Firestone 21 - Anniversary Ale | Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

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Firestone 21 - Anniversary AleFirestone 21 - Anniversary Ale
266 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: 266 |  Reviews: 82
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
4.74/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | 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.

 1,775 characters

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.

 1,807 characters

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.

 995 characters

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.

 764 characters

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.

 1,629 characters

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

Photo of dafla67
4.5/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of stephenjmoore
4.37/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of jbertsch
4.25/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Photo of Lone_Freighter
4.77/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Oh boy, I feel lucky tonight, hells to the yeahs!
Bottle dated 10/20/2017.
From 802 BWS, Burlington, VT.
This was poured into a snifter.
The appearance was a thick dark brown almost black color. Just a film of a little white semi-foamy head slid off delicately. Mild stringy sticky lace glazed the glass.
The aroma was a superb malty sweet sticky blend of milk chocolate, dark chocolate, toffee, vanilla, biscuit, vanilla wafer, wood spice, butterscotch, and a touch of allspice. Light dark fruits.
The flavor was moderately sweet but wanted to punch in a slight spicy woody barrel content. Aftertaste leads with the woody spicy barrel with a sly dryness, noticeable toffee/caramel/vanilla.
The mouthfeel was about medium bodied with a good sipping quality about it. Spicy woody barrel tried to distract but lead to sly stickiness crossing my tongue. Carbonation felt fine, somewhat, maybe started dissipating a tad. ABV felt fairly close to what was projected. Good sticky dark fruity to woody spicy finish.
Overall, an absolutely wonderful strong ale, American or English, eh, seemed like a good cross between the two.

 1,122 characters

Photo of Dreynolds1808
3.86/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

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

Photo of whitenads
4.44/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Photo of gshak
4.32/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Photo of Hayley_86
3.75/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of deac83
4.25/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

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Firestone 21 - Anniversary Ale from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 4.32 out of 5 with 266 ratings