Bravo Brown | Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

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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

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Reviews: 40 | Ratings: 159
Photo of GRG1313
3.75/5  rDev -13%
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 UCLABrewN84
3.74/5  rDev -13.2%
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 largadeer
4.47/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at City Beer. Listed as 13% ABV.

Dark auburn body with little head formation. Nice color and clarity when held to the light.

Smells strongly of caramel and toasted coconut, stewed fruits, dates, brown sugar. Great aroma that's reminiscent of Firestone's 11th anniversary ale. Pretty well integrated bourbon barrel character, and little discernible alcohol.

Palate of caramel and toasted coconut, mellow bourbon booziness and brown sugar, this is quite good. Sweet and rich with a full body, carbonation is gentle as usual with Firestone's barrel aged beers. The barrel is present but integrated, and it finishes semi-sweet with slight char from the barrel, finishing with toffee and tobacco. Great stuff, one of the better barrel aged beers I've tried from Firestone.

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Photo of Kegatron
4.59/5  rDev +6.5%
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 MasterSki
4.35/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I'm a little perplexed by the name/listing here - the description in the FoBAB program (presumably supplied by Firestone Walker) reads "A single-hopped strong brown ale brewed using the hop variety Bravo. The beer is then aged for up to 1 year in circa 1990s used Heaven Hill bourbon barrels. 12.5%"

A - Pours with a finger of tan foam that settles to a thick ring and partial cap. The body is a pleasant transparent amber color.

S - The aroma is big in vanilla, bourbon, caramel malts, molasses, and light coconut. Any trace of the Bravo hops is long gone from the aroma.

T - The taste is fairly similar but verges more into a toasted coconut and toffee direction, with some tannic oak, and a moderate level of earthy and roast bitterness in the finish.

M - Smooth medium body, low carbonation, and a tannic bite to the finish. Surprisingly little heat for 12.5%.

D - I'm a little shocked by the ABV on this one - I would have pegged it at 9% or so, as it seemed at most as boozy as all the other barleywines I sampled. I guess it's similar to Abacus in that vein. This brew is not very subtle - it's a bunch of sweet stuff in a bourbon barrel - but it is delicious.

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Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.5/5  rDev +4.4%
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.

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Photo of Zorro
4.28/5  rDev -0.7%
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.

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Photo of HopHead84
4.79/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Numerous 8oz pours consumed in a snifter at Stone's Firestone Walker night on 11/13/2009. This beer is incorrectly classified as an Imperial Stout on this site. It is an Imperial Brown. This iteration of the beer was aged in bourbon barrels. The beer is dark brown, bordering on black, with a small light brown head.

Big bourbon nose with strong notes of brown sugar. Vanilla is apparent, as is caramel. Really nice. Light booze accompanies a touch of
earthiness. The beer showcases a great blend or vanilla, caramel, butterscotch, and bourbon, with just the right amount of sweetness.

The flavor opens up with sweet caramel and strong bourbon. Light vanilla notes are evident, as is a touch of brown sugar. No roast or alcohol is apparent. Bravo is moderately boozy with a delicious bourbon caramel finish.

A very tasty barrel aged Imperial Brown. In fact, I can't think of a better one. My favorite or all the wondrous epochs.

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Photo of ArrogantB
3.76/5  rDev -12.8%
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.

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Photo of ThisWangsChung
3.34/5  rDev -22.5%
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 stephenjmoore
4.31/5  rDev 0%
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.

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Photo of Wowcoolman
3.75/5  rDev -13%
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.

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Photo of justintcoons
4.5/5  rDev +4.4%
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.

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Photo of Floydster
4.79/5  rDev +11.1%
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 CJNAPS
4.81/5  rDev +11.6%
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.

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Photo of Hop_God
4.3/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A: clear deep brown. Hues of ruby red also. Thin to no head. Small khaki bubbles

S: Bourbon toffee figs candy dark fruits Caramell oak more bourbon mile chocolate

T: huge bourbon. Smoky almonds. Dates. Candied stone fruits. Fig newtons. Brown sugar. Oak. Raw booze

F: medium fell. Sweet coating. A bit of raw alcohol. But not overly. Goes to nice bourbon oak aftertaste

O: awesome. This is second nature for FW for barrel aging and another beast

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Photo of drdiesel9483
4.53/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Look - Super dark brown and no read head
Smell - smells sweet, bourbon and caramel
taste - perfect balance between the sweet caramel bourbon and some tostiness
feel - medium body and not too boozy
Overall - probably the best brown I've had!

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Photo of ocelot2500
4.25/5  rDev -1.4%
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.

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Photo of Scotchboy
4.25/5  rDev -1.4%
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.

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Photo of Buck89
4.15/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint glass. A clear reddish brown color with a thin tan head. Aromas of raisins, dates, oak, whiskey, and caramel. Interesting palate: a raisiny malty flavor up front followed by coconut, dates, brown sugar, caramel, toffee. A bit of bourbon but it's hidden. The feel is big but not for the large ABV.

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Photo of q33jeff
4.34/5  rDev +0.7%
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.


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Photo of breadwinner
4.41/5  rDev +2.3%
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.

(Postscript: a giant kiss off to the whiny mouthbreathers who, somehow, are mad at Firestone for putting beers like this into 12oz bottles. This was a breeze to get, they are still available on shelves, 12oz is a perfect serving size, and I wasn't forced to drop $18 on a bomber I'll only drink half of because I had to share it with someone else because who the fuck drinks bombers of 13% beer alone? Oh, but price per ounce, blah, blah, blah! It's called opportunity cost, you selfish dicks. Sure, I paid an extra $1+ in price per ounce, BUT I STILL ONLY PAID $10. I HAD MORE MONEY IN MY WALLET AND USED IT FOR MORE BEER. What the hell is the issue here? No one can ever be happy, there's always something to complain about. Pound sand, you worthless sacks.)

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Photo of ThreeWiseMen
4.28/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Sampled Bravo Brown yesterday at the Firestone 14th Anniversary Ale Release in Paso Robles, CA. Following review based on notes taken by me, Wiseman Nick.

Served in a small (~5oz.) Firestone Walker snifter.

Appearance: Deep, murky brown body with orange-amber highlights. A gorgeous, creamy, tan head sits atop and displays excellent retention. Mild lacing. Beautiful!

Smell: Brown malt, sugar, caramel-y bourbon, and raisins. Alcohol picks up strength as the beer warms. Rich and nicely put-together.

Taste: Brown malt, bourbon, nuts, caramel, and flowery esters. Earth and leather peek through in the dry, boozy finish. Bold, but also complex and balanced. Nicely done.

Mouthfeel: Warm, malty, a bit syrupy, and dry. Large and rich with lots of complexity. I really liked the feel of this one.

Drinkability: A bit intense, but really interesting and enjoyable. I'd love to try this again.

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Photo of KevSal
4.43/5  rDev +2.8%
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.

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Photo of WickedBeer
4.71/5  rDev +9.3%
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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Bravo Brown from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
4.31 out of 5 based on 159 ratings.
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