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Firestone 17 - Anniversary Ale | Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

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Firestone 17 - Anniversary AleFirestone 17 - Anniversary Ale
BEER INFO

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

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.

BEER STATS
Reviews:
119
Ratings:
1,396
Avg:
4.42
pDev:
7.69%
 
 
Wants:
202
Gots:
517
For Trade:
67
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Reviews: 119 | Ratings: 1,396
Reviews by Birdlegs:
Photo of Birdlegs
4.75/5  rDev +7.5%

More User Reviews:
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)

 4,859 characters

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.

 2,670 characters

Photo of Vonerichs
4.5/5  rDev +1.8%

Dark leathery brown with a flat appearance. The khaki head is brief and leaves no trace behind.

Typical (in a good way) FW barrel smells. Toffee, toasted coconut, butterscotch. There's even a little piney hop whiff.

Layers of flavors that include the aromas listed. Add some wood, pecan, and tobacco spice.

Low carbonation, but that lends to the soft and smooth body. Definitely boozy and a little sticky.

Another winner from FW.

 444 characters

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.

 793 characters

Photo of cbutova
4.42/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Prefacing this with the fact that I had Stickee Monkee just six days ago. Opened the bottle last night and full notes taken at the time.

A- Split several ways for a tasting and pours with a dark brown body. The head forms to about two fingers with a very light tan hue. Head retention is pretty good as it falls to a foamy ring. Just a few spots of lacing.

S- The Stickee Monkey portion comes out huge with deep brown sugar and some Quad sweetness. Mellowed oak Bourbon barrels come in fairly big as well. Belgian yeast spice, caramel, slight roast, red fruits and vanilla.

T- Complexity is big as it has been with almost all of the FW Anni. brews I had (XIV had a TON of Parabola). Brown sugar, vanilla oak sweetness, bourbon, Belgian yeast spice, spiced raisin red fruits and a slight hop feel. Hints of roast, toasted nuts, figs, slight alcohol and peppery whiskey.

MF- Thick but not RIS thick body with a moderately high carbonation. Pretty much feels like the other Anni. brews completely. Texture is creamy and frothy with a heavy alcohol warming in the end.

Feels like a Quad mixed with a great Brown ale with a decent dose of Bourbon and vanilla oak. The complexity of these brews are astounding. I could probably list a ton more flavors but those are the main ones.

 1,279 characters

Photo of LambicPentameter
4.23/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Received this bottle from BA SammyJaxxx after trading away my only bottle to another fellow BA for a beer I wanted a tad more. I was so excited to see it return, so to speak. Obviously, this is the 2013 vintage, and I poured it into a large 22 oz snifter glass.

Appearance - An aggressive pour yields a frothy, soap-like head about a finger thick (slightly less) with a mix of large and small bubbles the color of taupe or khaki. The head lingers for a bit before returning to it's home in the rich walnut-bark brown, almost black liquid that sits beneath the foam. Eventually settles to an archipelago of bubble islands mottling the surface and a rim of foam along the edge of the glass. No lacing to speak of until I begin drinking, leaving a bits of spotty lace here and there along the glass. As I drink it down, some deep, rich burgundy tones become more present, as the liquid is less thick to block out the light. Very enchanting.

Smell - With a blend of so many different beers, I'm not sure what to expect--whether it will be muddled and hard to decipher or a symphony of various profiles blending. Thankfully, it is more the latter than the former. Notes of graham cracker and caramelized sugar interplay with some lighter notes of cocoa powder and just the faintest touch of molasses. Some tannins from the various barrels come through, but not aggressively in the slightest. Honestly, there could be a bit more wood here for my personal liking.

Taste - Disappointingly, the fear of muddling that I had going into the smell has come to fruition a little bit on the taste. It would be unfair to call it unpleasant, because it is anything but. That being said, it's harder to pick out the individual flavor characteristics than it was in the aroma. If I had to sum it up into one impression, it would be that of a homemade dark chocolate caramel, with a blend of slightly bitter and richly sweet. Good in many ways, but my personal preference is to beers that seem to change and evolve, coming to the forefront with different emphasis with each subsequent sip. This one is a bit muddier and more simplistic, considering the complexity that went into its composition.

Mouthfeel - Slightly viscous and somewhat velvety, if a little thin considering the rich and powerful blend of aromas and flavors. I would prefer a tiny bit more body. Carbonation is very low, but enough to get the job done in the face of the more viscous feel.

Overall, a really great beer. It's the first I've sampled in the FW anniversary series, and I must admit that it didn't quite rise to the pedestal level it occupied in my mind before opening. That being said, I'd gladly drink it again and I was very pleased with how easily it drank for a rich, 13% abv beer. At the very least, it has me curious to try the next installment in the series, when Firestone Walker becomes legal...

 2,870 characters

Photo of FosterJM
4.18/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

1774th Review on BA
Bottle to Firestone Walker Snifter
22oz

App- When out of the bottle, this had all the indicators that it was a stout. Color was missing and it was a dark brown, black mix of color. A little red sprinkled in for good measure as well. The light tan foam cap was only about 1/2" and faded quickly. A nice bit of stick to it.

Smell- You can always tell a FW BA beer IMO. The character of all the beers comes wafting up at you and you get hit in the nose and you tend to stick around a bit and try to decipher all the aromas coming up. This had hints of oak, bourbon, vanilla, spice and a booze. A bit stringy vs smooth for me.

Taste- I had heard the rumblings that this wasnt as good as the other vintages because of the new blends and the direction FW took this one. I say pish posh. This was a tasty beer. Sadly I wish that price point was a bit lower to get a few more. The opening was a bit more brown ale than I was expecting even after reading the blend list. It was smooth and flavorful. Melded well with all the ingredients.

Mouth- A solid medium body BA ale that even for me bordered on being a stout. A big feel behind it with a solid carbonation level. Smooth and velvety. The residual flavors were a blend of the beer and left you wanting another sip.

Drink- I will say that it was good. It was a solid beer and that FW always does a good job. It wasnt the best of the Anny series I have had, but thats only because I like stouts better than strong ale blends. Wonder how this one will age.

 1,523 characters

Photo of corby112
4.43/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark chestnut brown color that appears pitch black and opaque in the glass with a two finger, frothy beige head that slowly settles into a thick, lasting ring. Very good retention for the style and ABV, taking a while to settle and leaving streaks of soapy lacing behind.

Very inviting aroma with a prominent barrel presence that's nicely integrated into the characteristics of the various base beers. There's a decent spirit presence, consisting mostly of sweet and spicy bourbon, but the oak and other barrel notes really stand out. Subtle charred oak but not too harsh or toothpick-like along with some silky vanilla bean, marshmallow and strong toasted coconut. As it warms the bourbon/whiskey stands out a bit more and the tropical coconut presence comes to the forefront. Underneath the barrel, there is a subtle citrus hop presence and a complex malt bill with a nice balance of earthiness, roast and sweetness. Slightly smokey with hints of coffee bean, oatmeal, dark chocolate and toast countered by leather, baker's chocolate, caramel, burnt sugar and toffee. The brown ale and barley wine elements are the majority of the blend and it shows in the aroma. Not overly roasted or burnt smelling with sweeter, dessert-like and leathery, earthy malts. Also, the Mexican turbinado sugar from the stickee monkey portion is prominent providing additional sweetness that counters the barrel, spirit and more robust malts. The nose of this beer is very complex and appealing with not one element being too strong or overpowering. I would have preferred a little more bourbon, especially since it's such a prominent part of the blend, but it's refreshing to come across a BA beer it's a complete booze bomb.

Viscous full body with a strong boozy barrel presence that is perfectly integrated into the complex flavors of the blend. There's some charred oak and boozy heat but the ABV is very well masked making this complex beer dangerously drinkable. I'm picking up a blend of different spirits but it's mostly dominated by bourbon and whiskey. Along with the bourbon and oak, there's a lot of toasted coconut and some sweet vanilla bean. Underneath the barrel flavors, there's a very nice balance of stout, brown ale, barley wine and black IPA characteristics. Bravo imperial brown ale is the strongest portion of the blend and it definitely shows. There's a prominent sweet, chocolate malt presence with subtle roast, caramel and toffee. Velvet Merkin and Parabola combine for 30% of the blend and together they provide more bourbon as well as roasted, robust malt and sweet dessert-like sweetness. Burnt toast, bittersweet dark cocoa, coffee bean and oatmeal followed by flourless chocolate cake, fudge and toffee. Stickee Monkee and Helldorado give the blend some more alcohol sweetness but surprisingly, there still isn't much heat. Just great bourbon/whiskey/brandy flavor. In addition, these barleywines provide subtle earthy hops and a decent amount of leathery malt and a touch of vinous fruit sweetness. Toward the back end of the palate, the earthy hop bitterness and the spicy rye presence from Wookey Jack stand out. The WJ is only 3% of the blend but the spicy rye, resinous hop and subtle citrus stand up to all of the barrel flavors, boozy sweetness and complex malt flavors.

Overall, I'm once again very impressed by the blend that FW came up with for this anniversary beer. Amazing barrel flavors that are perfectly integrated into the complex flavors of the base beers and the high ABV is nearly invisible. There is some heat and boozy sweetness but the drinkability is off the charts. I had to slow myself down before finishing the bomber to quickly. Another great beer from Firestone Walker. Highly recommended!

 3,745 characters

Photo of barleywinefiend
4.14/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A: Poured dark brown with a moderate sized light tannish/dirty white cap, the head retention was good but the lacing was almost obsolete.

S: Big coconuts, vanilla, caramel and toffee with a healthy dose of bourbon and nuts. I can tell the Bravo and Stickee Money are the big bases for this beer.

T: Initially toasted malts coconut and lots of nuts. Midtaste is a pronounced bourbon/booze sting with more toffee, caramel and a hint of chocolate. The barrel is still strong, very strong at this point. The finish is warming w/ caramel, toffee, a light candy stickiness, toasty witha subtle bitterness.

M: Wamrining, medium-full body, a little low carbonation, velvety, sticky and sweet. A big lingering warming alcohol on this beer, more so than previous FW Anny releases

O: Very good but not amongst my favorites. I thought the heat was pretty damn in your face with this beer, which is odd for FW who do a great job of masking and blending. However, I have a couple and won't kick them out of bed!

 1,002 characters

Photo of StonedTrippin
4.37/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

this anniversary series from firestone has become one of the most anticipated in all of beer, and it is the pinnacle of barrel aging and blending in my opinion. this one is different from years past, less thick and syrupy in feel, i was surprised how easily this one slid down, remembering the last few years as almost gelatinous texturally. this has a dark brown color to it. with some blacker shadows and a thin off white head, almost milky looking, but short lived. the nose is heavy bourbon barrel, a fair bit of the roasty rye from wookey, and a sweet candy-like barleywine middle. vanilla is again a dominant flavor from all the barrel, but the dark chocolate malts of merkin and parabola are more abundant than in other anniversary blends. it comes across as a darker barleywine, being entirely malt and barrel driven, extremely mature for being recently released, and not as hotly alcoholic as it probably should be at this strength. all of the component parts are impossibly well integrated, and while i can taste subtleties from each base beer, the synergy here is profound. its less about trying to pick out each beer than it is appreciating them in this combination. thankful to hops and pie for having this one on tap. and to firestone for continuing to challenge preconceived notions about blending and barrel aging. this is a special brew, now i just need a bottle to age!

 1,387 characters

Photo of Phenom
4.5/5  rDev +1.8%

Nose: delicious. Not your typical bourbon barrel aged stout, it has enough different notes to stand out. Marzipan, currants, and vanilla
Taste and mouthfeel: enough carbo to feel like a beer and not a sipping whiskey. Just the right amount of booziness. Coats the mouth, has long delicious finish.

Overall: worth seeking out. Coming from a hophead, this is a great beer

 375 characters

Photo of oberon
4.23/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours into an oversized wine glass a deep chesnut brown with a thinner lighter beige head atop.Aromas are on the lighter side wich was surprise but still pleasant,cocoa and some "meatiness" along with some alcohol sweetness,and dark fruit.Wow the complexity on the palate is just awesome,cocoa powder and buttery rum make for a rich taste and the feel goes hand in hand,it's sticky in a very good way,there is a noticable toasted pecan-like flavor as it warms as well.I admit at first I was dissapointed but once the first sip hit me I was hooked,just a great beer.

 565 characters

Photo of DanGeo
4/5  rDev -9.5%

Photo of tectactoe
4.5/5  rDev +1.8%

Photo of t2grogan
4.5/5  rDev +1.8%

Photo of jono0101
4.75/5  rDev +7.5%

Photo of brownbeer
4.75/5  rDev +7.5%

Photo of abeerdude
4.75/5  rDev +7.5%

Photo of thedoctr
5/5  rDev +13.1%

Photo of SanFranJake
4.75/5  rDev +7.5%

Photo of SkiBum22
4.5/5  rDev +1.8%

Photo of beergod82
5/5  rDev +13.1%

Photo of Ben7773
3.75/5  rDev -15.2%

Photo of warnerry
4.3/5  rDev -2.7%

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Firestone 17 - Anniversary Ale from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
4.42 out of 5 based on 1,396 ratings.
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