Bravo Imperial Brown Ale | Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

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Bravo Imperial Brown AleBravo Imperial Brown Ale
490 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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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 490 |  Reviews: 147
Photo of denver10
2.73/5  rDev -36.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Pours brown with a dirty khaki head. Nice lacing left on sides. Aroma is kinda nondescript, sweet with a little bourbon and oak. Flavor starts of with some raisin bread and vanilla, then huge coconut kicks in, and bourbon and its oak. A fuller mouthfeel, minimal activity. Overall, probably good for what it set out to be but I found this to be cloyingly sweet. By a few sips into this one it was just too much for me. Didn't finish my bottle.

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Photo of rayjay
3.12/5  rDev -27.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

(from notes) From cask at the Firkin Fest at the Triple Rock Brewery. Possibly one of the beers blended into the 10???

Deep brown, yet strangely transparent, much like the 10. No carbonation (cask, duh) and a fine looking, if not menacing looking, beer. Major bourbon screaming off the as in you can practically see fumes coming off. Butterscotch, black malts, and acidic coffee, and higher alcohol notes. So packed with whiskey that it's difficult to drink, almost like a boilermaker, where you drop a shot of whiskey in a beer. This was where the beer when a bit over the top for me. Too sticky to be a cask ale, this is simply too flat with too much residual sugars. Definately worth seeking out for the barrel aged lovers, but far from my favorite brew here today. The beer won this round, although I put up a fight. Cheers!

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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 EB1
3.25/5  rDev -24.1%

Photo of SoCal_Matt
3.25/5  rDev -24.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Photo of benzalman
3.34/5  rDev -22%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Photo of ThisWangsChung
3.34/5  rDev -22%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

Pours a somewhat clear dark ruby color. The head is damn near non-existent - it's simply just a thin off-white film. Retention? Lacing? Nah.

The prevalent aromas of caramel, milk chocolate, and brown sugar are not only vibrant, they make the ale esters seem more assertive - I'm picking up a ton of raisin, cherry, fig, and currant. Also assertive is the bourbon barrel characteristic. Waves of vanilla, marshmallow, oak, and coconut show up. After opening up, a bit too much burnished toffee shows up - otherwise, the nose is as complex and alluring as expected.

The flavor, though...I'm not entirely convinced. Bourbon shows up on the front of the palate, offering notes of oak, vanilla, and coconut. The middle is where the base shows up, and is where it stumbles. Caramel, molasses, toffee, and brown sugar are intense to the point where it smothers the fruity ale esters that would have given it more than a few dimensions. The Bravo hops don't really register. For 13%, I expect more depth and complexity. Even worse, it doesn't seem terribly balanced in terms of how the handful of notes come together.

Give credit to the mouthfeel, as it hits a nice medium between being fairly rich and not being overbearingly heavy or sweet. Carbonation is gentle - this one is more reliant on oak tannins to dry the palate. It's a bit boozy, but not overly so, and has a fairly clean feel for over 13%.

Subjectively, the molasses-meets-caramel attack offered doesn't appeal to me personally. But objectively, I find it lacking in both cohesion and depth, and the ever-tantalizing barrel notes Firestone Walker are known for are overshadowed. Worth a try, but not one I'd ever seek out.

3.34/5: I can't quite say "bravo" toward this one

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Photo of Rammed96
3.4/5  rDev -20.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Photo of FirstInLine
3.43/5  rDev -19.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

On draft, clean brown with minimal head. Smell is harsh and boozy, bourbon is definitely there, in a big way. On taste, the alcohol presence is overwhelming. There are hints of the base beer, washing my tongue and relieving my palate with sweet brown sugar.

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Photo of Lingenbrau
3.47/5  rDev -18.9%
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.

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Photo of PG2G
3.5/5  rDev -18.2%

Photo of Kaveman
3.5/5  rDev -18.2%

Photo of nodder
3.5/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Photo of earljones199
3.59/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of Jtrigonis
3.68/5  rDev -14%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Photo of rgk3
3.69/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Photo of Bouleboubier
3.7/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

(12 oz bottle, 2017 vintage... poured into a tiny tulip glass, sipped over 1 hr)

L: rosy chestnut-colored liquid, murky with chill haze and/or sediment, clearing up a bit over time, but not completely... little bit of foam on pour, collapses to thin collar

S: brazil nut, light caramel malt, subtle hint of molasses and vanilla... alcohol notably mellow - beer could be mistaken for 5-7% abv instead of 13+... overall, muddy definition, any discernible depth obscured under a soupy fog

T: certainly a brown ale... woody overtone, hint of burnt sugar... curiously subdued bourbon barrel character on the palate (i.e. vanilla, coconut, etc)... low bitterness, ... no stand out flavors fanning out or lasting through the finish

F: smooth, quiet flow... dull around the edges, little carbonation down the center... remarkably little heat

O: okay... the barrel character and some of the brown ale flavors seem to clash or cancel each other out - not living up to its potential?... I would be open to trying this on tap once

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Photo of TheWolf
3.72/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Photo of Bp123
3.72/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Photo of oriolesfan4
3.73/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.74/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

On tap at Firestone Walker Barrelworks in Buellton, CA.

Pours a hazy orange-brown with a foamy tan head that settles to wisps of film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace slowly drip into the remaining beer on the drink down. Smell is of malt, brown sugar, toffee, caramel, citrus zest, wood, and alcohol aromas. Taste is much the same with malt, brown sugar, and citrus zest flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of hop and wood bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer that is tasty but has a slightly better set of aromas in my opinion.

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Photo of hypnotoad1
3.74/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Photo of leschkie
3.75/5  rDev -12.4%

Photo of GRG1313
3.75/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

I like Firestone Walker beers - really. However, this is simply a good and decent and better than average brown ale - there is nothing special about it. Well made, high quality and tastes good. Certainly my opinion is that my 3.75 expresses that opinion. I am a firm believer that the ratings are grossly inflated because it's FW and comes in a box and they make you believe that it's "special." Good for them. Shame on us for the inflated score.

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Photo of AleHunter805
3.75/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

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Bravo Imperial Brown Ale from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 4.28 out of 5 with 490 ratings