Firestone 20 - Anniversary Ale
Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Firestone 20 - Anniversary AleFirestone 20 - Anniversary Ale
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Style:
American Strong Ale
ABV:
13%
Score:
96
Avg:
4.42 | pDev: 5.43%
Reviews:
74
Ratings:
315
From:
Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
 
California, United States
Avail:
Retired (no longer brewed)
Wants
  25
Gots
  110
SCORE
96
World-Class
Firestone 20 - Anniversary AleFirestone 20 - Anniversary Ale
Notes: 40% Parabola - Russian Imperial Oatmeal Stout
20% Stickee Monkee - Central Coast Quad
17.5% Velvet Merkin - Traditional Oatmeal Stout
12.5% Bravo - Imperial Brown Ale
10% Helldorado - Blonde Barleywine
View: Beers
Reviews: 74 | Ratings: 315 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of Captain69
4.24/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

I saved this beer for 3-4 years - should have refrigerated. No head - still a great malty strong taste . just purchased a XXIII anniversary - will see ow this stands up to the newer one

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Captain69 from Illinois, Apr 16, 2020
Photo of dukeandduke
4.31/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12/24/18 (Las Vegas): Anniversary XX Firestone Walker bottled 10/11/16, shared the bomber with brother David as his gift, poured into snifter glasses. Black pour with light tan head. Light bourbon aroma, roasted malts as well. Bourbon the predominant taste, wine, dark chocolate and roasted malt round the very balanced taste out. Light, sweet mouth feel, somewhat creamy, easy drinking. Overall very good offering, thanks for sharing!

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dukeandduke from Illinois, Jan 06, 2019
Photo of bl00
3.94/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Pours deep brown, ring of tan head surrounds a fine film.
Nose is chocolate, grape, licorice, alcohol.
Taste is chocolate, coffee, honey, graham cracker, orange, grape, cranberry.
Mouthfeel is full, medium carb. No heat, slightly dry finish.
Overall, this is solid, though leans hard towards barleywine for me. I'd love more of the characteristics of the other beers to present.

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bl00 from Pennsylvania, Nov 19, 2018
Photo of Phyl21ca
4.7/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Bottle: Poured a dep burgundy color ale with a large brown head with OK retention and some light lacing. Aroma of light roasted malt and black chocolate notes with some pretty intense woody notes and vanilla and bourbon notes also clearly distinguishable. Taste is a complex and immensely enjoyable mix of woody notes with some vanilla and bourbon, some black chocolate notes with light residual sugar notes and light alcohol warming notes. Body is pretty full with good carbonation with some alcohol notes apparent. Another great anniversary beer from this fine brewery.

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Phyl21ca from Quebec (Canada), Nov 16, 2018
Photo of WunderLlama
4.39/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

My son’ s wedding

Bottle in box with tasting notes

Poured into a glass , deep bark brown. Liquid, one finger taupe foam cap, settles rather quickly to a taupe ring

Aroma is bourbon, molasses , dark fruits, raisins

Taste is dark fruits, raisins, charred barrel, bourbon, complex flavors

Smooth but I get some alcohol , not a burn , but I get some on the taste low sudsing

Good beer

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WunderLlama from Massachusetts, Oct 20, 2018
Photo of Lingenbrau
4.7/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

XX has to be the deepest shade of brown imaginable. It looks clean, and a bit thin as it descends from bottle to glass, and she shimmers with hazelnut highlights. A very thin khaki ring makes itself comfortable around the perimeter, and little effort is put into leaving it's signature on the glass.

As expected with Parabola making up 40% of the blend, this bursts with the stouts goods. Marshmallow, bourbon, and licorice carry the torch for the dark ales contribution, while fig and candi sugar sweetness vouch for the Barley Wines. The oak happily represents the entire cast to these rediculously intoxicating aromas.

First sip, and it all seems to happen so fast! Going back for more and it seems that the barley wines take first wave, as caramel coated dark fruits attack. Molasses comes in next and then a clear shot of straight booze. A touch of black licorice, then sweet pipe tobacco and oak. This thing is layer after layer of flavors. Plain white sugar and a little burnt toast scrapings finish it off, and the masterpiece has made its mark.

In a general sense, one might argue this is a bit thin, but to me it's just right. It has a good amount of heft to it all the while being easy to sip. It's smooth, sweet, and robust. The dry oakiness is the perfect host to the sweet complexion, and it parallels the alcohol warmth long in the finish.

I usually grab two of FW Anniversary ales. One to have right away, and one to save til the following year. For XX, I only bought one. This one. That is my only regret. This is a truly amazing beer, and well deserves to bear the two X's. Cheers.

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Photo of beergoot
4.58/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Deep mahogany body; relatively thin yet dense and creamy head - pretty good for a high ABV beer. Rich, earthy smells; cocoa, bourbon, and dark fruits such as figs. The flavor is lush and totally engaging; caramel and cocoa malt base; subtly sweet with just a twinge of boozy phenols. Thick, chewy, velvety mouthfeel; dense and gentle residual sugars coat the palate; gentle warmth throughout.

My, my! What a pleasure to finally break this bottle out and enjoy the immense sensory pleasures this blended barrel-aged beer offers. I do wish I had someone to share this with, but I don't, but since it's Memorial Day 2018, I'll share this one with the memories of those men and women who have fallen in combat to keep our country free. Truly an outstanding beer and one of the best dark ones I've ever experienced...

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beergoot from Colorado, May 28, 2018
Photo of ajm5108
4.13/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep copper brown that gathers black in the glass, very minimal head & carbonation. Aroma has some warm bourbon notes upfront, buttery toffee malt underneath. More old ale vibe than stout. I feel like the Helldorado asserts itself a ton for only being 10% of the final blend - lots of that bourbon blonde malt a,, over the beer. There is some smokier stout notes as well woven throughout - oak char, tobacco leaf, burnt malt. Those flavors become more dominant as the beer opens up, and it finishes very husky. I didn’t quite love it as much as previous anniversary beers, but if you like more charred / oaky flavors in your stouts you may get more mileage. Mouthfeel is good but not as thick and velvety as previous anniversaries.

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ajm5108 from Pennsylvania, Mar 05, 2018
Photo of stortore
4.4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

22 ounce bottle into a snifter. Had 8/26/17.

Pours a semi opaque, dark amber, with a half inch quickly dissipating head and some foamy lacing. Great aroma. Smells of bourbon, figs, oak, dates, toffee, malt, some chocolate and caramel, light vanilla and molasses. The taste is similar and just as great- bourbon, malt, figs, dates, raisins, caramel, some toffee and vanilla, oak. Smooth, a solid medium to full body, well carbonated.

A great blend, like the return to using a number of beers. Not much more to be said, we all know it’s good.

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stortore from Illinois, Feb 28, 2018
Photo of JayWhitson
4.92/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

At this point was a wonderful experience. Of course I have been drinking for a couple hours now and might be a bit bias. Dark fruits, baker's chocolate, smoke and the unburnt whiff of the old tobacco store in the mall where you bought highly detailed medium sized die cast cars with automatic button opened doors as a child of the eighties. Much fuller and more rounded than XXI. What a wonderful beverage and glad I have a few more for the journey farther down the rabbit hole.

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JayWhitson from Montana, Feb 27, 2018
Photo of NotAlcoholicJustAHobby
4.5/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

L- The beer pours a deep cola brown with a solid one finger tan head. The head recedes to leave a thin ring and spotty lacing along the sides of the glass.
S-An in glass swirl raises some fine oaky bourbon flowing over but never quite covering the chocolatey malt presence.
T- On the palate the chocolate presence is stronger than in the nose. Behind that follows the bourbon and oaky vanilla. Finish is just slightly boozy, but to be expected in the style and for a beer of this strength.
F- Carbonation is light. The mouthfeel is full with the flavors washing over the tongue and coating them. The slickness is a welcome delight with the combination of flavors and allows you to enjoy the beers complexity.
O- Perhaps the finest strong ale I've had to date. If you are lucky enough to find one I'd highly recommend you pick one up to enjoy on a cold night. It's fantastic.

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Photo of zeff80
4.58/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

22oz bomber. Poured out an opaque, dark, dark brown color with a small, tan head of foam. Smelled of booze, chocolate, molasses and dark fruits. Boozy, strong flavors with dark chocolate, toffee, molasses, vanilla and caramel.

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zeff80 from Missouri, Jan 16, 2018
Photo of jakecattleco
4.75/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

The clear winner for my palate and preferences during a XIX, XX, and XXI vertical tasting.

Liked this more than XIX as I found it less sweet, likely due to less Stickee Monkee. Nose is barrel forward, with carmelized brown sugar, raisins, plums, and dark cherries. Taste follows nose but more dynamic, loved it! Thinner mouthfeel, especially for the ABV. Loved the beer, wish i had another in the cellar!

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jakecattleco from California, Jan 01, 2018
Photo of GuyFawkes
4.24/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottled 8/15/16; drank 6/5/17 @ the Yarchives.

Opaque brown/purple appearance.

A rough pour yielded a nice tan head; frothy lace.

Oak, caramel, raspberry, mild booze heat & faint milk chocolate notes in the noes.

Medium thick, sticky mouthfeel.

Oak, raspberry & caramel flavors up front; mild booze heat on the finish.

Fruity with some nice English barleywine vibes; perhaps a bit too boozy still. Maybe 6 months or so before my next sip...

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GuyFawkes from Illinois, Dec 18, 2017
Photo of Damian
4.27/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

Drank from a 1 pint, 6 fluid ounces (650ml) bottle purchased at Craft Beer Cellar, Belmont, MA
Served in a snifter

Review #1450

Nearly clear, dark mahogany appearance. Fairly thin given the high ABV. The liquid was topped by a small, fleeting cap of bubbles that transformed into a tiny collar. Minimal streaky lacing trickled down the glass.

The nose was really rich, sweet and smooth. Toffee and caramel notes dominated. Loads of brown sugar too. Strong vanilla presence. Nougat came to mind. There was a big, sweet, rummy quality, but no bourbon per se. Slightly boozy. Touch of spice and banana bread. Quite intense.

The flavor was very similar to the aroma. Super sweet from start to finish. Almost a bit cloying. Intense toffee and caramel notes. Loads of sweet rum. Big vanilla notes. Nutty in the center. Hint of barrel on the back end and the finish. Touch of booze. Considering the high ABV, however, the alcohol was remarkably well hidden. As the beer sat, the alcohol heat came forward more.

Medium bodied, somewhat creamy mouthfeel. Thinner than anticipated. Slick and smooth on the palate. The liquid contained a medium, fairly subdued effervescence.

Firestone Walker’s 20th Anniversary Ale is a sweet and robust beer blend that reminded me a lot of an English-style barleywine. Although perhaps a bit cloying and one dimensional, this lacked the boozy heat, acrid roast and bitter hoppiness present in some past releases. If you own a bottle, I would recommend drinking this now.

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Damian from Massachusetts, Nov 26, 2017
Photo of Zythophile
4.49/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle Date: 2016
Palate Contaminants: none

The look is very dark brown, yet it does let a little clear light through. There's some fine head, but it goes away quickly. Minimal lacing.

Smell is molasses, lots of molasses. Some cola and dried figs complement the molasses. So many things that are normally sweet, yet it's not overly sugary. The only knocks are a little bit of alcohol heat and low-medium intensity. Still smells delicious.

It tastes like a very fine dark, aged rum. Of course, burnt sugar is the first taste, but there's a subsequent smokiness that's very pleasant. A lot of times for me, smoke is at a sledgehammer level and whoever the maker is doesn't (or can't) restrain it enough, but this is perfectly done. Prunes are the dominant fruit. As it warms up, there's a bit more: raisins, medjool dates, and what I'll call fig paste, but it's mostly in the background. There is some alcohol heat, unsurprisingly, so hopefully that dissipates by the time the remaining bottle gets consumed.

Weight is medium, and the carbonation is well integrated, if slightly coarse. Not much fruit in the aftertaste; maybe say it's "sweet charred barrel" with no unpleasant characteristics thereof.

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Zythophile from District of Columbia, Nov 26, 2017
Photo of rodbeermunch
4/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

XX reminded me of XIV, that kind of stout heavy in the blend kind of year. Pours the darkest of browns. Small lighter brown head on the top in the 1/4" range. Aroma is of brown sugar, roasted malt, and bourbon. Didn't pick up any oak in the nose, despite like, all of the beers being barrel aged.

Taste, its the usual for this anniversary beer. Plenty of sweet booziness, definite sipper. The brown malt and charred black malt jump out, but the sweetness and the bourbon notes really cover up the roastiness of it. Lacks bitterness for those reasons as well. It hides the alcohol decently, but this is still quite the sipper.

You can find vanilla and coconut in there once you find the oak. All that is behind the scenes. Can't forget to mention the caramel and toffee are smooth and of the sweetened variety.

Summary: $20 for a neat blend of sweet barrel aged beers. I'm down to only buying at most, one of these a year, usually try and find it on draft instead. Just not much variety in the blends. They're always good though.

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Photo of BEER88
4.52/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Smells like bourbon with beer in it. Taste is strong oak, vanilla, coconut from the barrel. Also each blend is tasted throughout the drink, when It got warmer the barleywines shined!

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BEER88 from Bahrain, Oct 05, 2017
Photo of Dope
4.35/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a very very dark brown but not quite black. Tall medium brown head that's quite fizzy and extremely loud as it dissipates fairly rapidly. No sign of lacing or retention.

S: Ohhh yeah. Big aroma of oak, bourbon and brandy. Lots of sugary sweetness and some charred malt as well. Burnt sugars and dark fruits. Light vanilla.

T: Huge barrel flavor right off the bat. Bourbon mainly with oak, caramel, vanilla and toffee. Get plenty of dark fruits from the brandy and likely from the barleywine/quad. After that the burnt barley flavors kick in with hints of cocoa and coffee and char. On the sweeter side in general, the sweetness from the barrels covers everything. Sugary in the finish, fading into slightly bitter hop and roasted malt character. Quite a sting of alcohol and plenty of belly warming instantly.

M: Heavy but the alcohol harshness really cuts it and keeps it from being too crazy and syrupy.

O: Really nice blend. I haven't been a fan of some of the anniversary beers but this one was excellent. My favorite since FW14.

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Dope from Massachusetts, Sep 28, 2017
Photo of Vixie
4.34/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Very dark brown beer, almost black, not not quite. Almost no head, just a little lacing.

Wow is how I describe how this smells. Easily one of the best smelling beers I have ever encountered. Lot of chocolate, sweet bourbon, and not sure what else, but it is nice.

The Parabola really makes itself known at first, there is a good amount of chocolate and cherry at first. Can also detect vanilla, toffee, and caramel. The bourbon makes itself felt at the finish, leaving a lingering burn.

Solid and smooth feel to this, exactly what it should be for such a big beer.

Very complex and flavorful beer. So much going on here, one of the best of the anniversary ales I can remember. I wish I could get more of this, beers like this are why I enjoy drinking it in the first place.

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Vixie from Illinois, Sep 03, 2017
Photo of BSiegs
4.77/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Extremely dark brown in color, looks black once in the glass. Ruby around the edges in light. Light caramel colored foam that recedes to a thick ring around the edge of the glass. Fantastic aroma. Powerful bourbon hits first. The beautiful waves of vanilla, toffee, caramel, chocolate, oak. The taste is delicious and complex. Brown sugar, vanilla, dark fruits, toffee, caramel, chocolate, bourbon. The flavors, particularly a dark fruit note, and bourbon linger and leave you wanting more, the finish is one of the best I've had. Medium full body, low moderate carbonation, and a slightly dry finish. Absolutely superb brew.

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BSiegs from Illinois, Aug 05, 2017
Photo of darktronica
4.27/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A great blend this year, one of my favorites, but maybe still a bit too monkee-dominant for my tastes. Very complex and smooth, as always. Parabola is most evident on the mid palate, cherry and brown sugar up front from the Monkee and Helldorado. Bit of a metallic finish when it gets warmer.

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

22 oz bomber into a snifter.

Dark brown-mahogany in color, viscous and oily in appearance. Any attempt at a head is pulled down by its own weight.

Oaky, chocolaty nose, but strangely subdued. Might need to warm a bit. Notes of dates and cherries blend with sweet molasses and a hint of anise. Booze at the edges, but just barely.

The flavors are more pronounced, and layered. Caramelly malts wash over the palate and find way into every nook and cranny of your palate - this one chewy, viscous brew. Decadent desert notes play against oak and booze and a touch of orange rind. The disperate flavor aspects combine to a sweet and boozy finish, which lingers and leaves a coating on your palate between sips.

Not the most complex of the series, but so smooth! The continual blending seems to make the flavors more singular and simply delicious every year. What an amazing brew.

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rand from California, Jul 20, 2017
Photo of clayrock81
4.26/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured a black body with one-finger offwhite head that sticks around for awhile. The aroma is mostly chocolate and roasted malts with some wood, booze, vanilla and hint of dark fruit. Beer is lighter than aroma and oh is the ABV well hidden as the beer is woody smooth, creamy, milk-stout like, delicious chocolate sweetness with hints of vanilla and other sugary sweetness with clean finish and really mild for a "heavy stout".

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clayrock81 from Florida, Jul 12, 2017
Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.44/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This one pours a dark, dark brown, nearly black, with a small head, and no lacing.

This one is 40% Parabola, so you definitely get that dark fruit/chocolate/cookie dough/oak thing you get in Parabola on the nose, along with port, caramel, maple, and brown sugar.

These anniversary blends are always so complex, and this is no exception. It's quite malty, with chocolate, caramel, and toffee leading the way there. There's a really big coffee flavor here, without there actually being coffee added. There's very little bitterness, just sweet deep malty goodness.

This is medium bodied, a definite sipper, with a warming quality but no outward booziness.

This isn't quite the monster 17 or 19 were, but it's still a really fantastic blend and a super tasty slow sippin' beer.

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GreesyFizeek from New York, Jun 27, 2017
Firestone 20 - Anniversary Ale from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 96 out of 100 with 315 ratings