Firestone 21 - Anniversary Ale | Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

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Firestone 21 - Anniversary AleFirestone 21 - Anniversary Ale
276 Ratings
Firestone 21 - Anniversary AleFirestone 21 - Anniversary Ale

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

Style: American Strong Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.80%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
Velvet Merkin (42%)
Parabola (18%)
Stickee Monkee (17%)
Bravo (14%)
Rum Helldorado (9%)

"This year’s Anniversary beer is a magical blend of five components. Chocolatey, mild Velvet Merkin takes the lead setting the stage full of lush malt and barrel driven texture, yet tempered alcohol strength. The rest of the components fall perfectly in line, backing Velvet Merkin up with luscious caramel complexity and a creamy malt symphony. The final component adds a new twist – the rum barrel-soaked and lean Helldorado makes its Anniversary debut, bringing a fresh splash of island-spice to a ridiculously balanced barrel-aged brew. This is one of those times that the whole truly equals more than the sum of its parts. I couldn’t be happier with the result."
-Brewmaster Matt Brynildson

Added by ThatsThatDude on 08-22-2017

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Ratings: 276 |  Reviews: 88
Photo of Greywulfken
4.13/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Dark-colored blend of a bunch of their ales as described in the commercial description... I had their 19th Anniversary Ale and I loved it, but this I found uninspiring... Had about a year on it, being their 2017 release and this being 2018, and maybe the flavors kinda muddled... Seemed like dry barrel wood impressions took center stage - various chocolate and fruits were muted and indistinct... Medium body... I guess I enjoyed it, but wasn't "excited" about it...

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Photo of SaxmanRick
4.46/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Photo of Damian
4.11/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Drank from a 12 fl. oz. (355ml) bottle purchased at Harvest Wine & Spirits, West Hartford, CT
Served in a snifter

The dark mahogany body was topped by a frothy, finger-tall, khaki colored crown that slowly fell to a thick, bubbly mass. A lasting collar encircled the liquid. No lacing, except for a few droplets after each sip.

The aroma was pretty underwhelming initially. Somewhat malty and sweet. Subtle caramel and toffee notes. A dry, slightly powdery yeastiness was also apparent. Fairly boozy. Bourbon and rum notes were detectable. With time, the sweet toffee and brown sugar notes came forth. Bit of roastiness too.

The flavor profile was similar to the nose but punchier. Malty and sweet with big caramel and toffee notes. Dark fruits came through in the center. Slightly nutty. The beer finished nicely with notes of oaky bourbon, rum and a lingering dark fruit and toffee-like sweetness. As the beer warmed, the dark fruit character and the overall sweetness intensified. The booze came forth a bit more as well.

The mouthfeel was creamy, smooth and supple. Thinner bodied however for a beer of this magnitude. The liquid contained a larger bubbled, fairly aggressive effervescence that turned light and fluffy on the palate. By the drink’s end, the liquid left a slightly sticky film on my lips.

I purchase Firestone Walker’s Anniversary Ales every year and usually find them pretty disappointing. Twenty-one, however, may have been one of the least impressive to date. Moving forward, instead of simply tweaking the percentages of the individual components, I would really like to see this beer utilize a completely new recipe. The current approach seems to have run its course.

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Photo of Nichols33
4.35/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of JamFuel
4.29/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours almost black with fine, light brown foam.

Smell is sweet and rich, with notes of vanilla, oak, chocolate, coffee, golden syrup and a hint of peat.

Taste is intense and a bit raw and boozy. Notes of rum,vanilla, chcolate, burnt sugar and molasses, and a robust bitterness.

Mouthfeel is medium, well carbonated. Expected more body...

Overall, a very good beer that smells fantastic. The taste is a little bit too raw and it's a bit to thin though.

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Photo of ElGallo
4.38/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Photo of Shantzak
4.34/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Just a great great beer. I love the diversity of the rum barrel, but cannot decide whether it’s takes away from the balance of the blend or adds another flavor dimension. Either way this beer is a gem...

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Photo of Beerbom
4.28/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Photo of BlurryVisi0n
4.51/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served in a snifter glass from the bottle.

Appearance: Deep dark cloudy amber which comes off almost opaque with medium bubbles to the body. I have almost no head with a ñn aomost vigorous pour. At most rising tenth of an inch off the body with an off-white head.

Smell: Light toffee with hint of whiskey and wood. Has an even more appetizing scent when you let it warm a bit.

Taste: Complex brew right from the start, medium bubbles with a sweet butterscotch feel and hint of whiskey. Very addicting taste which is hard to put down.

Mouth: Super sticky with a deep stickiness and deep malts. Finished almost perfect. Hard to be patient with this beer because of the fact it taste so good.

Overall: Might be the perfect beer to end the night but God honestly after this long day I will squeeze one more. Incredible brew and a mistake if I see and leave it on a shelf. Always in a glass...Salud.

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Photo of beergoot
4.38/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Dark ruby hued body; thin yet lasting head. Deep, rich aroma of roasted grains and sweet, dried dark fruits; plums and dates; woody barrel-aging notes. Booze and cocoa flavors; bittersweet chocolate; anise and licorice. Heavy body; cross between velvety and oily; alcohol warmth with a deep, muted sweetness overall.

A very interesting blending of Firestone Walker barrel-aged beers of varying styles. Overall, a rich and complex beer, exuding dark warmth and dried fruit flavors such as figs and dates with a steady boozy undercurrent. Intriguing and enticing.

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Photo of BAsbill
4.3/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Photo of Theogre83
4.5/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of RobinLee
4.4/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Photo of vidisad
4.35/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of CHickman
4.77/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Pours opaque black looking with a 1 finger khaki colored head that was full of tiny bubbles, dissipating slowly and leaving good spotty lacing. Strong ales don't have sexy looks to me in general, so this was on par for the style.

Smells of tobacco, caramel, toffee, dark rum, bread pudding, brown sugar, floral hops, light vanilla, oak, faint molasses, a bunch of dark fruits, sweet boozy malts and alcohol. It really smells like a barrel aged barleywine, with no real distinction between the bourbon barrels and rum barrels used. It gets better as it warms and is basically perfect IMO.

Flavor is stupidly complex with a malty tug of war between the blends and barrel influences. I really like how the sweetness is minimized by the alcohol, which allows the bready and oaky flavors to let the vanilla, brown sugar, toffee, and then the hints of cinnamon, peppery spices and piney notes bleed through. It comes off metallic and oxidized at times and the booze brings heat even a year after bottling, but it's crazy complex adding burnt coconut like a girl scout cookie, lightly roasted notes, raisins, dates and bread pudding that had caramel on top baked with a torch. I love bread pudding so perhaps that happy place subconsciously blends with this XXI happy place, but either way the flavors are similar. Even though this is a malt bomb it had balance with a bunch of hoppy and grassy notes which bring a nice level of bitterness.

To me the rum barrels added more sweetness and dragged down the burnt coffee and roasty accents of prior anniversary blends, but this was still an outstanding beer. Firestone Walker Anniversary Ale's are always world class, and while the alcohol may still be a bit hot right now, I still consider this an excellent beer worth every penny.

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Photo of Prager62
4.47/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

A 12oz. bottle purchased in June after they started distributing to Indiana. Poured in a twelve ounce tulip for the review.

Look- Pours a cola colored brown tinged with mahogany leaving a creamy thin cap of light tan foam in it's wake. No lacing to speak of, but there is a thin oily residue clinging to the glass.

Smell- Bourbon, figs, dates, vanilla and damp oak.

Taste- An odd but pleasant twist of bourbon and rum followed by dark chocolate covered cherries, vanilla, toffee, burnt caramel, dates, figs and oak.

Feel- Creamy and silky smooth. A little heat in the finish. Wonderful for such a big beer.

Overall- I've been a fan of the Anniversary series since they launched in Chicago with XIV. While they're always different, they never disappoint. This one comes in at or near the top for me. I'm glad I have one more for the colder months ahead.

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Photo of WesMantooth
4.67/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

A 12oz bottle into a snifter

It is a dark cola color with just a tint of mahogany red. A little bit of a cola like fizzy, tan head too that receded quickly into a fine soapy ring. It is very opaque.

The aroma is fantastic and you can smell it from 2 feet away. The first thing that I noticed is a smell reminiscent of Bourbon County Barleywine. A real smooth bourbon and oak with candied/caramelized sugars. There is also a noticeable rum, chocolate, roasted dark malt, and just a hint of soy sauce.

The flavors really follow and live up to the aromas. Rich dark fruits, caramelized brown sugar, toffee and bourbon up front, then some oak, sweet chocolate and oats, and a slightly bitter char, a subtle hop bite, and some nuttiness. Lingering vanilla and canided sugar with a touch of chocolate.

Every subsequent drink, especially as it warms, becomes even more integrated and doesn’t follow any particular order. The only seemingly consistent thing is the lingering flavor spiced rum, which also becomes more noticeable in the nose.

The body is excellent. Enough of an oatmeal stout like creamines to keep the body from being more thin like Helldorado is to me. Just a touch prickly from what seems like a hop toward the end. If nitpicking, I would take just a little more heft.

I tried to avoid the breakdown until after reviewing, but the brown ale was definitely hidden in the background and I couldn’t pick it out so I checked and sure enough, Bravo makes up 14% of it. I think it may actually be the thing that ties it all together too. I can’t stress enough how wonderfully balanced this blend is. I’m surprised the scores are not higher. I always thought Clown Shoes did a real nice job at blending, and Jackie O’s might be the second best around, but this is on another level.

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Photo of The-Adjunct-Hippie
4.43/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle 2017 traded from connecticutpoet. Gorgeous box and inserts. I don't usually consider packaging materials with appearance but here I have to. Beer is poured into Crane 10 oz snifter. Molasses color, thin fingernail of head.

Nose is sticky, bourbon-riffic, and acidic. Really fantastic. I get hot caramel, burnt brown sugar, bourbon barrel, cinnamon, hot fudge, vanilla, and fall spices.

Flavor is likewise incredibly succulent. Heavy molasses presence here, with sharp licorice, hot caramel topping, vanilla, spice, bourbon, slight coffee, and faint faint piney hops towards the finish. It's like a really bomb-diggity barleywine.

Feel is about at the perfect level of carbonation, it would be really easy to under-carb a heavy beer like this, props there. Nice sticky, hot finish that lingers well after it's in your belly.

Overall, another absolutely fantastic groundbreaking anniversary beer from FW. If you can trade for it and haven't had it, snap it up. It's delicious.

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Photo of InfernoBoss
4.23/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Photo of thoglund
4.29/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Photo of Dsimenson
4.46/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Photo of GreesyFizeek
3.89/5  rDev -10%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

This one pours a dark-ish golden brown color, with a small head,

The aroma on this one is a little reticent, but there's some nice sweet caramelly bourbon, chocolate, toasted oak, and light coconut.

This ione feels kinda light to me weirdly- that must be the Velvet Merkin at 42% of the blend. It's always kind of been a pretty bland and light stout to me. There's some nice chocolate, though, and the barrel character is also nice- I just expected a bit more punchiness here.

This is medium bodied, a little bit thin, but with a creamy mouthfeel that goes down super easily.

This is probably my least favorite of the various Anniversary blends I've had, back to 15. It's still good though- it's Firestone Walker after all- always a favorite brewery of mine.

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Photo of Harrison8
4.43/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a very dark brown that nears black with a finger of khaki foam sitting atop. This pour comes from a 32oz growler filled 2 days ago, and sealed with the regular cap and electrical tape. It was stored in the fridge for the duration of the 2 days. All that to say, head formation may differ out of a properly stored bottle or straight from the keg. Head retention is good. Aroma is caramel, toffee, and chocolate right up front, giving it a welcoming and warming aroma. Roasted and toasted malts add some darkness to it, with bourbon and rum adding to the complexity. As a whole, the aroma is complex and dark, and inviting of a sip. A sip provides a smooth and creamy display of milk chocolate, caramel, and toffee. A hint of coffee in the back adds a dab of bitterness, with roasted and toasted malts further grounding the sweet opening notes, and establishing a good balance. Bourbon and the subtle burn of good rum round out the flavor profile into a complexity of dark, sweet, and lightly boozy. Mouth feel is creamy and smooth. It keeps this nearly 12% complex beer drinking smooth and surprisingly slippery. It has a medium thickness/viscosity which further aids in turning sips into gulps. Overall, a sublime ale with loads of quality notes crammed into each whiff and sip. Certainly not the darkest option from Firestone Walker, nor the most complex, but this one bodes well for those seeking a big hit of quality flavor without burying the tongue in excess.

Served from a 32oz growler into a 12oz snifter. Growler was filled two days ago and stored in the fridge upon filling. Sealed with a cap and electrical tape.

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Photo of Patches826
4.25/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of GOBLIN
4.43/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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Firestone 21 - Anniversary Ale from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 4.32 out of 5 with 276 ratings