Firestone 11 - Anniversary Ale | Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

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Firestone 11 - Anniversary AleFirestone 11 - Anniversary Ale
Firestone 11 - Anniversary AleFirestone 11 - Anniversary Ale

Brewed by:
Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
California, United States

Style: American Strong Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.00%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
None provided.

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Reviews: 173 | Ratings: 249
Photo of BeerTruth
4.69/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I was fortunate enough to obtain two bottles of this rare brew. Big thanks goes out to two great people, sirhc and tayner, you guys rock.

22 oz. bottle, gold foil top. Comes in a box with a leaf of paper that describes how this beer was created, front and back. Poured into a snifter.

My 25th birthday is tomorrow, so I figured I would treat myself tonight seeing I'll probably be at The Blue Tusk all night to celebrate.

Pours a dark mahagony with a tan colored half fingered head that quickly dies down to a ring of bubbles. Thin lacing left on the sides of the glass. Smell has a lot going on. Carmelized sugar, thick molasses, boozy oak, vanilla extract, plum, espresso, Vermont maple syrup, toasted oat, bourbon, raisins, and red wine. The scary thing is, I'm sure I missed something. Flavor up front is a smoked maple syrup with brown sugar and toasted almond. Cherries and oak with a coffee ground bite midway through. Aftertaste is a vanilla like tobacco with slight bourbon. Not too heavy in the mouth, very smooth and "puffy". Warm and filling, scary how good this one goes down. What a great beer experience from start to finish. Thanks again go out to Chris and Dana for this truly unique beer. I'll definitely sleep well tonight :)

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Photo of flexabull
4.74/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Was pleasantly surprised to see this sitting on the shelves of my local liquor store.

A blend of 4 beers aged in oak barrels.

Parabola - 13% ABV Russian Imperial Stout = 4%
Bravo - 11% ABV Imperial Brown Ale = 82%
Rufus - 11% ABV Continental Imperial Amber Ale = 7%
Velvet Merkin 5.5% Oatmeal Stout = 7% (Actually tried this by itself at the Toronado months ago... I really liked it.)

Anyways, here goes...

Pours a deep dark black color with a faint white head.

Aromas are very potent. This is one of those great beers that you can smell from a couple feet away from your nose. The initial pop of the bottle released a very strong smell that was easily noticed. Beer smells like very dark stewed fruits, biscuits, chocolate, oak, and booze. This is easily one of the best beers I have ever smelled.

Upon my first sip, I didn't think the flavor can stand up to the nose. I was very wrong. This is a wonderful beer. A bit warm, hot, and boozy upon first sip. There is also a bite from the hops as well. Beer then has a super long finish. Very creamy, sweet, oatmeal like, oaky, and with some very prominent cocoa and bitter chocolate flavors. Amazing stuff, super complex.

Mouthfeel is outstanding. This has a crisp, full, and warm feel up front, with a long smooth finish.

Drinkability is very good. This is a top notch beer. Easily one of the top 10 I have ever tasted. This bomber is going to take a while to finish though... too bad I couldn't cork it and finish the rest tomorrow. Oh well, I'll just take my time and savor this wonderful beer.

Well done Firestone Walker, I look forward to year and beer 12!

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Photo of Vixie
4.77/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Thanks to Zorro for giving me a bottle of this to try.

A: Very little head. Was more cloudy than I expected, looked dark when first poured, cloudiness showed when held up to the light. Reminded be a bit of coffee.

S: First thing it reminded me of was candy, the smell you get in a candy shop that makes fresh caramel and toffee. Was a bit of a pungency to the smell, but wasn't overpowering. Slight coffee like overtones.

T: Very complex yet very balanced taste. No one flavor dominated, all worked together. Could taste that this was aged in oak barrels, the first taste that struck me was fruit, like a raisin flavor. Also was a touch smoky, and the hops kick in last. The sweetness and the hops are perfectly balanced, making this one of the best tasting beers I've had. Friend said it tasted like a fine port wine.

M: Very nice mouthfeel, felt solid in my mouth without being too heavy or too light.

D: Very drinkable, although the high alcohol content would limit how much I drink. Plus, this is just too good to drink too much of and overdo it. I have termed this a reward beer, this is what you'd reach for after a long hard week at work and you wanted to treat yourself to something special. Thanks again to Zorro for letting me try this, a truly outstanding standout beer.

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Photo of RidiculedDisplay
4.74/5  rDev +8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Finally decided to review this after sitting on a few bottles for two or three months.

Appearance: Pours with a slight egg-yolk/off-white colored froth that coagulates into the middle of the body. It then fades into a barely-there lace. Lacing is apparent in spotty and very fleeting patterns. Body is a cola color, with some hints of blood red sapphire when held up to a light. Lively looking, with bubbles continually feeding the surface. A good looking beer, but nothing amazing in the looks department.

Smell: Once again, like Ten, Firestone has made a wonderfully complex beer in both aroma and flavor. The oak and bourbon, of course, are the most dominant flavors, but unlike other bourbon barrel-aged beers I've had (Drake's Barley Wine, and Bourbon County Stout by Goose Island come to mind), there is a nuance to that aroma that other bourbon beers lack. In other words, it doesn't overpower anything, but lends a very woodsey, charred background upon which all the other aromas build. Molasses, vanilla, sugar cane, black licorice, pepper, fig, date, chocolate, cola syrup, light-bodied coffee. A slight solvent-like alcohol on the back end is surprising, and does, to some extent, weaken the other aromas' complexity/balance, but I think age would rid Eleven of that quality. Overall, great.

Taste: Some dark fruit esters reveal themselves in the taste - raisin, date, in particular. Probably the utter pinnacle of balance - more balanced than any other beer I've ever had, maybe. The bourbon and wood flavors, the sweet malt flavors, the fruit flavors, the spice flavors, all intermingle and marry with one another in such harmony it's a beauty to drink. Wonderful.

Mouthfeel: Very smooth, very balanced, enough carbonation, not "hot" at all, in my opinion. Very slight astringency.

Drinkability: Surprisingly and wonderfully drinkable for such a "huge" beer, thanks, in no small part, to its fascinating balance.

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Photo of francisweizen
4.5/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

DArk nearly black brown with ruby highlights and a ncie tan head of foam that rises up and away and is easily revived with a small flick of the wrist and swirl of the snifter. Aromas of oak, chocolate, coffee, roasted malts, resiny hops, dark fruits, raisins, nuts, and more. Taste is balanced and smooth with oak notes, roasted malts, and imperial brown ale notes abounding. Mouthfeel is thick but remains not too over the top which lends to a greater than average drinkability for a beer this large.

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Photo of seaoflament
4.62/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had about 5 or 6 ounces of this at the Lost Abbey Red Poppy release, I'm not sure who brought the bottle (Thanks for the taste Tim).

Poured a caramel color with a very light head.

The aroma was fantastic. Lots of brown sugar, maple, dark fruits. After an hour or so I can still smell it. I think I spent more time smelling this beer than tasting it.

Taste of maple syrup, toasted malts, brown sugar, vanilla, oak.

A well crafted beer indeed, and one of my favorites for the year.

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Photo of BlindPig
4.55/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A- Thin tan head on very dark brown body and clear ruby hues when held to light.
S- Big hard alcohol aromas. Smells like a blend of whiskey and brandy. Underneath that you have light oatmeal, dark fruits like cherries, breads, leather, light smoke, big strong vanilla, and some oak.
T- Really interesting from the first sip. A blend of a nice sweet flavor with some booze. Vanilla ice cream comes through with a touch of oatmeal. Cherries and grape hide themselves beneath the chocolate and creamy flavors just lucky for us they suck at hiding. Almost a big smoky flavor to it mixed in with oak. The alcohol leaves you with a nice warming accompanied by some coconut, vanilla, oak, oatmeal, and a touch of chocolate.
M-Full body that almost seems to puff up from the oatmeal with a low carbonation but making sure it isn't to smooth.
D- I think this is really tasty and will probably break into my stash of it before to long.

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Photo of hoppymeal
4.45/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours dark brown to black in color with a quite small light tan head that quickly fades. Aroma is a nice mix of soft sugary maltiness, aged maltiness aroma like prunes and raisins, chocolate, and a leather aroma with a somewhat brash woodiness and alcohol. Taste shows some strong chocolate notes and more of the leather quality as well as some prune like maltiness. Finish is very strong in a drying woody flavor and a bite of warming alcohol. Mouthfeel is medium to heavy in body, bite of spiciness on the tongue and at the back of the throat. An amazing beer, the flavors fluctuated quite a bit as it warmed to room temp, a sipper for sure it is a 2-3 hour bottle by myself. Extremely complex, FW has created a wonderful thing and I hope to see more american brewers follow their lead in respect to ba and blending.

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Photo of udubdawg
3.75/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

22 oz bottle. Not cheap - $22 or $23, I forget - but well worth buying a few at this price.

Pours a nice mahogany/dark brown color, quite clear and with a half inch of rapidly receding tan foam. Some lacing left over the top quarter of the glass, after that none. Looks pretty nice.

Nose is nice too. Not over the top, and it isn't quite wowing me, but very enjoyable. The bourbon is of course quite evident, and the alcohol makes little effort to hide. In fact, inhale deeply enough and I feel a little burn. I dig it. A vague sweetness, some vanilla and charred wood aromas well beneath the bourbon, but noticeable nonetheless.

Pretty sweet beer. That goes for the flavor, and could be a one-word review. "Sweeet!"
Very much like an imperial brown ale, which I suppose makes sense as that is what most of it is. The alcohol remains at the front but usually manages to avoid being a distraction. I can't avoid calling it "hot" though. I think this one will get better but it is already quite good. In fact I believe the alcohol levels have helped keep the sweetness in check. Likewise the bourbon/brandy flavors are everpresent but seem to meld nicely with the rest of the taste. If I could I'd call the taste a 4.25 out of 5. Really nicely done.

Carbonation is low but seems appropriate for the brew. A little sticky. Very warming. A little less sweet and it could get away with being a bit thicker in body. As it is it isn't very full...some will even call it downright thin.

I'm not having any trouble at all verrry slowly sipping this beer. Very enjoyable but no desire to put this one down any faster. the alcohol heat is still a bit much. Without even thinking about the high price and low availability this one is only average in drinkability.
Recommended. And I think it'll get better too.

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Photo of fartingdog
4.52/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A- pours dark w/ a thin head that receeds to a thin ring around the edge. There's some reddish hilites when held to the light.

S- Nose is complex- oak, cocoa, light vanilla, caramel, leather.

T- First taste is of fine tobacco, followed by cocoa and caramel sweetness. Rich and luscious in the mouth. Dark fruit, coffee and hints of cherry and bourbon follow (wish there was more bourbon, tho). Very nice

M- Mouthfeel is divine. Thick and rich, pleasantly coats the entire mouth. Alcohol warming in the finish. Light carbonation, but enough.

This is a fine, fine beer. More balanced out of the gate than the 10 was, but perhaps not quite as tasty or complex- but that's just by memory (and influenced by the most recent tasting at ~ 10 months of aging). That being said, I think this one will really start to shine after 8 months like the 10 did.

Now that I get near the bottom of the glass, zI think this beer truly shows itself at cellar temps.

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Photo of phisig137
4.77/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Huge thank you to IntriqKen for this one.

A- Pours a deep dark, and very rich mahogany color with ruby highlights. One finger head has excellent retention, but relatively little lace.

S- Bourbon, vanilla, caramelized raisins, raw lumber, dark chocolate, sherry, and brandy all are present. Smells rich, warm and inviting.

F- Simply amazing. The oak character truly shines, without overpowering the beer. Bourbon and brandy flavors are clearly identifiable and well balanced. Fantastic malt profile, starting just slightly sweet and finishing dry. Slight oxidization from the aging lend a great sherry quality here as well. The flavor is rounded out by bakers chocolate, vanilla, cherry cordials, smoke, leather, and burnt sugar. Astounding.

M- Thick and smooth. Low carbonation.

D- pretty decent, but a sipper for sure. This is one to enjoy very slowly.

An absolutely stunning beer, from a brewery that I wish I could try more of. This should age beautifully for quite a while. Any fan of barrel aged beers should seek this one out. Thanks again Ken for the opportunity to try this!

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Photo of drewmprs
5/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is my first perfect 5. I only give it a 5 because it is far more drinkable than the 10th was fresh. If this ages like the 10th it will be tremendous in 2 years.

The aroma was fantastic, i kept going back for more sniffs. Mouthfeel was smooth and became phenomenal as the beer warmed. I can't wait to do a 10, 11, 12 vertical tasting as soon as 12 is released. The only negative about this beer was that a large amount was distributed to bevmo instead of smaller stores.

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Photo of Murchmac
4.22/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This beer is a mosiac of beautiful beverages. Reading the whole letter that comes along with this beer makes you definitely want to age it.

It pours a like a beautiful looking porter/brown porter. Some lacing, not much head to it, but the lace stays with it the whole way down.

Smells of vanilla hit you right up front, then comes oak, brandy, hops? Sweet sugars, smelling this beer is an olfactory orgasm.

Tastes of vanilla, bourbon, warm cognac lingering aftertaste mixed with dark sugars, molassess like. Got a lot to it. Definitely can taste the alcohol on the back of your throat, and feel it after the third sip.

This beer is a sipper, I wish I liked beers aged in any barrels used for other spirits or wine, but I dont all that much. That being said, for me, It's a little hot right now, age this puppy for a couple years at least, would love to try it in 5 years. The mouthfeel and taste scores would go up then I would imagine as some of the other more subtle tastes come out. I have one in the closet which I will do that with.

Edit review - after drinking a 22oz of this, it makes me rethink these beers, i love the barrel taste, it makes the spirits just another component along with the vanilla, I can even taste hops now. Buy this beer.

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Photo of korndog
4.54/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Just scored ten of these, so I figure I'll drink one. Poured into Tulip at 48F. Maybe too cold to review but the "Jack and Coke" nose hit me like a ton of bricks, from a foot away. Mix a little Peete's Arabian-Mocha-Java with that and you get a frat house kitchen sink vibe wafting up through your brain. Taste's much more civilized than the nose, and very complex IMO. It's actually quite nice below cellar temperature, and has a lot to offer cold. Lacing is hanging in O-K with nothing on the surface. Sweet malt tames the ever-present Bourbon barrel blast, allowing the minor cherry and vanilla notes to come through. Now I'm getting an accidental sip of a Malibu and Coke, with a Camel Filter butt in the glass. Yes, coconut and tobacco. Alcohol is not well hidden because of the whiskey notes' constant reminders. It's obvious that the efforts of a mad genius or two went into the blending of this evil beverage. There is simply too much going on here to say more at this point. Best to walk away and let Bravo, Merkin, Rufus, and Parabola work out their differences for a few more months. Oops, here comes the wife....

Update - Had a second one of these, and I am sooo happy with it. Exceptional! The sum of the parts deserves a higher rating than the math shows.

3/7/08 - two months in the cellar has improved the marriage of flavors. The alcohol is still strong on the nose, but the burboun notes have subdued somewhat. Obvious raisin notes no as well. Great beer.

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Photo of Floydster
4.78/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

22 ounce bottle purchased from the Beverages and More store in Cypress for seventeen dollars, ordered a few bottles of these online and then picked them up the next day after searching for this place for well over an hour, decided to tear open a box on this holiday

Chose this as my Christmas beer after lots of pondering and it definitely did not disappoint, glad with my final decision and happy I am saving Darkness until New Year's Eve

Poured into my Firestone Tenth Anniversary glass with a murky and deep brown color that had a very dark red tint, looked more like a nut brown ale when held up to the light, the head was about an inch and was soapy, it lasted for about five minutes before it mellowed, nice retention and good lacing for a barrel aged beer

Smell was had a lot of brandy and bourbon, which overshadowed everything else in my opinion, some toffee, chocolate, oatmeal, vanilla, and lots of oak also though, different kinds of fruit, some hoppiness, and cognac

Taste was complex and was full of brandy and whiskey, both on the nose and tongue, definitely a brown ale and amber in there, could taste the imperial stout once the beer reached room temperature, I would love to try Parabola on its own someday, this one was amazingly creamy, the brown ale component gave it a nuttiness feel and provided a lot of the roasted malt in this one, the red ale made it chewy and bready by providing some biscuity malts, while the stout gave complex dark fruit flavors along with enormous amounts of oatmeal, chocolate, fig, and caramel, nicely balanced all the way through, tasted fantastic, only complaint is that it did not live up to taste of its predecessor that changed every sip you took and went from hoppy flavors at the beginning and ended with a sweet coconut taste, 10 was just great, but 11 is amazing as well, just lacking a few small things that the other brew had, anyways eleven is another example why this brewery is one of the best in the state of California, if not the United States, it is a very flavorful American strong ale

Nice thick body but I really would have liked to have seen some more carbonation, the taste lasted long, especially once the beer got warmer and its true tastes came out

Could drink this all night, goes down so easy, its drinkability reminded of another strong ale, Angel's Share, light on the stomach and so smooth, the eleven percent alcohol is hidden very well and it did not really hit me until I had a couple sips left in my glass tonight

Although I did not think it was as good as the 10, it was still a fantastic beer, I have yet to have a bad blended beer, amazed me how easy this was to drink and how the booze were definitely there but did not feel like it, this will only get even better with age, do not mind the hefty price tag when a beer is this good, highly recommended even if you need to trade to obtain a bottle, Firestone makes another masterpiece, already looking forward to the 12 next year, could not think of a much better beer to enjoy on a special day like Christmas

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Photo of bradford
4.85/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

22 oz bottle purchased from the Buellton Tap Room for $16.95 plus tax. I already wish I bought more
Appearance is a dark reddish brown with swirls of black in there as well
Smelled very intense and a bit mystifying. There are a lot of components in here that get lost in my amateur nose
Taste is phenomenal. Very rich chocolate, caramel, and dark fruits. As well as the very distinct vaanilla and bourbon from the casks.
Mouthfeel is unlike any beer I have tasted, just as this beer as a whole is unlike any beer I have tasted. Very velvety smooth, like a cream ale, but with a sharp bite of alcohol like a glass of whiskey, and then the very nice palate warming sensation like that of a fine glass of scotch.
Drinkability is there, oh yeah. This is a beer to savor. Take in the senses...smell, taste, mouthfeel, etc., but it is very easy to take long sip after long sip. Holy shit, this is amazing. Well worth the price. I just hope they have more for sale when I go through there next.

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Photo of Halcyondays
4.92/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

22 oz. bottle, bought for $18.39 at the Costa Mesa BevMo in Costa Mesa, CA, on Monday, Dec. 17. Having been severely hyped up akin to a Dark Lord or a Darkness, I had high hopes for this beer, one of my most anticipated beers ever, it did not disappoint,

A: Pours a very dark brown, clearly brown though, with a small, light tan head, but they said in the complementary letter that they minimized the carbonation, so I'll give them a break. Very nice lacing on what head is there, however.

S: Not the fullest smell in the world, but it just smells so damn good, that I'm giving it a 5. It reminds me a lot of Angel's Share, in fact that's the first thing I thought when I smelled it for the first time. Nice oak, wood, bourbon scents, along with heavenly vanilla, I just can't stop smelling it.

T: Actually, the vanilla hits first then molds into the bourbon character. Slight coffee character is there as well, and as the beer is going down, there is this great dark chocolate note. Warming alcohol as well, but it is not fusely and unpleasant, it is smooth and light and melds perfectly with the beer.

M: So silky smooth, viscous, and warming, but it has a lightness about it and an ethanol quality about it that makes it insanely drinkable for 11% abv.

D: So drinkable, a delight going down, drank the first half of the bottle in about 5 minutes, it was so easy to drink, but I held up for about 30 minutes to let it warm up close to room temperature which just added to the complexity of the beer. Stellar production, definitely worth the hype, I will be eagerly and anxiously be awaiting the 12, or another bottle of the 11, if I can find it. Easily one of the top 5 beers of the year for me. Great job, Firestone, this beer is absolutely outstanding.

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Photo of LittleBreeze
4.4/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This is very good now. I can't wait to try it after a year.

The aroma is intoxicating. I could sit and just smell these sweet warming aromas. Oak, Vanilla, nut meats, dark fruits, cherry, caramel.

The taste is flavor in layers. Absolutely remarkable. At the finish there was like a small burst of molasses. Thick and coats the tongue. Sweet but not overly done. Different people are going to pick up different flavors and aspects of this beer.

This is of course a sipper and can be enjoyed now. Not many rough edges to it. The ABV is well hidden.

Sort of sad that I won't get to try it again until this time next year. I will be looking forward to it.

Outstanding beer experience.

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Photo of largadeer
4.67/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Edit: Tried this again with 6 months of age on it and found it to be hugely improved. All of the astringency disappeared and the alcohol faded into the background, while the bourbon really came to the forefront. I have a feeling that this beer will get even better with more time on it.

Appearance - Dark, translucent brown with about an inch of tan-colored head. Retention could be better, but it's about average for a high gravity, low carbonation beer. The body of the beer looks thick and viscous, clinging to the walls of the glass like oil.

Smell - Vanilla and caramel are most prevalent. Sweet, rum-like alcohol is noticeable along with notes of molasses, dried dark fruits and oak.

Taste & mouthfeel - Vanilla, caramel, coconut rum & bourbon; subtler notes of toasted nuts and dark fruit. Thick and syrupy on the palate; very low carbonation. The finish is rough and alcoholic with a sharp, astringent bitterness similar to a young wine.

Notes - It's already very good, but it has a few rough edges that need time to soften. Much like the 10, I think it will improve greatly in 8 months to a year. I probably won't be opening another bottle for at least a year - it would be a waste to drink this young.

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Photo of Oisin
4.45/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The thinnest layer of crimson along the edge of an oversized wine glass quickly turned to the blackest of browns at the core--opaque when held to the light. An agressive pour produced a not insignificant layer of mocha-tinted head that clung to the edge of my glass much longer than a beer of this octane would be expected to.

The smell is redolent of all that is rich, deep, roasty, sweet, and boozy: roasted chestnuts drizzled with brandy and dusted with a pinch of brown sugar; vanilla ice-cream laden with pecans and drenched with macadamia liqueur; American roast coffee with a splash of cognac.

Taste is tighter, more fleet than last year's Ten. Like a Belgian in its subtle interplay of flavors. Alcoholic heat-flash opens up space for deep, dark notes of carob and cocoa to move through, followed by shadows of hoppy nicotene and a finish of light woodiness. Wonderful characters in this production, but . . .

Eleven's mouthfeel was not the appropriate venue to highlight its beauty and talent. It reminded me of a parade of wooly mammoths tip-toeing over thin ice. A more viscous mouthfeel is necessary for a beer of this majesty--something along the lines of Alesmith's barrel aged series.

In fairness to this beer, I should let it be known that I am judging this beer against Ten ( or rather, my memory of Ten); also, I am judging this beer in light of its price tag and the considerable hype it has enjoyed. I think that is a little unfair. Without any preconceived notions or expectations I may have given this beer a different score. It seems any of us who have had older siblings that were very talented athletes or scholars can empathize with Eleven. Teachers and coaches were always judging us in light of our predecessors. The school year or the season was nearly half over before we were valued for our own talents and abilities. Perhaps I should give Eleven another chance, judge him on his own terms.

In fact, thanks to Kiristo and Vincenzo, I can give him five more chances!

Cheers to your health!

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Photo of Gouldsby
4.92/5  rDev +12.1%
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 IntriqKen
4.89/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

There is a whole lot going on in this beer and all of it is exactly the kind of stuff I love.
Pours dark amber as expected with a smallish off white head that melts quickly to nothing.

Aromas are a heavenly combination of oak and bourbon. Some candied brown sugar and dark raisins. Absolutely delicious and I could inhale this brew as easily as drink it with equal satisfation.

Taste is heavy bourbon...touch of oak wood...light mixture of prunes, plums, raisins, and dark cherries, and very clean fresh vanilla. Absolutely no aftertaste to the vanilla as is normally found in both beers attempting this and bourbons. Warm alcohol after swallowing...very contenting warmth with just a memory, albiet vivid, of the oaks and bourbon used in aging this brew.

I love it
I rate it highly because it is everything I look for in a beer.
I have no idea what will happen when it ages, but I will find out. I just can't imagine more pleasure than what I am getting now.
Months later, now April 2008.
DAMN, this is great.
Absolutely great.

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Photo of Zorro
4.62/5  rDev +5.2%
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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Firestone 11 - Anniversary Ale from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 4.39 out of 5 with 249 ratings