Dismiss Notice
Curious about recent updates to the site and app? Check the Announcements forum for updates.
Dismiss Notice
Love Belgian Beer?

Join us Sep 17 in Portland, Maine for Return of the Belgian Beer Fest, featuring hundreds of authentic Belgian beers and Belgian-inspired offerings.

Tickets + more: beeradvocate.com/belgian

§ucaba | Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

858 Reviews
no score
Send samples

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

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

For Trade:
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 858 | Ratings: 4,849
Photo of justintcoons
4.65/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2016 Vintage, no. 006.
22 oz foil capped bottle poured into a snifter.

Hazy mahogany with ruby highlights. No head to speak of.

Caramel, toffee, bourbon, oak, coconut, vanilla, and tobacco.

Caramel cubes and rich toffee. Sweet cigar-like flavors mingle with bourbon, raisin, and maraschino cherry. Light notes of chocolate, smooth oak, coconut, and vanilla bean.

Full bodied, warming, balanced, and sticky with light carbonation.

A borderline perfect English Barleywine. Some of the best barrel blending around. Incredibly balanced with a deceptive 13.4% abv.

 604 characters

Photo of brewaddict
4.56/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2016 Vintage in a FW Barrel Works Teku

L - Pours a deep burgundy color with a cream white head that dissipates quickly
S - I get rich sweet caramel, vanilla, oak, and cherries
T - The taste is of brown sugar, caramel, vanilla, and bourbon soaked raisins. There is a spicy almost peppery finish with some heat.
F - Good mouth feel. Maybe a little over carbonated.
O - As with most FW boxed beers, this is all about the balance. Typical for an English Barley Wine, there is a little bit of heat. But I really look forward to some age on this.

 545 characters

Photo of rodbeermunch
4.4/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Good hearty red and orange color, 1/2" white head. Aroma was bourbony. Good but not complex.

Taste was a great excursion into hoppy barleywine land meets bourbon barrel without a shit ton of malt to muck it up. Caramel all over this, some oak, brown sugar and vanilla. Its complex and nothing is excessive or out of place. Slick.

 335 characters

Photo of Xenoreactive
4.43/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Sensual. Liberating. Festive. Harmonious. A cornucopia of YES.

Listening to people describe FW's rarer brews, you would think this beer promotes instantaneous orgasms.

I felt a slight tingle, but I think that's from the other beers that are flirting for my attention.

An enjoyable brew for sure if you're willing to put out.

 328 characters

Photo of yesterdayfaraway
4.69/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

L: dark ruby with a finger of slight yellow head that fades fast.
S: sweetness, bourbon and a slight buttery smell. Smells fantastic.
T: the sweetness is there from the nose, the bourbon is well balanced in this one. I'm forcing myself to take smallish sips to make thus last as long as possible. Great beer.
F: syrupy thickness, coats my mouth well and the flavors linger for a long while. I have to knock this rating down a little since I'm a fan of ultra thick beers and this is not that.
O: a must have beer. Superb!

 525 characters

Photo of dream
4.33/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

In having the pleasure of trying both helldorado and this, I would have to say hellorado is the far superior brew as far as firestone's barleywine offerings go. Still though, this is a good beer.

 195 characters

Photo of leaddog
4.71/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

900th review! 2015 vintage at 13.3%.

Appearance - Pours a deep ruby red with two fingers of bubbly off-white head.

Smell - Bready malts, caramel/toffee, dark cherry, oak, vanilla bean, hint of alcohol to warm the nose, somewhat port-like aroma, touch of dark chocolate, mild earthy hops.

Taste - Harmonious blend of bready malts, caramel/toffee, dark cherry, oak, and vanilla. Hints of dark chocolate, mild bitter earthy hops, and the slightest alcohol flavour. Sweetness from malts, dark cherry, and dark chocolate lingers on the palate.

Mouthfeel - Medium-to-full bodied with moderate carbonation. There is a smooth warmth of alcohol along with a touch of softness.

Overall - An out-of-this-world English barleywine from Firestone Walker. I can't get over the array of complex flavours and aromas. The vanilla and oak round out this barleywine very nicely. This is a dangerous brew as the alcohol is well hidden, really just providing a nice warmth on the palate.

 971 characters

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

Look - A cherry brown type color
Smell - Bourbon, dark fruits, some vanilla, sweetness, booze
Taste - Cherries, vanilla, bourbon, oakiness, molasses, big pop of booze

Overall - A great barleywine. Like Bourbon County BW much better though. Still world class none the less.

 276 characters

Photo of Celtics17
4.05/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

-Big boosy flavor. Huge character, with little hop character. You get your normal barrel character from this beer. This is my least favorite from Firestone's barrel collection, but overall it's good.

 199 characters

Photo of YodersBeerEmporium
4.6/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Was able to try the 2011 vintage at Firestone Walkers Barrelworks while in CA! Very delicious and easy drinking BW for as big as the beer is...nice caramel notes on the finish!

 177 characters

Photo of SaulFox
4.87/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2014 Vintage
L-Dark burgandy, no head
S-Vanilla, dark fruits, molasses sweetness, bourbon
T-Toasted coconut and darkfruits upfront followed by hints of vanilla. Finishes with beautiful bourbon/oak.
F-Smooth velvety mouthfeel. Mellowed alcohol burn.
O-A year of aging definitely improved. This and bourbon county barleywine lead the pack.

 337 characters

Photo of ivehadthatbrew
4.73/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Look: Probably the only thing that's bad about this brew. Everything else offsets it. It's a dark murky brown color with almost zero head. It's extremely ugly looking.

Smell: Moving on to the good stuff. Raisons, chocolate covered nuts, and vanilla aromas. You can tell you'll definitely get some boozey flavors. It's still very young, but it will be fun to check back on what I wrote about this one once I try it again with a year or two tacked on it.

Taste: Dark fruits, figs, plum, and raisons. Nice earthy tones in there and hardly any bitterness. You can pick up on honey and chocolate as well as some vanilla, which probably all comes from the barrel. Big boozey taste as well. Very warming.

Mouthfell: Silky smooth, but there is some burn to it. It's not something that bugs me though and I actually very much welcome it. I'm sure after a year or two that will mellow out.

Overall: Exactly what you'd want from a barrel aged english barley wine. It's beautiful and you can almost imagine how much better it will get with age.

 1,036 characters

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.

 377 characters

Photo of Rimbimhoot
4.18/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2014 vintage: Caramel, coconut, oak, light bourbon, light alcohol, light bitterness, dates, some oxidation

2015 vintage: Caramel, toffee, coconut, light hop bitterness, oak

Overall this didn't quite stack up in our blind tasting but it is still tasty.

 255 characters

Photo of tprinzing
4.71/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

I bought a dozen of the Abacus (see the forum for the story) 2015 version about a year ago, and one 2014. This review is for the 2015 as I've not yet sampled the 2014. Now that they are a year old, I'm adding a review. The aging makes them less hot and IMHO quite smooth and wonderful. Having dipped into the collection a few times over the year, it is definitely worth waiting and aging them.

Poured into a 6oz snifter from a bomber warmed to about 50 deg.

L: Pours a dark amber slightly burgundy with a one finger head that dissipates quickly to a thin foam ring.
S: Strong caramel with a sweet almost marshmallow like odor
T: Strong bourbon, caramel, and vanilla. It is amazingly smooth for such a high ABV.
F: medium body with a silky texture as it rolls over the tongue.

 782 characters

Photo of Biggtriksta
4.71/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

I searched for this beer for years and was able to locate it twice within the past couple of months. Lives up to the hype - intense notes of bourbon, vanilla, molasses, and even caramel. Quite boozy and warms up the insides on the way down. Appearance is silky smooth and dark with notes that mirror the taste.

 310 characters

Photo of StJamesGate
4.47/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.75

Tan crust over glowing garnet. 4
Golden raisin, brandy, and hot buttered rum. 4.5
Demerara sugar, butterscotch, rum, wood, orange essence, a hint of coffee, Seville orange rind and a vague hint of citrus hops. 4.5
Honey-herb cough lozenge end and sweet cappuccino cream end.
Medium, round, a bit hot. 4

Deep liquor nose and no darkness - all clean, bright golden notes, like sweet sherry. Vanilla, cakey loveliness. The model for aged barleywine and the perfect pairing for Christmas pudding with brandy butter.

Ambrosia. 4.75

 530 characters

Photo of WunderLlama
4.47/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bomber poured into tasting glasses

Murky brown , thin taupe ring

Aroma of raisins, figs, dark fruit, bourbon

Tastes of dark fruits, bourbon, dark cherries,

Low sudsing

Great beer

 184 characters

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

2015 vintage, 13.3% ABV.
Very dark ruby-brown pour with a modest head that gives way to a thin tan head. Smells of bourbon, caramel and a bit of barrel sourness., followed by more delicate notes of chocolate, raisins and cocoa. The taste is dominated by bourbon and caramel and well balanced by hop bitterness. The alcohol is quite present in the taste, but in a pleasant way. Hot aftertaste due to the alcohol. Soft mouthfeel, medium body. It would have been a bit better if it were thicker.

 492 characters

Photo of Ri0
4.32/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

poured 2013 bottle into snifter. Very dark brown with garnet highlights and a thin khaki head. Minimal lacing. Aroma is sweet with malt, dark fruit, but has presence of faded hops. Taste is very complex starting off with some of the sweeter malts and dark fruits. Moves into an earthy, wine, leather, and oak flavor that continues to evolve as it warms. Feel is smooth and a bit dry on the finish. This is a very complex and delicious beer. Someday I will have to enjoy a fresh bottle.

 485 characters

Photo of Duhast500
4.84/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Abacus 2011 Vintage

Poured from a 1 pint 6oz. bottle into an over sized wine glass.

The color is a cloudy dark maroon with some red highlights and a thin layer of brownish head that disappeared quickly. No lacing here and not much in the way of carbonation that can be seen.

The smell has a dark chocolate and toffee aroma here. There is some slight black cherry aroma with some raspberry aroma in the background and just a slight hint of coffee bean aroma.

The taste is cherry and raspberry flavor with some dark chocolate that is just like a desert wine. There is a great sweetness here that is a bit caramel and toffee flavor with some a warm vanilla flavor. There is a slight banana flavor here in the far background that comes out at certain points and compliments the caramel flavor.

The feel of this beer is heavy but more mellow than it certainly would have been fresh. With some age on this beer the alcohol now just has a warming feel that comes forward and enhances the flavor. This one was well worth the wait.

 1,029 characters

Photo of spacecake9
4.25/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Brought this with me to enjoy on my vacation in Florida.
A - Pours a dark brownish red with a small white head that disappears quickly.
S - Aroma is toffee and booze.
T - Toffee, dark fruits and a lot of booze.
M Medium mouth feel with low carbonation.-
O - This might be the booziest beer I've ever had. Not hidden at all. Wonder if this would have mellowed a bit if I had waited a year. Definitely a slow sipper at this point.

 430 characters

Photo of SitkaSteve
4.27/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

This was poured into a chalice.
The appearance was a dark ruddy amber to brown color color with a thin wisp of a settling white head. Practically non-existent lacing just slides right on into the beer.
The smell started off with some "tobacco" flavors running into a nice estery fruity to caramel maltiness. Light smoke, butterscotch, vanilla and toffee bleed in for the balance.
The taste was moderately sweet with a stretched dry tingle from that "tobacco" flavoring. It seems like it wants to show balance, but leans towards the sweeter side of the wheelhouse. There's definitely a sweet fruity aftertaste, still nice.
The mouthfeel was about medium bodied with a good sipping quality as the tobacco lingers back to dry things out a bit yet allows some moisture from the malts to lay out nicely on my tongue.
Overall, as an English Barleywine, this was a wonderful offering by Firestone Walker as now I feel just a little bit sad now that it's gone.

 952 characters

Photo of 303beer
4.37/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2015 vintage
O.G. 26.6
IBU 42.0
F.G. 3.8

Pours a slightly cloudy copper color with a very thin head that turns to a ring. The nose has lots of barrel characters to it. The taste starts with a sweetness then gains flavor of raisens mabey a hint of wine barrels then it all slowly mellows away. A very nice treat.

 332 characters

Photo of lochraneg
4.18/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Not my favorite Firestone Walker, but their vintage series never ceases to impress. If you are into Barley wines than definitely pick this up. I aged mine for roughly a year. Had another almost immediately after purchasing. The older one was much better

 257 characters

§ucaba from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
99 out of 100 based on 858 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.
  • Return of the Belgian Beer Fest

    BeerAdvocate Brings its All-Belgian Fest to Portland, Maine on September 17, 2016. Tickets are on sale now.

    Learn More
  • Get the Mag

    Become a BeerAdvocate magazine print subscriber today.