§ucaba | Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

881 Reviews
no score
Send samples

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

Style: English Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 12.50%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
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.

Added by SacoDeToro on 02-21-2008

For Trade:
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 881 | Ratings: 5,004
Photo of MOVERTON1284
4/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2016 vintage consumed on March 28, 2017. I am not a big barleywine fan, but this was solid. Had all the qualities you want out of a barleywine. Sweetness, heat, barrel, etc.

 173 characters

Photo of PDXAmbassador
4.02/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2012 vintage.
Poured dark and fizzy, smells boozy, no head.
Fairly thin and not enough sweet to my palate. Pretty dry and oaky.
Probably perfectly within style guidelines, but a bit svelte for my American tastes. Wishing for more caramel, toffee, raisin and sweetness.

 269 characters

Photo of Derek
3.57/5  rDev -20%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

2016 Vintage.

Reddish brown, very little head, no retention or lace.

Big boozy aroma, bourbon, sherry, field berry.

I think the barrel has spoiled this one. It's not sour, but it's incredibly dry with plenty of oak and leather. Some roasted nut and raspberry, but it's overcome with bourbon.

Mouthfeel is relatively light and overly dry.

 343 characters

Photo of Barnchaser
4.54/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at flying saucer Kansas city. Pretty ruby beer, no head of course. Not to sweet, with rounded caramel notes. Balanced and not perfumy like American ones tend to be. Like a nice madeira wine. Will age my bottle as long as possible.

 237 characters

Photo of gopens44
4.46/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Beauty of a beer, as the firm two finger beige head formed on top this opaque burgundy body.

I was immediately struck by how no nonsense the nose is. The barrel was eager to escape, as bourbon, vanilla, tobacco and leathery tannins blended together near perfectly. After warming up a bit, the Bourbon dominates but brings along sugar and dates.

First sip brings massive hot bourbon raisins. Second swig, I know what is coming enough to dismiss the obvious and focus on the tobacco, which is hiding under an astringent heat. Third swig opens up with a bit of the date thing that was in the nose, but one thing all of the swigs have in common is the astringency on exit. Only a touch of aftertaste, and not overly dry despite being fairly hot.

Very happy to have finally get a chance to check this one out, as I'd classify it as a heavy duty barley wine for sure

 863 characters

Photo of ccg
4.23/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

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.

 941 characters

Photo of ajm5108
4.72/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Pours a deep ruby with a nice velvet lacing & gentle carbonation. The nose, as you would expect, is chock-full of caramel & toffee aromas, with warm bourbon quaffs floating in underneath. Lots of bourbon upfront, but on the mid-palate it shifts into decadent toffee flavors with vanilla and burnt sugar. Finishes with a boomerang of the bourbon heat but it is very smooth.

 372 characters

Photo of GOBLIN
4.29/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Smooth . . .
This barleywine is soooo smooth. In fact it's the smoothest ba barleywine I've had. Pours the usual dark and murky seductive amber brown with a slight foamy khaki tan head that dissipates quickly.
Aromas are aren't necessarily anything unique or special but the usual and expected scents of dark fruits, bourbon, oak and leather do indicate a well made Barlywine nonetheless.
Mmm, delicious . . . Taste is superb. Initial flavors of spicy malts and dark fruits along the lines of dates, raisins, figs and plums and a touch of cherries give way to a subtle blend vanilla and heat from the bourbon. Which in turn gives way to it's dry barrel aged oaky finish.
Overall, Sucaba has been a very long want of mine and it may not be the best I've had it still did not disappoint.
1) Open a bottle of this.
2) Pop in a Mozart piano Concerto.
3) Enjoy your day.

 868 characters

Photo of BSiegs
4.79/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

My 200th review! A dark, murky reddish brown with one finger of slightly off-white head. Retention is superb. The aroma is a fantastic mix of bourbon, oak, raisin, fig, caramel, spice, vanilla, and molasses. Complex and prepares you for a treat. Quite simply, the best bourbon barrel aged barleywine I have tasted. Same notes -- dark fruit, caramel, spice, vanilla, molasses -- with a perfect blend of bourbon and barrel. Full bodied, low-moderate carbonation, balanced, and moderately dry. An absolutely phenomenal beer.

 521 characters

Photo of Radcpa
4.67/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Great flavor slightly sweet with a nice caramel flavor and a smell to match Golden rose appearance. This barleywine lived up to its reputation. A little more aging should improve it even further.

 198 characters

Photo of braker649er
4.83/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

This was a special beer.

Enjoyed a 2012 bottle at the New Year 2017! That's nearly five years of cellaring (I sort of lost track) and before that 11 months aged by the brewery. It was bought for me as a birthday gift in June 2012, and I almost drank it on a 40th birthday in June 2016. But it hung on until the new year.

I was a bit concerned, but this couldn't have lost anything for the aging.

There were really all sorts of flavors. Plum, raisin, cocoa, wine, and who knows what from the barreling. Oak, sweetness, vanilla, bourbon? wine? And nothing off, even almost nothing bitter at all in this beer. Just a forceful but sedated flavor punch that is hard to describe. With just the right sweetness to be exceptional at a new year.

 740 characters

Photo of jcflorian
4.6/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2016 vintage. Pours a deep red with no head or lacing.

Aroma is amazing. Bourbon , oak and back end grape. Very nice

Taste - def best barley wine I have ever had. Oak and bourbon upfront. Grapes come in with a little booze. Matches the aroma very nicely.

Mouthfeel is a little light but still enjoyable.

Aroma- rock solid barley wine. Very stoked I was able to finally get this.

 398 characters

Photo of Sabtos
3.57/5  rDev -20%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Dark copper to burnt garnet with a moderate sized fluffy tan/yellow head that slightly clings on the edges.

Smell is rich caramel, grape, prune and fig with a hint of charred wood. As it warms, a bit of cologne, spruce, and/or eucalyptus develops, with molasses and gingerbread.

Taste is grape, caramel, toffee, toasted charred oak at first, with bourbon coming in strong on the back end with some prune finishing. Some round and waxy toasted coconut and cashew fills in the aftertaste. The heat and strength get a little overpowering towards the second half of the bottle.

Medium body with a fizzy froth and semi-dry finish.

2016 vintage

 642 characters

Photo of jooler
4.58/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a teku glass at 38F
Look is dark dark copper
Smell is bourbon
Taste is a bit sweet and alcoholic. Nice hint of Carmel and esters. One of the best barley wines I have ever tried. I got another in a cellar and we will see how it changes

 246 characters

Photo of ClavisAurea
4.86/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

2016 vintage served cold in a teku

Appearance: orange and copper with almost no head except for a few bubbles on the rim. Oily top of the liquid (the glass was very clean). Classic Vintage labeling from FW with tons of info and specs.

Nose: bourbon, sweet malt backbone, tons of barrel, coconut, walnuts, toasted oak, marshmallow, sweet alcohol and vanilla

Taste: follows the nose well but with a huge smack of barrel character, toasted coconut and marshmallow, oaky, bourbon, vanilla, some booze but certainly not the 13.4% ABV that the bottle lists. The beer is a bit sweet but that will help it age.

Overall: this beer lives up to the hype! It is totally worth the near perfect rating (99 BA Score at the time). I don't see where the fresh beer can be improved with the exception of the higher sweetness. I have another bottle and we sill see what a year or two does for this one.

 888 characters

Photo of mschrei
4.52/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Looks brown/purple, reminds me of a liqueur. Not getting much of a smell. Sweet and malty, tangy with a pleasant barrel presence of an alcohol burn on the back end.

 164 characters

Photo of Chris7482
4.94/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

2015 vintage
L: reddish brown with minimal head.
S: sweet caramel and dark fruit
T: fruity caramel with a hint of alcohol
F: smooth and sticky
O: great beer, glad I could try it. it tastes unbelievable and is ultra smooth

 222 characters

Photo of HopHunter19
4.96/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

A - nice dark brown color that's translucent at the edges, head is initially a creamy tan that sticks for a bit but then dissipates eventually and doesn't leave much lacing. The brown color does remind you of nice furniture though.
S - big vanilla, oak, chocolate, tobacco, bourbon, molasses, caramel, butterscotch in a good way
T - bourbon, oak, vanilla , old pipe tobacco, caramel, molasses, milk chocolate, cream, it's not oxidized but it definitely begs to be aged for 5 or 10 years
M - heavy beer, alcohol covered extraordinarily for the abv, aftertaste is bourbon, oak, little boozy
O - a damn good beer. Probably one of the best I've ever had. It's a shame it's so damn hard to get.

 691 characters

Photo of DaverCS
4.79/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Pours a Mohagony color. Head retention is limited to around the outside of glass. On tap at world of beers.

Aroma is of dried dried dark fruit: plums, cherries, and raspberries all soaked in rum. A nice amount of brown sugar and toffee.

Taste is phenomenal! Dark fruit, rum soaked raisins, brown sugar, and tons of toffee. A little alcohol burn at the end. Very smooth with a nice roastiness. Surprisingly a big amount of cherry and raspberry flavor as well.

Overall, this is a great beer! It reinforces my belief that FW has the best barrel aging program in the US. Drink this beer by itself; no food pairing necessary. It gets a 96/100.

 642 characters

Photo of CHickman
4.94/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2016 Vintage, Bottled 01/09/16: Pours so dark brown it looks blood red color with a foamy 1 finger tan colored head that was full of bubbles and faded on the quicker side, leaving minimal spotty lacing.

Wow, the aroma is hard to describe, it's so complex; really intense with tobacco, brown sugar, dark rum, dark fruit like raisin, dates, figs and plum, toffee, maple syrup, vanilla, oak barrels, caramel, coconut, wet leather, cinnamon and everything but the kitchen sink that's sweet and malty. Fruity, malty and full of wonderful earthy notes, I find myself stumped at trying to describe this as good as it smells. Summed up, it's wonderful.

Tastes like it smells, with the flavor lingering long after the swallow and tasting just as good as it did when it went down. Flavor starts of rich toffee, caramel, brown sugar, and then is similar to the nose with tobacco, sweet malt, wet tobacco leaf, vanilla, dark fruit like raisin, dates, figs and plum, toffee, maple syrup, oak barrels, coconut, wet leather, cinnamon, mild piney hops, gummy bear candy, sweet malt, graham cracker, bourbon, and minor booze that brings out more flavors and complexities rather than taking away from it. Sweet but not cloyingly sweet as the barrel influence cuts through with smoky and woody accents. So much flavor that my senses were overloaded and shutting down just so I could sip, savor and enjoy this world class brew.

Mouthfeel is creamy and buttery smooth with a medium body that leans towards chewy, average carbonation and one of the best finishes ever as it lingers just as tasty as each sip tasted. This brew hides the 13.4% ABV masterfully while letting some of the booze come through to remind you that this is a classic strong English Barleywine. An outstanding feel that was meant for sipping and easier to drink than it should be.

This lived up to the hype and was so flavorful and excellent that it justifies the steep price-tag. I have another bottle which I plan to age at least another year to maximize the flavor. One of the best overall beers I've ever had. Bourbon County Brand Barleywine Ale is a great English Barleywine, but this takes it to a whole new level.

 2,174 characters

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

'15 Vintage

Appearance - Pours a deep, dark auburn brown with an off-white, half finger width head. Fair retention, leaving a mostly barren surface. Virtually no lacing.

Smell - Equal notes of toffee and bourbon qualities; vanilla and oak. Some nuttiness.

Taste - Oh man. Toffee and toasted oak make up the bulk of the flavor, with lesser notes of vanilla and mild bourbon booze. A touch of raisin comes through in the backend. The finish is mostly toffee with a touch of caramel and light bourbon. Hard to beat this.

Mouthfeel - Medium-to-full in body with low carbonation. Slick texture that gets dry and slightly sticky on the finish. Incredible smoothness for a brew at 13.3%.

Overall - I originally reviewed this beer back in 2013 with a fresh bottle of the '13. I thought it was too hot and bourbon-centric for it to be a truly great beer. Fast forward to a few months ago, and I cracked my '14, finding it having lost too much punch. Tonight I'm drinking the '15, and I think a year of age on this beer makes all the difference in the world. It's beginning to sound a bit like the Goldilocks story, but this one is just right! I've got a '16 in the fridge that won't be opened for a year, and I may snag one or two more to do the same!

 1,251 characters

Photo of fireazzi
4.59/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

I was really impressed with this beer. One of the better barleywines I have had. It was a 2015 sucaba and I was surprised at how smooth this beer was. Great smell definitely got a lot of bourbon out of this one.

 215 characters

Photo of BeerStud187
4.94/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Simply put, this is the best beer I have ever had and what I believe to be the best beer ever made. If you have not had this beer, you have not lived and have nothing to judge beers against.

What does it taste like? Butter. Now I know that sounds strange and weird for a beer, but it's true and legit. While this might not sound like what you want in a beer, you are wrong. It's this warm, thick, caramelly, buttery goodness that warms your soul and your dick. I tried this is a flight with several other high quality barrel aged beers and this made them look like Ghetto Black and Tan made out of Colt 45 and Boone's Farm.

If you've over had improperly barrel aged beers and don't understand the hype, try this. If you've ever had awful barley wines that taste like rubbing alcohol and want to discount the whole category, try this. If you are a human and have a tongue, try this.

Like most other reviews will say, this is a super heavy, thick, buttery, rich, complex, smooth, experience. But overall it is this, an experience. This beer changed my life. I don't want to do anything else in life other than drink this beer. If Lexi Belle wants to hang out with me, I hope that she has a bottle of Sucaba with her, because otherwise my attention span may wonder, that's how good this is.

Head is small but thick. Color is fairly light and does not foretell the quality inside. Do not let this ruin your future life changing experience.

 1,453 characters

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:

 1,059 characters

Photo of ThrewRedButter
4.51/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

2011 Abacus!!!

L - Murky brown up front. Ruby red against the light. No head.

S - Complex. A little booze, oak, char, smoke, caramel, butterscotch, toffee, sweet malts ans bourbon.

T - Heavy on the malts and bourbon. Oak and tobacco from the barrel. Also has the sweeter, candy-iike caramel and toffee. Some cherry and honey.

F - Full-bodied. Slighty thick without being syrupy. Malts and bourbon last for days on the tongue. Some minor alcohol taste, but no warming or sting.

O - Just because its "Abacus", does that put it on another level from all releases since the name change? No. that's not taking away from the beer's superb quality. This is a bourbon-soaked ride filled with caramel, toffee, oak, and smoke. Easily one of the best (maybe the best) English Barelywine I've ever had.

 797 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
§ucaba from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
4.46 out of 5 based on 5,004 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.