FiftyFifty Brewing Co.

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Strong Ale - American
Ranked #32
Ranked #3,728
4.14 | pDev: 9.42%
FiftyFifty Brewing Co.
California, United States
Notes: Ale brewed with honey.

Barrel Aged Really Tasty. it's pretty simple actually - a delicious blend of our Imperial Honey Stout and Barleywine Ale, aged to perfection in oak bourbon barrels. Delightful aromas of caramel, vanilla and dark fruits, followed by brown sugar, dark molasses, espresso and chocolate on the palette. The complexity evolves as BART warms up, and it's the perfect beer to sip with a friend and celebrate all that is good in the world.
Reviews: 45 | Ratings: 210 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of Sigmund
Sigmund from Norway

3.38/5  rDev -18.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Shared 650 ml bottle, in Nevada City, October 2015. The bottle looked exactly the same as the picture, so I assume this must be the correct beer (12% ABV, brewed with honey, no mention of being brewed with coffee nor vanilla). Dark brown colour, fairly sweet and alcoholic, notes of honey, chocolate, bourbon, molasses and coffee in aroma and flavour. A fairly impressive beer, but still not as great as I hoped.

Mar 08, 2021
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Alieniloquium from Florida

3.16/5  rDev -23.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

16 oz. can. Pours black with some transparency. Smells of brown sugar, bourbon, brown bready malts. Tastes much the same. Brown bready malts, brown sugar, bourbon, and all the accompanying sweetnesses. Medium heavy. I didn't expect this to be so bready, but it's a big, sweet, and bourbony slice of brown bread.

Dec 24, 2020
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REVZEB from Illinois

3.95/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

With a name that sounds like lyrics from my dad rapping I thought this would be interesting. Brownish black opaque pour with a thin collar. Smell gets huge brown sugar, boozy caramel, molasses, honey, oak, dark chocolate, and roasted barley. Taste hits with the earthy and smoky barley, leather, bourbon booze, and molasses, before transitioning slowly to a sweet brown sugar, creme brulee and burnt honey finish via booze. Not the most well made beer admittedly, even for a strong ale the transitions in the sip are violent, barrel character is all over the place, ending cloys a bit as it warms. Still it gives the people what they want, barrel flavoring, all of it. Sip slowly on a fall evening

Oct 18, 2020
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jlindros from Massachusetts

4.38/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Received in a trade, was planned to be shared with rudzud. This has to be old, no date on the bottle, and has the old label, white with a dog named Bart on it

OPening the cap has no sound, but does pour a small fizzy tan head, a little lacing, long legs, dark mahogany brown color

Nose brings loads of sweet malt, big caramel, toffee, brown sugar and molasses, a sweet candy malt, and candied apple, some oxidation with a little cardboard but also winey and port like, some dark fruits with fig and raisin,

Taste starts a bit sweet, candy malt, into molasses, loads of caramel and some toffee, some warm smooth alcohol, candy and caramel especially, rich chewy malt, a bit of bitterness, into more oxidation, a hint papery, but more winey flavors, a little fig and raisin dark fruits again, drier finish, a little sticky sweet, light smooth perfumey alcohol

Mouth is fuller bod, rich creamy smooth, almost chewy as well, light warming alcohol, lower carb

Overall a very nice beer, great strong ale, has some nice aging characters and oxidation notes, as well as a little iffy oxidation, but in general a great beer, very barleywine like, that must have quite a bit of age on it. Really really wish I could have shared this with Matt.

Aug 16, 2020
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DIM from Pennsylvania

3.95/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

It occurs to me that I have fallen into this trap a few times before. Stouts are wonderful, barleywines are sublime, why, the combination must be mind blowing. But no, this is just pretty good.

Elements of both are discernible, but they almost cancel each other out. Some muted toffee, roasty coffee, and a bit of booze. The barrel character comes across as woody and smokey rather than decadent and boozy. Were these barrels used before perhaps?

Anyway, this is pretty darn good and certainly worth trying, but nothing too special.

Jun 21, 2020
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beergoot from Colorado

4.15/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Dark amber brown body, clear; head is thick and creamy, long lasting; nicely spaced rings of foam inside the glass. A hgeady scent of charred grain, roasted nuts, bitter chocolate and vanilla emanates from the glass. The taste brings a richness and sweetness to the palate with a touch of booziness; cocoa and milk chocolate; a trace of whiskey. Heavy body; dense and chewy; velvety; boozy warmth oozing through the residual sugars.

BART comes across as a righteous, heavy-duty barrel aged stout. It may be a bit hot with the current ABV of 12.0%, but that is a minor detail. Overall, it is rich and sumptuous, and pairs well with a cold, snowy winter day.

Feb 09, 2020
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ArrogantB from Colorado

2.74/5  rDev -33.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

16oz can $7.99. Dark brown color. Aroma is a tad tart and twangy, oh oh. Flavor was boozy as hell and I swear had a bit of tanginess to it that I think was likely an infection. Pretty bad stuff honestly.

Jul 24, 2019
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LiquidAmber from Washington

3.98/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured into a Fremont small snifter. Pours a very dark mahogany brown, appearing opaque black in the glass with a thin brown head that dissipates to patches with light lacing. Aroma of dark toasted malt, vague dark fruit, strong oak. Flavor is dark, lightly toasted malt, raisins, dates, oak, vanilla and a little coffee. Medium bodied with light creaminess
A classic American strong ale profile of dark malts and dark fruit with a strong oaky barrel character. Nice dark fruit and malt with barrel woodiness. A little on the light side in body compared to other big strong ales, but the flavors a fine and well balanced. Warming, but ABV well covered.

Apr 27, 2019
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johnnnniee from New Hampshire

3.83/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Can from Tavour canned 12/2018
Solid black in color with a decent sized tan head that persists. I'm not sure of the blend this year but its got some barleywine and stout in there if my nose is working correctly. Rich roast dark caramelized sugars vanilla and oak and a bit sticky. Nice sipper.

Apr 12, 2019
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Angerhaus from Rhode Island

3.58/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Likely an infected bottle, unless, however unlikely, a metallic taste to the beer is what they were going for here. Unfortunate, since a friend had hoarded this bottle for quite some time after buying at the brewery. Still, you could taste and smell what it might have been, and I find myself jealous of those of you who have had the chance to drink it at the height of it's once great power.

Aug 18, 2017
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rodbeermunch from Nevada

4.39/5  rDev +6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

No matter what the age on this, I find a reason to like it. Same with barrel variation.

Anyhoo, pours lighter than Eclipse, this is a blend of barleywine and stout. Imperial stout. Thin off white/beige head, 1/3". Aroma of chocolate, cocoa, wood, hops, caramel.

Taste, wow, enjoyable sipper, not boozy at all. Vanilla, rye like sweetness, char. Still some chocolate malt, even some light orange citrus notes. Just as good as most of the Eclipse series. Packs a lot of complexity into a drinkable beer. Cheaper than Eclipse too. I should be buying more of this and less Eclipse.

Apr 21, 2016
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MattSlem from California

4.24/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

L: Slightly opaque, dark, dark brown, short lived khaki head with dreamy lacing
S: Milk chocolate rootbeer float meets cream soda meets oaky bourbon vanilla
T: Taste follows the nose with some slight floral honey notes, extremely easy to drink
F: I was expecting this one to be quite a bit sweeter at 12%, medium bodied.
O: Fantastic offering, I have had quite a few 50/50 barrel aged beers, this one is right up there with the rest of the pack.

Other notes:
I absolutely love the vanilla in this blend, it's soft and slow to develop.

Oct 20, 2015
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Furlinator from California

4.28/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

My 800th beer check in on Beer Advocate.

Not sure what vintage this bottle is but, it's ABV is listed as 12%. Smells of cocoa, coffee and bourbon. The taste follows, with cocoa, coffee, bourbon and honey sweetness that becomes more dominant as the beer warms. Very good.

Sep 21, 2015
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SHODriver from North Carolina

4.25/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: poured into a snifter to a nice shade of black with a finger and a half of dense tan head that fades quickly and leaves minimal lacing
S: smells of caramel, vanilla, toasted malts, dark fruits and some nice barrel notes
T: taste is caramel, vanilla, whiskey barrel, some dark fruits and slight roasted and toasted malts. swallow is chocolate, caramel, vanilla, slight roasted malt and more barrel.
M: surprisingly thin for the ABV but still smooth with soft carbonation and a dry finish.
O: Fantastic complexity and flavors from this beer. It has a lot going on and each sip is a true pleasure. Buy it if you can find it. The beer has a lot of good whiskey flavors going on but the components are also shining brightly. A little more heft in the mouth would have been nice though.

Apr 05, 2015
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srandycarter from California

4.12/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A - Very dark.Brown, but near black. Tiny light mocha head, mostly rim. Some cling.

S - Hershey syrup, light soy.

T - Malty, smell attributes in taste.

M - Creamy, a little to the sweet side. Only slightly cloying. Good carb.

D - One is enough, obviously. Half of one is probably enough. Good to try.

Feb 08, 2015
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maximum12 from Minnesota

4.45/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Many thanks to hefman for this bottle: the guy basically opened up his cellar for a few Midwestern scraps, including indulging my FiftyFifty love. 22 oz. bottle split with my wife.

The pour is inside-your-ass black, with the small collar of head typical of FiftyFifty brews. The nose consists entirely of sweet vanilla from the barrel.

B.A.R.T. rhymes with f.a.r.t. Which came up during a blistering game of, well, some bloody thing we were playing on New Year’s last night. Someone thought it was the most socially unacceptable thing ever (not one of my friends, obviously). Anyways. Even without knowing it’s a mix of stout & barleywine, this beer comes off as schizophrenic. Chocolate & vanilla give my tongue a gentile caressing & mark a lovely tandem to kick this bitch off. Bourbon settles in the mid-section, strong & pleasing. Char marches alongside, strong oak, toffee. Ultimately this is about the bourbon, smooth, & damned if I couldn’t drink this until I was willing to vote for a Bush.

Damn. FiftyFifty makes some fine stuff & I’ve come to expect excellence from them over the years. I am not disappoint, son, darn-tootin’ close to elite status.

Jan 03, 2015
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rlee1390 from Indiana

3.95/5  rDev -4.6%

A-Black in the glass, one finger tan/off white head that leaves some lacing.

S-Dark fruits, honey, some roasted malt and bourbon.

T-What I presume to be honey, Mild bourbon, Dark fruits and slightly roasted malt.

M-Medium bodied, some carbonation and a tad watery.

O-Honey in beers just does not do it for me.

Dec 03, 2014
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spacebear09 from Colorado

4/5  rDev -3.4%

Appearance- Pitch black beer with a very small head but good retention and lacing

Smell- Very boozy, molasses and chocolate

Taste- Surprisingly smooth and not boozy at all despite the big bourbon notes and 12% ABV. Tastes like a really strange chocolate pudding? Sweet and complex, with some hints of caramel, tobacco spice, and leather. Inoffensive and very easy to drink for a bourbon barrel aged beer.

Mouthfeel- Silky, very low carbonation

Overall- This is a good beer but an absolutely terrible purchase at $25 a bomber. Really not sure what I was thinking, but it's rare and I had never tried it before. This brew is solid but I wouldn't buy it again unless I saw it on sale for half off.

Nov 12, 2014
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BergBeer from Hawaii

4/5  rDev -3.4%

Look: Deep opaque black with an aggressive white head. Beer is quite active for a barrel aged beer with lots of legs keeping the head high

Smell: Big dark chocolate, lots of oak, dark pitted fruits, vanilla, raisins, bourbon, dark cherries, more dark chocolate, and lots more oak

Taste: Huge dark chocolate at the front, prominent coffee, oak dominates throughout, surprising little bitter hop notes, vanilla, bourbon, tobacco, and dark pitted fruit covered in honey. Big and complex

Mouthfeel: Rich and creamy at first then bodies up and sits heavy on the tongue like a thick stout. The bitter notes come through on the finish and mild alcohol heat. Oak dominates once again.

Overall: One really tasty brew. This is one deep complex brew that makes it's presence known and rules over your taste buds. I really enjoyed how well the oak shines through while all the other notes duke it out on your tongue

Oct 24, 2014
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Jeffo from Netherlands

3.11/5  rDev -24.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bomber of this stuff from ScottO recently. Cheers!

From a bomber into a snifter
Ale with honey in oak barrels

APPEARANCE: Clear brown pour yields a two finger, medium looking, fluffy light head with very good retention. Bistre brown, clear, with no real carbonation evident. Head slowly fades to a full creamy wisp with lots of sheets of lacing down the glass. A faint wisp and ring remain leaving some decent lacing down the glass.

SMELL: Oak, some vanilla, milk chocolate, caramel and sweet cream on the nose. Relatively mild, unfortunately.

TASTE: Oak, vanilla and some caramel up front. More flavors at the swallow with oak, toffee, caramel, sweet cream and vanilla, milk chocolate and lightly burnt flavors lingering on the palate. A bit of perfume in there as well. Lots of oak in there, with the vanilla and caramel that comes with it.

PALATE: Medium body and carbonation. Creamy enough on the palate, goes down okay and finishes with a bit of a burn and finishes a bit sticky. Some heat lingers.

OVERALL: This is alright, but certainly nothing special. The oak is a touch perfume-like, which becomes tiring as the bottle empties. An okay beer from a brewery that makes some rather good stuff. Happy to try things from 50/50, but this is not a repeat. Thanks again ScottO!

Jun 27, 2014
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UCLABrewN84 from California

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

Thanks to GRG1313 for sharing this one at his tasting.

Pours a clear dark reddish-brown with a foamy khaki head that settles to a film on top of the beer. Small swaths of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of toasted malt, citrus zest, caramel, toffee, bourbon, and wood aromas. Taste is much the same with toast, caramel, toffee, bourbon, and wood flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of wood bitterness and an alcohol kick on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp and medium bodied mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good beer with nice barrel aged qualities all around.

May 16, 2014
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kdahnke123 from Indiana

3.88/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a snifter at room temperature.
A - Pours a deep brown color with a single finger of tan head. The head quickly dissipates, leaving a long lasting lacing.
S - A deep hop smell with a background of dried fruits and carmel.
T - Coffee, bourbon, toffee and hint of honey.
M - Very mouth coating. Smooth and moderately carbonated.
O - My first FiftyFifty. Pretty good. Not as well rounded as some barrel aged beers I've tasted but worth a try.

Apr 11, 2014
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cvm4 from Mississippi

3.83/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A - Pours a dark cola body with a caramel hue to it. Has a light brown head.

S - The barrel aging is really front and center on the nose. Some charred characteristics, caramel and vanilla.

T - To me, the taste really mirrors the smell. The sweetness of the honey does peak through and thankfully it's not cloying.

M - Medium bodied and light to medium carbonation. There's some heat to it, but it's really smooth.

O - It's worth a try, but not sure I agree with the overall rating. There's some aspects of it that are muddled and need to be pulled together.

Apr 06, 2014
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TheSevenDuffs from Canada (ON)

4.78/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

A - Poured dark black with one finger of light brown head and great lacing.

S - A huge charred malt aroma with vanilla, chocolate fudge, bourbon and light caramel notes.

T - Huge barrel qualities really shine through - char, oak, bourbon and vanilla are all present. Chocolate fudge, roast and dark caramel all come through from the base beer. Great balance of sweetness with bitter roast.

M - Full body. Creamy. Light carbonation.

Apr 02, 2014
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notchucknorris from California

3.94/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A- Pours black with a thick and creamy tan head. Monster lace after each sip.

S- Slightly hot whiskey aroma with some cola, chocolate, spicy rye, honey and some raisin.

T- Chocolate and lots of whiskey right away, chocolate covered raisin, light char and a lot of honey sweetness. Flavored get a touch disjointed as the beer warms, but pretty good.

Feb 21, 2014
BART from FiftyFifty Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 92 out of 100 with 210 ratings