Bravo Imperial Brown Ale | Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

BA SCORE
94
outstanding
96 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score
Send samples
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
Reviews:
96
Ratings:
334
Avg:
4.3
pDev:
7.44%
 
 
Wants:
50
Gots:
101
For Trade:
11
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 96 | Ratings: 334
Photo of TheSixthRing
3.79/5  rDev -11.9%
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 terpfan00
4.74/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Look - dark brown like Mahogany. Almost looks like a whiskey.

Smell - very strong bourbon, caramel and toffee with oak undertones.

Taste - raison, malty burnt finish. This was sooo good after it warmed up a bit - definitely drink this at room temp.

Feel - a little syrupy which kind of makes this a sipping beer.

Overall - get this beer! I thoroughly enjoyed this. Got another one to keep in the cellar for a couple of years.

 433 characters

Photo of CHickman
4.05/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2017 Vintage, pours very hazy mahogany brown color with a 1+ finger beige colored head that fades average time and leaves good spotty lacing. Didn't expect the head to last since it was aged in oak bourbon barrels.

Smells of bourbon, toffee, oak, peat moss, brown sugar, dark fruits, roasted grains and dark rum. Overall sweet smelling with the bourbon and booze dominating and suppressing any hops in the mix.

Tastes sweet and boozy up front, with the bourbon leading the charge followed by toffee, caramel, brown sugar, toasted grains, molasses, vanilla, oak barrels, peat moss, nutty notes, faint maple syrup, dark fruit and brandy. It comes off very strong and flexes all 13.2% ABV muscles, but the earthy, tea leaf aspects manages to dial it down a bit and not let this singe my throat. I didn't get any hops in the flavor either and it was basically a malt bomb, but the box states it was "brewed to showcase barrel flavors with massive bourbon barrel notes that morph as the beer warms in the glass." With that mission statement then FW has hit the mark.

Mouthfeel is smooth and on the thin and watery side with way too much booze and burn at this stage. It's like drinking a shot, it will make the weak cough and gasp - or at least I think it would. The malty sweetness as it fades is enjoyable but the boozy burn lasts too long and is more like actual bourbon than a barrel aged beer.

Overall it was very good and very tasty, but just too hot at this stage and unbalanced as I was hoping for some more hop bite to cut through the sweetness and malty dominance. Hoping my other bottle ages well and brings out a more refined brew after aging it. Definitely worth seeking out to try as it's an impressive brown ale for sure.

 1,735 characters

Photo of FriedSlug
4.24/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A clear brown beer with the aromas of toffee, caramel and bourbon. The taste is sweet and boozy with nice burnt toffee and caramel notes. There is a decent amount of carbonation but the head left quickly and no lacing left behind. Really fantastic big brown ale.

 262 characters

Photo of BEERMILER12
4.39/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a mahogany color with 2 fingers of head that fairly quickly fades down to a thin ring of lace around the glass

S: Bourbon and sweet malt up front along with some vanilla and oak. Lots of barrel influence here

T: Follows the nose. Starts off with bourbon, vanilla, and sweet caramel maltiness and slowly picks up some oak and fruitiness from the alcohol. Some earthiness also makes its way in there. Oak and bourbon linger into the finish

M: Medium bodied with moderate carbonation. Fairly smooth

O: A very nice brown ale that packs a punch. Carries the 13.2% with ease, which makes it quite dangerous even with the new smaller format. Definitely worth checking out

 677 characters

Photo of jakecattleco
4.44/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle into a tulip glass.

L: Pours mahogany with suspended grey chunks, little head with no retention and no lacing.
S: Great nose, vanilla, raisins, bourbon, and perhaps some subtle caramel. Best part of the beer for me.
T: Follows the nose well, just a bit less dynamic and more sweetness than I typically like, a little heat from the ABV. Finishes with a subtle lingering caramel sweetness and ethanol.
F: Thinner bodied, low carbonation, tingling tongue from the ABV. Slick and still easy drinking for such a big beer.
O: Greatly enjoyed and evident why it's found its way into the Anniversary blends. Probably grab another to cellar....for science and all.

 682 characters

Photo of Sparty1224
4.42/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Brief Review:

O: Similar barrel character to a lot of the other FW Vintage releases. Very clean and earthy bourbon notes. A touch boozy at first, but once you get used to it, it's nice. Mouthfeel is nice and pleasant. The Imperial Brown underneath is pretty unrecognizable though, barely any hops I can detect. Almost seems like a BA Barleywine or Old Ale. Drinks under its ABV as well. A decent entry in the series, but not a standout like Parabola or Sucaba.

 461 characters

Photo of Dragginballs76
4.56/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - Pours light semi transparent caramel color with thin white head. Not much lacing at all.

Aroma - Excellent aroma, lots of oak, bourbon, vanilla, caramel, raisins and figs.

Taste - Amazing flavors, sweet caramel, vanilla, bourbon and oak. Plenty of dark fruit, plum and raisins every taste stands out.

Feel - High side of medium, slick little heat from the alcohol. Drinks more like a BBA Barleywine.

Overall - Such a well done beer, amazing taste smells wonderful so well balanced.

 498 characters

Photo of arizcards
4.44/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Picked up a 12 oz bottle from the Craft Beer Quick Stop on Wednesday for $9.99. Released initially in February but was lucky to catch a surprise release.

Beer poured brown with a small off white head that dissipated quickly.

Nose is vanilla with hints of bourbon barrel, very nice.

Taste is vanilla and dark fruits over a light bourbon accent. Dangerously drinkable as the alcohol is not prevalent in the flavor profile. It is a bit sweet but not cloying at all.

Mouthfeel is full and very smooth and satisfying.

Overall this is a very drinkable brew, probably the easiest drinking of the Proprietor series. Seek this brew out, definitely worth the price of admission!

 679 characters

Photo of clayrock81
4.03/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured a brown body with minimal head and lace ring around glass. The smell is comprised of dark fruits and a bit of breadiness along with some malty goodness and hint of booze (really tame). Sticky, medium body with great balance of dark fruits like figs and possible raisins, a caramel/toffee malt bite that is sticky thick but is easy drinking thanks to the barrel aging and finishes so clean with a little bit of vanilla/booze sugary sweetness. Not a big fan of brown ales but this one is well worth having.

 514 characters

Photo of BucannonXC5
4.31/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Type: 5-oz. draft
Glass: Tap and Handle tulip
From: Tap and Handle in Fort Collins, Colo.
Price: $5
Purchased: March 23, 2017
Consumed: March 23, 2017
Reviewed as: American Brown Ale
Misc.: N/A

Had been wanting to try this and this was the first time I saw it on tap (or maybe even in stores). Kind of crazy that I was having it in Fort Collins instead of San Diego, but oh well. Expecting good things like all of their other big boozy beers. Rather quick review.

Poured a reddish brown amber murky color with 1-to-2 fingers of khaki white head. Light bubbles coming up underneath. Good lacing. Very good retention. (Sight - 3.75)

Smelled boozy creamy bourbon, toffee, caramel, oak, vanilla, buttery malts and Heaven Hill whiskey (thank you Helldorado). (Smell - 4.50)

Tasted boozy bourbon, oak, vanilla, toffee, tobacco and leather. A tad hot. Would love to sit on a bottle of this. (Taste - 4.25)

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

This was delicious as I would have thought it would have been. Want some more. (Overall - 4.25)

4.31 | 96 | A

 1,108 characters

Photo of HipCzech
4.27/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Serving: 12 oz bottle (2017 vintage), poured into a 9 oz Libbey Embassy snifter.

Smell: Rich vanilla, bourbon oak barrels, toffee and subtle tobacco hints.

Taste: Malty & fruity: burn caramel, dates, brown sugar, vanilla, oak and slight leafy hop bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Medium body, silky smooth with gentle carbonation.

Overall: Very barrel forward - a big, malty brown base delivers nicely complex bourbon barrel notes.

 425 characters

Photo of TBoneJones
4.35/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

I came across this Firestone "boxed bottle" displayed next to some KBS bottles on a counter of 1-limit singles. Pours a nice clear brown-ruby, with lively head and spotty lacing. Medium-rich body appearance.
Smells like vanilla oak barrel and sweet malts, nicely so. A distant hint of cherry is there.
Taste is a burning mixture of vanilla and bourbon barrel hops. Sweetness/ candied molasses balance out the sharpness of the burn. Very good to sip this slow, although it feels even stronger than the 13.2 % abv. it touts.
Feel is medium-thick and smooth throughout. Somewhat sticky/ a syrupy feel in the aftermath. Alcohol burn.
I like imperial brown ales these days.
The easy comparison I had in mind coming into this bottle was Prairie's Okie. This one's right up there. The flavorful vanilla-laden malts and oaky burn are worth the visit. I'm sure another one to age a year or two wouldn't hurt.

 904 characters

Photo of Prager62
4.34/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A 2017 vintage 12oz. bottle poured in my Firestone tulip glass.

Look- Pours a thin medium colored caramel brown leaving a couple centimeters of light tan foam. It slowly settles revealing a trace amount of lacing. Floaties can be seen as well.

Smell- Bourbon, sweet caramel, dark fruit, oak and alcohol.

Taste- Slightly sweet caramel/bourbon, toffee, raisins, figs and oak. There's a floral like quality to it in the finish before the alcohol bite hits.

Feel- Thin and very slick with considerable alcohol bite in the finish.

Overall- If I didn't read the label I'd swear this was a barrel aged barleywine. It's very fruity with slightly floral undertones that come sneaking out before the alcohol hits your pipes going down. This is probably the biggest and baddest barrel aged brown ale I've had. I really enjoyed it and will have to snag a couple more as it surprisingly still sits on the shelves in Illinois.

 922 characters

Photo of dpgoblejr
4.52/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Golden color, thick pour and sweet nose. Reminds me more of a quad than a brown but that's just nitpicking. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this barrel aged offering.

 166 characters

Photo of PicoPapa
4.25/5  rDev -1.2%
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.

 446 characters

Photo of tkdchampxi
4.5/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had on draft. Put two bottles away for aging. Can't wait to see how they improve.

FW has nailed another one! Great base beer that reminds me a bit of a quad or an American Strong Ale with a lot of nice barrel richness and sweetness from the bourbon. I've had a lot of Heaven Hill aged beers and those flavors really work well together. As good as anything else in FW's barrel series

 388 characters

Photo of SawDog505
4.39/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a 16 oz Chimay goblet Vintage 2017. Pours a beautiful mahogany with a two finger off white head that leaves behind spotty lace and slowly settles settles into a thin layer of bubbles.

Smell is brown sugar, sweet bread, cherry wood, vanilla, figs, toffee, caramel, biscuit grain, and some warming alcohol.

Taste follows brown sugar, fig, sweet bread, vanilla, and toffee upfront leads to cherry wood, vanilla, caramel, and bourbon lingers on the palate well after each sip and warms your entire body.

Mouthfeel is about medium and I wish it was a bigger, plenty of life especially for its large 13.2% ABV, dry for sure, and a sipper that will warm you up on a cool evening and make your entire soul relax and stop stressing.

Overall I am glad I chose the second time around to review. This beer is so complex, it literally makes me smile because it is so different and delicious. Glad I have another squirreled away and may grab a few others.

 960 characters

Photo of ThrewRedButter
4.58/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

L - Beautiful mahogany red with a murky body and finger of almond-colored head

S - Bourbon, oak, char, toffee, caramel, nutty,

T - Huge bourbon and char. Caramel, toffee, bitter hop juice, raisins, plums

F- Heavy body with carbonation to move it along. No trace of that 13.2%

O - Not a typical Brown Ale, but a delicious BA beer with tons of flavor.

 355 characters

Photo of rmpic82
4.1/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The best way I can describe this beer, sans a rigid ASTMO review, is to call it a FW Anniversary ale - light. It has some of that gorgeous chew that one can taste in FW Anny ales, but it just doesn't have "next level" stuff. Lighter and less ASTMO.

 250 characters

Photo of ZebulonXZogg
4.17/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

L: Poured into a Dogfish tulip, cloudy brown pour with a ring of tan bubbles. No lacing to speak of and it appears to have some sediment floating around.
S: Bourbon aroma is noticeable as soon as you open it, caramel, toffee and oak are present.
T: Dark fruit, raisin and plum. Toffee, caramel, burnt sugars and wood.
F: Medium body, minimal carbonation and a definite warming effect.
O: I'm not very familiar with brown ales, so I wasn't sure what to expect. This beer reminds me of Sprecher Commando in appearance, aroma and taste. I guess I'll sit on the other one for a year and see what happens. Good stuff, if a bit pricey.
One hour later:
So I opened a Sprecher Commando, poured it into a similar glass. Two peas ina pod.

 731 characters

Photo of darktronica
4.26/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Very strong caramelized sugars, rich maltiness, and nutty character. Quite boozy and intense barrel oak, as one might expect from the high ABV, but still a smooth sipper thanks to its moderately-low carbonation. Warming picks up some plum and fig notes that counterbalance the nuttiness.

 287 characters

Photo of larryarms847
4.09/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Pours a dark and murky brown with a reddish hue and a plump finger of slightly off-white foam.

A breath of sweet caramel and molasses up-front followed by dark fruit, vanilla, oak, and bourbon.

Dark fruity character comes out more in flavor while the sticky sweet caramel flavor cuts through and is washed away with an oaky and bourbony finish.

Full-bodied, low-medium carbonation, rich, warming.

Overall, a stellar brew and nice sipper.

 441 characters

Photo of Lingenbrau
3.47/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This is such a hard beer to review as I feel it in no way, shape or form resembles any kind of brown ale. I must say I thought this beer was delicious, but scored as I would a brown ale! If this were marketed as an English Barleywine, the score would be much higher:

A: Pours a brilliantly clear deep mahogany with a thin off white head that disappears almost completely. Doesn't look very brown at all to be honest.

A: Smells of vanilla, bourbon, caramel, and oak mostly. Hints of chocolate and buttermilk biscuits follow. Again, not getting much of a brown ale characteristic at all just yet.

T: Sweet. Very, very sweet. Vanilla, caramel, figgy pudding, burnt sugar, a hint of oak, and some alcohol.

F: Smooth, yet sticky. Rich, a good amount of alcohol warmth and just a touch of bitterness. Minimal carbonation.

O: Hard to see why they call this a brown ale. To me, it borders an English Barleywine but a bit less bitter. Don't get me wrong, it's a very good beer! Just confusing I guess.

 999 characters

Photo of soze47
4.35/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Light brown body lets a lot of light through. Not too much head - seems slick in the glass. Notes of sweet caramel, vanilla, and nice tempering singe from the alcohol on the nose. Heat saves this one in a huge way, as does the body. This is a powerful beer and if it didn't hit the palette in just the right way, it would be a mess. Thankfully fw has a handle on things. This beer is a bit of a roller coaster

 409 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Bravo Imperial Brown Ale from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
4.3 out of 5 based on 334 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.

    Subscribe