§ucaba | Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

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

Style: English Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 12.50%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
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.

Added by SacoDeToro on 02-21-2008

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Reviews: 877 | Ratings: 4,988
Photo of PSU_Mike
5/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I'm generally against rating beers as 5s. I don't think there is such a thing as a perfect beer. But I'll be damned if I could find a fault in this one. It has a beautiful clear ruby red pour with a nice white head that lingers for a while. Hints of bourbon, vanilla, brown sugar, molasses, and wood explode from the nose and explode on your taste buds. The bourbon is present but not overpowering like other BBA beers I've had. It still allows the other flavors of the beer to shine. It's incredibly smooth and full bodied with the alcohol incredibly well hidden.

While I am not a huge barleywine fan, I do enjoy them from time to time and I can appreciate the style. This one is head and shoulders above the rest. Hell, it's head and shoulders above anything I've had.

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Photo of sjones5045
5/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Aged 1 year. Pours darkish brown with decent head. Maybe the best smelling beer of all time. A bit of malty bourbon that reall complements the barley wine notes. Kind of a syrup smell too. This is as smooth as smooth gets for a bourbon aged barley wine. Best in class in the bourbon barrel aged beers. This lives up to the hype and would definitely seek this out. Can't say enough positives about the beer.

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Photo of Trevor11
5/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I enjoyed this beer at SideDoor in downtown Chicago on 1/22/15. This was probably one of the best barleywines I have ever had. I would say it is much better balanced compared to bourbon county which was overly rich and a little unbalanced (maybe the bourbon county needed some aging). At 42 IBUs, there is only medium bitterness providing drinkability for such a powerful beer.

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Photo of abfraser
5/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Update: Have been fortunate enough to have this many times in Feb/Mar of 2009 and am upgrading my score a perfect 5, the only beer I have ever given such a rating. Just an unbelievably amazing beer. This is the benchmark for all barrel-aged stouts/barleywines. I'm not going to add anything to my previous review. I think my 5 rating speaks for itself.

Old review: Going to review this one off memory from a little over a week ago, so not going to be able to do as intricate a review. General principles still hold. Had at City Beer Store in SF during their Barrel Aged Week

A: Poured black, off-white head a finger or two deep

S: Smoked malt, vanilla bourbony goodness, brown sugar

T: Wow. Creamy alcohol, caramel, vanilla oak. So damn smooth and rich.

M: About as good as it gets. Mouth-filling and complex

D: Unbelievably drinkable for a "barleywine". So damn smooth and delicious.

A different type of barleywine than the sugary high alcohol set (although this one ain't no session beer). Just an awesome beer. Would drink it every night if I could.

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Photo of Brandywine
5/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Appearance: Deep crimson with barley a fingers worth of a tan head that dissipated almost immediately. Tons of alcohol legs. lots of lacing around the rim of the glass.

Smell: Bourbon, caramel, toffee, burnt brown sugar, rum soaked fruits, cherry, charred oak, sweet malt, vanilla, fruity esters, plum, fig.

Taste: Huge bourbon and vanilla notes, middle of the mouth fills with caramel and toffee, rum soaked fruit adds depth to the toffee and caramel notes, raspberry. Tip of the tongue has subtle toasted coconut overlaid with bourbon. End of the tongue has a nice tannic dryness that clears the palate from the initial and middle sweetness. Milk chocolate appears at the end as the beer warms.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with moderate carbonation. Viscous and sweet without being cloying.

Overall: A massively complex beer. Huge dark fruit notes covered in bourbon and sweet toffee. Just enough carbonation and tannins to clear the palate and make you want to come back for more. Expertly balanced between huge sweet notes and strong bourbon and heat but it remains extremely smooth even as it warms.

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Photo of Veazus
5/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2013 25oz...I own multiple bottles for aging, but I find myself caving and opening a bottle whenever a friend questions barleywines or cites KBS as the best barrel-aged; this beer is far superior to most bourbon aged beers...the craftsmanship is ridiculous.

A - pours a ruby red; as you pour you can see the medium to thick body. A 1/4 inch head with perfect carbonation.

S - boozy with vanilla, with a yeast undertone throughout...the sweetness is apparent as well.

T - the booze is upfront, not pushy but not secondary. Vanilla hits immediately after the bourbon, followed by some dark fruit, with a constant sweetbread undertone. The bourbon lasts and is the first to the party and the last to leave; inhabiting the chest as it goes down and exiting the nose as a bourbon vapor should.

M - thicker than medium, but won't choke you. Perfect carbonation...slight fizz to the swallow; much more carbonation than people are citing.

Overall - its a 5. I dont feel this way lightly. Many beers are so close to great, but not quite there. The presentation begins the experience: the box packaging, the bottle size (12oz would be entirely too small), the label, and the ruby-red color...all build a respectful anticipation. Like awaiting a world series game 7.

Once you begin to taste the beer you fully realize the skill in creating this old ale. It's layered perfectly, begging for a drinker to revisit and pick out it's characteristics...Sucaba begs you to share, showing people what passion and craftsmanship, when married, will produce.

This beer is exquisite.

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Photo of bubseymour
5/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is the most perfect English Style Barleywine I've ever had. This hits all the marks I like and the barrel aged/sweetness and overall balance of flavors is absolutely perfect. Incredible. Joins my perfect 5 group.

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Photo of Circles413
5/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This beer is huge! I've had a few tastings of this beer & it never disappoints!! Very dark in color, great mouth feel & opens up quite nicely at room temp.

If you're lucky enough to get your hands on this beer I suggest you grab 2. One to try & one to age for 10 months.

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Photo of Belchmaster
5/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is the ultimate barley wine...Oh my God!!!
This is far and away one of the best beers the world has seen - yes better than Westvleteren 12.
Get one of these - if you can - and impress your friends with a taste or two.
It pours a dark brown with a thin white head.
The smell is out of this world Carmel, Vanilla, Bourbon, and holy moly awesomeness.
Mouth feel is full, rich and thick.
Taste is incredible - like it smells but far more complex. I could drink this everyday and be happy...very happy - but drunk, and needing a liver transplant in short order as it is 13,5% alcohol content...but you'd never know it as it is well hidden.
One bottle of this to yourself and you have thoroughly enjoyed every second of it, you have a healthy buzz and you won't be up pissing 5 times that night like you would have been if you drank a case of Corona or Bud.
This is a beer for the ages.
I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Extremely highly recommended!

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Photo of sitarist
5/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Blind review, via the blind bif round 7. Bottles 4a. & 4b. are bombers that say "share."

4a... Pours a deep, rich ruby color. Very little light gets through. A hard pour yields a few bubbles that retreat to a thin ring which leave a few spots of lacing.(4.5)

It has a pleasant sweet aroma. Caramel, toffee, vanilla, dates, as it warms I get some bourbon. Nice balance, not too sweet, alcohol is prominent yet in check. Dare I say that it is sophisticated? (5.0)

The bourbon carries over well. It has wonderful balance in the flavor department as well. Toffee, & whiskey (cognac) lead the way, vanilla, & caramel finish. (5.0)

Nice thick body, next to no carbonation, a bit sticky. Its body is perfectly paired to its flavors.(5.0)

It goes down easy for such a "big beer.". If I had one beer to drink for the rest of my life; it would be this one!(10.0)

4b. Pours root-beer brown, not much light passes through. 1/8" of tan head retreats quickly to a faint ring. Spots of lacing slide back in to the drink.(4.0)

It has a big, complex aroma. I smell whiskey / bourbon, tobacco, cherries soaked in vodka, caramel... Its not about any one component, it is the overall aroma that make this a winner.(5.0)

Taste like an adult beverage to me! The first sip tells me that there is a common denominator between this and 4a. Less booze, and more fruit, though it is still quite boozy.Tobacco is an added element as well. Its flavors do not seem to be as married, no complaints though...good to the last drop.(4.75)

Full bodied with a hint of carbonation, slightly bitter, warm, dry finish.(4.5)

This is a wonderful beer as well; too bad it had to go up against 4a.(4.75)

Im guessing that these are both English style Barleywines, same brand different vintages.

4a. = 2012 SUCABA.
4b. = 2011 ABACUS.

I was fucking floored with the reveal. Not only due to how buzzed that Buzzard and I were becoming, but also getting to share this great beer with a non b.a. At times I think he enjoyed this more than I did. He was more amazed than me with the depth, and complexity of these two beers. It didnt mater to him if he was drinking 4a, 4b. or AbacussucabA.

Kind of weird, I would have guessed that 4a. had more age than 4b.

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Photo of Impfan
5/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Incredible barleywine with beautiful dark chocolate, cognac, pitted fruit and unpitted fruit skins, tobacco, leather, subtle bourbon (well integrated) cardamom, clove, and surprisingly dryish in the remarkably lengthy finish. Impeccable balance from sniff to aftertaste. Simply one of the most amazingly sophisticated barleywines I've ever tasted. In another six months when the heat has subsided, this will be a true masterpiece. Edit: After only a few days resting, the heat has almost totally vanished, the carbonation is softer, and the flavors are already more married. Kudos, Firestone!

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Photo of Clints1991
5/5  rDev +12.1%

I'm not much of a barley wine drinker. Sucaba definitely makes an exception. It has a strong nose on it, pour a nice dark color. Has a a strong flavor profile and still goes down smooth. It pours a dark color with a tan head that doesn't last long. It has aromas or fruits, malts, sweetness and alcohol of course. It has strong notes of spices, dates, figs, caramel, wood-aged. It is strong but is very smooth on the palate. This is my first one, 2014 edition and will be buying more of these in the future!!

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Photo of JoeySchlitz
5/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A re-review almost a year later - was again on tap at CBS (3/09) and again delicious.

Had on tap at City Beer Store in SF following the barrel-aged week and was really surprised to see it still available today.

A: Mahogany brown with a medium to light head. Very little if any lacing.

S: Sweet, malty with a bit of smokiness and brandy (delicious). Hopp undertones but well balanced.

T: Fantastic and completely agree with an earlier review - as it warms up the real flavors surface (carmel, toffee, butterscotch, etc.). There is a slight hoppy finish at the end although crisp - no lingering bitterness.

M: Chewy (although a bit overused as a descriptor - this term definitely applies) great mouthfeel. The kind of beverage that you want to linger in your mouth for a bit to pick up all the flavors.

D: Unbelievably drinkable for the high abv - and can definitely sneak up on you making the following day's work pretty much useless. Like a well-polished brandy or whisky this one goes down quite easily and brings a smile to your face.

This is definitely one of the best barleywines that I have had and look forward to future availability. Firestone (although seemingly focused on pale ales based on their website) needs to either bottle this or produce/distribute more of this and the Parabola. They're definitely on to something here.

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Photo of Stunner97
5/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Appearnce- dark brown to to dark amber/red/brown, light thin tan head quickly fades away to only the rim of the glass, almost no carbonation what so ever

Smell- tons of vanilla, oak, sweet malts, just such and appeasing appetizing nose can really pull a ton of oak,

Taste- wow just so delicious and so balance, nice faint hops provide a balance at the end with little gentle kiss of alcohol, notes of chocolate and vanilla just so delicious delectable balanced

Mouthfeel- so surprisingly light and smooth makes it go down so easy

Overall/Drinkability- this is overall probably one of the best beers I have had in an extremely long time, its just so incredible balanced even with out any age, the oak has been masterfully integrated into a delicious and smooth ale of high abv. but amazingly drinkable, well worth seeking out I find this to be a master piece, as well as this is rated i find it underrated, seek it and horde it good stuff, almost reviewed this just under perfect but said to myself for the style how could this be better my answer was it couldnt be , this is perfect if not best beer i have ever had in my top 5 and certainly the best of they style, incredible, this beer made me forget the world around me and smile when something can do that its brilliance : )

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Photo of zoolzoo
5/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A: "Dirt brown", maybe a half finger head which quickly dissipates. Not much activity. I guess I didn't expect much anyway.

S: Bourbon, anise, cherry, tobacco. The alcohol is there but well integrated.

T: Vanilla bean ice cream, bourbon, drizzled with chocolate. Sweet as hell, but cloying? Is an ice cream sundae "cloying"? No, its just awesome. No medicinal qualities, even in the impressions of cherry as the glass warms. Nice woody undertones, and a FAINT hop bitterness compliment. Not over hopped, thankfully. Alcohol presence is complimenting, not really "boozy".

M: Enough carbonation to support and enhance drinkability. Body is velvety and smooth. Drinkability is right on, this is going down too fast @ 13%.

O: Overall, this is what a Barley Wine should taste like in my opinion. World Class!

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Photo of JohnnyHopps
5/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Appearance: The beer was a cloudy shade of black with an off-white colored head crowning the glass.

Smell: The nutty notes jump to the front, but malt and bourbon are also very detectable.

Taste: I love the nuttiness that starts the taste. Nuts, caramel, sweet milk chocolate notes balance in the taste. The bourbon does not overwhelm the taste, but lends itself to balance. The warming aftertaste makes each of the taste notes glow a little brighter. This is orgasmic!

Moutheel; The mouthfeel is a little syrupy and resembles a port. Of course, this allows the taste to linger for an exceptional amount of time.

Overall: This is my first perfect score on BA; I really can not say anything bad about it. I certainly wish it was more accessible.

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Photo of Maniv_Steel
5/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Amazing, one of the best beers I've ever had.

L- dark Amber color, tan head that quickly dissipated

F - definitely has some body but not too much. Moderate carbonation

S - instantly I knew I would like it once I smelled it. Big vanilla and toffee.

T - similar to the nose. Pretty sweet with the same caramel, toffee vanilla flavors. Some booze but it perfectly balances the sweetness. Finishes with caramel corn, a slight butteriness.

O- I usually don't give out 5* ratings but this deserves it. For me, a perfect BA beer. Only question is what to do with the other 2 I have. My feeling is it will continue to get better, but don't hesitate to drink now.

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Photo of Tawnos
5/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is labeled (here) as an American Barleywine, but really reminds me more of an English one. Since they used a British yeast, I will be rating this as if it were English.

A: Quickly dissipating head with almost no lace. Large bubbles that make loud popping as they disappear. Swirling in glass causes a brown coating on the wall, indicating high sugar.
Cola brown with reddish highlights

S: This beer hits you fast with the sweet smell of overripe pineapple and perfectly ripe coconut (almost a pina colada), hints of chocolate and a slight sweet-sherry smell follow.
The malty smell is reminiscent of sweet dark rye bread. Very small butterscotch upon opening hints at diacetyl, but that quickly fades.

T: Sweet toasted malt gives way to a chocolate and bourbon palette with. There's no hop bite, the bitterness is slightly subdued behind the sweet chewy toffee. Slightly alcoholic, but not too much. It leaves a coffeelike aftertaste going down, which turns to coconut.

M: It's creamy and delicious and not too hot or biting on the tongue. The balance is perfect.

I would drink this again and again, though probably only one a night if I want to wake up the next day. It is truly a world class beer, one of the few 5.0s to a style I have seen. Judged as an English Barleywine, I cannot find a flaw.

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Photo of Tastesalot
5/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A: deep copper/brown pour, brief tan head

S: bourbon, sweet liqueur

T: bourbon, butterscotch liqueur, toasted coconut, dark fruit, sweet, oak bitterness, boozy, complex

M: full-bodied, thicker

O: This barrel-aged beauty is a sipper, and gets even better at the end of the bottle. Is even more complex as it becomes less cold. I find myself wanting more. Definitely world class -- what a beer!

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Photo of Budinetz
5/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2014 vintage. Poured from the bomber Into a wide snifter. Pours a dark brown color with a half inch head that dissipates quickly and leaves very little thin foam at te surface.very little to no lacing present around the glass. Smells of Madeira, port wine and fig. Tastes of dates, figs, caramel, subtle oak, whiskey, port wine. Great mouthfeel, solid malt base, and overall very drinkable for a 13.5% abv brew. Would absolutely seek this one out!


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Photo of JohnnyMc
5/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2013 Vintage cellared for over 3 years now!

Pours out a very dark copper with ruby hints and an off-white head.

The aroma is vanilla, coconut, bourbon, caramel, toffee, dark fruits, cherry, oak, barrel char, bit of chocolate and a hint of molasses. Extremely complex with layers and layers of different smells. I could spend all day just smelling this one!

Taste starts off with some sweet bourbon and vanilla, goes into a toasted coconut, caramel and toffee malt base, some milk chocolate and molasses/brown sugar. There's dates, figs and raisins along with cherry notes too and even a touch of a red wine character. Sip after sip presents something new and there are so many layers and so much complexity to this one!!

Fuller side of medium bodied, creamy, smooth mouthfeel and only a slight warming in the chest. The alcohol is hidden quite well. Definitely a sipper, but so smooth.

I very rarely rate anything a 5/5, 10/10, 100/100, etc, but this beer more than deserves it!! An absolute joy to drink and my only regret is that I don't have more. D:

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Photo of bball208
5/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

All my lifetime boners combined still do not add up to the love I have for this beer.

Looks beautiful. Brown and red, with a trace of white head that dissipates quickly.

The smell is tremendous. You get bourbon, vanilla, tons of oak, toffee, that classic english barleywine style smell.

The taste blew my mind. It follows the nose, times 10. There is absolutely nothing lacking in this beer. It is so incredibly well-balanced with the sweet, the booze, and wood, and mouthfeel. Just to die for.

Overall, don't buy this beer. I want them all.

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Photo of Gregaroo
4.99/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Good Dog Bar, Philadelphia, PA.
8-6-16 - Enjoyed a 2014 bottle in a tulip glass. Aroma is OUTSTANDING! Color is Dark Ruby, as described. Slight caramel head. Flavors are intense for this sipping beer. I have one more 2014 bottle to have in a few months. Awesome.

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Photo of Absolut
4.99/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2013 bottle that's been in my possession since i purchased on the release date.

pours a dark, deep brown with very little head. leaves waves on the glass like an excellent wine.

smells of molasses, oak, vanilla, caramel, bourbon, malt

taste is much like the smell. so freaking good.

perfection in a bottle.

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Photo of Sandbarunner
4.99/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

The quintessential barley wine darkness that you could ever want.

One hundred percent greatness.

Worth the plane ticket to the West Coast to get this beauty. I wish I would've bought about ten more. But I did not...


If you like light fizzy beer... Stay away! This is full body full flavor wholesome goodness!

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§ucaba from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
4.46 out of 5 based on 4,988 ratings.
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