Firestone 11 - Anniversary Ale
Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Firestone 11 - Anniversary AleFirestone 11 - Anniversary Ale
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American Strong Ale
4.43 | pDev: 9.48%
Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
California, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Firestone 11 - Anniversary AleFirestone 11 - Anniversary Ale
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Reviews: 173 | Ratings: 249
Reviews by hero27:
Photo of hero27
4.62/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle, neck & cap wrapped in gold foil.
11% abv.

Comes gift-wrapped in a box with a 2-sided letter (dated 11-11-07) thoroughly explaining the process of creating this brew.

Acquired as part of a trade with WasTrinkenSie.

Rustic oak, smoked bourbon flavor a plethora of dark fruits give this an intense, sweet flavor..with dashes of licorice, vanilla, and dark chocolate.
Low carbonation, velvety mouthfeel..very smooth...definitely seems like the barrel-aging played a role with the tremendous texture.
Despite the enormous complexity (seems like literally hundreds of things going on here with every sip), this is neverendingly drinkable & approachable.
A blended gem from Firestone Walker.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of John_M
4.52/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

At the HOTD tasting at Dyan's the other night. I can honestly say this is a beer I never expected to see or taste. Many thanks for pulling this gem out for dessert last night Dyan. It was all that saved me after the Cantillon Classic Gueuze.

The beer pours a darkish brown color with good head retention and lacing. On the nose, there is an interesting array of dark fruits, including prunes, plums, vanilla, chocolate and light coffee. The amount of flavor in this beer, coupled with the velvet-like mouthfeel, is just astonishing. The beer gushes milk chocolate, plum and cherry, but with just a touch of bitterness in the finish, which acts as a foil for the richness and moderate sweetness. Mouthfeel is just stunning, and is incredibly light, creamy and smooth. Drinkability is amazing in this beer, especially considering the abv. Alcohol is not the least bit intrusive, and is incredibly well integrated in the flavor profile.

Time has been very kind to this gem. Would have liked to have tried it young, but now in the sunset of its years, this beer is just exceptionally fine and refined. A classic, clearly...

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.15/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Burnt sienna with garnet colored highlights. I'm amazed to see that Eleven isn't quite opaque. Then again, since 82% of the blend is brown ale, maybe that isn't so surprising. The compact crown is a creamy slice of coffee milkshake that leaves no more than a few fine feathery fingers of lace on the upper reaches of the snifter.

First, the details. This 11th Anniversary offering is a combination of four different ales: 82% Bravo (Imperial brown), 7% Rufus (Imperial amber), 7% Velvet Merkin (oatmeal stout), and 3.5% Parabola (Russian Imperial stout). The various elixirs were aged for varying lengths of time in some combination of new American oak, bourbon barrels, brandy barrels and rye whiskey barrels.

The aroma simply isn't as robust as expected. What is appreciated is wonderful, so maybe a few more degrees will open things up. At the moment, the nose contains primarily bourbon mixed with cocoa and a little vanilla bean.

Eleven is definitely good beer. Whether it's special beer or not has yet to be decided. First impressions include the need for more malt and a better mouthfeel. Here's an idea... much more RIS and much less Imperial brown ale. Now *that* would have been an outstanding strong ale. Another early impression is that bourbon is front and center. Just like I like it.

The lack of heft results in a flavor profile that is broader than it is deep. Specific flavors include bourbon whiskey (brown sugar, oak, vanilla), dark toffee, black coffee, coconut shavings and a drizzle of blackstrap molasses. Complexity is present and accounted for. Sustained complexity, which all truly great beer possesses, is not.

The 11.0% ABV is appreciated as bourbon accents rather than ethanol, as it is in some beer this big. My tongue is slowly becoming numb and my belly is becoming increasingly warm and toasty. Even if I don't agree with the final proportions, the barrel aging came off without a hitch. Bourbon flavord beer is never a bad thing.

The mouthfeel is the chink in Eleven's armor. Whatever the reason, there's no excuse for an American strong ale from one of America's best breweries to be this light (actually, it's more like light-medium for the style). That's all the more disappointing because Ten's mouthfeel was out of this world. I wonder if the loud 'pffft' on crown cracking is related somehow. At no time, however, has the beer felt overbubbled.

Firestone Eleven does not deliver on the promise of Firestone Ten. It comes close, though, and probably would have gotten there with a sturdier malt backbone. I will still enjoy the hell out the remainder of the bomber and I'm still glad that I got the opportunity to drink and review it. Thanks a million, Talisker.

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Photo of Sammy
3.94/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

What a blending, elements of a strong ale, an imperial stout, a barleywine. Orange, oak wood, vanilla,booze. Black with a bubbly head. Bourbon aroma. A smooth drinker. Slightly sweet finish.
Opened at My 58th Birthday Bash., with fond memories of 2007.

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4.25/5  rDev -4.1%

Photo of Zorro
4.62/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Purchased at the Buellton Tap Room. $18 and change for each bottle.

[Begin Box Quote] Since founding our brewery in 1996, we have specialized in the rare art of brewing beer in oak barrels. In the fall of 2006, we released a limited edition oak-aged strong ale called 10 to commemorate our 10th anniversary.

We now present Eleven, our second release in what promises to be an annual autumn rite at our brewery. Eleven was crafted in separate lots over 18 months, then carefully blended to create this truly unique and harmonious brew.

Each of the contributing lots was aged in American oak barrels, most of which were previously used and matured by premium American spirits producers. Each barrel lent its own bit of soul to the flavor profile, including nuances of tobacco, leather, spice and molasses.

After extensive trials, the chosen components were united in the final blend. The resulting limited-production brew offers immense depth and complexity, with long, intense flavors that beg to be sipped and savored.

Eleven is built to last and will reward careful aging for several years. [End Box Quote]

From The Press Release:

"The individual lots included Bravo (imperial brown ale), Rufus (continental imperial amber ale) and Parabola (Russian imperial oatmeal stout). The technical specifications of the final blend are 11 percent alcohol by volume and 42 IBUs."

And with all that documentation done it is time for the actual review.

A clear and yet very dark brown colored beer with red highlights when held up to the light. You will need a strong light to see through this at first I thought it was nearly black in color. Small brown head forms and falls, as you would expect with an ale this strong.

From the very second you open the bottle the scent hits you, expensive Bourbon and Canadian style whisky. Sweet and very fragrant there is a lot vanilla aroma here and not the artificial kind, this is the kind you get from Bourbon. Coconut, cherry, pineapple, cookie dough, chocolate, figs are all quite strong. Traces of citrus, cinnamon, grape and black pepper.

The taste starts out a little sweet and boozy with a fairly strong French vanilla ice cream with a shot of Bourbon taste. Coconut really comes out in the aftertaste and the alcohol level makes this quite warming, a perfect holiday beer if I have ever tasted one. Black licorice and chocolate with a little lemon zest is the next level to appear. There is a bit of rum flavor here whether there was a rum barrel used or not. Cherry and grape are minor flavors here but they could intensify as this ages in the bottle.

Very full mouthfeel.

Very drinkable to me but there are some caveats that might make this a beer that you might not like. Number one this is most certainly a bourbon barrel beer, this isn't as heavy-handed as some but not everyone likes a trace of bourbon in their beer. Second this is a high alcohol beer and you can sense it, but if you are drinking Strong Ale then you are OK with that presumably. Third this beer is one of those super complex brews that is a Rorschach test in a bottle, everyone is going to taste different things in this cause some really key in on vanilla and another chocolate, both are in here.

Honestly I don't know how much of this I am going to part with; this is damn tasty stuff.

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Photo of ppoitras
4.73/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

22oz bottle obtained via trade with unclejedi. Thanks for the opportunity...

Poured into a large glass chalice, formed a transient beige film over the almost clear, dark burgundy brew. Film lasts unevenly, rimming the surface with small conglomerations of bubbles, lace is slow falling and leggy. Aroma is vanilla and tannins, coupled with dark malt sweetness, although low in intensity. Taste is slightly leathery maltiness upfront, with the vanilla smoothing it in the middle, and fades away into a sedate alcohol warmth. Mouthfeel is silky smooth, and drinkability is superb. This is a "sitting by the fireplace sipper" if I ever saw one. Wish I had more than one...

<edit - Still this good on 6/7/08...>

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Photo of drabmuh
3.95/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks Thorpe for organizing and hosting the vertical tasting of the Firestone walker beers. Another once in a lifetime tasting experience. Right off the bat I'm going to rank the 5 vintages we had in order of preference 13>14>12>11>>10 (the >> means much greater).

Beer is black to brown with a haze to it, doesn't seem to be as dark as the others. Thin head of tan bubbles, minimal lacing apparently low carbonation.

Aroma is sweetness and a mild bourbon with a little roast.

Beer is a little more bourbony than the 10 but the malt wins out overall, a little syrupy but not as off putting as the 10 and there is no sign of that paper-y flavor I got in the 10. The finish is even a little bitter with some sort of roast, a decent beer for sure.

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Photo of JoEBoBpr
4.18/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a tulip glass form a 22oz bottle.

Pulled form my cellar.

A - Pours a nice rich dark caramel color with some nice slight reddish hints. There is a nice thin but dense light tan head. It is about .25 inches tall. It recedes at a fairly quick place and leaves a ring around the glass.

S - Aroma starts off nice and sweet. Brown sugar and molasses. There is also some maple syrup notes. The boozy and Bourbon notes seem to have mellowed because its not as intense as the 15. There is definitely some Bourbon and oak notes in the nose. There is some slight cinnamon and slight vanilla notes as well. Nose is also a bit spicy. It is pretty mild nose for the style IMO.

T & M - Starts off with some nice strong molasses notes mixed in with some nice sweet and strong Bourbon notes. Tons of dark fruit that I couldn't quite pick up on the nose. The beer is surprisingly smooth for 11% and for the barrel aging but its also been aged for about 4 years. There is definitely some nice prune notes as well as raisins and some mild licorice. There is also some nice woody spice and slight cinnamon. The finish is a bit drier than expected with some slight buttery sweetness to the end of it.

O - Pretty good offering. It definitely mellowed with age but all the flavors are in a better balance now. They all work so well together. base don the blend the lighter mouthfeel is probably due to the brown ale. Its definitely a good brew but should have a better mouthfeel for the style IMO.

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Photo of Beertracker
4/5  rDev -9.7%

Photo of brentk56
4.92/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Appearance: Pours a very dark amber with a modest head that quickly shifts to a ringlet; a galaxy of dots litter the sides of the chalice

Smell: Rich aromatics of caramel, dark fruit (primarily fig), tobacco, chocolate/vanilla, licorice and wood; just tons of wood, like an antique chest

Taste: From the outset, the wood sets the backbone against which the flavors will be measured; at first, it is fruity, with the hops playing against the wood but as it settles in, the bourbon elements start to take their position, with a boozy blend of vanilla, fig, tobacco, licorice and chocolate moving to the fore; after the swallow, a coconut aspect arrives to mellow out the bold pre-swallow flavors, while the wood and alcohol linger in the background to the finish; licorice is strong at the very end

Mouthfeel: Full-bodied with low to moderate carbonation; very smooth

Drinkability: I was not that big a fan of the Ten, which overwhelmed my taste buds; the Eleven, however, rules the roost; just an incredible blend of flavor

Thanks, urwatuh8, for the opportunity

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Photo of DrJay
4.59/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Got this one from Solomon420. Thanks!
Deep tawny brown with coppery highlights. A hard pour produced a thin cap of foam that settled to a narrow collar and skim of fine bubbles. Sticky, spotty lacing throughout. Very strong booze barrel aroma as soon as the cap was popped. Notes of charred oak and caramel dominated, but a little plum skin and sultana raisin came through. Buttery toffee and vanilla with mild citrus. Sturdy hop bitterness was accompanied by some citrus. Toffee and caramel were front and center, with lots of fruity plum mid-palate. Buttery, vanilla, woody, bourbon were present, just not as strong as in the aroma. Alcohol spice in the finish with lingering combination of toffee and fruit. Warm without being at all hot, medium to full bodied with very fine, well integrated carbonation making it delightfully smooth. Just a bit of dryness from tannins on the sides of the tongue. Great stuff and super drinkable for a big beer. Truly a superb beer.

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Photo of Viggo
4.87/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Sampled after the Firestone 10, this one was again graciously provided by my main man grub!!

Pours a clear brown, dark reddish, slightly darker than the 10, thick tan head, leaves behind some solid lace spots, drops a thick ring of lace, and a solid layer, doesn't look as sexy as the 10 but pretty close. Smell is insane, toffee, bourbon, oak, vanilla, lots of chocolate, oats, find it a bit smoother than the 10, lots of dark fruit, brandy, raisins, great. Taste is similar, tons of toffee, coconut, bourbon, vanilla, bread, chocolate, brandy and oak, very amazing, super integrated, find it just a little more intense than the 10. Mouthfeel is medium bodied with low to medium carbonation, super smooth, some warmth, amazing. Thanks once again Russ!!!!

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Photo of GClarkage
3.88/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of hopdog
4.65/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle shared courtesy of axilla (thanks!).

Poured a deeper mahogany color with an averaged sized off white head. Aromas of dark fruits (lots of raisins and plums), caramel, citrus, woody / oakiness, and vanilla. Tastes of lots of chocolate, vanilla, toffee, light bourbon, and woodiness.

The aromas and tastes struck me as being very different; like they belong to 2 very different beers. This was not a bad thing, as I really enjoyed both! Alcohol content well hidden.

Notes from and tasted on 2/8/08

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Photo of sloejams
4.32/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Finally brokedown and opened this on Game 6 of the NBA Finals. I knew my Celtics were going to win this one and bring the trophy back to Boston, so I wanted to have a special beer to watch while it happened. As expected, this was delicious and the Celtics did the job.

When I poured this thick, viscous oil into my chalice I thought "Maybe I should have started with something lighter." I guess the 11% ABV and manifesto included should have tipped me off. Anyhow, the smell reminded me that I made the right decision. Big vanilla and oak aroma comes through. The flavors were complex: there was the vanilla and oak but also chocolate covered raisin, caramel and red zinfindel. The Celtics are murdering the Lakers.

This beer went down as easily as watching Kobe get frustrated with his awful Laker teammates.

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Photo of RustyDiamond
4.2/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Split into 2 snifters.

Dark brown cola with oatmeal color head. Head quickly dissipates leaving a nice amoeba film with a ring of bubbles. Nice contrast in colors.

Booze, milk chocolate, subtle vanilla.

New oak, brandy oak, chocolate. Bourbon soaked cherry with pronounced wet bourbon oak. Brandy on the backend.

Velvet in the mouth, balanced as hell with the beforementioned components. As it warms, it gets more boozier on the finish.

Good drinkability, but the booze would keep me from having an entire bottle solo.

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Photo of whartontallboy
4/5  rDev -9.7%

Photo of Vancer
4.13/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Ok - special review number 1500. Reviewing a special beer sent by a special BA (solomon420) in a special glass (Cordendonk tulip that he also sent in an early BIF). Great stuff all around.

Pours a deep mahogany brown, looking like bourbon, no head from this big ass beer.

Great aroma of cherry mash malt, and vanilla bean (lightly). No hint of any booze in this bourbon laced malt bomb, loaded up with dark fruit (big on plum and dark cherry). Sips well, even on this hot ass summer day.

Wait, as it warms, a bit of hot alcohol leaks through, but still a tasty treat this fine summer day.

Thanks again Damian, my BA friend. This is one great beer journey.

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Photo of BColton1
4.25/5  rDev -4.1%

Photo of FtownThrowDown
4.09/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to RoyMunson for cracking open this rare gem.
Pours brown in color with only a slight head at first. Smell is wonderful. You can definitely tell that the base majority of this beer is the imperial brown. Both in the smell and taste. Just the perfect amount of heaven hill barrel aging hits you in the taste. I don't think the brown is a big enough beer to be able to holdup against the onslaught of stout, porter and infusion from the barrels that hits it. A little thin on the mouthfeel. I was really looking forward to this beer, and from what I read on the paper insert the brewer provides, sounded mouthwatering. But I have to say, this may be one of those beers that fails to live up to the hype/demand.

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Photo of emerge077
3.58/5  rDev -19.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

FW vertical sampling at Luda's annual cellar clearance, thanks Ben for bringing this one!
Served in a mini-nonic, quick review from transcribed notes.

A similar appearance to the 10 that preceded it, dark brown color, murky with suspended sediment, larger bubbles clustering in a ring around the edges. Minor spotty lacing after each sip.

Smells like dead (autolysed) yeast, lightly musty.

Thinner feel and a llght astringency puts a slight damper on it, dark fruit notes of plum and fig. Lightly bitter, with some nice barrel character. Hardys-esque, leather, prunes, port flavors. Overall slightly different from the 10, the sharp feel is less appealing though.

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Photo of SacoDeToro
4.47/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured a deep brown with a small off-white head.

The aroma was full of rich caramel malt, chocolate, bourbon, oak, and vanilla. Some alcohol was present.

The flavor of the beer had a rich caramel maltiness with notes of chocolate malt, appropriate for the style. It was well attenuated and didn't finish too sweet. It was well infused with prominent notes of bourbon, vanilla, and oak, which added tremendous complexity. Some medium dried fruits came through in the palate as well.

The mouthfeel was medium-to-heavy, but not overly so. The body was full and creamy. The carbonation was delicate and dialed in just right.

A superb strong ale that exhibits a wonderful spirit barrel character. This beer was masterfully blended by FW and IMO, was better than the FW 10.

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Photo of Gouldsby
4.92/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

poured room temperature out of a 22oz bomber into a dogfish head snifter...

A: as dark as a brown can get, thick dark brown amber, a bit tawny when held to the light, a swirl leaves lace but the head isn't too dense. light lace rests in surface swirls.

S: sweet butter, toffee, dates, richness and smooth vanilla (dairy cream milk shake), pecan pie, brown butter sweet, but balanced.

T: sweet but light, like butter cream frosting, not overly sweet, butter cream frosting, rich vanilla, slight herbal tones of hops, and a low earthy woody tone whispers in swishes to match the creamy sweetness up front, low carbonation.

M: medium body in the mouth, light and soft in the mouth considering the flavor sizematics of this beer, leaves with a tiny bit of dryness which speaks to the wood, minor tinge of bitter, but overwhelmingly smooth.

D: as it ends, the bubbles fade and vanilla bourbon rides a slow gallop into the night. the wood is more apparent as the beer settles. this is going to be a beautiful one to sit on.

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Photo of russpowell
4.54/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Got this one from Solomon420, cheers Damien!

Pours a ruby tinged ebony with 1 finger of tan head. Above average head retention & lacing

S: Buttery toffee, figs, dates& rum; dissipates as this warms

T: Toffee, butterscotch, a touch of booze warmth, oaky dryness & vanilla & leafy hops up front. Some booze persists as this warms, along with buttered rum; a bit of plummyness, figs & leafy hops, a bit of chocolate & licorice. Finishes with nice dark fruits, leafy hops& a touch of brown sugar

MF: Chewy with low carbonation & medium body & stickyness

Drinks easy for the style & ABV, but proceed with caution!! This damn fine American strong ale (ASA) will knock you down if over indulged. Worth seeking out, a complex. yet approachable ASA

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Firestone 11 - Anniversary Ale from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 95 out of 100 with 249 ratings