FiftyFifty Brewing Co.

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American Strong Ale
Ranked #33
Ranked #3,397
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: 40 | Ratings: 200 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of beergoot
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.

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Photo of ArrogantB
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.

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Photo of LiquidAmber
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.

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Photo of johnnnniee
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.

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Photo of Angerhaus
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.

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Photo of rodbeermunch
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.

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Photo of MattSlem
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.

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Photo of Furlinator
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.

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Photo of SHODriver
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.

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Photo of srandycarter
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.

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Photo of maximum12
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.

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Photo of rlee1390
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.

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Photo of spacebear09
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.

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Photo of BergBeer
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

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Photo of Jeffo
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!

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
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.

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Photo of kdahnke123
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.

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Photo of cvm4
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.

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Photo of TheSevenDuffs
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.

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Photo of notchucknorris
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.

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Photo of kaseydad
4.46/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Stumbled upon this at a local bar/shop. Happy to see it make it's way South.

Pours an almost pure black ale with a big beige foamy head. Lots of lacing. Very nice way to start.

The aroma is cocoa, brown sugar, oak, chocolate, bourbon, and glorious honey. Somewhat like the Eclipse series but more subdued...which I dig.

Taste is a nice blend of chocolate, molasses, wood and a definite presence of alcohol. I can almost feel a bit of the oatmeal kicking in on the aftertaste. A kiss of hops but most of the kiss is from the barrel. Alcohol warming after each sip. +1. I like the forwardness of the barrel and believe this is best drunk fresher. As is warms, the roastiness comes out to play and plays well with the barrel booze.

Pretty full bodied though nice and smooth.

Overall I was extremely pleased with this. Shocked to find and although it's a little steep in the pocket book, it lives up to a hard earned Jackson. It can be tough to find, but when you do, give it a shot. Or a snifter.

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Photo of pkalix
4.47/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

flashbacks to Churchhill's Pub... I don't know why. man, I need to make another trip down that way....
basic dark pour. very nice oak aromas, much like the eclipse series I am so darned in love with.... flavors are of oak, barrel, slight twang of a bourbon although I don't think it's supposed to be there... I didn't know what to think before I purchased this but I had to anyway, due to my love and devotion to the eclipse series....
this one is pretty-darned-alright. didn't know what to expect and searched the BA data banks for an inclination of what to expect. this is NOT their stout, but a rather singular ale-type of version. it is similar to the Firestone barrel series, and very comparable. a little thicker than any of the more notable Firestone editions, I think, and that flies in the face of the eclipse series in general as they are much 'thinner' than the TOTALITY stout which is the base brew for the eclipse. but this is really interesting. further, it states that it is TWELVE PERCENT, rather than the 9% stated at the top of tis page which leads me to wonder.... anyway! decent brew. not as smooth and refined as the eclipse series, but very decent in its own right. my first time realizing it even exists after searching out the eclipses the last two years... it's a little rich, though....

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Photo of stakem
3.82/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bomber into an eclipse snifter. The brew appears black in color with a khaki head a finger strong that slowly fades leaving a full wall of lacing effect on the glass. When held to the light, there is some cola clarity around the edges.

The smell includes fruity to floral hops mingled with an accenting fruity alcohol component. Some roast blends into herbal and dare I say catty to citrus aspects. It gets raisony as it warms up with a hint of minerals and solvent/neutral booze.

The taste includes roast initially that blends to a raisony alcohol character. Some citrus and herbal hops fade/blend into lots of fruity and floral notes. Only in the aftertaste, long after each sip is a bit of roast present tasting of stale coffee and a bit of must and earth.

This is a medium bodied brew with a modest amount of carbonation. This brew is quite perplexing. At times, it kinda has a mellow black ipa kinda feel to it. It looks like a stout but smells/tastes strong of american barleywine. It makes sense after reading the blend description but it is strange how the stout aspect is all in the looks and the barleywine dominates every other aspect of the brew except the aftertaste hints towards stout. This is worth trying but not getting crazy over. Unless you are a fan of boozy black ipas, then it is worth flipping your shit over.

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Photo of EgadBananas
4.09/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured more like a stout, black, some brown edges, tanned head. Aroma was sweet, with a sugary fruity note, medium barrel wood and bourbon, hint of char, molasses, plums, chocolate and roasted malts. Taste had a nice vanilla and wood note, subtle but well noticeable bourbon note, chocolate, figs, hints of citrus hots and a very mild bitterness. Feel was more on the medium body side of things, carbonation felt good.

This had a reminiscence of Eclipse, but not the full on stout experience. Pretty nice, quite enjoyable.

Thanks David!

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Photo of scottfrie
4.29/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

22oz bottle into snifter.

A: Pours black with a finger of thick light khaki colored head that lasted for quite some time. Wispy spotty lace was left down the glass.
S: Caramel, brown sugar and molasses are sweet over boozy and roasted notes of toasted malt and raisins.
T: Sweet, buttery and smooth but powerful flavors of raisin, caramel, toffee, fig, molasses, brown sugar, dark chocolate, whiskey, and earthy spice. Solid hoppy bitterness from the barleywine lingers alongside slight vanilla, more whiskey booze, and lightly bitter chocolate.
M: Thick, slick, soft and sweet. Very smooth and integrated flavors, but still bitter and boozy although not hot. Low carbonation; drinks very well.
O: I really enjoyed this. After having it on tap a few times I’m glad I got to sit down in a controlled environment and really enjoy a bottle. An excellent blend.

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BART from FiftyFifty Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 91 out of 100 with 200 ratings