Bravo Brown | Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

35 Reviews
no score
Send samples
Bravo BrownBravo Brown

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

For Trade:
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50  | nextlast
Reviews: 35 | Ratings: 137
Photo of shleepy
4.3/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Not surprisingly, a nice, brown color. Almost no head (or maybe it faded so quickly I didn't notice). Strong licorice, caramel in smell. Thick, syrupy texture. Vanilla and dried apricot notes in taste. Amazingly, it's pretty pretty drinkable, given the bold flavors and super high alcohol content (this 2017 bottle is 13.2%!!). Complex and tasty, without being too bitter or sweet.

 381 characters

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

Vintage 2017, no. 001
12 oz bottle poured into a snifter.

Deep mahogany with ruby highlights. Virtually no head. Light sediment suspended throughout. Light carbonation.

Caramel, bourbon, toffee, oak, vanilla, and brown sugar.

Ultra smooth bourbon and huge caramel. Toffee, brown sugar, and molasses. Charred oak, vanilla, and slight toasted coconut.

Full bodied, silky, extra-smooth, warming, and well balanced.

That's a fine Brown Ale! The 13.2% abv is hidden extremely well in this smooth and decadent Imperial Brown Ale.

 568 characters

Photo of WickedBeer
4.71/5  rDev +9.8%
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!

 999 characters

Photo of CJNAPS
4.81/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Best brown ale I've had. Color was a nice dark brown. You got some of the barrel in the nose. Taste was sweet and nice and smooth almost like caramel candy.

 156 characters

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

This one pours a dark-ish brown, with a small white head, and no lacing.

This smells like decadent caramel, bourbon, high quality chocolate, coconut, oak, creamy vanilla frosting.

This is very tasty, but it's very barrel dominant. It's basically entirely carried by the barrel, which seems to be why it's usually used as a blend with other beers. However, the barrel character on this one is awesome, with tons of vanilla, oak, and bourbon, and just a hint of coconut. The base is still a little bit showing up underneath the delicious barrel, with caramel and toffee providing a really nice sweetness. This is pretty sweet, but it's definitely a pleasant sweetness.

This is really quite creamy, with a normal level of carbonation for the style. There's absolutely no booze present, which is quite nice.

I'm super happy with the format change here, and it also helps that this is a really fun beer. It's a showcase for Firestone Walker barrel awesomness. Highly recommended.

 978 characters

Photo of ocelot2500
4.25/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a hazy garnet color with a tight, khaki head that leaves little bits of lacing.

Smells of the bourbon mostly.

Tastes of the bourbon with a solid brown underneath. Bourbon leads off with notes of oak and vanilla. Some sweetness to it. Malt notes come through with a bit of brown sugar, caramel, and toffee. A bit of hops wiht some earthiness. Finishes with more bourbon.

Mouthfeel is medium with a smooth amount of carbonation.

Overall, this is a bourbon heavy beer, but I like it.

 495 characters

Photo of KevSal
4.43/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

12er into a fw glencairn
i had this on valentine day 2012 at cbs and remember enjoying it quite a bit

looks stunning in the glass. deep garnet hue. i love the color, but it's definitly. it brown lol

i get barley first, barrel sweetness, dark fruits. all the good stuff most fw propieters brings

boom, flavor hits you in the face. layers of barrel, vanilla, barley sweetness, slight toasted coconut. alch heat in the end. i'm really liking this. dark fruits linger in the mouth long after the last sip.

mouth feel is big and thick. sticky with some slight alch heat in the end. some people saying it's really hot, i like it just like this, surprising lynlittle heat for a 13+ big boy

overall, let's not beat around the bush. this is a goddamn barelywine! reviewing it as an imperial brown would definitly make it lose points. i guess releasing another bwine would over saturate the proprietors series, with the gorgeous red hue they should have called it an imperial red haha. i really enjoy the new format, 7.99 at costco makes this a good buy.

pairs with dark chocolate wonderfully!!

i wish i reviewed this back in 2012 and compared notes. a little bit less toasted coconut than i remember.

 1,199 characters

Photo of GRG1313
3.75/5  rDev -12.6%
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.

 452 characters

Photo of DaverCS
4.39/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Small amount of a caramel-colored head. The carbonation appears to be fizzy, almost soda-like. Tons of alcohol legs and lacing.

On the aroma, I get toasted oak, vanilla, toffee, brown sugar, some malt sweetness, bit of citrusy hops, and some alcohol.

Mouthfeel is moderate-to- thick. A good amount of booze is present on this one. Some more malt sweetness, toffee, brown sugar, and toasted oak. Alcohol burn that lingers into the finish and warms the chest.

Overall, this was not a bad beer, but it isn't my favorite Firestone Walker barrel-aged beer, especially for the price. I see it pairing well with a sticky toffee pudding. It gets a 88/100.

 650 characters

Photo of Zorro
4.28/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Chill hazed brown colored ale with a tiny tan colored head.

Smells sweet and boozy even from a considerable distance. Scent of whiskey and brandy with strong burnt sugar and toasted grain aromas. Vanilla and fig scents are strong. Caramel and raisin scent. Grape and cherry on rum scent. Scent of walnuts. This smells like a high quality rum soaked fruitcake.

Starts out sweet with a strong taste of caramel candy and grapes. Tastes like brandy. Astringent on the tongue like strong tea or a wooden tongue depressor. Burnt sugar flavor and a range of caramel flavors. Medium level of vanilla. Mildly sweet and mildly bitter. Faint taste of coffee.

Mouthfeel is good.

Overall a tasty boozy ale.

 710 characters

Photo of vic21234
4.39/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2017 12oz Vintage poured into a snifter. Bottled on 12/07/16.

A- Pours a slightly cloudy mahogany color with a very small amount of off-white head which quickly fades to the sides of the glass. Lacing is evident along the sides as well.

S- Dark fruit, caramel, and a hint of just overall sweetness before the bourbon aromas push through.

T- Taste mimics the smell, with smooth notes of bourbon, dark fruits, and caramel.

M- Medium bodied, full of bourbon barrel character, and very easy to sip on.

Another awesome BA Firestone beer. I've seen a few reviews mentioning this as reminiscent to Sucaba. It is very much so, and I don't see the "Brown Ale" in this one. It is a fantastic beer, just doesn't portray itself as a brown.

 737 characters

Photo of Scotchboy
4.25/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

On tap @ Angels Trumpet, Phoenix AZ.

This one was the highlight of the flight. Hints of that sticky Bravo resiny hop character, but this beer exploded with nuttiness, coconut, chocolate, vanilla, and oak.

 205 characters

Photo of Donco
4.49/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Very reminiscent of Sucaba.
This is a classic FW barrel aged brew. Lots of toasted coconut, vanilla, bourbon on the nose.
Let this one warm considerably towards room temperature and you'll be rewarded with the wonderful bourbon/vanilla/toasted coconut and oak barrel when you sip.
Pricey but worth seeking out the new 12oz. bottles

 331 characters

Photo of ThisWangsChung
3.34/5  rDev -22.1%
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

 1,735 characters

Photo of breadwinner
4.41/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

In some ways, this is beer is all about the barrel - huge bourbon notes, bits of vanilla and molasses, touches of booze but impressively restrained for something north of 13% ABV. That said, if you look for it, you can find the brown ale beneath, slight hop character, sweet/chocolate malt too. Really cool stuff that manages to be extreme without being one-dimensional.

 370 characters

Photo of BWood
4.24/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

L: nice Brown color. Slight red hue. Small head no lace. .

S: not getting a ton of input on this. Slight bourbon.

T: and there it is. Solid flavor all the way through. Bourbon is smooth and not overpowering. The base Brown ale is a good flavor as well. I don't drink many of these, but I may start.

F: slight carbonation. Creamy feel but clean finish. Not syrupy at all. Slight soda like tingle.

O: another great box beer from FW. I always grab as many as I can each year.

 479 characters

Photo of Brent619
4.7/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

So glad they decided to bottle this. It's similar to SUCABA and very good. Bit heavy on the alcohol right now which might tone down after it ages. The only bummer is that it's in 12 ounce bottles and I've been told that all the vintage Firestone Walker beers are going to be in 12 ounce bottles from now on. Pricey at $10.99.

 325 characters

Photo of JHouse11
5/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Another delicious offering from fw. I get lots of chocolate, coconut, and vanilla, and of course bourbon. Super tasty stuff, not a sneaky 13%er but could be sneaky if you're unsuspecting. Highly recommend and I look forward to trying again

 239 characters

Photo of sentimetal
4.38/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

L - Nice, rustic brown mixed with red, a bit muddled but not too thick that you can't see through it slightly

S - Raisin, molasses, vanilla and other features of bourbon.

T - You definitely get even more bourbon barrel features in the taste along with alcohol heat. Starts off with some sweet dark fruits into vanilla followed by the alcohol burn. Throughout the whole sip.

F - Comes out very balanaced for such a big beer. It isn't thin by any means nor does it feel like a thick syrup, not there's anything wrong with either of these features, I am happy it manages to keep the mouth feel of a good brown ale.

O - A well executed barrel aged brown ale. Feels and tastes like I'm drinking a heavier brown ale, not a stout, I can see myself picking up a couple more of these for aging.

 789 characters

Photo of q33jeff
4.34/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25


Bottle to snifter. 2017 vintage, pretty fresh.

Look: pours medium to dark brown, some light gets through, but not much, small, quickly fading head. Some light sediment.

Aroma: bourbon, light barley, plus an awesome sweetness like honey or brown sugar....reminds me of stickee monkee in the nose. Wonderful.

Taste: bourbon, brandy, "honey nut Cheerios", alcohol sticks around past the point of identifying the source. Touch of pepper or other spiciness late. Tasty.

Feel: full bodied and thick, chewy. Very little carbonation.

So glad that FW out this out although Sucaba was the only BA mainstay I haven't tried, so I would have preferred this replace something else. Looking forward to aging my others.


 741 characters

Photo of gcasher
4.84/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

On tap at the barrel works. The Bravo I had was aged in a 30 yr old Elijah Craig barrel. It appeared dark red to brown with a khaki head. It was bubbly with carbonation. The aroma and flavor were of delicious bourbon and the brown ale was secondary. This is a must have treat if you can find it.

 300 characters

Photo of Wowcoolman
3.75/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Ethyl alcohol notes pretty strong here. Some nice caramel, some leather and polished wood, some graininess. Alcohol notes dominate the finish and make it hard to savor.

 168 characters

Photo of stephenjmoore
4.31/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Most bourbon-heavy beer I've had by far. Barrel is at the front and center. Really big and boozy with significant bourbon on the nose and in the flavor.

 152 characters

Photo of ArrogantB
3.76/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

On tap at Hops and Pie, first time I've seen this one and I'm excited based on FW XI. Amber color, not as dark as I'd expect. Aroma is booze, barrel, sugar. Flavor is sweet barrel, vanilla and way too much alcohol. This beer works much better in a blend than as a solo beer.

 274 characters

Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.74/5  rDev -12.8%
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.

 661 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50  | nextlast
Bravo Brown from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
4.29 out of 5 based on 137 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

    No fake news here. Get real beer content delivered to your doorstep every month.