Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

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Barleywine - English
Ranked #3
Ranked #97
4.55 | pDev: 7.91%
Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
California, United States
Notes: Also known as Abacus

2011 Reserve Series Bottle Notes:
O.G. 27 Plato
F.G. 4.7 Plato
I.B.U. 42 units
Yeast: British Ale (House)
Cases: 1500 produced
Color: 36SRM (Dark Ruby)

2014 Bottle Notes
O.G. 27 Plato
F.G. 4.7 Plato
I.B.U. 42 units
Yeast: British Ale (House)
Cases: 3500 produced
Color: 36SRM (Dark Ruby)

Matured for 1 year in a blend of Heaven Hill, 4 Roses, and Old Fitzgerald barrels.
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Chickenhawk9932 from Pennsylvania

4.5/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours midnight black with some slight burnt umber highlights and a tan head.

Smells of apple, wood, earth, plumb, raisin, wine, oak, currant, grape.

Flavors follow nose : it is incredibly tasty and complex. Awesome beer.

Jul 26, 2020
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MaxBrews from Massachusetts

4.75/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75


I've had loads of Barley wines in my day and they can all be problematic; too much alcohol heat, too drying, a vague cough syrup taste; etc. They're big beers and if one aspect of them is over pronounced it can be a really hard beer to finish.

This 2019 §ucaba is nearly perfect. It's slightly sweet and subtly blends boozy vanilla and oak flavors together with a rich maltiness. There's not one flavor that really stands out it's perfectly blended.

It's one of those beers you have a tough time coming up with words for, you're too lost in the moment. The only downside is of course it's $15 plus 12 oz bottle and it goes too quickly.

Jul 09, 2020
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Fremont897 from California

4.49/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2019 batch. Picked up 6/20/20 at Zanottos Market on Naglee, SJ, Ca.
Look: Rich amber.
Smell: Brown sugar, maple syrup, alcohol
Taste: Initial alcohol heat, brown sugar and caramel bolus with a finishing kick of bourbon.
Overall: Simply sweet bliss.

Jun 21, 2020
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joberlander from Massachusetts

4.13/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

2015 Caramel, vanilla, plums. Very typical barlewine flavors and nice mouthfeel. Really enjoyable, just not as complex as other firestone prop beers.

Jun 11, 2020
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HardTarget from Texas

4.6/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottled 2011, Opened May, 2020
Appearance: Black glass, clear brown with back light, a bit murky, no real head, a brief flash of tan bubble when poured.

Aroma: Bourbon barrel, malt, rum soaked raisins, bit of heady alcohol.

Taste: Bourbon candy, much like Goose Island Bourbon Stout. Sweet deep malt, barrel, toffee, hint of leather.

Mouthfeel: Hot, medium body, low carbonation, slick.

Overall: A cellar success, no off flavors, just deep melded bourbon barrel and malt, a fine sipper.

May 31, 2020
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BeerDawgs from Georgia

4.49/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2018 release - 12 oz bottle picked up in Vegas at Total Wine

L - Brown, no finger or head, but creamy looking. Very enticing

S - Sugar cane and booze...smells delicious

T - Like the aroma, lots of sugar and some heavy alcohol kick. Perfectly smooth and tasty

F - Medium body and creamy

O - An excellent barleywine - going to be hard to beat this one. Well done

May 29, 2020
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just1cho from California

4.57/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

*§ucaba 2019 Batch No. 008*

*Poured into a Teku glass from a 12oz bottle*

*Drank on: 05/18/20*

Looked a brown-amber and it was pretty clear when put up against the light, pretty predictable look for a barleywine style. Had a brown colored half-finger thick head but had little to no retention to it, but considering the age and ABV, it was pretty understandable.

The aroma was very barrel forward, you can definitely get a big hit of bourbon, ethanol, and oaky notes upfront. There were soft notes of leather, dark fruits, burnt caramel, vanilla, and toffee in the middle and back-end, but the beer was so barrel forward that these aromas were a bit subdued. Maybe some age will mellow out the bourbon and alcohol aromas and let the other notes shine.

In terms of the flavor profiles, I felt like the taste followed the nose for the most part. Delicious and complex, I also found that this beer struck a nice balance between the sweet/caramel notes of the malt and the boozy/earthiness of the bourbon oak barrel. You get the bourbon and the oakiness upfront, which eventually just dissipates to a bourbon flavor and dark cherries in the middle. Towards the end, I got a bit of the burnt caramel, toffee, and vanilla characters which left a combination of a sweet and bitter aftertaste, though the bitterness wasn't strong at all.

This beer was medium to full bodied with light carbonation. Again, this had a sweet and bitter aftertaste which lingered for a while, but the flavors weren't super bold or strong.

I felt like this was a very sold representation of a barrel-aged English Barleywine style. Big malty characters of caramel and toffee, but the flavors were balanced with the booziness and earthiness of the bourbon and oak. Very solid, and will review again after a year!

May 21, 2020
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opieo from Virginia

5/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Can't always find this but when I do, I buy it. Rich and full bodied. Complex flavors in a superbly balanced brew. I love taking my time with this sipper. Better after warming a bit.

May 20, 2020
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Dan-Man from California

4.99/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2016 22oz bottle from my wine cabinet,13.4% by volume.

Thin ring of brown foam when poured in tulip glass.
Reddish tint to the medium brown color.
Aromas of barrel booziness and mashed dark cherry.
Evenly balanced, mature barley wine flavors melded with oaked bourbon.
Long pleasing finish with cherry notes.
A perfect example of an aged barley wine ale.

May 03, 2020
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Wolvmar from Michigan

4.49/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

May 2020 Review
12oz bottle, 2018 vintage, purchased near Santa Cruz (A.J.’s I think) in May 2018. Numerical rating is a composite of two reviews.

Pour: dark brown with hints of red. One finger tan head that leaves some clouds and a nice ring. Minimal lacing. 3.75

Nose: dark stone fruit, booze, sweet malt. 4.25

Taste: follows the nose with caramel, burnt toffee, hint of coffee. Complex but clean and simple if that makes sense. Extremely well balanced. 4.75

Feel: low carbonation. Super smooth, substantial but not too thick. Just a little viscous. Drinks really easy. 4.5

Overall: an amazing beer that I wish I had more of. Not sure if they have done vintages in 2019 or 2020 but, if so, buy it. 4.5


Late 2018 Review
Pour: 12oz bottle. 2018 vintage. Purchased in May cellered since then. Pours mahogany brown color with red tones on the edges. One finger tan head that leaves clouds through. bubble lacing as well. Really attractive. 4.75

Nose: toffee, bourbon, dark fruits. Sweet malts, as if added sugar like turbinado. 4.25

Taste: burnt caramel, dark fruit, dark chocolate. Alcohol is present but well balanced. Bourbon with maybe a hint of rum. Could also be coconut coming through. Vanilla/sugar/malt sweetness with slight bitterness on the backend. Complex, balanced, delicious. Not quite a desert beer but definitely on the sweeter side. 4.5

Mouthfeel: moderate carbonation. Viscous but not a mil shake leaving it an easy drinker. Clean finish. 4.25

Overall: a great BBA beer. Absolutely worth seeking out. I have one left that I will cellar for a few years. Can’t wait to try again! 4.5

May 03, 2020
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LosDosAmigos from Arizona

5/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2016 vintage from 22 oz bottle, 13.4% abv. From Quality Liquor Store out of San Diego, CA.

Beautiful and unique dirty amber color. First served around 45 degrees F, the beer just explodes with flavor. Smells similar to the best imperial stouts but immediately informs you it is in fact a barleywine upon first drink. Very lovely on the palate.

Blooming yellow-brown head that disappears almost entirely as quickly as it came.

The booze greets you with every drink, unyielding. Which is a good thing.

Think "W00TSTOUT aged in delicate wines" and you're on your way to an idea of what it's like.

After warming the sharpness of the mouthfeel starts to subside (a bit).

May 02, 2020
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colts9016 from Idaho

4.91/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Today is a wondrous day for me personally! I crawled into the depths of my cellar and pulled this five-year-old beer out. I removed the black plastic off the cap. I hesitated and then carefully cracked opened the bottle. I waited in anticipation for the hiss. Gradually, I pried the cap off, a majestic hiss released along with a heavenly smell. The beer is 56 degrees and served in a tulip glass. The pour of the beer produced two-finger head. The head retention was short-lived but satisfying. The murky brown substance falls around SRM 22. The beer had a mahogany hue. The appearance of the beer is beautiful.

The initial aromas in the beer are toasted fresh bread, caramelized sugars, English toffee, and raisins. The next, I smell, bourbon, oranges, yeast, earthy, figs, molasses, roasted malts, vinous, treacle, sherry, port, wood, oranges, floral, leather, and vanilla.

The initial flavors in the beer are toasted bread crust, caramelized sugars, bourbon, treacle, molasses, raisins, and English toffee. Next, I taste, figs, , oranges, wood, leather vanilla, sherry, vinous, nutty, floral, tobacco, hay, rich toasted malt, dried fruit, and a hint of Maillard.

The mouthfeel of the beer is warming, chewy, and subtle carbonation.

The body of the beer is full, medium carbonation, a complete finish.

The complexity of this beer after five years made turned this beer into something amazing. I know it is a barleywine with an alcohol warmth and intricate malt body. The malt mixed with the yeast and hop profile marries perfectly. This is the reason why excellent barleywines have become another beverage I enjoy sipping the night away. I need to find a few more bottles of this beer and age them to enjoy later. Excellent beer!

Mar 26, 2020
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folkstar from Rhode Island

4.6/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Look - Amber, syrup like color.. with a decent head that settles into a thin ring that persistently lingers.
Smell - dark fruits, earth and wood and some bourbon
Taste - dark fruit, plenty of wood/barrel, some spice/earthiness and bourbon warmth toward the end of the sip.
Feel - very balanced and smooth, very enjoyable. Some creaminess. pleased to find this is not overly sweet.
Overall - though I didn't think I was a barleywine fan, this one is fantastic. glad I tried it!

Feb 24, 2020
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TooManyGlasses from Canada

4.5/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2019 Vintage acquired last February in San Diego.
Pours a clear reddish/ruby dark amber leaning to brown with 1/2 finger of short lived creamy khaki head.
Aromas of bourbon, vanilla, oak, with caramel malt, raisin, and dark fruit - hint of chocolate.
Tastes of bourbon, sweet caramel malt, dark fruits, toffee, brown sugar, vanilla - definite boozy, sweet and warming.
Rich smooth mouthfeel - sweet but not cloying - warming booziness lingers in the back of the throat.
Amazing barley wine - highly reccomend.

Feb 17, 2020
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Anders91 from California

4.38/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

4.5 Look: brown with amber edges, thin white head

4 Smell: malt, dark fruit, bourbon

4.5 Taste: bourbon, malt, dark fruit

4.5 Feel: super smooth, slides right over the tongue

Jan 14, 2020
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mntlover from Tennessee

4.61/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Pours a brownish red with small tan head that falls to ringed bubbles quickly.

Aroma is sweet caramel big figs, sugar coated plums, leather earthy notes, oak vanilla light bourbon notes for being in barrel for a year. Complex sweet and inviting with only light alcohol hints.

Taste is wow like the nose sweet caramel, big dark fruits, brown sugar, molasses sugar coated plums. Old leather oak barrels and vanilla through out. Very nice sweet goodness without being cloying, very complex a real treat.

Mouhfeel is medium not as full as you would think. Carbonation is smooth though.

Overall this is very nice, enjoyable very nice.

Dec 24, 2019
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bbtkd from South Dakota

4.46/5  rDev -2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Firestone Walker §ucaba 2019, 11.3% ABV. Pours dark brown, with a one-finger beige head. Nose is caramel, dark fruit, and bourbon. Taste is caramel, deep dark fruit, leather (belt not shoe), some sweetness, slight bitterness. Outstanding mouthfeel, overall world-class. I haven't liked barleywines I've had in the past but this is exceptional.

Dec 08, 2019
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GuyFawkes from Illinois

4.42/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Bottled 1/9/13; drank 12/17/15 @ California Split.

Opaque red/brown rust appearance.

Minimal khaki head; minimal lace.

Plum, leather & faint booze heat notes in the nose.

Flat, medium thick mouthfeel.

Caramel, plum & leather flavors; faint booze heat notes on the finish.

Very tasty.

Oct 17, 2019
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Herbabee from Pennsylvania

4.5/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

i'll first say it outright... F-W is the brewer i hate to love. i'm reduced to having to travel a bit, or capitalize on business trips south-of-my-border, to accrue product ... and oh those overly-precious individually-boxed bottles... of which i usually keep a full case piecemeal-ed, stocked and stored in the (guarded) cellar.

Moving right along... largely translucent rusty-bourbonish hue in the clear glass when held to the light... a syrupy, woody whiff of the snifter (to simplify impressions)... and then for that swish and swallow... a tad boozy, syrupy, burnished, caramel popcorn... finish only causes cravings, and the realization begins to set in that life is fleeting, as is this glass reaches its bottom. and no refill.

Oct 12, 2019
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NeilSilber1 from California

4.64/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Pours deep dark brown with fluffy white head. Snappy bite and bold hop - really nice for a barley wine. Boozy double barrel oak with hints of dark chocolate, vanilla and toasted coconut.

Sep 17, 2019
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AvengeTheRavel from Connecticut

4.65/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I love this beer for its taste, particularly the "candi sugar" aspect. This beer has joined my small circle of favorites. While the style is officially listed as "British Barleywine", the taste is very similar IMO to a good barrel-aged quad, like the Weyerbacher "Blasphemy". It is frustrating that barrel-aged quads seem hard to find where I live (Connecticut).

Aug 30, 2019
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TreyIsWilson from Michigan

4.47/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours a dark brown with a reddish tint. The one finger creamy white head leaves a decent amount of soapy lacing.

S - Aroma is caramel, toffee, raisins and bourbon.

T - The taste is raisins, plums, caramel, toffee, brown sugar, vanilla, chocolate, oak and bourbon.

M - Medium body with medium/low carbonation. Creamy mouthfeel with a soft dry finish.

O - Exceptional BBA Barleywine. The flavors are deep and rich. Really deserving of all the hype.

Aug 24, 2019
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JamFuel from Sweden

4.17/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours a murky, very dark brown with low, tan head.

Smell is sweet with notes of raisins, dried fruit, mulled wine, oak, vanilla, cocoa and brown sugar. Strong, but slightly busy.

Taste is rich and spicy, with notes all over the place, oak, vanilla, dried fruit, mulled wine, cocoa, leather. A bit of bitterness on the finish, along with some coffee grounds. Drinks like a half and half of barley wine and a quad, aged in oak.

Mouthfeel is medium to full, wel carbonated.

Overall, a very interesting beer, one to take time with, because there is A LOT going on.

Aug 20, 2019
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mkh012 from Colorado

4.59/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottled Jan. 2019

Pours dark brown-red, almost black, with a persistent ring of cream-colored head.

The nose is fig, prune, cherry, chocolate, coffee...This is one of those beers where you could list 10+ notes and not be bullshitting. There's a lot going on here. Mostly dark fruit, mocha, and rich bourbon/leather.

The taste follows. Mulled fall fruit, dark chocolate, and a very refined bourbon profile. It's almost refreshing and bright, which is crazy for both the ABV and the depth of mocha and bourbon notes that it simultaneously features. The initial fruitcake taste is very reminiscent of a Belgian quad. I'm impressed.

The mouthfeel is medium+. Mild carb. and a long finish.

Overall, I understand the acclaim. This reminds me of a great Belgian quad and is similarly complex and worthwhile. 4.5+

Aug 05, 2019
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SLeffler27 from New York

4.49/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Pours sharp and dark mahogany. Plum highlights glow in a crisp, clear way from an Offero oversized wine glass. A thin, fine, chestnut head lasts a couple of minutes before becoming a veil and a ring. Spotty lace washes up and down as a film clings but never seems to settle.

Rich and earthy raisins are punctuated by short bursts of brown sugar. Pumpernickle bread and leather give this an aroma of what I imagine a 19th Century English drawing room might smell like.

The sweet/bitter balance is tilted towards the sweetness with occasional spikes in bitterness. It generally follows the aroma with added notes of coal. The alcohol presents similar to whiskey, though very subtle. The finish is long and sweet. Warmth brings out a strong sense of licorice.

The body is full and velvety. Alcohol is well controlled, but still strong given that it is 12%. The carbonation is fine. A late hint of alcohol burn adds a nice texture. Unsurprisingly, there is a great deal of residual sugar.

This is less sweet than other British Barleywines. It is also much more earthy. I will hold the second bottle for the Autumn, but this one was very tasty on a hot, early June afternoon. Unquestionably, this is better served at a higher temperature. Both bottles are vintage release 2019.

Jul 07, 2019
§ucaba from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 100 out of 100 with 5447 ratings