Firestone 21 - Anniversary Ale
Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Firestone 21 - Anniversary AleFirestone 21 - Anniversary Ale
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Style:
Strong Ale - American
ABV:
11.8%
Score:
94
Avg:
4.34 | pDev: 6.45%
Reviews:
105
Ratings:
322
From:
Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
 
California, United States
Avail:
Retired (no longer brewed)
Wants
  8
Gots
  67
SCORE
94
Outstanding
Firestone 21 - Anniversary AleFirestone 21 - Anniversary Ale
Notes: 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
View: Beers
Reviews: 105 | Ratings: 322 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by tbone1384:
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tbone1384 from Wyoming

4.25/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Apr 14, 2018
More User Reviews:
Photo of spark3148857
spark3148857 from Ohio

4.32/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours very dark brown-not quite black-with a one finger light tan head. Aroma is vanilla and bourbon but the really surprising thing is the amount of rum that is shining through. The rum separates this vintage from previous examples (would love a bottled Rumdorado or Rum Parabola). The spirits pretty much overwhelm the rest of the nose. The palate is pretty similar with bourbon, coconut, rum soaked dark fruits, and sugar cane. The mouthfeel is too light for a blend of Firestone Walker ales, clearly a result of the amount of Merkin in this blend. I love the unique element that the Rum adds but not my favorite vintage.

Dec 23, 2017
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BucannonXC5 from California

4.21/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Type: 12-oz. bottle
Glass: AleSmith Barrel-Aged Reserve 10-oz. snifter
From: BevMo in Grossmont (La Mesa), Calif.
Price: $12.49
Purchased: Dec. 4, 2017
Consumed: Dec. 31, 2017
Reviewed as: American Strong Ale
Misc.: 2017 edition; No bottled on date

Picked this up on Dec. 4, 2017 along with a BCBS. Try to have their anniversary beer every year and looking back I reviewed 17 (4.31), 18 (4.25) and 20 (4.19), but the best one I had according to my Untappd was 19. Still not sure I like the 12-oz. bottles for all their boozy stuff. I see the point, but the price has gone up dramatically per ounce now compared to the 22-oz. bombers. Looking online, this year’s blend is 42 pct. Velvet Merkin (4.01 for me), 18 pct. Parabola (4.47 for me), 17 pct. Stickee Monkee (4.57 for me), 14 pct. Bravo (4.31 for me) and 9 pct. Helldorado (4.25 for me). From brewmaster Matt Brynildson, “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.” Let’s go!

Poured a dark brown-to-very dark color with one finger of khaki frothy head. Could see a few bubbles slowly creeping up the sides of the glass. Decent spotty lacing. Very good retention. (Sight - 3.75)

Smelled a nice mix of chocolate and bourbon right away. Specifically got milk chocolate, caramel, toffee, bourbon, oak, vanilla, leather, figs, honey, molasses and even rum. Not sure which of those blends would have rum, but I was getting just a hint of it. Got even better as it warmed. (Smell - 4.50)

Taste was not quite as good as the nose. First thought was this was a tad bit thin. Got milk chocolate, toasted oak, warming bourbon, leather, sweet caramel, toffee, maple syrup, honey, vanilla, figs, oaky rum barrel (more than nose), raisin and molasses. Got a little bit of everything here from the blends from what I could tell. Was not tasting 11.8 pct. ABV. (Taste - 4.00)

Full body. Sticky texture. Average carbonation. Long, warming finish. (Feel - 4.50)

Just another solid anniversary offering from when of the best barrel-aged breweries out there. Excellent. (Overall - 4.25)

4.21 | 94 | A-

Jan 02, 2018
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spoony from Colorado

3.81/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

From a boxed 355 ml bottle (dated October 20, 2017) to a snifter.

A-A normal pour produces a short, grey-tan head that fades immediately to a few soapy bubbles and a film on top. The beer beneath is deep, dark mahogany brown and almost opaque. No bubbles to be seen.

S-Since the plurality of the beer is Velvet Merkin, I'm surprised that the aroma is heavy on the rum notes like raisin and syrupy sweetness. There is some chocolate in there, but I'm sniffing more molasses and fruity sweetness than coffee or cocoa.

T-The taste mostly follows the smell. There is a waive of sugary, rum-like sweetness at first with notes of raisin, caramel, and light molasses. I keep thinking Aunt Jemima syrup as I sip. The mid-palate and finish trend towards sweet, but there is a leafy bitterness that creeps in. I suspect this bitterness is from the alcohol (not hops) but the impression is a medicinal and a bit jolting.

M-The body is not huge, but I did not feel it was too thin, either. Carbonation is mild and despite the sweetness, the beer was not overly sticky.

O-This is not my favorite Firestone Anniversary beer (that would be number 18). The surprisingly strong rum notes feel out of place and the bitter, leafy finish did not leave me with a good impression. While it may not live up to its predecessors, it is complex and the beer makes for a decent winter warmup.

Dec 23, 2017
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Brolo75 from California

4.49/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle poured into a tulip

A: Pours dark brown, mahogany, almost black but some light comes through around the edges, tan colored head with no retention, light lacing, low carbonation, looks a little thin compared to other Anniversary Ales I've tasted.

A: Classic Firestone bourbon barrel notes with toasted brown sugar, toasted coconut, bourbon, oak, black licorice, roasted malts, espresso, dark chocolate, not aromatic but has lots of complexity and depth, surprisingly, no alcohol on the nose.

T: All the notes in the nose are present in the taste along with a touch of rum that adds another layer of depth to taste, no bitterness, finish has bourbon, toasted coconut and brown sugar, oak, rum, it's on the sweet side.

M: Full bodied, syrupy sweetness, dry finish, low carbonation, velvety smooth, probably the smoothest and easiest drinking Anniversary Ale I've tasted.

O: The only negative I see in this beer is the appearance, it pours thin but it's deceptive as it's full bodied, lots of depth and complexity in the aroma and taste, alcohol is well hidden, will probably pick up another bottle or two to cellar.

Dec 05, 2017
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jzeilinger from Pennsylvania

4.24/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Review updated on 1-8-19. Thx SawDog505 for the bottle!

A - Dark, clear, burgundy colored pour with thick toffee colored creamy lacing.

S - Dark fruit aroma - figs, dates, chocolate, a little nutty, and boozy.

T - Very boozy from start to finish. spice, rum, dark roasted toffee, alcohol, some dark chocolate, followed by booze, booze, and more booze.

M - Big medium to full bodied, viscous, lip smacking sticky, some heat on the way down.

O - Very solid but preferred some of the earlier vintages of this beer.

Jan 21, 2018
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ArrogantB from Colorado

3.77/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

12oz bottle $13.99 (yikes). First off, the fact that they went from $22 22oz bottles to $14 12oz bottles means the cost went up 16%. Thanks for nothing Duvel. Couple that with a decrease in quality in both the anniversary series and Parabola means I am probably not going to be a customer for long. This beer was kind of thin, must be the velvet merkin. It has decent barrel flavors but the thinness just doesn;t support them very well. Glad I only bought one bottle.

Dec 03, 2017
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andrewh995 from Arizona

4.49/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark black with a tan head. Smells of bourbon, coffee, milk chocolate, booze, and vanilla. Tastes of toffee, roasted malts, coffee, light chocolate, bourbon, wood, alcohol, and sweet vanilla. Tons of flavors I can’t place as well. Just a very complex beer. Medium-heavy body with medium carbonation. Overall an incredible blended beer. My first FSW anniversary.

Nov 18, 2017
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Lone_Freighter from Vermont

4.77/5  rDev +9.9%
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.

Jul 06, 2018
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cosmicevan from New York

4.43/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I fricken LOVE these anniversary beers and am one of the few who appreciates the smaller formats, that said...since the NE juice ipa craze I have mostly stopped even browsing in beer shops since I always have more than I can handle of fresh hops thanks to all the great brewery releases and a cellar of goodies from yesteryear. Believe it or not, I want looking for a single of hopslam (for old times) and saw one of these hanging on a shelf so snagged it. Couldnt waot to open it, so here we are, a day later...

Enjoyed from FW glencairn. Really nice blend this yr. The velvet merk shines as you'd expect as this ratio of almost 1/2. If I could ask for one thing it'd be to.dial.up the stickee monkee but that's just cause it's my favorite of the FWs. Super soft and suoer smooth...silky even. Love it.

Jan 29, 2018
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broadway848 from New York

4/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dec 04, 2020
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Knapp85 from Pennsylvania

4.24/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Jan 21, 2018
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AgentMunky from New York

4.23/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served in a wine glass at a Firestone Walker beer dinner at Bareburger. From notes. Reviewed 19 February 2018. Mostly Velvet Merkin (42%)
4/4.75/4.25/3.5/4
Opaque red-brown.
Smells like raisins and brandy. Deep and sweet.
Chocolate and light rummy notes deepen into a burnt, nutty, malty sweetness like cookies or brownies. Finish is dry and cola.
Mouthfeel is oddly spritely and light.
I'm glad they sell this in smaller bottles. Maybe I can actually buy and drink one now.

Mar 04, 2018
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Jrush666 from Nevada

4.9/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 5

I was lucky enough to stumble across this at Lee's Liquor, on the craft beer selection wall hidden back in the back behind some delicious Firestone parabolas. I was a little surprised when I poured it since I thought it was an ale. I am a stout guy parabolas one of my favorites, that beer is incredible I am so saddened that I cannot get any more please again sometime in the near future recreate this nectar of the god special ale.

Aug 22, 2019
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smithj4 from New York

4.3/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Feb 05, 2018
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Skabiski from Maryland

4.33/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Dec 24, 2017
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ultrasrs from Illinois

4.34/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Mar 18, 2018
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IrishColonial from Texas

4.25/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Nov 29, 2017
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impending from California

4/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dec 20, 2017
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dertyd from California

4.16/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

The beer pours out a dark brown/black color, with 2 fingers of super creamy khaki colored head------------- the aromas are of whiskey, chocolate and oak, the aroma is a little subdued compared to years past---------- the flavors are of sweet dried cherries, whiskey and vanilla, the beer has a thin to medium mouthfeel finishing with a light roasted bitterness------------- overall this beer was delicious, it started out sweet with dark fruit and vanilla finishing with a roasted coffee like bitterness, only flaws were the subdued aroma and thinner mouthfeel, but I love Theese anniversary beers-

Jan 07, 2018
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larryi86 from Delaware

4.45/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Thank you y2kawakami for this
12 oz bottle poured into a tulip

A- Black with a two finger little mocha head

S- Cocoa powder, bourbon, oak, vanilla, caramel, some toffee, molasses.

T- Cocoa powder, bourbon, toffee, caramel, vanilla, bourbon, oak, roasted malts.

M- Smooth, medium to full body.

O- Another good anniversary beer from Firestone Walker. Definitely very Velvet Merkin heavy, not my favorite barrel aged beers from them, but the other beers in this make it better.

Apr 16, 2018
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ovaltine from Indiana

4.5/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pour yields a beer that is so dark brown, it is practically black, but it’s not, with a tan head. Plenty of light leaking around the edges. The nose is all about the oak, with big vanilla notes accompanied by a luxurious caramel and chocolate aroma that is making me drool.

The taste is the definition of smooth - I’ve never had a beer this big (11.8% ABV) that didn’t have a boozy component. This one doesn’t - it’s the oak, it’s velvety chocolate, it decadent caramel, it’s evryth BUT booze. Just an extraordinary beer, IMHO, given the number of components they had to meld.

Dec 14, 2017
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SawDog505 from New Hampshire

4.41/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a 16 KBS Snulip glass not sure when it was bottled and does that actually matter? Pours a beautiful mahogany, with a 2 finger khaki head that leaves a little thin lace behind, with pretty good retention and settles into a thin ring of bubbles around the sides of the glass.

Smell is caramel, toffee, brown sugar, dates, charred cherry, some vanilla oak, and a healthy dose of rum.

Taste follows Worthers candy, caramel, brown sugar, dark fruit, cherry, vanilla, and oaked rum.

Mouthfeel is medium wish it was a little thicker, mild carbonation, a little dry as your would expect, and a sipper but do to its complexity goes down faster than I would like.

Overall this stuff is excellent as always, the nose is absolutely crazy good, a little flatter and thinner than I was hoping for, but world class just the same.

Dec 28, 2017
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Prager62 from Colorado

4.47/5  rDev +3%
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.

Aug 20, 2018
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Sulty from Massachusetts

4.24/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Dec 26, 2017
Firestone 21 - Anniversary Ale from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 94 out of 100 with 322 ratings