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: 124 | Ratings: 1,406
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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Photo of dar482
4.79/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

The beer pours out of the bottle in a dark amber brown. In the glass, it is a very dark brown, leaning towards black.

The aroma hits of vanilla, tons of sweet bourbon and barrel character. Dark fruit of plums and raisins. Lots of sweet complexities from caramel to brown sugar to toffee candy, even a pure cane sugary syrup. Underlying that is a touch of roasted and toasted malt. A truly delectable nose.

On the flavor, up front is a smack of bourbon and a touch of brandy to open up the palate. However, it does not linger too long and is taken over by caramel and brown sugar sweetness, a touch of toasted malt, cacao and chocolate then onto some bitterness from the roasted malt of the stouts, but only so gently that it is barely noticeable without knowledge that they are integrated into the beer. Waves of vanilla, a touch of coconut candy come through, as the beer finishes with some spice, anise, tannic drying.

One of the best beers from Firestone next to XVIII and better than Parabola and Sucaba as an individual brew.

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Photo of richj1970
4.48/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 22 oz bomber into snifter.

A: Pours deep brown to almost black with two finger light tan head that settles quickly to a thin ring. Some light lacing.

S: Bourbon, raisins, coconut, vanilla, and dark chocolate.

T: Sweet bourbon, dark fruits, coconut, vanilla, and chocolate. Lots of complexity going on here, but almost crushable for a big ABV beer.

M: Medium body and a touch thin but not unexpected for a barrel aged beer.

O: Wonderful beer. Lots of amazing flavor and aroma. Wish I had another bottle to age some more.

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Photo of SierraFlight
4.3/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Simmzy’s Long Beach and poured into a snifter. Translucent dark brown body with a thin tan head that hangs around as a thin ring. No lacing. Aroma is barrel-forward: charred oak, coconut, vanilla, bourbon. There are also dark fruits, brown sugar, and caramel notes plus a touch of leafy hops. Taste is complex and inviting: sweet caramel and brown sugar sweetness up front with woody and leafy bitterness on the back of the palate. Some boozy hotness and dark fruits on the swallow. An ample medium body, slick and viscous texture, low carbonation, sweet finish with some heat.

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Photo of scottfrie
3.95/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

22oz bottle into snifter.

A: pours a sticky dark caramel brown with ruby highlights. Head is dark tan, creamy, and short lived, but a nice thick film and collar lasted most of the beer through.
S: mild booziness up front with rich notes of bourbon barrel and spicy oak. Brown sugar, rich fudge, leather, and hop resin follow. Both stout and barleywine components are easily noticeable. Mild hints of sweet caramel poke through as well.
T: rich bourbon up front, still a bit boozy and warming. Sticky and bitter hop resin, brown sugar, sweet caramel, and earthy oak. Tobacco and toffee fill the finish, with chocolate, leather, and bitter hops lingering in the aftertaste. Booze and spice linger throughout.
M: spritzy tingly carbonation. Not frothy, just not as creamy or smooth as I was expecting.
O: maybe needs a bit more age but I thought this wasn't as great as previous years. Surprisingly still boozy and rough around the edges. Definitely tastes like a stout-barleywine blend. Good, but not the best of the bunch.

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Photo of TubaManJack
4.33/5  rDev -2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

On Tap. Rather thin mouthfeel detracted from a great barrel aged composite. There is a lot of sweet bourbon notes in the taste that don't appear in the nose. I would enjoy it fresh.

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

8oz draft pour on oddly enough, 1-26-15. Full 2 fingers of tan head that lingered. Nice lacing. Dark deep burgundy brown but I do see light. Caramel, dark fruit like raisins and cherries, little coffee and dark bitter chocolate aroma. Tastes are much the same with some hints of roasted malts, hops and bourbon. Extremely smooth for the high abv. Pleasant aftertaste.

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

Poured from a 22 ounce bottle into a Firestone Walker tasting glass.

A: Just barely translucent; very dark brown. Stark white lace clings only at the very edges.

S: Dark and roasty, but not overly intense or bitter. Lots of booze, but pleasant softer bourbon-y notes.

T/M: Mmm, soft-sweet-bourbony goodness immediately followed by loads of brown-sugar fuelled booze, all balanced by a sort of woody-nutty bitterness. Carbonated enough to be vaguely spritely but smooth and mouth-coating enough to be smackworthy. Dark chocolate laced with vanilla spirals through.

O: Really tasty! Perhaps a touch too strong for many, but I recommend it. MUCH better than 16. Recommended.

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Photo of Sam-VW
4.71/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

A - Pours Black with a thin tan coloured head which dissipates quickly. No lacing.

S - Big hit of Bourbon followed by some Toasty notes, Vanilla, Brown Sugar and Dark Fruits.

T - At first you get a big Bourbon flavour, followed by Toffee, Vanilla, Brown Sugar, Liquoriche and some subtle Red Wine notes. Very complex.

M - Very Thick body with a small amount of carbonation. Finishes quite sweet.

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Photo of Damian
4.11/5  rDev -7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4.25

Drank from a 1 pint, 6 fluid ounces (650ml) bottle
Served in a snifter

Dark mahogany appearance. Oily but not super thick. The liquid was topped by a one-finger tall, creamy, bubbly, khaki colored crown that slowly dissipated to a thick ring of bubbles. Streaky lacing coated the glass.

The aroma was rather subtle initially but really opened up with time. Quite sweet with intense bourbon and brown sugar notes. Oaky and somewhat toasty. Dark fruits came through strong. Raisins were most noticeable.

Boozy, bourbony notes hit hard right off the bat in the flavor profile. Loads of dark fruits and brown sugar. Quite raisiny. Rich and robust. Slightly roasty. There was a strong caramel malt and toffee presence in the center. The beer finished noticeably hot with loads of oak/barrel. A touch of earthy hop bitterness came through as well. Dry, tannic notes lingered on the palate.

The beer was medium bodied for the style. Slick and smooth but lighter than anticipated. At 13+ percent ABV, it seemed that the barrel really thinned out the liquid.

I buy Firestone Walker's anniversary beer every year and am usually impressed by them. Although the overall flavor and aroma profiles seem to differ fairly little between vintages (which might be expected, seeing as each release uses a recipe consisting of pretty much the same beers but in different quantities), the alcohol presence has varied significantly. Even with a year-plus of age in my cellar, 17 was still very boozy and rough around the edges. I would love to see if this calms down in other year or two.

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Photo of Fcolle2
4.52/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pours deep woody brown in color with a thin light tan head. Smell has incredible complexity. Nutty toffee malt, chocolate, caramel, vanilla, marshmallow, alcohol, and hints of cherry. Taste follows the nose with toffee, husky, caramel and chocolate malt with loads of vanilla, oak, and bourbon. Some mild hoppy bitterness blends nicely with light amounts of charred malt. Mouthfeel is medium to heavy in body with moderate carbonation and a good sweet sticky hoppy bitter balance.

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Photo of breadwinner
4.81/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

One of the best vintages of this series I've had, it bursts with incredible barrel notes, chocolate, caramel, and coconut, with perfect viscosity, and a nose to die for. Kudos, FW -- you've raised the bar again.

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Photo of abeeronthebeach
4.51/5  rDev +2%

A - Nice and dark, although a shade redder and browner than a stout.

S - Bittersweet chocolate and vanilla. Quite gentle on the nose.

T - Following the nose, milk chocolate, lots of vanilla and toffee. Pleasantly sweet, without being cloying. A little roasty and savoury at the same time. A hint of cinnamon, and coconut as it warms. Tobacco and leather. The interplay of sweet and savoury works really nicely. I definitely get the impression that this beer has mellowed and softened with an extra year of aging in the bottle.

M - Very smooth! My only criticism would be that it could be a little more viscous.

O - Reminds me a lot of Fremont's Bourbon Abominable, albeit sweeter, milder and less savoury. This is a really nice beer, although I think I would have got even more out of it fresh. It's so smooth that even at 13.3% I feel like I could drink this all day. In terms of my own personal FW hierarchy, this is right up there with Parabola, a rung above Stickee Monkee and Sucaba, and two above Velvet Merkin and Helldorado. The bourbon and oak influence do show up in the vanilla sweetness but have melted into the beer by this point, lending a wonderful integration of flavour to this beer.

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Photo of Flounder57
4.5/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served in a snifter at the Union Brewhouse in Weymouth.

Appearance: A two finger mocha head was poured that reduced to a thin layer. It is a pitch black color with no vision of anything. Frothy lacing down the glass as the beer was drank.

Smell: Vanilla, bourbon, oak, milk chocolate, toffee, caramel, roasted coffee, nutty, and super cool warm boozy alcohol.

Taste: This beer is cool and orgasmic. As crazy as the blend looks, it all works together really well.

Mouthfeel: Silky, creamy, smooth, super nice bourbon barrel flavor, full bodied, warm alcohol, and low to medium carbonation.

Overall: All I can say is wow. This is one superb beer that gas been aged for a year. A beer like this only gets better with time.

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Photo of aleigator
4.25/5  rDev -3.8%

# 250. Thank you very much for this, Jason!

Pours a small beige head, which soon begins to fade, leaving back a very thin lacing. The color of the brew is dark mahogany, almost black, but held against a light, it reveals inserted red spots .

Has enjoyable aromas of milk chocolate with lots of barrel character to it, with gentle bourbon notes being the most detectable. Alcohol burn is recognizable, but get easily balanced by a fiery spiciness and wooden malts, still leaving a gentle sting to the Bourbon. The nose implies sweet toffee, as well as hints of rum and coffe beans, which are almost hidden beneath the stronger aromas.

First impression of the taste gets mirrored by the aromas. Creamy, smooth milk chocolate blends into wooden, earthy malts, which convoke the most enjoyable bourbon flavors among a peppery spiciness. A short glance of slick acridity invites the tastebuds to the next stage, defined by an immense coffee bitterness. This bitterness gets enhanced by a sharp alcoholic bite, while a pronounced, earthy, oaken maltiness helps to maintain the balance of the beer. Barrel character appears to be very contradictionary, while the Bourbon gets accompanied by mousse-au-chocolate and burned coconut, Rum comes along with bitter coffee and charred malts - both working together very well. Full bodied, with a very smooth mouthfeel.

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Photo of brongladest
4.5/5  rDev +1.8%

A: dark brown, caramel head with good lacing
S: bourbon, dark chocolate, fig, dark fruit, faint soy sauce, faint alcohol
T: same as smell, nice sweetness on the middle of a pull, some alcohol warmth
MF: big body, creamy, low carbonation, some heat
overall impression: amazing beer, hope quaff again next year. great sipper!

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Photo of BergBeer
4.75/5  rDev +7.5%

Look: Opaque black with a vanilla head.

Smell: Huge bourbon, chocolate, and vanilla notes explode from the bottle. Also getting toffee, coffee, vanilla ice cream, chocolate chip cookies, earthy hops, and more bourbon. Smells absolutely fantastic.

Taste: Huge vanilla hits the palate followed by chocolate chip cookies soaked in bourbon, a slight hint of cinnamon, mocha, Irish cream, Molasses, and a finish of vanilla ice cream with bourbon.

Mouthfeel: Rich and decadent. Big bodied and sticky. Wets the palate and goes down with a slight alcohol burn that warms the chest.

Overall: Outstanding! So rich and complex with all of these decadent flavors melding into one barrel lovers treat. ! I've said it a million times but this one deserves it again. There is magic in Firestone Walker barrel system and this beer is liquid proof.

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Photo of Stinkypuss
4/5  rDev -9.5%

Pours a dark amber color with pretty good clarity. The aroma has big caramelized malt notes, almost to the point of malt extract. Sherry, nutty toffee, bourbon. The taste is complex and goes from sweet and malty to woodsy and dry. Creamy malt body and dries out nicely. A blend of some massive beers, this is a big statement of everything malty, caramelized and aged in a barrel. Let this sit because it opens nicely.

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Photo of HattedClassic
4.5/5  rDev +1.8%

The beer pours a nice creamy brown tan head that takes a while to dissolve. The beer itself is a very dark brown that borders on black and is opaque. The beer smell has coconut notes, toffee, a bit of roasted malts, vanilla, and a bit of oak. The beer taste is more roasted than the smell. The beer taste has stronger dark chocolate and vanilla notes that are more dominate. A little alcohol note is present and makes the beer even sweeter. The notes found in the smell do not seem to be very present. The mouthfeel is heavy bodied and very smooth with some carbonation. The beer also has a little burn that lingers a bit in the back of the throat. Overall, a very good beer and worth seeking. If I find this again, I definitely plan on picking it up.

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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.

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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

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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!

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Photo of HopBomb515
4.33/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Dark brown almost black, sediment in the bottom, nearly no head, and almost no lacing. Big ok, vanilla, chocolate, smoke and slightly alcohol soaked nose. Taste follows with big oak, vanilla, coconut, powdered chocolate, and an earthy smoky presence. Medium body with light carbonation and a semi dry finish. Overall an interesting beer. Big alcohol, nicely blended flavor a, and barrel complexities make this an interesting brew.

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Photo of vfgccp
4.86/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

A - True to tradition, it's a great looking brew. Crystal clear mahogany ruby body. Fine, dirty white head has nice retention but low lace.

S - Awesome nose. Milk chocolate, caramel, plum, oak, raisins, burnt toast, savory ancho pepper, and cardamon.

T - Wow, absolutely fantastic. Rich and silky smooth. Opens with almonds, coconut, and dark chocolate truffles. Molasses, leather, cherry cordial, and cognac erupt throughout the center, and ebb into a thick, seemingly everlasting pumpkin, oak, bourbon, vanilla, and pumpernickel finish.

M - Holy crap. A stunning combination of a full, smooth body that sits impossibly light on your palate.

O - Hands down, Firestone Walker is home of the best blending program in the US. Period. A tip-of-the-hat to another outstanding anniversary ale.

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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.

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Firestone 17 - Anniversary Ale from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
4.42 out of 5 based on 1,406 ratings.
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