sugar, and booze. Heavy body; semi-sweet and rich mouthfeel.

Taste wins out with this heavy, heady brew. Robust malt flavors rumble with a big alcohol heat factor, creating an intense and enjoyable tasting experience. (421 characters)

Photo of Huhzubendah
3.86/5  rDev -10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Thanks to RussianDragon for sharing.

The beer is mahogany with crimson / russet highlights and a half inch of khaki head. Nice looking beer. Aromas of booze, vanilla, molasses, bourbon, brown bread, etc. No doubt a complex beer. The flavor is a bit boozy and muddled. Not bad, per se, but certainly not on par with some of favorites of the series. The body is a tad thin, with alcohol heat becoming a bit distracting at times. Perhaps this beer didn't take as kindly to a little bit of aging as one would expect? Anyhow, this is good, but disappointing considering the greatness of other FW Anniversary ales. (610 characters)

Photo of vfgccp
3.89/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Opened Apirl 13th, 2014

A - Beautiful ruby mahogany body. Nice khaki head with low retention and lace.

S - Great integration. Coffee, caramel, plum, warm booze and oak.

T - Nice flavor profile but surprisingly light. Caramel, cola, cocoa powder, booze, and marshmallow. Feels like it could use better integration.

M - Thinner than I wanted; medium-light body with relatively low staying power.

O - In a vacuum this is a fantastic beer, but relative to the history of anniversary ales from Firestone Walker it falls short of expectations. I'm concerned that the beer didn't age well. (587 characters)

Photo of elNopalero
4.54/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

(From my 6+ month old notes)

This is the last of the series I tried as part of a flight at an epic bottle share.

As the most recent of the flight available (at the time of tasting) I found this beer to be “young” and still developing, at least in relation to the complexity, blended smoothness, and layers of the previous iterations.

This pours a dark black with cocoa colored foaming. I get a lot on the aromas, with some tobacco, stone fruits (figs and raisins), a bit of dark cherry and bitter chocolate. There’s an underlying boozy note that complements all this but the balance seems to be in process.

Flavorwise there’s more of the same. Lots of big flavors, from dried stone fruits to dark chocolates, and a hint of wood and vanilla beans. Wet leather? Tobacco leaf? Candied Orange? Yes, yes, and yes. A terrific blend but again, I would love to revisit this with a little more age on it. Since it’s a FW anniversary beer I’m not just looking for “good,” but transcendent. (1,003 characters)

Photo of Jeffo
2.87/5  rDev -33.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Always been a fan of this series, so cheers for ScottO for sending one of these over!

From a bomber into a snifter

APPEARANCE: A clear brown pour yields a two finger, medium looking, foamy, light tan head with good retention. Clear bistre brown in color with medium levels of carbonation evident. Head slowly fades to a half wisp and ring. A ring remains until the end leaving a couple dots of lacing down the glass.

SMELL: Lots of oak, with some dark chocolate, coconut, caramel and toffee. Pretty nice, though there's a lot of wood on this one. Medium strength and nice enough.

TASTE: Lots of oak, caramel and coconut flavors up front, then a boozy and oak heavy finish with light vanilla, milk chocolate, toffee sweetness and alcohol. Some bitter dark chocolate, toffee sweetness and alcohol. Some bitter dark chocolate tries to balance. Okay, but not as nice as the nose. A little boozy overall with lots of oak and sweetness.

PALATE: Slightly thinner body with medium levels of carbonation. A bit creamy on the palate, goes down fine and finishes slightly sticky. Some heat lingers.

OVERALL: Definitely my least favorite of the series so far. Too much oak and alcohol in the flavor and the feel is a bit too thin and light. Not special, and the blend of beers just doesn't seem to do much of anything here. As if all the individual parts have just canceled each other out and left it without an identity. Disappointing for sure, as the other years have been really nice. Anyways, thanks again ScottO for sending this one over. Always happy to see new incarnations of this series. (1,594 characters)

Photo of ricknelson
4.03/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Firestone's 16th Anniversary Ale came 4th in my recent beer tasting of Firestone Walker's top beers. Out of the seven BA guys we had at the tasting. Firestone's 16th Anniversary Ale got an average rating of 4.09 from the 7 judges. Being that it was 2 years old, and a retired beer, it held up pretty well. (305 characters)

Photo of scottfrie
4.05/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle into 25oz snifter.

A: Pours a very dark brown woody color with a finger of creamy dark tan head that faded into a faint soft collar that left a touch of soapy lace.
S: Rich and potent notes of bourbon, leather, sweet molasses, raisin, and caramel. Mild spice and faint bakers chocolate as well.
T: Follows the nose with boozy flavors (not heat) of bourbon barrel spice, caramel and sweet molasses, vanilla, slight anise, and dried wood. Finish is woody, hints of vanilla, and the aftertaste is full of bourbon, sugar and chocolate. Not much tobacco. Not much hops but the aftertaste is still pretty bitter. Kick of licorice and earthy herbal bitterness.
M: Full thick body, chewy and viscous mouthfeel, low carb, tingly mouth, decent alcohol booziness but not necessarily warm. More bitter than I remember the last couple years being.
O: Not as good as I remember the last couple years being either. This one has a great flavor but a rougher mouthfeel. Still very drinkable, but maybe needs another year in the bottle. (1,031 characters)

Photo of _solskei
4.23/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Wasn't sure how this Anniversary would match up with the Parabola and others aged 1+ years. It was actually delightful. I was hesitant, because the '12 Anniversary off the shelf wasn't near as good as some of the years prior, in my opinion. But... it was very good. The recipe for '13 seems a bit bolder and I'm anxious to trying that one next year this time. This one, great recipe even aged at a year. Thinned a little toward the end. (436 characters)

Photo of MDDMD
4.41/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A-medium to dark brown color with a nice light tan head and some lacing

S-caramel, toffee, dark fruit, chocolate,vanilla, bourbon, light oak

T-toasted malt, caramel, toffee, raisins, chocolate, oak, bourbon

F-medium body with light to moderate carbonation, smooth, little booziness

O-great flavors, loved sipping this and even more enjoyable as it warmed (358 characters)

Photo of lordofstarside
4.59/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Re-review one year to the day later. Bomber to a snifter, given a few minutes to warm up. Happy new years!

Pours black with a half finger of mocha foam that's dissipated quickly into a frothy ring. Mild carbonation creeping up on the sides of the glass, good legging and very spotty lacing

Giving it an additional few minutes to breathe. Smells of oak, caramel, brown sugar, toffee, molasses, bourbon, figs, coffee, cherries, chocolate, brandy, and alcohol. Everything melts into a very sweet and rich smelling dose of oak, sugar, and booze

Taste is close with the nose- upfront oak, caramel, chocolate, bourbon, alcohol, toffee, brown sugar, dark fruits, vanilla and brandy. Definitely improved over a year, still not on par with the aroma though

Feel is thick and heavy, sticky and creamy. Still drinks pretty warm despite it's age, very drinkable though

Overall journey's going great so far. Two more, I'll be sure to review them both
___

Bomber to snifter. At $23 this is the most expensive bottle I've ever bought

Pours midnight black with half a finger of mocha foam that receded pretty quickly with some good lacing, no visible carbonation. Coats the glass with good viscosity like a good wine. 4

Smells of oak, banana esters, vanilla, butter scotch, coffee beans, maple syrup, chocolate, cherries, a hint of citrus, some tobacco, leather, and some alcohol. Quite a lot going on here, very complex.5

Taste follows the nose pretty well, dark oak melds with dark fruits, coffee, tobacco, with a strong kick of alcohol. 4

Mouth is full bodied and thick. Very sticky and rich.4.5

Overall this beer really needs some age. It's really good but drink a little hot for me. I have another bottle in my cellar, I'll be sure to re-review in a year or two 4 (1,770 characters)

Photo of Damian
4.44/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Drank from a 1 pint, 6 fluid ounces (650ml) bottle purchased at Pemberton Farms, Cambridge, MA
Served in a snifter

The beer poured a slightly thin, chestnut brown and was topped by a tight, creamy, bubbly, one-inch tall crop of khaki colored foam. Drippy streaks of lacing cascaded down the glass. The head faded to a frothy mass that lasted much longer than I anticipated.

The aroma was rich, robust and remarkably smooth. Bourbon came through big time. Super boozy, but in a good way. Tons of toasted coconut. Quite sweet with strong raisin and brown sugar notes. Some caramel and toffee appeared as well. There was a dry, powdery yeastiness initially, but this faded with time.

The flavor profile was solid. Roasted and toasted malts came through on the front end. Loads of bourbon. Strong caramel and dark fruit notes. Raisins were most noticeable. Maple syrup was also detectible. Slightly smoky with hints of tobacco. There was an almost overwhelming boozy/bourbon presence on the finish, along with some earthy, piney, bitter hops and a bit of ashiness. All in all, the beer was quite rich and sweet on the palate, but it lacked both the smoothness and the intensity of the nose.

The beer was medium bodied for the style. A fine, zippy effervescence gave the liquid a creamy, fluffy, almost puffy quality. After each sip, the beer left a sticky film on my lips.

If my memory serves me correctly, this Firestone Walker offering was one of the more balanced of their anniversary releases. This is a fantastic beer to sip and savor on a cold winter night. (1,564 characters)

Photo of cbutova
4.57/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Aged about one year, had this fresh when it came out and it seemed like it would age very nicely for about 1-2 years. Last bottle, hoping for the best.

A- Poured into two pint glasses with atremains. The beer is black like an RIS but not quite oily thick looking, probably from the blending. Head builds up to about a finger high with a frothy, bubbly texture and a light tan hue. Retention is decent and a nice ring leaves some good spots of lace.

S- Smoothed out Bourbon and oak off the top with a quality feel, not just whiskey all the way. Vanilla oak is very inviting. Beyond that is something between a Barleywine and a big Stout. Malty notes of caramel, raisin, roast cereal grains and molasses.

T- Follows the nose with the relaxed, high quality Bourbon whiskey feel but more and more layers of complex flavor open up with each sip. When I think of Barleywine I get deep caramel and nice aged raisin Old Ale flavors. When I think of RIS, I get deep roasted cereal grains, burnt coffee grounds and chocolate powder bitterness. I can even taste a tiny bit of the Wookey Jack in here, my favorite Black IPA. Fresh oak wood notes and flavorful Bourbon atop of all of this. Tiny hint of rye spice, tequila and rum raisin.

MF- Thick bodied with a nice silky, creamy overall texture. Somewhat foamy with a medium level of carbonation. Finishes with just a bit of warmth and superb whiskey lingering on the palate.

Damn, I remember liking this beer when it was fresh but this just seems like a masterpiece right now. The layers and level of flavors in this beer is unlike most other brews and follows suit with the excellent standard FW has set with its anniversary ales. Bourbon atop it all with just about every beer flavor I can think of beneath that. (1,759 characters)

Photo of brureview
4.33/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Cellared for about a year.

Poured a deep opaque chocolate color with a 1F head in a tulip.

The aroma is very sweet milk chocolate. Unlike other chocolate aromas in beers- layered and nuanced.

The mouth feel is moderately carbonated. With warming, the beer will take on more of an alcoholic finish.

The taste is similar to the aroma- mostly chocolate and subtly layered. There is some Bourbon, but not as strong as I anticipated.

As the beer warms up, the chocolate dissipates, and the alcoholic Bourbon finish is more dominant.

Overall, a wonderful beer. Subtly complex aroma and taste. (592 characters)

Photo of deschutes_fan
4.46/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

- Pours a dark brown with a layer of lightly tanned foam, decent carbonation.

- Smell is dominated by strong bourbon barrel stout aromas.

- The taste is complex with notes from each of the components. Sweet caramel and toffee from DDBA, wonderful rich roasty malt from the parabola, and nice velvety oatmeal mouthfeel from the Merkin. All these are flavors are tied together with the strong bourbon oak barrel character throughout. Top Notch.

- Overall a fantastic beer. Drinkable, but complex. Flavors are cohesive with the common barrel flavor. I prefer straight parabola over this, but this is still a treat. (614 characters)

Photo of Rutager
4.09/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Huge thank you to DaftcaskBC for bringing this one along to our tasting last weekend. Can't go wrong with a FW anniversary beer!

Appearance. Pours a deep mahogany with a think khaki head.

Smell. Bourbon and burnt sugar, fresh barrel wood, light grassy hops and chocolate. Very complex as expected from what goes into these beers.

Taste. Burnt sugar, chocolate, dark fruits, booze and wood. There's more in there but those are what jumped out at me.

Mouthfeel. On the low side of full bodied with medium low carbonation.

Overall. Complex beyond my ability to explain. Very nice. Thanks again Ian!! (601 characters)

Photo of Gosox8787
4.36/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Presentation: Bomber bottle purchased very recently at a store for $20.00. Chilled and poured into my Kate the Great tulip.

Appearance: Dark mahogany brown in color with very low carbonation. A very aggressive pour yields some light brown head that settles and slowly recedes.

Aroma: Chocolate cake, caramel, and marshmallow sweetness. There is some bourbon, oak, light vanilla and a touch of spice from the tequila. Definitely more stout heavy than the last blend but the barleywine gives off plenty of backing sweetness.

Taste: Like the aroma, tons of chocolate cake, marshmallow and caramel. The residual sweetness is very nice and mellows out the alcohol. Some bourbon, oak and even a touch of tequila as well add some depth. Some nice balance as well.

Mouthfeel: Creamy, full bodied and smooth. Not undercarbonated at all. About average carbonation for the style.

Overall, I really enjoyed this blend. The stout quality really comes through and contributes some nice chocolate and caramel with some bourbon backing. Really mellow for the ABV. (1,053 characters)

Photo of timc100
4.29/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Pours like a barleywine/stout blend - dark brown, beige/ruby - with a minimal off-white big-bouble head. Very oaky aroma - vanilla, toasted coconut, toffee, wood - almost has a oak tannin sourness. Chocolate and cocoa powder, cherry comes through with light brandy booziness. Incredibly smooth full body - coats the mouth and is not syrupy at all - with only subtle alcohol warming. The taste is dominated by barrel and chocolate - cocoa, toasted coconut, toasted oak, oaky vanilla. There are spirit notes and warming in the back of the mouth - bourbon caramel, brandy apple-skin sweetness.

This is a very complex beer in both it's composition and execution. All those barrels blended together create a very unique oakiness. All this being said, I wanted to like it more than I actually did. 4.25


4/2015 revisited.

Very well rounded, distinctive firestone coconut and oak. Aroma of a coconut chocolate macaroon. Very little booze, incredibly smooth, lots of oak barrel. From what I remember there is less of a dichotomy of barleywine and stout, age has brought everything together more. (1,094 characters)

Photo of dogfishandi
4.57/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz bottle at fridge temp poured into a snifter. Bottled 10/05/12 (1year of age)

A very dark cola brown color, almost appears black, with a fine creamy light beige colored head, decent head retention, nice alcohol legs.

Lots of alcohol aromas, mostly bourbon, maybe some brandy, lots of barrel qualities, vanilla, caramel sweetness and just hints of seaweed as it warms.

Boozey, but not overly so, big bourbon flavors, maybe some brandy, nice oaky vanilla barrel qualities. Some really nice sweet butterscotch with a bit of caramel.

Fairly thick body, but not overly so. Both body and carb suit this beer perfectly.

As with last years, this is all about the bourbon and the barrel. One of the best examples of a barrel aged beer. Similar to a lot of BA barleywines. (775 characters)

Photo of pkalix
4.89/5  rDev +14%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

some chocolate milk head but that went away quickly. very very dark brown in the glass, no lacing, just unorganized foamy bubbles on the side of the glass. smell is very beautiful. bourbon is very nice layered on top of some lighter coffee, toffee roasted malts, vanilla. taste is the same and very well-balanced, very smooth. all I can say is 'wow'. a little bitter on the sides, but this is extremely smooth and velvety. I didn't research this much before I opened it so I was intrigued when I read what Phelps wrote in his review back in July. quite a mix of some decent brew. before I even continue with this, and I think I just want to relax and enjoy this one, I will recommend you scroll down to read what Phelps wrote as that was a really nice description....
mmm, lingering chocolate and not in a novelty way. this is really an almost perfect brew. this one is truly "good to the last drop". (900 characters)

Photo of Jonada
4.53/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours dark brown with 2 fingers of a light tan creamy head. Appears black in once in the glass, but when held up to light reveals hints of brown and dark ruby red.

Smell: Bourbon, caramel, toffee, chocolate, roasted malt, vanilla, and a bit of coconut.

Taste: Chocolate, coffee, bourbon, roasted malt, caramelized sugar, toffee, tequila, slight earthiness.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied, creamy mouthfeel. Carbonation on the low end of medium.

Overall: Incredibly complex beer. Each smell and sip seems to yield additional flavors and aromas. This is a beer that's worth seeking out. (594 characters)

Photo of Vonerichs
4.08/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Dark brown color that let's a substantial amount of light through the edges. Compact but dense head that dissipates quickly and leaves surface swirls.

Smells much like their other anniversary ales. Heavy on the bourbon. Caramel, butterscotch, vanilla, woodsy.

It's very sweet from the onset. Butterscotch, dark chocolate, caramel, vanilla, oak. Sticky sweet finish.

Mouthfeel is a little thinner than I'm used to from anything FW offers out of barrels. Low on the carbonation spectrum.

It's a very good beer with robust flavor. My only knock it the lighter-than-usual mouthfeel and cloyingly sweet finish. (613 characters)

Photo of Phelps
4.27/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

16 is composed of eight different beers from 226 oaken barrels. The percentages fall out like so:

- 23 percent Velvet Merkin, an awesomely-named bourbon-aged oatmeal stout
- 22.5 percent Stickee Monkee, a nearly 13-percent ABV English barleywine aged in bourbon and brandy barrels
- 20.3 percent Double Double Barrel Ale, an imperial English pale ale aged in retired barrels from the Firestone Union
- 10.8 percent Parabola, a bourbon-aged Russian imperial stout
- 8.1 percent PNC, a tequila-aged buckwheat stout brewed in collaboration with Publican National Congress
- 5.4 percent bourbon- and brandy-aged Helldorado, a blonde Barleywine
- 5.4 percent bourbon- and brandy-aged Bravo, an imperial brown ale, and
- 4.5 percent Wookey Jack, a dank and hoppy black IPA

With all that stuff in there, you might expect the flavors and aromas to get a little muddled. But here's what you can really smell: the tequila. No matter what other ingredients are included, nothing can quite mask the pungent potency of tequila. The agave liquor adds its musk to an incredible melange of cocoa, dark cherry, toasted coconut, vanilla bean and smoke. Think eating a chocolate-covered cherry in a smoky bar in Mexico.

And here's what you can really taste: nothing. And by nothing, I mean everything. The beers above all contribute individual elements -- Velvet Merkin's oats are noticeable; Double DBA has lent its distinct toffee character -- but each is indistinguishable from the next. Fruity brandy gives way to smoky dark chocolate which steps aside for buckwheat, vanilla and tequila before an aged-citrus finish. It's an ocean of flavor, constantly shifting and revealing new depths with each pass. The body is perfect -- velvety yet not too heavy. Carbonation gently tingles the tongue, and alcohol, which should be hard to get away from, is instead hard to find at all.

This Firestone Anniversary is the best since 13, which is saying something-- I loved that beer more than most parents love their babies. Bottles aren't cheap -- extended aging in barrels is takes up costly time and space, so prices jumped this year to more than $25 at some stores. And that's if you can even find them -- nearly every beer purveyor sold out of the boxed bombers within a few days. But many bars are set to tap kegs at special events Thanksgiving weekend, so try to get your fill on draft before it's gone.

On draft, this is much sweeter. Maple, very sweet bourbon, just a hint of tequila. Blue agave. A touch o' char. Sweeter, smoother, but perhaps less complex. (2,551 characters)

Firestone 16 - Anniversary Ale from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
95 out of 100 based on 158 ratings.