Bravo Imperial Brown Ale | Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

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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

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Reviews: 79 | Ratings: 276
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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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Photo of lupercmda
4.71/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Hard beer to rate as in style is it a brown ale or a ba beer. So here goes. Nice toffee brownish color with small head retention. Nice malty taste with a toffee lingering taste. Man is that bourbon smooth on the back end. Maybe the best brown ale I have had.

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Photo of 4DAloveofSTOUT
3.95/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 fl oz bottle sealed with FSW pressure cap.
poured into HF wine stem.
2017 vintage
Appearance: Dark brown body with a garnet red hue. Off white head that pours a full 3 figners tall and quickly fades down to thin cap.

Smell: Bourbon, caramel, toffee, vanilla, and dry oak. This is a very barrel forward aroma. Figs, dates, and cream soda. Smells like this might be a little hot and boozy.

Taste: The flavor is just like the aroma. Big barrel in this beer. Much of the same barrel characteristics and flavors that are found in the aroma. Finishes with dry oak, spicy bourbon, and a light earth hop bitterness. It has some big booze factor in the flavor.

Mouthfeel: medium body with moderate carbonation. Boozy. Not really thick body, but appropriate for a brown ale that is over 13%.

Overall: The barrel takes over this and does not let the brown ale's base beer come through with those great toasted and nutty malt notes that a brown Ale showcases as a hallmark of the style. This one needs a little time to mellow as it barrel character is a bit over the top as a fresh beer.

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Photo of andrewh995
4.28/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Wow, now that is some flavor. Tons of toffee, bourbon, some darker fruit, and molasses. Great beer, but I would only get it again if I could find it for cheaper than a $10 bottle.

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

Look: Translucent amber brown with a thin eggshell head. Very mild activity.

Smell: Rich toffee, bourbon, dates, honey, oak, molasses, and raisins. Sticky sweet on the nose.

Taste: Sticky toffee pudding soaked in bourbon. Honey covered dates and caramelized raisins add a distinct fruit note.
Tawny port flavors blend with a gorgeous oak to round out the finish.

Feel: Decadent and sticky. Big bodied. Finish is semi dry. Medium alcohol throughout.

Overall: A big decadent dessert beer. It's a Firestone Walker barrel aged beer need I say more? Excellent stuff.

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Photo of HopHunter19
4.74/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

A - nice brown crystal clear translucent color to it, off white head sticks forever. Bottle and packaging are awesome in usual fw fashion
S - big toasted coconut, vanilla, molasses, caramel, milm chocolate, like a milky way in beer form. Not very much hop presence --> in the best way possible!+++
T - taste follows the nose. Big toasted coconut. Vanilla, molasses, caramel. Milk chocolate. Again very sweet and candy like.
M - heavy mouthfeel. Alc covered. Aftertaste same as taste.
O - this is a world class beer. Like all the FW barrel.aged beers it is.miles ahead of the rest. Awesome.

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Photo of Rimbimhoot
4.3/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: Very dark brown with some ruby tones around the edge. Light beige head
S: Brown sugar, dates, fig, bourbon, coconut, caramel, raisin, milk chocolate, oak
T: Dates, bourbon, caramel, oak, light alcohol, light roast, coconut, dark chocolate, light bitterness
M: Medium and sticky but light enough to easily drink by yourself, dry character from the oak
O: So glad this is in a 12 oz format! The aroma has some great bourbon drenched Raisinet character and the alcohol presence is pleasant and not overpowering in the taste. Great complexity in the smell and taste and possibly one of the best BA brown ales I have ever had.

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Photo of Jimmys
4.68/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

12 oz bottle. which is fucking awesome. bottled 12/06/16.

pour is decently clear, a deep ruby hue. head and lacing are a bit underwhelming. smell is incredibly inviting. bourbon, maple, caramel, warming aroma. I smell brown sugar. flavor is very sweet with a lot of bourbon flavor combining with malt. moderate carb on a very full body. reminds me a lot of an English barleywine and that is a big reason I am such a fan.

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Photo of pmlondrigan
4.24/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

I'm not really sure how to rate this beer. Namely because I haven't ever rated an imperial brown ale and I don't know what I am supposed to "rate" this against. So here goes. Brown, its a brown ale and the beer is brown, it has some red highlights when the light hits it. The head dissipates super fast, not too surprising for a beer of this strength. It is not an ugly beer, its pretty, but it also isn't gorgeous. The aroma is familiar for a firestone beer. Their barrel program produces great results and this beer is no different. Soft white oak, soft vanilla, bourbon, a fain caramel note, and a clear hit of alcohol heat. Surprisingly clean flavor, not chewy, not cloying, not sweet. Clean. There is a grassy note, there is a barrel presence, there are notes of vanilla, caramel, and toffee. The taste of this beer is the champion. The mouthfeel is somewhat blah. I was looking for chewy, look elsewhere. It is in fact, somewhat thin, but perhaps for an imperial brown ale that is appropriate? I find this beer to be superb.

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Photo of TrojanRB
4.25/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Deep, dark brown, with a half finger of creamy head with nice lacing. Lots of floaties.

Smells of charred wheat toast, vanilla, some barrel

Tastes of toffee, some dark dried fruit (maybe plum)

Smooth, very little carbonation. Not overly sweet, the alcohol is present, but pleasant

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Photo of denver10
2.73/5  rDev -36.5%
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 DBosco
4.15/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2017 vintage 12oz bottle, Deep cherry brown which has a very thin creamy head (even though there is a good bit of carbonation bubbling). Aroma of coconut and bourbon. Tastes much the same. Mouthfeel is smooth with a lot of alcohol warmth. Overall, a pretty good bourbon barrel aged beer.

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Photo of Beginner2
4.27/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

An experiment at FW's10th anniversary, they tweaked it and it emerged as an extremely potent, but balanced brew.
Looks will not win beauty contests, murky and no lace.
Smell probably will win contests. First the vanilla/brewers' sugar is prominent, then the dried fruits emerge and finally all the sweetness is moderated/cut by the bourbon/booze.
Taste is similar, but the smooth bourbon comes through strongest, lingers. Very little carbonation, by me good.
Overall, a great beer to sip all evening.
I just wish I could find this 2017 again so I could age it.
Its prototype recipe is listed as one of the "1001 Beers To Drink Before You Die" and Bravo Brown deserves this recognition.

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Photo of metter98
4.21/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A: The beer is rather hazy brown in color. It poured with a short off white head that left a thin layer of bubbles covering the surface and a thick collar around the edge of the glass.
S: Light to moderate aromas of bourbon from the barrel aging are present in the nose.
T: Like the smell, the taste has strong flavors of bourbon along with hints of chocolate malts.
M: It feels medium-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This beer has strong flavors of bourbon but hides its alcohol very well.

Serving type: bottle

Note: 2017 vintage

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Photo of cjgiant
4.06/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 2.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Okay, this thing poured flat as hell. I tried and couldn't get a head. Clear amber brown would be enticing if there were some froth atop it.

Nose is coconut-leaning bourbon barrel are. Nicely sweet, but with the base beer providing just a little toasty background note.

Taste is light but sweet, vanilla toffee with a bourbon boozy accent. Expected notes that are nicely put together. Toffee, bourbon vanilla, tickling carbonation, date, light brown sugar, and just a little whole grain toast deep back in there.

This is no more a brown ale than Founders Sumatra or Palo Santo. It's a quad without the thick to syrupy nature that style can bring. Lighter than expected for the ABV, the alcohol isn't hidden, but isn't dominant, either.

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Photo of Davepoolesque
4.24/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Toasted coconut, dark chocolate, some toffee, hint of vanilla and earthy malt. Semi dry, oaky finish. Definitely retains the essence of the brown ale base. Lower, balanced sweetness. Medium feel. Pretty good.

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

The beer pours a very nice looking creamy tan head that dissipates fairly quickly but still leaves a nice ring around the inside of the glass. The beer itself is an interesting look. It's brown like other brown ales (Shocker!!!) but the texture is a lot more thin (probably due to the barrel aging) and clear than your average brown ale. The appearance is definitely better than your average brown ale.

The smell and taste are both fantastic. In fact, this is probably the most complex beer I've ever had from FW. The smell has a nice strong combination of a smooth bourbon and vanilla note that complement the sweet caramel and honey note with a very light roasted note hidden beneath everything. The taste is the same but much more complex than it originally let's on. The beer taste starts with a strong bourbon and vanilla note but with the honey being just as strong as well. The hop is there but it's very subtle, buried beneath the other notes. Eventually, those notes give way to a more burnt sugar and burnt wood with a moderately sweet alcohol note in a slow finish.

The feel is good. While it's unusual to have a brown ale with an extremely thin and smooth body, it comes off fairly well and sacrifices very little of the weight normally associated with a brown ale. The carbonation is extremely delicate, which complements the thin body fairly well.

Overall, this is a fantastic beer and most likely worth more drinking fresh than aging it. I do not normally like brown ales (and by extension imperial brown ales) but Firestone has definitely brought out a fantastic beer with its strong notes that complement and mix with each other perfectly. As I mentioned before, this is definitely one of the more complex and subtle beers I have ever come across. If you can still find it and enjoy malty beers, it's definitely worth splurging on.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
4.49/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

best brown ale ive had in ages, huge thanks to claystation for bringing this one over. if i understand it correctly, this was brewed only to be a thread in various blends over the years, and is finally coming out on its own for the first time. they have been hiding a real treasure! soft reddish brown color far lighter than i had it in my head that it might be, looks barrel aged though, sort of thick, a little hazy, and not a ton of bubbles, looks mature, steadfast. it smells like heaven! the first thing i get is very high quality bourbon, vanilla forward, charcoal, and honey. a bit of a lighter malt base, not even chocolatey really, maybe some light cocoa powder type, but mild for sure, and seemingly more focused on a caramely sweet malt side of things, and letting the barrel do a lot of the work, which it sure does. heavy bourbon in the flavor too, equal parts whiskey and wood, with vanilla and brown sugar right behind it, a dusty dried cocoa complexion, a little toasted nuttiness, sweet grains, and just a pleasant warming alcohol dose to finish. its hard to imagine its this strong, there is no sign of that kind of aggressive heat, really mellow and enhancing, not forced. its so smooth and complex, lighter for a brown but so much more flavorful than most, a different slice of the malt spectrum here, almost like it was built for these special barrels, its genius. weird its named after a hop, as i didnt get a whole lot of that in here. i couldnt get enough of this one, and admire the price point as much as i admire the beer. absolutely decadent!

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Bravo Imperial Brown Ale from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
4.3 out of 5 based on 276 ratings.
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