Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

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Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
California, United States
Barleywine - English
Ranked #4
Ranked #161
4.51 | pDev: 7.98%
May 08, 2022
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)

Matured for 1 year in a blend of Heaven Hill, 4 Roses, and Old Fitzgerald barrels.
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Ratings by ccg:
Photo of ccg
4.23/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25
by ccg from Virginia

2015 Sucaba, opened 2017-02-17. Side-by-side comparison with a 2015 Central Waters BA Barleywine and a 2014 Bourbon County Barleywine.

Cloudy with a medium-brown color. Slight carbonation. Not as dense and goopy-looking as the BCBBW.

Smell is dominated by oak and bourbon with plenty of sweet malt. Also caramel and vanilla. The sweetness comes through almost like cola. Hint of sweet dark fruit in the background, like red grapes.

Flavor is similar to smell but mellower and more subtle. Lots of caramelized sugar, vanilla, oak, bourbon, and malt.

It feels fairly dense and oily, but it doesn't have the viscosity of the BCBBW. Alcohol is well-integrated It's listed as 13.3% ABV -- higher than the BCBBW -- but there's no bite or burning.

This is probably the second-best BA barleywine I've had. It's quite good, but in a side-by-side with Bourbon County, it doesn't have quite the smoothness, richness, or density to come out on top.

Feb 17, 2017
More User Ratings:
4.6 by Buck_Jones from Michigan on May 08, 2022
4.51 by Taenim from New Jersey on Mar 05, 2022
Photo of cambabeer
4.54/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75
by cambabeer from New York

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
Photo of bluejacket74
4.5/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
by bluejacket74 from Ohio

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
4.21 by not2quick from Missouri on Jan 15, 2022
Photo of elNopalero
4.94/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5
by elNopalero from California

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
4.23 by wolfpac255 from Illinois on Jan 07, 2022
Photo of Iamaskier
4.54/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5
by Iamaskier from Idaho

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
Photo of garontreed
4.86/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5
by garontreed

Is it the best Barleywine I’ve had in years? Yes, yes it is

Dec 23, 2021
4.36 by TomFoolery_x from Illinois on Dec 17, 2021
4.75 by Resistance88 from California on Nov 24, 2021
4.5 by beermanben from Wisconsin on Oct 05, 2021
4.25 by rstump24 from Ohio on Aug 24, 2021
5 by kblomseth from California on Aug 19, 2021
4.54 by Jcoleman4 from Ohio on Aug 13, 2021
Photo of Casey_L
4.46/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5
by Casey_L from Texas

Year 2019

Aug 02, 2021
Photo of drdiesel9483
4.64/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75
by drdiesel9483 from Ohio

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
Photo of feloniousmonk
4.36/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25
by feloniousmonk from Minnesota

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
4 by Rkitchen from Michigan on Jun 19, 2021
4.5 by GFK from Michigan on Jun 15, 2021
Photo of beeme_
4.88/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75
by beeme_

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
4.69 by Burg from New Hampshire on May 05, 2021
4.5 by Eyedoc27 from Illinois on May 05, 2021
4.34 by RickS95 from Indiana on May 01, 2021
4.49 by micada from New York on Mar 22, 2021
Photo of Franziskaner
4.17/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25
by Franziskaner from Missouri

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
4 by blackcloud from Alaska on Feb 26, 2021
Photo of Zythophile
4.15/5  rDev -8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4
by Zythophile from District of Columbia

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
4.08 by mrmsmith from District of Columbia on Feb 02, 2021
Photo of dcotom
4.63/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
by dcotom from Iowa

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
4.53 by JAWS from New York on Jan 28, 2021
4.34 by WormGod from New York on Jan 25, 2021
Photo of bminor7
4.43/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
by bminor7 from New York

2012 edition.
Proprietor’s Reserve §eries No. 002.
27p-4.7p. 42 IBU. 36 SRM. 12.5%
Would love to have had another more recent vintage for comparison.

Jan 23, 2021
4.25 by tblack4d from Georgia on Jan 21, 2021
4.41 by 46and2 from Missouri on Jan 10, 2021
Photo of gooddaydiablo
4.67/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5
by gooddaydiablo from Texas

2018 sucaba, tasted on 2021.1.9
look: deep amber/brown, 75%black

smell: cherry, wood, booze

taste: deep, caramel, smoke, toffee, vanilla, bread

feel: balance! hide abv well, smooth and easy chugging tho you should not do it

overall: nice nice nice firestone walker, ganbei!

Jan 09, 2021
Photo of TheeWarPig
4.7/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75
by TheeWarPig from Michigan


Jan 08, 2021
Photo of Ckgibu
3.79/5  rDev -16%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75
by Ckgibu from Hawaii


Jan 02, 2021
5 by chewy6935 from Michigan on Dec 30, 2020
§ucaba from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 100 out of 100 with 5500 ratings