§ucaba | Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

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5,226 Ratings

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

Bros Score:
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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 5,226 |  Reviews: 936
Photo of Sammy
3.9/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On-tap at City Beer Store. Good barleywine aromas, creamy mouthfeel, A tad of creamy off-white head on brown. Carbonation was a tad fizzy. Decent drinkability, I could have much more in a meal. A decent barleywine,British in character though not exceptional on this day.

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Photo of kylehay2004
4.36/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of jaydoc
4.52/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of acurtis
4/5  rDev -11.5%

Photo of StonedTrippin
4.55/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

this is as good as a barleywine can get for me, a style of beer I don't always rush to score because of the heavy fusel alcohols and mess of grains usually accompanying American versions. this however, is a masterpiece! thanks to claystation for hooking it up. 2013 release. it pours a deep mahogany color, dense but not particularly cloudy, with a tall and fairly long lasting off white head. the nose is very complex, but also mellow. I definitely get red wine, charcoal, bourbon, rye malt, caramel, and alcohol. the different barrel blends really come out in the nose and the taste, giving a lot of layers to this monster. the flavor features some vanilla and some toffee, brown sugar, but its not too sweet, and some dried fruits in the date or fig range. again, the complexity is stunning. furthermore, the alcohol content of this beer in not caustic or hot like I expected it to be. its in fact quite tame, just warming, appropriate. this is also oddly drinkable for its magnitude. its soft in feel, but very well carbonated, and the body is full but not filling per se. I cant say enough about this one, everything is dialed in, and its a beer only firestone walker could pull off. its got their signature all over it. I was hesitant and skeptical to see a barleywine so high in the BA rankings, but this makes perfect sense now that ive had it. I will look forward to my next bottle with great enthusiasm! a must try. this is pretty much the end all and be all of the style for me.

edit: just cracked a 2012 vintage of this with some homies, and wow, does this age well! some 5 or even 6 years old now, this is drinking super well, flattering oxidation only, rich caramels and toffee, a light cinnamon note to the whiskey, loads of oak and vanilla, and a cool fruitiness. it all seems to mature and refined and well mellowed. not sure it has a ton of years left in it, but it sure is at a peak right now. gorgeous with this much age on the bottle!!!

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.84/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pours a dark crimson red/dark brown with a very, very small tan head that fades to nothing. The head came out very fizzy, much like a soda. No lacing whatsoever on the drink down. The smell coming off this beer is absolutely fantastic. Caramel, toffee, butterscotch, brown sugar, cherry, coconut, earthy woods all come out of the glass. I spent about 5 minutes just smelling this beer before I even took a sip. Not surprisingly the taste is out of this world. The first taste that I get is toasted coconut. This is followed by sweet caramel/toffee, candied cherries, and very subtle hints of chocolate. There is an aftertaste of some woody notes from the barrels. This beer has a good level of carbonation which I think helps it from being too thick and cloying. This is by far the best barleywine I have ever had. The 13% ABV is really not noticeable at all. The aromas and flavors mesh together amazingly well. I have 2 more of these in my cellar and I can't wait to see how these age. I am going to seek more of these out for sure.

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Photo of Texasfan549
4.75/5  rDev +5.1%

Photo of kjkinsey
5/5  rDev +10.6%

Photo of GRG1313
4.25/5  rDev -6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of Knapp85
4.76/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Another big thanks to jzeilinger for cracking a bottle of this brew for us to try. This was one I've wanted to try for a while and I'm honored to say that I finally had it. The beer poured out as a deep amber color with some brown hues to it. The head was white and actually stuck around for a little while. There was a light lacing on the glass too. The smell of the beer is sweet and earthy, lots of caramel and toffee notes along with some hops too that I am a bit surprised to pick up. The barrel aging also comes in on the nose too. The taste of this beer is awesome. I can't even explain the kind of flavors I experienced here. There is some serious complexity here. The mouthfeel is very good too, it's super smooth with a nice subtle carbonation to it,. Overall this was great, There is no doubt that I will buy this for myself one day to have it again. I miss this beer already and it's only been a few hours since i had it. Very very good stuff.

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Photo of spycow
5/5  rDev +10.6%

Photo of djrn2
4.5/5  rDev -0.4%

Photo of westcoastbeerlvr
4.25/5  rDev -6%

Photo of nmann08
4.5/5  rDev -0.4%

Photo of Taphouse_Traveler
4.5/5  rDev -0.4%

Photo of metter98
4.44/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: The beer is very dark reddish brown in color. It poured with a thin beige ring of bubbles around the edge of the glass and a small patch of bubbles in the center.
S: There are moderately strong aromas of bourbon, oak toffee and vanilla in the nose.
T: Similar to the smell, the taste is somewhat sweet and has complex flavors of bourbon, caramel, toffee and vanilla.
M: It feels medium- to full-bodied and smooth on the palate and has some hints of stickiness. There is a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This is a great beer to sip because it continually keeps your taste buds interested due to its complex flavors. It definitely tastes quite strong but the alcohol does not detract from the taste.

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Photo of oriolesfan4
4/5  rDev -11.5%

Photo of t0rin0
4.25/5  rDev -6%

Photo of BEERchitect
4.62/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Extremely complex, powerful, and gentlemanly, this Barleywine carries a plethora of flavors but without the heavy body that's normally associated with the style. Warm body with amazing drinkability sets this one apart.

Deep garnet in color, the beer allows for only the most supple of light to announce it's ruby-like glow. Low carbonation, the beer forms a creamy light head that disipates early in the session- seemingly very port-like.

A potpouri of aromas erupt from the glass, with the shape of maple, toffee, chocolate, plumbs, grapes, figs, walnuts, oak, bourbon, sherry, vanilla, cherries, and currants- the independent notes seem endless.

Sweeter malty notes show in flavor first with the maple syrup, toffee, vanilla, and chocolate. Very savory and succulent before the alcohol ushers in the powerful flavors of bourbon, rum, cherries, berries, light coffee, mild toast, and oak. Late flavors of alcohol and fruit bring about the strong estery notes and balance of oak, walnut, and bitter alcohols.

Rich and sweet early, the low levels of carbonation allows the full weight of the beer to rest on the taste buds- seemingly heavy and chewy. But the beer's thinning alcohols lighten the brunt of malty character and give a warm and numbing effect on the mouthfeel. Powdery woods and mild tanins give balance late for impressive dryness and palatable weight.

A world class barleywine that makes a statement with intense alcohols and a remarkably dry finish and smooth variety of flavors. Where a mystery flavor seems to emerge with each sip, so does the intensity of alcohols that seem to distract from time to time. This the only reason to keep it from top scores.

Thanks given2flybrewing!

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Photo of kojevergas
3.11/5  rDev -31.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Served on-draught into a snifter at Firestone Walker's taproom in Paso Robles (NOT tasting room) on its grand opening day. This was my first beer there as I was really excited to try it given its reputation. Reviewed from notes.

A: Pours no head at all. Not even a floater about the edges. Colour is a murky dark caramel brown-black; maybe black cherry (though that makes it sound far more appealing than it is). Not horribly appealing.

Sm: Fruit esters - perhaps cherry. Mulled wine, spice, a bit of vinegar, and fresh yeast. An attractive aroma. Mild in strength.

T: Black cherry alongside almond, alcohol, caramelized malt, and other clean malts. Decently balanced but far from impressive. Decently built, but nothing to write home about. How did this beer get such a good reputation? Very strange as a barleywine, and not in a good or experimental way. Warm alcohol comes through. Neither complex nor subtle.

Mf: Smooth and wet, suiting the flavours okay. Far from good. Not tailored to the flavours by any stretch. Way too thin for the style. Fails to adequately support the flavours.

Dr: Drinkable but not exceptional. Hardly hides its ABV at all. I expected far better given its reputation. I wouldn't have it again. People pay $20.00 a bottle for this? Trade your bottles away, lads. Get something worth your time.

I really hope this gets better with age. This isn't worth seeking out. As a fan of barleywines, I'm very disappointed.


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Photo of oline73
4.37/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the bottle into a goblet.

Appearance: Pours a reddish amber color with a layer of off white head that goes away completely as the beer sits.

Smell: This is a sweet one with some vanilla, bourbon, dark fruit and caramel notes. There is some warmth that you pick up when you smell it.

Taste: Lots of vanilla from the barrel along with bourbon, raisins, and caramel. The beer is a bit hot, but this is a fresh bottle, so I was expecting as much. Even with the head, it's still a pretty smooth drinker.

Mouthfeel: Medium to slightly thick body with tingly carbonation and a slick finish.

Overall: Very sweet and smooth. The notes from the barrel are very nice. This is a delicious beer and I would be happy to have another.

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Photo of WillieThreebiers
4.5/5  rDev -0.4%

Photo of emerge077
4.64/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2011 edition.

Poured into a tulip glass, served at 52º cellar temperature.
Frothy spotty lace around the edges, sturdy collar of foam and a wispy broken skim across the surface after a few minutes. Glinting highlights of saturated crimson where the light gets through.

Aromas of English toffee with crushed almonds, maple syrup and freshly toasted creme brulee. Traces of oak and sweet vanilla. Spec-fucking-tacular.

Flavors of toffee, toasted almonds, syrupy maple, caramel, almond toffee. Light woody bitterness on the back end. Chewy, fudgy, decadent... smooth and luxurious. This is some serious stuff to get lost in. Full bodied and packing a punch, the alcohol heat is well integrated but still lurking in the periphery. A frostbitten winter beast that's a real treat to sit with and sip over an hour or two.

Far from "fallen off" this is as good as it was 8 months ago when I had it last.

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Photo of superspak
4.82/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2000th review! Got in a trade with cyde. 22 ounce bottle into snifter; 2013 vintage, bottled on 1/9/2013. Pours lightly cloudy dark ruby brown color with a small dense light khaki head with good retention, that reduces to a thin lace cap that lingers. Light spotty soapy lacing clings on the glass, with some light streaming carbonation. Aromas of big vanilla, molasses, toffee, caramel, raisin, toast, chocolate, coconut, oak, bourbon, tobacco, clove, and toast/oak earthiness. Incredible aromas with fantastic complexity and balance of malt and barrel notes; with great strength. Taste of huge molasses, vanilla, raisin, caramel, toffee, toast, coconut, chocolate, oak, bourbon, tobacco, light clove, and toast/oak earthiness. No bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of molasses, vanilla, raisin, toast, caramel, toffee, coconut, chocolate, oak, bourbon, tobacco, and toast/oak earthiness on the finish for a while. Insane complexity of malt and bourbon barrel flavors; with a perfect malt/barrel flavor balance and zero cloying sweetness after the finish. Light-medium carbonation and full bodied; with an very creamy, slick, and slightly syrupy mouthfeel that is amazing. Alcohol is very well hidden with only a light warming present after the finish. Overall this is an absolutely insane BA English Barelywine style. All around insane complexity and balance of malt and bourbon barrel flavors; and extremely smooth to sip on for the high ABV. Absolutely unbelievable stuff, Wow.

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Photo of zeff80
4.3/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Poured out a dark, dark burgundy color with a small, off-white head of foam. Nice retention with a soapy residue of lace.

S - It smelled of sweet caramel malt with some floral notes and sweet citrus fruits.

T - It tasted spicy with a sweet caramel maltiness. It had a nice toasty flavor, too.

M - It was crisp, sharp and smooth. A medium to full bodied ale with a dry, snappy finish.

O - This is a really good barleywine. Delicious on tap.

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§ucaba from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 4.52 out of 5 with 5,226 ratings