Firestone 17 - Anniversary Ale | Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

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Firestone 17 - Anniversary AleFirestone 17 - Anniversary Ale

Brewed by:
Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
California, United States

Style: American Strong Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 13.30%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
30% Bravo Barrel-Aged Imperial Brown Ale
25% Stickee Monkey Barrel-Aged English Barley Wine
15% Velvet Merkin Barrel-Aged Oatmeal Stout
15% Parabola Barrel-Aged Imperial Russian Oatmeal Stout
8% Double Double Barrel Ale
4% Helldorado Barrel-Aged Blonde Barley Wine
3% Wookey Jack Black Rye India Pale Ale

Added by dwagner003 on 10-30-2013

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Reviews: 123 | Ratings: 1,404
Photo of rodbeermunch
4.04/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

These things are almost always so similar, except for 14 which was like, primarily a stout compared to the other ones.

Very dark brown pour, close to black, thin lighter brown head, 2/5". Aroma of booze, bourbon, chocolate, oak. Mild citrus hops.

Taste, pretty decadent and layered, much like the Bruery anniversary beers. Brown sugar, bourbon, chocolate malt. Still has that tiny bit of citrus hop bite. Toffee, caramel, burnt belgian candy sugar. A real good chestnuts roasting on an open fire feel to it as well. Mouth feel then drops the slightest bit of vanilla and raisin. Complex.

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Photo of Ctb6582
4.49/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a snifter a deep dark brown, almost black. About 1 finger of irregularly shaped bubbles in the head that left deep lacing. Smells of stone fruit, leather, and red wine. Tastes about the same. Moderate bitterness is well balanced by the malt these guys really know what they're doing in the blend.

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Photo of Zythophile
4.23/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Bottle Date: sometime in 2013
Palate Contaminants: grilled meat

Appearance is a really dark brown, but it does let some light through. There's hardly any head.

The smell is buttery and smoky. It has a lot of what I could best describe as burnt molasses. There's also a hint of spices (cinnamon), but the molasses are the main thing. Definitely cola in there, as well. Overall, it doesn't seem to volatilize particularly well.

The buttery savoriness is the first taste I get, then there are a whole bunch of other things behind that. The next flavor is charred barrel, but it's in the acceptable range. From that emerge some sweeter flavors. Very heavy sweet tea is there, like brick tea with a drop of clove honey. It is a bit like dark rum, too, and I definitely get the alcohol. It gets sweeter as it warms up, mostly from nondescript dried fruits, although I can pick out prunes. There some anise in there, also.

The aftertaste is somehow a little bit spicy. The aftertaste is dominated by cloves and burnt sugar. There's not much carbonation, still.

I have one more bottle, and I don't know how much longer I'm going to let it sit.

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Photo of SHODriver
4.81/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

A: Poured into a DFH snifter to a deep brown that may as well be black with a small tan head that fades quickly to a small collar leaving minimal lacing.
S: Smells of toffee, caramel, vanilla, some fruitiness, hints of chocolate and roasted malts
T: Taste is toffee, oak, caramel, vanilla, spiciness, dark fruits, slight dark chocolate and hints of roasted malt. Swallow is oak, roasted malts, chocolate, a little espresso, with some lingering caramel and vanilla from the barrels
M: Fairly heavy in body but not terribly so with soft carbonation and a dry finish from the alcohol
O: Simply outstanding. Such great flavors and the nose is exceptional. This beer is liquid art and I can't speak highly enough of it. You can taste the individual parts and they play very well together.

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Photo of jakecattleco
4.65/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Draught pour at Davis Beer Shoppe into a snifter. Pours a brownish black with almost no head. Nose is mostly sweet, vanilla and cherry, mixed with nice augmentations of oak and whiskey. Nose became more mute as it warmed. Taste was delicious, some sweetness and a bit hot from the ABV, character of the barrel, some toffee, hints of chocolate, and other hard to distinguish subtleties. Mouthfeel is good but perhaps on the thinner side, carbonation good, and the finish lingers a bit hot and dry. A very complex beer that I thoroughly enjoyed!

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Photo of titty_mcbitty
4.59/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Aged over two years.

Pours a dark brown, almost black. There's a deep reddish tint on the sides. I poured in a mini-wine glass so there's almost no head.

It smells like a Belgian strong dark: raisins and brown sugar.

Flavor is very complex! It's hard to pick out what I get initially, but after a few sips: brown sugar and raisins are up front and very prominent. I really like the level of sweetness. There's also this lovely dark chocolate playing in the background, like Hershey's chocolate. With the brown sugar flavors, the chocolate mixes and creates a sweet graham cracker/marshmallow flavor. Also mixed in there are plums and black cherries, along with some caramel or toffee, and of course bourbon. Awesome flavor.

This beer is on the thicker side of medium. There's just a little carbonation, which adds some character. After each sip, it lingers on the tongue and coats the whole mouth with the lovely flavors described above. Some booze is left on the throat as well.

Overall, this is a wonderful brew. I'm thankful that the barrel characteristics aren't hiding all of those amazing flavors. Not only are those flavors there, but they are THERE - meaning that all of them stand out as if you were drinking a liquid desert cake.

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Photo of Sandalwood
4.52/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Aged two years. Pours a very dark brown, almost black color with a reddish tint. There is a small head with a little soapy lacing. The odor for me is dark fruits, figs, plum, raisin, berry, coconut, almost dessert wine like, dry woods, barrel, little bourbon. The taste for me is plum, dates, figs, dried fruits, coconut, dark berry, raisin, woods, barrel, no bitterness, dry on the back.

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Photo of IvoryFoxhole
4.35/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2013 vintage aged 2+ years and poured into Belgian ale glass today because snow, so why not?

L: Very, very dark burgundy. Normal pour results in 1+ finger light tan head, with poor retention and no lacing, cap or ring.

S: Sweet malts, candi sugar, some vanilla, wood from barrels, a bit of coffee and maple.

T: Completely follows nose. On the right edge of almost too sweet. Some alcohol heat, but not much.

F: Very well balanced, medium bodied, little to no carbonation, lingering but not cloying.

O: I think more than anything the StickyMonkee comes through, but the Velvet Merkin is there as well. It's ambitious, and it comes through very nicely, especially after the aging.

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Photo of seedyone
4.45/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Rattle n Hum, NYC. Eureka! One of my favorite brewers" proprietary releases & on tap no less. Hooray RnH.

The look & aroma will make no new friends as they are unremarkable. Deep, deep mahogany with no head or lacing. Then we get to the magical mystery. When first under the nose it"s "what's that smell?

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Photo of Auraan
4.72/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Poured a deep brown, appearing black, though when held to light it is a very dark reddish brown with ruby red highlights. A thin cap of bubbly tan head recedes to sticky lace slowly. Overall impression of appearance is of a nice blended dark beer, well done. Scents of oak and vanilla upfront, leading into rich aromas of toasted coconut, brown sugar, dark molasses, dark fruit notes of raisins and dates and rich, semi-sweet chocolate and cocoa at light levels, followed by notes of the aforementioned chocolate-derived aromas and coffee with a warming alcohol at medium-light levels. Age contributes notes of leather and tobacco adding further depth. Overall impression of aroma is of an amazing barrel-aged ale. I don't get the component beers themselves, rather, they have been expertly blended and aged to create a truly unique beer that is rich and appealing with an amazing range of aromas layered together in harmony. A truly excellent bouquet. Flavor begins rich and malty with flavors of molasses, bittersweet chocolate, coffee and light burnt caramel. Oak and vanilla are also present adding depth. Middle adds light flavors of dark fruit, following aroma, raisin and dates layered beneath an increased bitterness of roast malt, bittersweet chocolate, cocoa and black coffee, aged leather notes and light warming alcohol. Finish is bittersweet with notes of dark chocolate, toasted coconut, black coffee and dark molasses with light nutty notes and faint hints of dark fruit with supporting flavors of oak, vanilla, moderate warmimg alcohol and notes of tobacco and leather. Aftertaste is rich yet bitter, with notes of black coffee, dark chocolate and roast malt with tobacco continuing from the finish. Overall impression of flavor is of an excellent beer. One of the finest I've had, a rich, complex ale. It becomes well more than the sum of its parts to be a unique experience. It displays an array of flavors derived from the base beers, the high ABV, the barrel aging and the additional two years in the cellar to create an amazing tapestry of flavor. Truly magnificent. Mouthfeel is full bodied with medium-light carbonation, a light warming alcohol burn and a smooth, velvet feel. Overall impression of mouthfeel is of an excellent strong ale, rich, yet not overwhelming. Overall this is one of the best beers I have ever sampled. It has an amazing aroma that telegraphs the rich complexity of the flavor which is itself enhanced by the smooth mouthfeel. The complexity of all aspects is at both beguiling and approachable, a well constructed tapestry of aroma and flavors that highlight how Firestone Walker is one of the best breweries in the world.

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Photo of cindyjeffsmith
4.59/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

look: Murky dark mahogany. Moderate sized whitish-tan head on the pour that does a good job sticking around considering the high ABV. Nice, filmy lacing that slowly recedes.
smell: Rich, decadent nose. Vanilla, fudge barleywine.
taste: even better than the killer nose. Again, rich and decadent and complex. After 2 years, dangerously mellow.
overall: Just steller.

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Photo of raynmoon
4.51/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Had this a few times when it comes out. Kept for 2 years at room temp-ish.

Looks dark brown, with some red hues along the sides of the glass. Also has a small ring of foam around the edges. Alcohol legs are apparent. Looks great.

Big oaky, sweet liquor candy, perhaps a touch of oxidation (cardboard). Once swirled, sweet alcohol, unsweetened coconut, and wood come out. Pretty complex. Not too aggressive however.

A lot of the same initial flavors come to play in the big, drying oak, sugary bourbon and brandy character. However on the back-end, I get tons of graham cracker, and vanilla that lingers. Really awesome.

Lighter end of medium bodied, I'd say; for the style at least. It is appropriate. Not too syrupy or too runny, but just right. Also, upon initial opening it seemed a little fizzy. Perhaps some more fermentation took place in the bottle at my "cellar" temp.

Overall, still drinking awesomely. I think I now know what my favorite beer, and that is Firestone Walker's Anniversary Series. It is not the same beer every year, but I've now had 16-19 (have 15 waiting in the closet) and have loved all 4 of the vintages. They are each unique, in that no other beers taste like this.

I do think 18 and 19 are actually drinking better than this currently. My gripe with this beer initially was that you could taste the Double Jack/Wookie Jack.

Solid A!

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Photo of rudzud
4.32/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Bought this when it came out. Figured it was time to crack it.

A - Poured into my Duvel tulip a dark dark brown nearly black in the glass hue with a one finger mocha head that fades slowly to leave a creamy blanket.

S - Aromas of toffee, bourbon, molasses, maybe some tobacco, coconut barrel.

T - Taste is similar to the nose, loads of caramel and toffee, very nice bourbon which lends flavours of coconut and vanilla with toasty barrels. Finish still has a few flashes of alcohol which after a few sips start to get a touch oppressive and dominating though.

M - Mouthfeel is rather rich and creamy, but again, bit hot on the finish.

O - Overall, this was a tasty beer. Nicely aromatic and flavourful, the finish is still on the warm side though. Certainly aged nicely.

Serving Type: Bottle

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Photo of neurobot01
4.52/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Bomber into a Barrelworks Teku at fridge temp, allowed to warm.

Look: dark garnet-tinged brown with little head.

Smell: sheer BA barleywine heaven. Brown sugar, molasses, maple syrup, oak, leather, vanilla, coconut.

Taste: maple syrup, vanilla, coconut, oak, mild hoppy bitterness, more oak.

Feel: I'm guessing people will complain this is thin, but I love the drinkability. Pretty low carb.

Overall: my memory of this fresh had it as a richer, more complex cousin to something like 2013 Southern Charred—brash, burly, bitter (and awesome). Either that memory is way off, or age has massively smoothed out those rough edges. I don't know that this is better than the best of its components, and it's certainly not better than Maltose Falcons... but, it's damn good either way.

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Photo of jzeilinger
4.03/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A - Dark burgundy ruby pour with a thick toffee ring lacing.

S - Dark fruit, bourbon, oak, roasted caramel.

T - Start to finish: dark fruit, bourbon, oak, dark roasted toffee, and vanilla.

M - Thick, heavy, sticky slick body with boozy effervescence.

O - Not terribly complex and boozy.

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Photo of joeseppy
4.53/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Dark brown pour with stiff mocha head. Aromas of molasses, sweet bourbon, cocoa powder, figs and smoky oak. Taste is rich. Redman tobacco, damn fine bourbon, smoked almonds, prunes...just to name a few top picks. Feel is creamy and lasts a long time. Sorry for the quick review but I gotta finish watching to see if the Gophers can beat Nebraska. Fine brew indeed!

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Photo of stevoj
4.72/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Bottle from Brewers haven. Excellent! Well worth the wait. Every year I look forward to their anniversary ale, and have yet to be disappointed. Their blending o their BA beers is superb.

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Photo of Original_Gravity
4/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

My 1 year anniversary on BA, also my 100th beer rating! I recently found the 17 at Tap 25 in Livermore, CA (I couldn't believe they still had bottles just sitting in their cooler!). I'm a big fan of the FW Vintage series, and I've really been looking forward to trying this. This blend may be a bit too complex, so many flavors vying to dominate. I think the brandy form the Bravo and the Helldorado stand out too much for my tastes. Still an outstanding beer, just not my favorite from this series.

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Photo of FalconCount
4.53/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bomber poured into snifter at home. Chestnut brown with a beautiful tan head. Smells of a beautiful brown ale with brown sugar. Taste is complex, with sugars, vanilla, tobacco. Mouthfeel was a tad too thin, but fantastic.

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Photo of SinjaminBentek
4.65/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Bottle share at Courtyard & Cellar for Toppling Goliath Mornin' Delight release!

22oz Bottle

Had this side by side with XVIII. Incredibly smooth and complex. The extra year in the cellar did wonders. Highly recommended.


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Photo of ljjpowers
4.49/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bourbon. Vanilla. Chocolate. Coconut. Bourbon. Dark Fruit. Incredibly complex yet easy to take down. Love the FW philosophy on blending (drawing on years of expertise blending wines). Very solid. Also a huge fan of the fact that a competition takes place to determine which precise blend is best and worth of the anniversary title.

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Photo of sweemzander
4.4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

22oz bottle poured into a snifter. Thanks for sharing Matt!

(A)- Pours a dark mahogany color with minimal tan froth.

(S)- A nice backbone of oaky vanilla and coconut. Bits of toffee amidst some nice roasty raisin and molasses

(T)- Fairly similar to the smell. A good amount of raisin and toffee with faints hints of oatmeal, coconut, and cocoa.

(M)- A smooth carbonation level. Not too thick but with nice barrel notes. Not overly rich or sweet either but everything is well integrated and harmonious.

(O)- Possibly one of their better/best anniversaries fresh. Most I have preferred with some age on them, but this one is quite nice right out of the gate.

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Photo of Tele
4.56/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Serving Type: Bottle
Consumed: 7.25.15

A: 4.5 Looks a lot like Sucaba. Dark brown, nearly black with a small light tan head.

S: 4.75 Smells fantastic. Lots of bourbon, maple, and vanilla up front with roasted malt, chocolate, toffee, and caramel following close behind. As the beer opens, there’s a touch of earthiness comes through, balancing out the sweetness.

T: 4.5 Pretty sweet off the bat, but things seem to have mellowed out in the couple years since bottling. Initially, the barleywine flavors dominating bringing toffee and caramel. Bourbon and vanilla still come through like many anniversary ales (and other FW proprietor’s bottles), but there’s also a lot of chocolate and roasted malt with a light bitterness on the finish.

M: 4.5 Blending really shines on the mouthfeel. The body is substantial enough to handle the big flavors, but it drinks more like a barleywine than a BA stout.

O: 4.5 This one has held up very well. The chocolate and roasted flavors really shine bringing a nice balance to the sweeter, bourbon and vanilla elements.

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Photo of Franziskaner
4.24/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Deep brown to nearly black in color. There's a lot of murkiness here. A fingernail of beige surrounds the rim. Complex aroma of sweet barley and bourbon. It tastes like sweet bourbon and a massive amount of sweet malt. I think a bit of age has done this beer well as the alcohol is warming to the throat but there's no sharpness in the flavor from it's presence.

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Photo of kojevergas
2.33/5  rDev -47.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 2.25

BOTTLE 650ml. Comes packaged in a fancy cardboard box, probably to sell it as a luxury beer comparable to high-end scotch. The label isn't much to look at. Has a black foil-ed over branded pry-off cap.

Served cold into a pilsner glass and allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Reviewed live as a "barrel-aged blend" per Firestone Walker's website.

13.3% ABV. 30 IBU.

No bubble show forms as it's poured.

HEAD: It has a nice radiant complexion, but it's a meagre half inch in width at most. Has nice creaminess and frothiness, with an even and adequately thick consistency. Leaves no lacing in its wake as it recedes. Could be darker, creamier, richer, and more enticing.

Retention is average - ~2 minutes.

BODY: It's an opaque dark brown-black. It's a generally murky presentation. It lacks the ink-black colour and expressive sheen of the best imperial stouts, but it's also too dark to really deliver on any other style. I see no yeast/sediment.

For a barrel aged blend, it's decent-looking. But it won't have anyone salivating looking at it, and it's neither lively nor inviting.

AROMA: Complex, sure. Raisins, figs, brown sugar, molasses, sugarcane, plum, marshmallow, vanilla from barrel aging, dark malts, creme brulee, faint cocoa dust, candied/caramelized fruit, caramelized sugars, and dark malts. But nothing about it is every expressive or evocative; it's a bit of a muted beer, with no notes shining. Suggests a sticky sweet mess of a brew, though I applaud how well it disguises its high ABV; I'd say the aroma implies a beer of 8-9% ABV. It's probably closest to a Belgian strong dark ale.

The barrel aging seems wasted on the beer based on the aromatics. There's no rich white oak, toastiness, bourbon, etc.

Coconut does stand out as inviting, but for the most part this is a reticent brew.

Aromatic intensity is shockingly low.

TASTE/TEXTURE: It's not as sticky and sweet a mess as I anticipated, but nevertheless it's a chaotic build with a saccharine edge. Not so much imbalanced as unbalanced, this build - which is anything but gestalt - suffers from rough-around-the-edges integration of disparate flavours and a concomitant lack of cohesion, a casualty of the blending process by which it was created.

Its core is a generally underwhelming (and overly sweet) caramelized sugar backbone, with supplementary notes of caramelized/candied fruit (especially dark fruit like figs, raisins, and plums), brown sugar, and molasses. There's a blip of cookie dough in the early second act - which is nice - but it disappears all too quickly. It's not a boozy beer inasmuch as its a syrupy viscous one, and its stickiness clings to the palate, fatiguing the drinker.

There's no harmony of barrel to base. In fact, the barrel aging is subpar, bringing no expressive notes. There's some artificial tasting vanillin, but no genuine bourbon-y vanilla bean. Nor is there any rich toasted white oak, interesting barrel sugar presence, et al. And the coconut from the aroma is barely present here, to its detriment.

The barrel notes may be poorly integrated, but the good news is the base isn't anything special to begin with. I find no expressive flourishes whatsoever, no nuance, no layers of intricacy, no subtlety...why brew this? (Or sorry, blend this). Shallow as can be, with no depth or expressiveness whatsoever. All surface, no substance.

It's full-bodied, with blatant overcarbonation - in spite of its flat, dull presence on the palate. Unrefreshing, of course - but that's to style. Thick for thickness' sake. Heavy and overbearing, lacking the depth of flavour to justify such weight and heft. Overall presence on the palate is poor. There is no harmony of texture to taste. This mouthfeel fails to elevate the beer, and fails to accentuate any specific notes.

The more I drink, the more I realize it's not merely muted - it's insipid.

OVERALL: It's a nice cash-grab blending already produced beers and marking them up. And that'd be fine if the resultant beer was incredible. But unfortunately, for all the marketing hullabaloo, the end product just isn't remarkable in any way, nor is it particularly good. This is difficult to drink given its syrupy sticky feel, general lack of quality, and high ABV - though I do applaud how relatively well the alcohol is disguised. Granted, in spite of the absence of the alcohol in the flavour profile, it does still heat the stomach. In any case, I continue to be confounded by the high regard for this series (and this brewery), and I can't see how any discerning drinker could claim this emperor has clothes.

In short, the whole is worse for having been a combination of its parts, and the result is a beer in which no note rings distinct and nothing guides; there is only a soulless mess of flavour. There is no music here, gentlemen - there is only noise.

D+ (2.33)

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Firestone 17 - Anniversary Ale from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
4.42 out of 5 based on 1,404 ratings.
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