Bravo Imperial Brown Ale | Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Bravo Imperial Brown AleBravo Imperial Brown Ale
436 Ratings
Bravo Imperial Brown AleBravo Imperial Brown Ale

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

Style: American Brown Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 13.20%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
A single-hopped strong brown ale brewed using the hop variety Bravo. This beer is then aged for up to a year in circa 1990's used Heaven Hill bourbon barrels.

Added by rayjay on 05-31-2007

Bros Score:
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Ratings: 436 |  Reviews: 124
Reviews by Davihaw:
Photo of Davihaw
5/5  rDev +16.8%

More User Reviews:
Photo of SomethingClever
4.11/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

12 oz bottle poured into pint glass

A: Very little head light khaki in color settles to a film. Body is a slightly murky caramel with some floaties suspended in it.

S: Soft bourbon, caramel, toffee, vanilla, a little nuttiness, light roasted malts.

T: Lots of bourbon, toffee, caramel, light roasted malts, some light nuttiness.

M: A little thin some nice alcohol slickness and a light cling.

O: This beer really does taste exactly as it implies it's a BA brown ale. Unfortunately, brown ales are that exciting to begin with, when you barrel age it mostly all you get is the barrel characteristics. That being said Firestone's Barrel characteristics are divine.

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Photo of PicoPapa
4.25/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle. Pours a dark brownish copper color with no head. Some lacing. Boozey, woody aroma. Oak, vanilla, caramel, toffee, brown sugar, and molasses. The taste is Bourbon with brown sugar, molasses, wood, and earth. Caramel and brown sugar finish with more Bourbon. A big sweet with a big alcohol presence. Light floral hops notes. Lightly carbonated. Anything that comes in a box by Firestone Walker is worth buying and this is no exception.

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Photo of Floydster
4.79/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served in a snifter at the Blue Palms Brewhouse in Los Angeles for seven dollars, this beer is not retired, reviewed 11/14/08 from notes, it is an imperial brown ale and not a stout, it has sherry notes and not bourbon, and it is amazing

A-Deep dark brown with not much light shining through, though there is some red around the edges, miniscule 1/8 inch beige head that settles extremely quickly, minimal retention, no lacing
S-Sherry, hints of whiskey, grains, butterscotch, brown sugar, milk chocolate roasted nuts, dark charred malts, mild coffee, vanilla, oak, butter, cream, and tons of booze
T-Tastes starts off with lots of sherry and other mixed booze flavors, sugar and nuts made up the middle and provided some great texture, finish had more hard alcohol mixed with a great vanilla taste, this was served a little cold at first, once it really warmed there was a nice buttery cream taste in the middle that joined the malts, other breweries need to take a hint from Firestone and start using sherry more often, there is a bit of a port wine feel by the end but there is a nice brown sugar flavor, some cocoa that is fairly soft joined the mix and this was enjoyable to say the least
M-Hot with booze, sticky, spicy, and malty mouthfeel, medium bodied that was a little on the thinner side, nice low to moderate level of carbonation, taste lingers nicely with a bite
D-Alcohol is right up front and not hidden well at all but somehow this goes down with ease, light on the stomach for what it is, could have a few more glasses for sure, so so smooth

Being that it is the base beer of Firestone 11, I expected good things and I got great instead, this is better than the blend by itself in my opinion, if this stuff is bottled along with Parabola, the hype machine will be in full force, mark my words, such a great balance of barrel characteristics and a full body, would love to drink again, highly recommended

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Photo of DanGeo
3.19/5  rDev -25.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.25

Photo of tbryan5
4.33/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Photo of JakerLou
4.4/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of petewheeler
4.69/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Photo of tigg924
4.35/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours hazy, dark brown in color with 1/4 inch head. Taste is golden raisin, vanilla, oak, and toffee. Medium-heavy bodied, moderate carbonation, very sweet. Very good like all of the Firestone Walker imperial beers I have had. Maybe not as complex as others, but delicious nonetheless.

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Photo of aquazr1
4.55/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Photo of ledouge
3.93/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Photo of chossboss
4.27/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Photo of Franziskaner
4.14/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Dark brown in color with some haziness from the bourbon barrel aging. There's a fingernail of beige around the rim and three quarters of the top. There's a lot of oak and vanilla in the nose. I'm also smelling light malt and caramel. The taste is very much oak and vanilla forward. Bourbon and caramel reveal themselves at the back of the palate. The mouth is thick, sticky, chewy, and alcoholic.

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Photo of DrKarl
4.3/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Photo of 01001111
4/5  rDev -6.5%

Photo of rack0flamb
4.17/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of kevwcamp
4.5/5  rDev +5.1%

Photo of InfernoBoss
4.49/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of biboergosum
3.95/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle (2017 vintage), in a brown cardboard sleeve - another dear offering up here, but that's what special occasions are for, I guess.

This beer pours a mostly clear, dark red-brick amber colour, with one skinny-ass finger of weakly puffy, loosely foamy, and mostly just bubbly tan head, which leaves a few instances of not long for this world ice floe lace around the glass as it quickly melts away.

It smells of harsh Bourbon barrel (sweet boozy rye and acrid vanilla, essentially), bready and doughy caramel malt, a lesser biscuity toffee thing, muddled and oily bar-top nuts, chocolate-covered raisins, and some rather tame leafy, weedy, and sauced-up floral green hop bitters. The taste is gritty and grainy caramel malt, sweet toffee squares, a thankfully more restrained Kentucky whiskey astringency (vanillan wood, heat, and generic spice), mixed black Mediterranean fruit flesh, more indistinct nuttiness, bittersweet cocoa powder, and a still well understated earthy, musty, and dead leafy 'verdant' hoppiness.

The carbonation is fairly laid-back in its barely-there frothiness, the body a solid medium-heavy weight, and sort of smooth, as that Bourbon booziness has a thing or two to say right about now. It finishes on the sweet side, the alcohol, malt, and vanilla/chocolate really carrying the lingering day.

Overall, this is certainly a complex big-boy offering, with the barrel character glad-handing at best, and obtrusive at worst. While I appreciate the chance to try this one, when I can get a mid-shelf bottle of actual Bourbon for the same price, it begs the question - why would I? Oh, yeah. Beer.

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Photo of WickedBeer
4.71/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

An awesome find and a thank you to my buddy Chris for picking it up for me!

Poured into a standard Goblet glass.

Look: Medium/Dark brown with a deep crimson hue. Poured about 40 degrees and got basically no head of foam, small bits of thin lacing to start.
Smell: very boozy, strong but incredible bourbon notes with complimentary notes of raisin and fig. Nice hop notes in the finish.
Taste: amazing profile here.. rich notes of raisin again, familiar notes of sherry with a great toasty finish that had a nice bourbon burn in the finish. As the beer warmed, kept getting richer and richer bourbon flavors and even a subtle emergence hoppiness in the finish.
Feel: medium body, not too thick but what you'd expect from an imperial brown. Sticky, sweet, and very satisfying.

An incredible beer! Fairly new to the West Coast, Firestone Walker is much more abundant and I was able to branch out to some amazing beers. I highly recommend, and will be keeping my eye out for other Vintage Firestones!

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Photo of TheSixthRing
3.79/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

2017 Release

Appearance - Pours dark brown with a tinge of auburn. Tan, quarter finger width head that dissipates rather quickly, leaving behind a mostly barren surface and a thin ring around the edge of the glass. No lacing.

Smell - Notes of toffee, caramel and chocolate stick out immediately. Lesser raisin and vanilla. Light spice and brown sugar. Hints of oak. Subtle bourbon heat.

Taste - Flavor hits with chocolate, spice and a bit of raisin upfront. Sugary caramel. Hints of vanilla and toffee creep in mid-taste. Mild bourbon and oak come through near the finish. Much of the flavor culminates into a soda-like quality in the finish, leaving a bit of cola sweetness and chocolate lingering in the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel - Medium-bodied with low carbonation. Equal parts of silky and sticky upfront before with an odd, watery finish.

Overall - I can see why this was used as mostly a blend base for many years before it finally got its due as a bottled release. There's some decent flavor going on here, but it feels incomplete. Much like Velvet Merkin, I don't much see the point of barrel-aging a brew that doesn't seem strong and/or complex enough to benefit from the process. The overall sugary flavor profile also doesn't do it for me.

 1,252 characters

Photo of seavercm
4.09/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Photo of SoCalBeerIdiot
4.5/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of Newbeergeek1
4.29/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Didn't check the ABV until after a small swirl in my mouth and a swallow. I knew it was heavy with the ABV but in all honesty the brew has been done very well and a lot more tastes came through than just the high ABV that can be overwhelming if not done well. Really nice sipping beer and I am really glad this didn't come in a bomber!!!!

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Photo of nkersten
4.2/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewed with the style of Imperial Brown in mind. Pours a medium murky brown with red hues, small mocha white head with good lacing and retention for a 12.5% beer. Smell is bourbon up front, vanilla oak, caramel malt and a bit of bitter pine hops and alcohol in the background. Taste is sweet bourbon, coconut and vanilla barrel characteristics, caramel malts, a bit of tannic bitterness and alcohol heat in the finish. Where is the bravo? Mouthfeel is medium/heavy body and a light carbonation, sticky and a bit coating. Drinkability is good for the style, but if a brewery is going to showcase a super high alpha acid hop in a beer, make it a little more noticeable. I did enjoy the beer and would rate it pretty high among the imperial brown ales I have tried.

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Bravo Imperial Brown Ale from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 4.28 out of 5 with 436 ratings
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