Bravo Imperial Brown Ale | Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

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Bravo Imperial Brown AleBravo Imperial Brown Ale
BA SCORE
4.28/5
Outstanding
506 Ratings
Bravo Imperial Brown AleBravo Imperial Brown Ale
BEER INFO

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

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

BEER STATS
Ranking:
#863
Reviews:
154
Ratings:
506
pDev:
7.24%
Bros Score:
0
 
 
Wants:
54
Gots:
123
Trade:
12
HISTOGRAM
 
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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 506 |  Reviews: 154
Reviews by farrago:
Photo of farrago
3.77/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A strong pour barely creates a light tan froth across the surface, gone quickly, likewise no real lacing. The liquid is an orange rust tinged brown, bright but there’s some much particulate floating inside you are kind of shocked it didn’t gunk up the bottle neck coming out. Smooth nose of caramel, toffee and milk chocolate, the oak toast is present without making boozy, golden raisin and fig fruit scents, witch hazel, leaves an impression that aging has mellowed it. In the mouth it’s medium-bodied and here the lack of volume lets the booziness take over. Nutty with oak char and a pervasive sourness, recalls the sort of dill notes you get from American oak. Some apple to pear but stays in the fig, date, raisin range. Takes on a bitter dark roast coffee edge towards the finish. Given how high octane it is you can consider it balanced, yet what it does lack is a kind of jazz ensemble interplay, there’s just a relentless sameness about it. Leaves this imbiber thinking that a year of aging was maybe not the best decision. (2017 edition)

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More User Reviews:
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 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 Kegatron
4.59/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at The Stone Brewing Bistro & World Gardens on 11/13/09 during their Firestone Walker 13th on the 13th event. Served in a snifter.

Pours a deep, somewhat clear, dark brown (just a wee bit of light is peeping through) with a thin covering of off-white foam. There is more of lightish look to the retention and lacing but the flare-up has a nice moderate look to it. Bourbon really comes out boldly here in the aroma, with some deep notes of burnt molasses. Fortunately, I'm also getting a get bit of the brandy too, as it gives off more of a dry and fruity feel. The Brown Ale is under there somewhere (with roast and caramel coming out the most) but the barrel blend seems to add most of the deep sweetness to this. Earthy tannic wood and some vanilla add a slickness to the nose.

The taste is pretty similar to the aroma, with burnt maple syrup and char mixing in with a flush of fruity cherries. Notes of vanilla and oak weave mingle in, giving this smoothness. This is just so sweet and sticky, with the flavor moving effortlessly in and out of each other. The finish matches this, being warm, syrupy, and sugary on the lips. The mouthfeel is full bodied; with a bit of a heavier prickly carbonation up front, giving way to a slick and more viscous feel underneath. This definitely wears it's ABV on thee ole sleeve, having an assertive beef to it, but luckily that anticipated alcohol sting never comes. Really steady sipper here for the size.

I'd really like to see more of these bourbon and brandy blends done, as I love how each brought a different type of deep sweetness to the profile, yet they still played off each other brilliantly. Really tremendous stuff here that was definitely up there as one of my favorites from a pretty outrageous night of Firestone Walker beers.

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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 superspak
4.3/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

5400th review! 12 ounce bottle into tulip glass; 2017 vintage, bottled on 12/7/2016. Pours lightly hazy/cloudy deep ruby red/light copper/brown color with a 1 finger fairly dense light khaki head with good retention, that reduces to a thin cap that lingers. Light spotty soapy lacing clings around the glass. Aromas of big caramel, brown sugar, vanilla, toffee, cream, bourbon, coconut, toasted oak, brown bread, and nuttiness; with lighter notes of milk chocolate, cocoa, coffee, raisin, cherry, fig, date, and oak/toasted earthiness. Damn nice aromas with great balance and complexity of dark/bready/light roasted malts and bourbon barrel notes; with great strength. Very minimal booziness in the aromas as it warms. Taste of huge caramel, brown sugar, vanilla, toffee, cream, bourbon, coconut, toasted oak, brown bread, and nuttiness; with lighter notes of milk chocolate, cocoa, coffee, raisin, cherry, fig, date, and oak/toasted earthiness. Light-moderate herbal/woody bitterness and bourbon/oak spiciness on the finish. Lingering notes of caramel, brown sugar, vanilla, toffee, cream, bourbon, coconut, toasted oak, brown bread, nuttiness, light chocolate/dark fruit, and oak/toasted earthiness on the finish for a while. Incredible complexity, robustness, and balance of dark/bready/light roasted malts and bourbon barrel flavors; with an awesome malt/bitterness and bourbon/oak spiciness balance; with no cloying/astringent flavors after the finish. Light-moderate dryness from bitter/spiciness, lightly increasing through the glass. Medium carbonation and medium-full body; with a smooth, moderately creamy/bready/grainy/tannic, and lightly sticky/chalky balanced mouthfeel that is great. Alcohol is well hidden; a small pleasant warmth with mild barrel booziness lingering after the finish. Overall this is an incredible barrel aged imperial brown ale! All around fantastic complexity, robustness, and balance of dark/bready/light roasted malts and bourbon barrel flavors; very smooth and easy to sip on for the huge ABV. Perfectly balanced malt and barrel flavors. Great complexity and nicely rich, without being too heavy for the style. Very similar to an American barelywine, but more roasty like a brown ale. Great barrel presence without being overly boozy, tannic, or drying. A highly enjoyable offering.

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Photo of dave_ackbar
4.31/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Look is reddish brown, little paler than. Normal brown ales.
Smell is so nice, hints of caramel, vanilla, and a great burn of bourbon.
Taste is smooth with the nice hint of bourbon, with a good burn.
Feel is smooth and warm.
Overall very good. I’d definitely have again.

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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 chuckgietzen
4.16/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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 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.

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Bravo Imperial Brown Ale from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 4.28 out of 5 with 506 ratings