Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

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Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
California, United States
English Barleywine
Ranked #4
Ranked #151
4.51 | pDev: 7.98%
Mar 24, 2023
Feb 21, 2008
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)

2019 Bottle Notes
O.G. 24.5 Plato
F.G. 5.1 Plato
I.B.U. 34 Units
Yeast British Ale (House)
Cases 6000 produced (LTD)
Color 42.0 SRM Dark Ruby

Matured for 1 year in a blend of Heaven Hill, 4 Roses, and Old Fitzgerald barrels.
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Photo of NiceTaps
Reviewed by NiceTaps from New Jersey

4.32/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25
2018 Vintage, sipped on March 24, 2023 in a stout snifter glass.

Dark brown with deep red highlights. A near 1f cap appears briefly before settling to a thick rim film. A few spots of lacing, surprisingly.

Oak aged bourbon and booze aroma up front. Toasted dark bread malts, chocolate, and caramel.

Flavors of bourbon soaked toast and malt, vanilla, dark chocolate, and a touch of cherry wine.

Big and boozy body, yet quite smooth. There’s a light touch of carbonation and the dark chocolate slips in the finish.

An incredibly well aged Barley Wine Ale. A nice tug of war between strong booze and mellow sips.
Mar 24, 2023
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Reviewed by donspublic from Texas

4.53/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5
Vintage 2018
Poured from bottle into tulip, good 2+ finger head recedes rather quickly to a small pool, so so lacing. Jet black in the glass, no light gets thru. Big barrel on the nose, caramel, toffee and dried fruits, good nose. Taste follows the nose, big bourbon on the front, big hit of malt sweetness, creamy caramel, some raisin, plum on the tail end and finishes with a good assertive bitterness. Residual bourbon, caramel left on the palate.
Mar 13, 2023
Rated: 4.25 by seakayak from Massachusetts

Mar 10, 2023
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Reviewed by BJB13 from Maryland

4.27/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
12 ounce bottle poured into a snifter.
2018 vintage
Drank January ‘23

Caramel brown with a half inch of short lived tan foam. Some suspended sediment from the second pour. Malty sweet aroma, caramel, bread, dark fruit and some mild alcohol. Tastes much the same, with the addition of toffee/molasses type sweetness and a touch of metallic tang. It is sweet but a clean bitter finish keeps the sweetness well in check. Medium body, low carination, smooth and soft closing with a warm alcohol bite.

This has held up well. But the BA character is gone and I’m guessing some of the hop flavor has disappeared but oxidative flavor, really only a small metallic tang, is low. Drinks easy considering the high ABV.
Jan 08, 2023
Rated: 4.5 by ear-bending from Texas

Dec 10, 2022
Rated: 4.5 by jvgoor3786 from Arkansas

Oct 12, 2022
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Reviewed by 5toutman75 from Illinois

4.38/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
2018 release
consumed 8/22/22

rightfully a classic of the style. The 2018 bottle is very smooth and although I taste the alcohol, it's very easy to drink. The bourbon is definitely there and wonderfully balanced. As it should be, the mouthfeel is thinner than a BA stout. This is a wonderful world class beer and always worth having on your shelf or fridge.
Aug 23, 2022
Rated: 4.83 by BillAfromSoCal from California

Jul 03, 2022
Rated: 4.18 by Affinity from Missouri

Jun 02, 2022
Rated: 4.6 by Buck_Jones from Michigan

May 08, 2022
Rated: 4.51 by Taenim from New Jersey

Mar 05, 2022
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Reviewed by cambabeer from New York

4.54/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75
Had the 2018 version, on tap at Other Half DC

Dark, mostly opaque reddish brown, still somewhat see through, tan head.

Raisin, boozy, maple, toffee, oak, fig jam on the nose. Taste follows, but with some coffee bitterness to go with the fig, raisin, clove, toasted sugar, chocolate.

Probably best barleywine I’ve ever had, boozy but not over powering, somehow everything seems in place (where I often find barley wines to be unbalanced in one way or another)
Feb 20, 2022
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Reviewed by bluejacket74 from Ohio

4.5/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
12 ounce bottle, 2019 vintage. 01/19/2019 is stamped on the neck of the bottle, I'm assuming that's the bottled on date. Served in a snifter, the beer pours a dark reddish/brown color with about an inch light tan head. Head retention and lacing are both good. I like the aroma, the brew smells like bourbon, vanilla, brown sugar, coconut, cherry and oak. Really sweet and malty smelling. For the most part I think the taste is similar to the aroma, but with the addition of some raisin, fig and chocolate flavors. It's sweet tasting but not overpowering at all. Mouthfeel/body is full, it's coating and easy to drink with a low/moderate amount of carbonation. If you're into English style barleywines then definitely pick this one up, I'm glad I did!
Jan 21, 2022
Rated: 4.21 by not2quick from Missouri

Jan 15, 2022
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Reviewed by elNopalero from California

4.94/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5
2018 Sucaba, enjoyed November, 2021.

Rich, warm, intense cola brown in the glass. Light aroma, with toasted coconut standing out. Thick, almost excessively so, with a long finish. There’s a hint of hops on the end, sticky and sharp.
Jan 12, 2022
Rated: 4.23 by wolfpac255 from Illinois

Jan 07, 2022
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Reviewed by Iamaskier from Idaho

4.54/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5
No head, hazy caramel brown body. Smell is rich— bourbon whisky dominates, with caramel malt, figs, tobacco, and a healthy rye spice. Taste is more subtle than expected. Figs, brown sugar, whisky, cherry, just a hint of coconut, vanilla, and lots of rye spice. Smooth drinking. Nice alcohol warmth. Not as overpowering as expected, which is good. It has balance, and plenty of going on. What an amazing sipper. If I had a cellar, I’d jump on another bottle.
Jan 07, 2022
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Rated by garontreed

4.86/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5
Is it the best Barleywine I’ve had in years? Yes, yes it is
Dec 23, 2021
Rated: 4.36 by TomFoolery_x from Illinois

Dec 17, 2021
Rated: 4.75 by Resistance88 from California

Nov 24, 2021
Rated: 4.5 by beermanben from Wisconsin

Oct 05, 2021
Rated: 4.25 by rstump24 from Ohio

Aug 24, 2021
Rated: 5 by kblomseth from California

Aug 19, 2021
Rated: 4.54 by Jcoleman4 from Ohio

Aug 13, 2021
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Rated by Casey_L from Texas

4.46/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5
Year 2019
Aug 02, 2021
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Reviewed by drdiesel9483 from Ohio

4.64/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75
Look - dark reddish brown with a nice tan head and lacing
Smell - woody raisin and fig
Taste - slight sweet raisin and fig and that woodiness
Feel - medium full body light carb and creamy
Overall - fantastic

Also had a 2016 in 2021 and it was about what I noted about the fresh one
Aug 01, 2021
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Reviewed by feloniousmonk from Minnesota

4.36/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25
Firestone Walker Sucuba Vintage 2019 Barley Wine Ale.
11.3 % ABV. Firestone Walker Brewing, Paso Robles, CA.

Dark mahogany-hued, slim white-ish head.

In the nose: Big, boozy barleywine aromas, popping out the wazoo. All the earmarks of a classic big ol' barley-wine. Ablaze with all the the raisin and fig, the woody character, the deep malty, chocolatey, tobacco and leather notes.

In the mouth: here's where it's all delivered, right on the palate. More big, more booze, massive malt, plenty of bourbon, vanilla, cherry, and all the deep, devilish dark fruits aplenty. Yum a dum, dum. I could have sat on this another five years, but I just had to try it now.

One of the best barleywines I've tasted in a good long while. Mmm, hmmm
Jul 05, 2021
Rated: 4 by Rkitchen from Michigan

Jun 19, 2021
Rated: 4.5 by GFK from Michigan

Jun 15, 2021
Photo of beeme_
Reviewed by beeme_

4.88/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75
2016 edition.
13.4% ABV
4,000 cases produced
Color: dark brown
Smell: brown sugar and chocolate
Taste: bourbon, chocolate, caramel and fruity berry sourness at the end
May 08, 2021
Rated: 4.69 by Burg from New Hampshire

May 05, 2021
Rated: 4.5 by Eyedoc27 from Illinois

May 05, 2021
Rated: 4.34 by RickS95 from Indiana

May 01, 2021
Rated: 4.49 by micada from New York

Mar 22, 2021
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Reviewed by Franziskaner from Missouri

4.17/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25
Deep brown to light black in color with minimal light penetration. Murky river water complexion which is true to barrel aged barleywine. There’s a fingernail of brown around the rim and covering a third of the top. The aroma is a plethora of malt, some vanilla, and some bourbon. I taste vanilla, sweet malt, and bourbon. The mouth is sticky, chewy, and boozy.
Mar 21, 2021
Rated: 4 by blackcloud from Alaska

Feb 26, 2021
Photo of Zythophile
Reviewed by Zythophile from Washington

4.15/5  rDev -8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4
Bottle Date: 2018
Palate Contaminants: other beer, plus a nice fatty cheese

Medium brown color and off-white head. Lacing is present, but doesn't last too long.

First smell that hits me is flint. (That's... odd.) Scored sugar. Roasted pecans, honey-covered. This isn't the first time I've had this brew, but I don't remember any of this.

Maybe I should've downed this one and bought a fresher bottle to review because it has been one of my favorites, even if I haven't had it in years. I mean, none of this rings the ol' olfactory bell for me. Still, I rate the first bottle/can that's possible for me, so if there's wide dispersion in the quality, then it is what it is.

On the taste (of this bottle), if herbal rum were a thing, this would be it, right on down to the alcohol presence. And I suppose you can kick in a little lactose, butter variety. It's much more vegetative than I remember, too. It's more bitter than most FW barrel-aged offerings. Sweetness is moderate. (There's none of the savoriness that I remember.)

At least the build quality is still there. Good, fine carbonation, and there's a really pleasant woody/nutty aftertaste. Good medium-heavy weight. The overwrought alcohol presence is the only detriment.

I need to revisit this one.
Feb 21, 2021
Rated: 4.08 by mrmsmith from District of Columbia

Feb 02, 2021
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Reviewed by dcotom from Iowa

4.63/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
Poured cold into a tulip glass and allowed to warm to cellar temperature. Dark brown in color (I'm guessing around 40 EBC), with a thick tan head that left some nice lacing as it settled. There's nothing subtle about this one. Huge aromas and flavors of caramel, molasses, dark fruit, and licorice, accompanied by notes of bourbon, oak, and vanilla. Very sweet and quite boozy, with a little sweetness lingering on the palate. These FW BBA barleywines are truly something special, and this one is well deserving of its lofty ratings.
Jan 31, 2021
§ucaba from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 100 out of 100 with 5510 ratings