§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: 871 | Ratings: 4,950
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 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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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Photo of SomethingClever
3.81/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4

2015 bottle poured into snifter

A: ruby red in color very dark amber with pretty good clarity almost no head just a little lace around the rim

S:lots of soft Bourbon, toffee, vanilla, a little butterscotch some alcohol smells light bits of hops

T: Light bourbon a little vanilla and toffee a touch of oak and a lot of alcohol very boozy on the tongue getting some banana bread taste too

M: very thin and a little watery the beer doesn't even coat the tongue its just watery

O: I have had this beer before the 2013 version and this beer tastes like it has been watered way down and has an odd banana bread taste I don't remember in the prior version. While Firestone can rarely do wrong when it comes to Barrel aging this 2015 is not what Sucaba should taste like. Although the 2013 version was an absolute pleasure to drink.

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Photo of JamesMN
4.35/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2015 vintage, No. 005.

Appearance: Deep mahogany and incredibly murky. Didn't form much of a head, despite a vigorous pour. Just a thin layer of light tan suds.

Aroma: Huge dose of drunken raisins and dried stone fruits. Very sweet. Touch of alcohol.

Taste: Incredible depth of flavor. It starts simple with some light hoppy tones balanced by caramel malt. Then it transitions to oak and bourbon with a heavy dose of raisin/dark cherry liqueur flavor. At 13.3% ABV, the alcohol in the flavor is no surprise and works quite well. A dark chocolate flavor comes through in the finish and there is a final sweet caramel/cherry note before the hops dominate in a bitter aftertaste. Some heat in the throat. I'm sure this ages phenomenally, but it was nice to have it young. It's a bit rough around the edges but still very good.

Mouthfeel: Medium to full in body with more carbonation than I was expecting. An easy sipper.

Final Thoughts: Definitely met my expectations. At $20 a bomber, it's a bit pricey, but worth the cost if you haven't had it and are a fan of the style. Would I drink it again? Yes.

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

2013 Bottle

Pours a tawny chestnut leather with two fingers of light tan head which dissipates to a thin layer.

Peaty oak smell, slightly brackish in profile, combined with dried dark fruits of cherries, plums, raisins and dates soaked in brandy. Hints of cocoa power and leather, reminiscent of an old leather chair.

Smokiness is less pronounced in the flavour, with the leather and dark dried fruits together with cocoa coming to the forefront, although less sweet than expected from the scent. Notes of oak and brandy. Extremely smooth in its finish, with very minimal alcohol presence.

Overall an amazing barley wine, and likely the best I've had.

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Photo of FFreak
4.88/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Bottle share night out at the campfire. This one brought over by my neighbor and good friend BoldRulerVT. 2012 bottle he received in a trade. Poured into various tulip glasses.

Pours a translucent reddish dark brown with a thin tan head that dissipates for the most part but keeps refreshing a thin ring of bubbles around the edge, with little to no lacing.

Aroma is sweet candied dried fruit - very reminiscent of a late harvest zinfandel.

Taste is straight up delicious, with raisin, plum, dark dried fruit, zinfandel and a hint of oak.

Mouth is just right, medium-full, not at all cloying. Very drinkable for a 12% BW.

Overall, this was a treat. It's just a fantastic aged barleywine.

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

Poured from the bottle into a snifter.
Pours deep dark ruby burgundy with a finger of bubbly head.
Aromas are rich, like vanilla toffee and booze.
Taste is insane. A perfect blend of barrel booze and barleywine. Some Trappist notes too.
Mouthfeel is perfect. Chewy and substantial.
This beer is straight up fantastic.

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Photo of ljjpowers
4.04/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Didn't love this one as compared to some of FW's other offerings. Found too many of the flavors to be muted (even after allowing to warm throughout a period of say 45 minutes or so) versus other FW brews like Stickee Monkee and Parabola (which jump right out of the bottle onto the tongue). Solid, but not my ideal cup of tea... or glass of beer.

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Photo of KillerJigger
4.72/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Great barleywine! Not overly sweet which makes it well balanced. Tastes amazing. Not a barleywine guy but this was simply a great tasting beer. Will be getting more bottles.

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

2014 vintage.

Pours copper with some creamy bubbles that hang out on the top. Smells like straight up heath bar. Big creamy caramel notes, a hint of malty booze, caramelized orange peel, and bitter chocolate and toffee notes. Tastes like big nutty toffee, with a hint creamy, roasty, chocolate notes and a hint of cold coffee bitterness. Feels smooth as silk. A Great beer, worth the hype and worth the wait.

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Photo of danh53
3.78/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

2013 vintage. Appearance is medium to dark brown, hazy, and still in the glass. No head, no lacing, and lots of floating particles. The aroma explodes with chocolate, caramel, brown sugar, bourbon, and molasses. Smells like holiday bourbon soaked brownies. Taste brings sweet malts along with oak and a little coconut. Figs and raisins are prominent with chocolate and vanilla. You really Taste the booze and that takes away from the taste and mouth feel. Taste doesn't deliver on the promise in the aroma.

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

2013, about 2.5 years old. Reviewed at cellar temp.

A: Very dark brown. Very light tan colored, frothy head that settles to a thin layer on the beer.
S: Musty, bourbon, cherry, vanilla, caramel, cola, leather. There's a lot going on here!
T: Decadent. Bourbon, cherry, cocoa, toffee, vanilla, caramel. All the desserts.
M: Thick, but also very drinkable.
O: This was a great experience, drank for a special occasion that made it even better. I haven't had it fresh, but the cherry (dark fruits) flavor that I love was helped along with age, I'm sure. I see why this beer is sought after. Very nice.

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Photo of gatornation
4.74/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2014 Vintage pours a dark brown with a hint of amber,a fast receding head with a fresh cap when swirled in glass, smells of date fruit hops and dark fruit some oak and vanilla,caramel malts, taste follows the nose a superb BA is mixed with a delicious base BW each sip is perfectly balanced with the whiskey notes fruits and hops are perfect in this, mouth feel has lower carbonation but this is a sipper smooth mellow BA in each sip, this is a benchmark for BABW so delicious

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Photo of Pourharddrinkslow
4.63/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Look - Dark brown, very little head; no lacing.

Smell - Malt, caramel, toffee, oak... all blended together into a very pleasant nose. The only negative (barely) aspect is the slight booziness.

Taste - one of the top 2 tasting BA barleywine's I've had. The first thing I noticed was the excellent balance. super smooth with toffee, malt, and dark fruits upfront followed by a little bourbon and a minuscule hint of vanilla. Not much booze in the taste which in my opinion is the sign of a well done beer, especially of the BA variety.

Feel - Pretty thick for a barleywine, a little sticky, but quite smooth

Overall - This is a sublime beer. One of the 2 best of the style that I have ever had.

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§ucaba from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
4.46 out of 5 based on 4,950 ratings.
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