§ucaba | Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

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4.52 w/ 5,046 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

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Ratings: 5,046 |  Reviews: 888
Photo of mcallister
4.37/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a murky chestnut color with some bricking at the edges. No head.

Aromas of oak, date, fig, bourbon, maple syrup, caramel and hints of chocolate. Very nice and enticing.

Big thick monstrous barley wine with decent hopping on the finish. Hints of RS with a boubony middle and vanilla toasty oak induced middle-finish. Dried fruits and a hint of currant. Caramel and date with mollasses and chocolate. Delicious.

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Photo of OlieIPA
4.5/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Enjoyed two monstrous glasses of this fantastic beer at Beachwood on 4/24/09.

A: A very dark looking beer...almost stout-like in many ways, with mellow hues of reddish wine. Right on top of this rested an average looking ½-inch head that head it's retention for a substantial amount of time. Lacing had some clinging qualities after a few vigorous swirls and gulps I might add...but nothing to write home about.

S: Definite booziness off the bat that soon dissipated, revealing complex aromas that included cinnamon, nutmeg, and other spice-like notes that further balanced the sweet maltiness I was also picking up.

T: One of those beers that taste exactly like the aroma indicates; an abundance of sweet malts (which came through as a more syrupy type flavor) that were delicately balance out by the variety of spices that were hard to figure out. The bourbon also shined through a bit more in the flavor profile, and didn't overwhelm the palate like barrel-aged brews tend to do. The alcohol was also on the strong side as well...but again, didn't take away from any of the flavors.

M: Absolutely perfect for a BA Barleywine; light on the carbonation, full-bodied, and slightly creamy. WOW!

D: For the style and everything that came along with it...a perfect 5! Flavor profile was off the charts, and even though the alcohol content may have been a bit too strong...it didn't deter me from having two. I really should have had three...lol.

Overall: Wow! And this is the stuff that comprised (at least I believe) 40% or so of Firestone 10. A really beautiful beer and a top five barleywine for me as well. Seek this beer out and enjoy. Cheers!

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Photo of moosington
4.5/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Beachwood.

Pours a deep, opaque brown with extremely light, bubbly head that disappears almost instantly. No lacing to speak of.

Aroma of bourbon, wood, vanilla and dark fruit. The alcohol presence can be felt a bit as well.

Flavor is fantastic. Starts with a nice combo of sweet malty syrup, a touch of cocoa and the dark fruit (raisin, plum) and meets up beautifully with the bourbon oak finish that stays on the tongue. Tasty stuff to be sure.

Mouthfeel is lighter for a barrel aged brew like this, but I think it adds to the experience. Nice level of carbonation and not too syrupy leads to an amazing drinkability factor. I highly recommend making an effort to try this one.

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

On-tap at Beachwood BBQ,

A: Pours an exceptionally dark brown, with a light bubbly head, imposing and inviting at the same time.

S: Heavy bourbon and vanilla, wood, black cherry, and volatile ethanol, great to smell, more spiritous in the nose than beer-like. Reminds me of FW11, though none of Abacus was in that ale.

T: Big oak, maple sugar and roasted malt notes hit first, and the bourbon just smooths it all out. Great malt flavour.

M: Smooth, full-bodied, alcoholic for sure but it melds well with the overall flavours.

D: Another outstanding barrel aged product from Firestone, they've certainly found a niche they excel at.

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Photo of Overlord
4.59/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

On tap over at Beachwood BBQ. Considering Firestone X is my fave of the anniversary series, very excited to try the "base" beer of it.

Pours kind of a murky brown with a slight crust of bubbles. Tried to hold it to the light or slosh it a bit to get a better looking color ... yeah, it's pretty much brown.

Smells of bourbon, vanilla, and a bit of boozy dark fruit. Taste is really fantastic. The bourbon is understated, and a nice, earthy oak-ey component begins to make an appearance. There's vanilla with a dash of chocolate, and a definite dark, sweet, pancake syrup-ey dark fruit component. It's a boozy, thick beer, but still pretty drinkable.

Fantastic, and a must have.

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Photo of HalfFull
4.5/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Barleywine. Welll, what exactly is a barleywine??

This beer pours a deep and murky brown/black into a snifter glass. Zero head leads to zero lacing and such, but alas I'm distracted as we speak.

Smell is of bourbon barrels, alcohol and some deep plum and cherry/chocolate on the nose. Taste follows with notes of the barrel and a very lingering close...nice..

Good feel and the drinkability is extravagant given the potency, as the alcohol is present on the nose but not on the tongue.

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Photo of magictrokini
4.32/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tap @ O'Briens. Poured hazy copper-brown with a flat ring of white bubbles. No lacing. Earthy caramel and bread dough aroma with vanilla, oak, and whiskey. Boozy. Viscous, non-carbonated mouthfeel gave it the character of a liquer. Strong caramel and cherry flavors up front, then moves into the earthy, alcoholic oaken malt flavors. Somewhat of a mix between whiskey and cognac in the background. Long, sticky finish that tastes resiny, but without the bite. Definitely a sipper, but a great one at that.

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Photo of Bubba83
4.57/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had this on tap at the 2009 Toronado Barleywine Festival, 3oz taster.

Had almost no head, little bit of a haze on top. Reddish brown with some purple mixed in there too. Almost a cherry cola color but with the purple added in there too.

Smell was almost perfect, it just needed a little more complexity and it would be a 5. I smell plum mostly, but it's more than that, there's some cherry and even some pepper in there too.

Now the taste, that is exceptional... The best tasting barleywine I've ever had infact. Starts out with some caramel, then into the cherry alcohol and plum. Raisins are present too, along with figs and black currants, and an undertone of chocolate the whole way through. Vanilla creeps up at the end before finishing a little earthy with a hint of spice and a little bit of paper.

Very nice mouthfeel, a pleasure to swirl.

Good drinkability, and an overall awesome treat. Firestone Walker's big beers are second to none. Now if I could only get my hands on some Parabola...

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Photo of Floydster
4.79/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Goblet last night at Blue Palms in West Hollywood for seven dollars, did not even know this beer existed until I looked up at the board, quickly determined that it had to have been a larget part of Firestone 10, one nice barrel aged barleywine

A-Medium to dark brown with some mahogany highlights, minimal 1/4 inch creamy light tan head that lasted no longer than a minute, no lacing either, nice legs though
S-Lots of oak, light bourbon, vanilla, dark chocolate, toffee, caramel, bread, and molasses
T-Starts off with a nice sweet carmel flavor, middle is whiskey and three years in an old Heaven Hill barrel did wonders on this part, earthiness and sweet vanilla in the finish, dark fruits do not come out until way later but the vanilla provides a nice sweetness all the way through, like the bourbon component as well, creamy and buttery toffee that I love in barleywines, a little bit of maple syrup by the end that mixed well with the vanilla, great balance and not overpowering with any one flavor
M-Warm, chewy, sugary, dry, and slightly sweet mouthfeel, full bodied, light level of carbonation, aftertaste lasts about thirty seconds
D-Alcohol is hidden very well and does not seem anything like eleven percent, very good overall drinkability, only complaint with it is that the oaky dry finish can get heavy after drinking it for a while

Firestone's barrel aged program is showing why it is one of the best in the country, their three blends thus far have been fantastic and same with every beer that makes those up, I just went out to grab a beer after a rough day at work and stumbled upon this masterpiece, wish I knew it about it before because I would have been there when they opened and had several more of these, this beer is going to create some serious hype as it circulates through the state, I cannot wait to have more, highly recommended

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Photo of Newmerator
4.5/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I stopped by the brewery in Paso Robles after visiting some friends who graduated from Cal Poly, so this was a welcomed treat after a weekend of Natural Light and pizza. Served on tap out of snifter, was 11abv. %. These are the notes I jotted down on the bottom of my receipt.

A - Black as night, as I got towards the bottom I could discern that it was a deep auburn. No head retention, decent lace.

S - Fig, raisin, dark chocolate. Maybe a little nutty tho couldn't tell.

T - Delish. Dark chocolate right up front, malty and very smooth. Cherries in the back. No real taste of the bourbon, was aged for 3 yrs, so was really mellow.

D - Definitely strong. Would like to have this paired with some chocolate, or maybe a smoked cheese. Wished they could bottle this stuff.

M - not too heavy, good body and feel to it.

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Photo of Crosling
3.42/5  rDev -24.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Draught, Boulder Strong Ale Festival. Ruby colored beer. Nose lacks depth, but shows some malt and barrel elements of caramel, toast, toffee. Upon tasting, not a lot from the original beer. Sweet, fruity, barrel accented, but not complex or concentrated. One of the weaker examples of barrel aged strong ale at the fest.

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Photo of JoeySchlitz
5/5  rDev +10.6%
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 rye726
4.77/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours a dark woody brown with a nice tan head. The nose has bready malts, oak, bourbon, vanilla and subtle flowery hops. Flavor also has a nice whiskey and oak presence over sweet fruity malts and again quiet hops. Full body is well carbonated and drinks easy. Another great brew from Firestone.

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Photo of ThreeWiseMen
4.89/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Tried this on-tap at Firestone Walker night (02-18-09) at The Original Spike's in SLO. Have since tried it two other times: at the brewery (03-11-09) and at Spike's again (05-14-09). Following review was written by Wisemen Nick and Justin.

Poured into a snifter.

Appearance: Body is almost totally opaque and cola-colored. A very thin, tight, brown halo sits on top and drags no lacing whatsoever. Looks slick and oily, much like an old ale. N: 3.5; J: 3.0
EDIT (03-11-09): We each had this on-tap at the brewery today and noted that it looked much nicer than before. A fluffy, tan head sat on top and drug pretty good lacing. Also, the body showed more transparency; notably, shades of deep amber and red. N: 4.0; J: 4.0

Smell: Bourbon, chewing tobacco, molasses, oak, vanilla, and something else. Oh, there it is! Cherries! Old, sour, sticky, mushed up, alcohol-soaked cherries. Fantastic! N: 5.0; J: 4.5

Taste: Unbelievable. "Dangerously delicious", claims Justin. (He stuck around and had three more of 'em after I left.) Bourbon, vanilla extract, oak syrup, loads of malt, sour cherries, and more. Not harsh at all for such a high ABV. We each wanted to give this a 4.75 on taste, but the site won't allow it. N: 4.5; J: 4.5

(Justin Edit: Call me crazy, but the more I drink Abacus the more I realize that it's my favorite beer of all time. February 17, 2010. I'm changing taste to 5.0; Wiseman Nick you can't fault me for this, it's so damn good.)

Mouthfeel: Oily, sugary, and definitely chewy. Low carbonation, full body, warm, and surprisingly smooth. Coats the entire mouth instantly, and then lingers. N: 4.5; J: 4.0

Drinkability: A definite sipper, and a marvelous one at that. Nick thought it was fantastic right off the bat, but we all agreed that it gets even better as it warms. This is downright dangerous. I (Nick) badly wanted another, but had previous engagements to attend to. Justin on the other hand... well... he got drunk off of Abacus. Bastard. N: 5.0; J: 5.0
EDIT (03-11-09): Justin and I each ordered a couple of snifters at the brewery today and were in heaven. The lady wasn't too happy about us ordering multiple Abaci, but either one of us would've happily stayed there all day drinking it. Fantastic!
EDIT (05-14-09): Justin and I got to try this again at Spike's last night (along with cask Walker's Reserve and cask Unfiltered DBA). Still phenomenal! Justin drank five of 'em. RJ (Grabbin2nd) had eight!

Wiseman Nick: A+ (4.55)
Wiseman Justin: A (4.40)

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Photo of tjsprague
4.85/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Wow. Simply amazing. I had this at the Celebrator Beer Fest yesterday right after the barleywine festival.

The beers pours a dark mahogany with rich red tones. The smell is subtle and doesn't

The taste was just amazing. I have had many barlywines but I have never had one so well balanced and even flavored. The beer is rich without being overly biter or too hoppy.

Its very smooth and not too heavy in the mouth. Not too sweet, which is one of my biggest complaints about many Barleywines. It has a nice velvety mouthfeel that is not too heavy and is definitely the kind of beer you could enjoy of few of on a stormy night. Subtle flavors of chocolate and coffee.

The ABV is 13% but I never noticed it. I think the Bigfoot has a stronger alcohol flavor than this, and I don't notice much in the Bigfoot. The Abacus was far smoother than any Barleywine I have ever had.

I was blown away when I tried this, I heard it placed second in the SF Barleywine festival and it deserves it. Firestone is making some fantastic special releases.

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Photo of waltonc
4.6/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On tap at City Beer Store. Joey Schlitz had the last glass in the keg. Awesome barleywine. One of the best I've had. Sweet carmel, toffee, and malt flavors. Not a ton of hops. The flavor is not the least bit abrasive. One could accidentally drink enough of these that it would be necessary to call in sick to work the next day. Why doesn't Firestone bottle this?

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Photo of abfraser
5/5  rDev +10.6%
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 teamizm
4.35/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this on tap at Monk's Kettle in SF.

A - Dark, malty appearance. Very rich, dark caramel color. Little or no foam.

S - Very malty smell, and the alcohol is apparent in the nose.

T - Great tasting barleywine that definitely tastes better as it warms up. The surprisingly hoppy after taste subdues as the beer warms up.

M - not as syrupy as I expected it to be. A little more acidic than I thought it was. However, in general, it has the mouthfeel you would expect for a barleywine.

D - As drinakble at a 11% ABV barleywine could be. Definitely a nice sipping beer, great way to finish off a meal.

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Photo of bulletrain76
3.68/5  rDev -18.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Draught at The Red in Santa Cruz. Dark brown with some red, and a small head with no lace. Rich, malty, salty, and woody aroma with plenty of alcohol. Dark, alcoholic fruit and a little dark chocolate. Pretty low carbonation, and an oily, slick body. The alcohol component is pretty strong, and the roasted chocolate flavor almost suggests an irish coffee, but this is far better. Pretty dark barley wine, but interesting. A good sipper.

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Photo of illidurit
3.82/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On tap at The Red in Santa Cruz.

10 oz pour into a small tulip pint glass. Deep auburn in color, with a certain coppery shimmer that only high alcohol beers have. Minimal head with no lacing.

Smell is very strong and sweet, sort of like a less extreme Utopias. Whiskey is the main note, maybe with some dark fruits.

The flavor here is really similar to scotch but with less alcohol bite. Peaty and oaky, with lots of sweet malt and booze-soaked fruit.

Mouthfeel is too low on carbonation but the viscosity is spot-on for a big bad barleywine and the finish is shockingly dry on the tongue.

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Photo of SacoDeToro
4.47/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at the 2008 Toronado Barleywine Festival.

Poured a deep ruby brown with a small off-white lace.

The aroma was full of rich caramel malt, bourbon, oak, and vanilla. Some alcohol was present.

The flavor of the beer had a rich caramel maltiness appropriate for the style. It was well attenuated and didn't finish too sweet. It was well infused with prominent notes of bourbon, vanilla, and oak, which added tremendous complexity. Some medium dried fruits came through in the palate as well.

The mouthfeel was medium-to-heavy, but not overly so. The body was full and creamy. The carbonation was delicate and dialed in just right.

A superb barleywine that exhibits a wonderful spirit barrel character. From my understanding, this was a blend from several different barrels.

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§ucaba from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 97.8% out of 100 with 5,046 ratings
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