§ucaba | Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

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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

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Reviews: 863 | Ratings: 4,882
Photo of muttyd
4.39/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep brown with some dark amber hues. Little head on this one, but some suds form as I swirl it around in the glass. Little lacing on this one, but it looks syrupy.

Aroma is big on the sweet malts, brown sugar, raisins and other dark fruits. I'm surprised by the presence of the bourbon and vanilla too. Although this is a barrel aged beer, I was completely expecting the barrel qualities to be masked behind the massive malt character. The flavor does a beautiful job combining the oaky/woody/vanilla qualities of the barrel with the sugary, dark fruit characters of the base beer. The malt is relentless in this beer (as expected for the style). This beer feels very silky on the tongue with a sticky, sugary caramel finish. Moderate carbonation with very little alcohol presence, even at 13%.

Truly impressed by this beer.

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Photo of pitasoup
4.08/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A: clear mahogany with a bit of off white head. it is rather dark in the glass but when held to light, shines beautifully with clarity.

S: raisins, caramel, sweet toffee. a hint of vanilla and fusel alcohol on the breath later

T: molasses, caramel, similar to the smells. perhaps a touch of plum and coffee. tannins and oak are sweet and complex. american hop bitterness in the middle, hot on the tongue and warm as it goes down. (that's what she said?)

M: medium full body, nicely carbonated and very hot.

O: delicious and complex, i'd love to come back to this one in say 10 years.

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Photo of Gushue3
4.12/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- looks like coca cola in the glass. Dark and transparent, dsrk brown. Not much of a head and no lacing.

S- sweetness, malt, hops. Lighter vanilla scent in there too. Complex nose.

T- malt is huge upfront with a spicyness and hop in the middle. Barrel flavors come through in the middle like vanilla and caramel. The finish is bittersweetness.

M- medium mouthfeel that feels syrupy. Not much carbonation either.

O- very nice complex beer. Nise and taste is big and is very nice.

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Photo of bbkd3b
4.89/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

The tulip glass provides a nice, thick off-white head on top of th beautiful, burgundy body. A bit hazy, with bits of malt floating around in the glass to reassure that this is gonna be a no-holds-barred sort of brew. Aromatically flawless. Cinnamon raisin bread in scent, kind of. Malts out the ying-yang.

The short version of the nose: Extremely malty, but with a hint of alcohol to provide complexity. In length, it's a sexy combination of dark plums, brown sugar, coffee, and bread that I can't even truly defined. Unbelievable balance in the complexity, and so potent that it's impossible to miss any scent. Each compliments the other in a way that's almost indescribable.

As if to mock me, the flavor is identical. A thick, thick, creamy body carries a wave of malt on to the tongue, with brown sugar and dark fruits being the most obvious flavors of the bunch. Hints of vanilla, brown sugar, and cinnamon round off the palate, giving this beer an overall sweet feel. As if not to feel one-dimensional, though, it finishes with a warm kick of hops that heats up the back of the tongue and lingers for sips-on-end, right to the last drop. Complex, delicious, amazing. This is close to God in a glass.

Overall/notes - I can't be a Jedi, because tonight I experienced a love so passionate that I can't describe it. Lovely beer all around, with only one or two equaling it, and none surpassing. This goes well a good, dark cigar that sweats. Recommended on those special days where you feel as if your life is going in the perfect direction. My God.

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Photo of stakem
3.98/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Bomber split with some friends and poured into a snifter. It appears a dark amber brown. When held to the light, it shows ruby clarity. A tan cap forms across the top and fades leaving patches of lace across the top and on the glassware. A swirl revives a fingers worth of revitalizing head.

The smell of this brew is dark and fruity with alcohol esters. Coupled with the sweetness of the toasty caramel malt and smoothness of barrel aging creates vanilla notes that are quite enjoyable. As this brew warms up, there is a faint spiced aspect which reminds me of something like cinnamon. Overall not bad.

The taste is bold with fruity alcohol and toasty malt. The flavors blend into a sweetness of vanilla from the barrel aging. Herbal hops are quite modest and linger long into the aftertaste with an almost resinous oily cling typical of a more hoppy brew. Throughout the tasting experience, I found myself looking for more but the flavors of this brew are quite simple and forward.

This is a bold fruity alcohol forward barleywine that is hurt a bit in drinkability. It is medium bodied and modestly carbonated. Clearly a decent representation of the American style with it's modest hop inclusion. The alcohol is not hiding in this brew at all, it is forward in both flavor and warming factor. It is a solid brew but I was let down a bit. Perhaps my anticipation and hype built this brew up to something more magnificent than it ever could be. Oh well. I have wanted to try this beer for some 2+ years since I first heard about it. Along the way I got to try a small draft sample and that just didnt satisfy my curiosity. I just about gave up hope of ever getting a real taste (since it was at the time draft only.) Then the announcement came that it was going to be bottled. Perhaps a bit fresh at the moment, I intend to revisit this one with some age.

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Photo of colt45n
4.8/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A: pours a dark brown with a dark ruby hue to it, nice light brown head fluffly head that disapates quickly.

S: First scent im getting is all barrel upfront, whiskey is the first thing that comes to might, geeting a little oak and toffee as well.

T: oh wow silkly smooth mouthful, getting the barrel along with good toffee flavor, absolutely loving it!

Overal this has got to be the best barleywine that I have had to date, the mouthful is so creamy and wonderful!

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Photo of Yby1acb
4.97/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Dark with some red/copper highlights and a light, cream-colored head.

Oak, roasted malt, vanilla hints and choco, and the classic Firestone Oak presence comes through.

I get some caramel/toffee taste as well as subtle oak/wood flavors in the finish. Some chocolate and hints of vanilla. A bit of bourbon and the "Abacus Brownie" served with it was different but nice pairing. Nice touch TapRoom!!!

Nice and chewy well balanced and round.

This beer keeps getting better with age. Very complex, very impressed!!!

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Photo of cetherid
3.97/5  rDev -11%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

poured into a tulip


Beer is a deep dark brown with some ruby highlights. Head is pretty much non-existent, but was expected for a barrel aged barleywine.


Aromas of sweet caramel, vanilla, and bourbon dominate the nose. I can pick up some slight oak and fruit to this as well (cherries perhaps?). The booze might be a little too strong in this, however it still has a solid aroma.


Pretty much similar to the nose but fruits are a little more prevalent. Almost port-like but not as sweet. Bourbon is very smooth. Was expecting it to be very "hot" but pretty tame and expected for the ABV. Still a big beer being 13%.


About medium bodied. I'd prefer it a little thicker but it's still a sipper..definitely a warming sensation but not lip burning. Carbonation low but OK for being a barrel aged beer. Has a slight syrupy feel to it but not so sticky and sweet that it's a chore to get through.


A good BA barleywine but I've definitely had better. This is the second time I've had it (first time I've had it as the first beer of the night) and I think it could definitely benefit from a little aging. As it is now, one person would definitely have some work to do to make it through the whole bottle. Even sharing this with someone else is taking awhile to drink. Not really readily available but I managed to get a few bottles from downtown.

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Photo of ATPete
4.48/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2011 22oz bottle

Pours a very attractive deep brown color with a medium sized tan/brown head. A wonderful nose of barrel, caramel, vanilla, maple syrup, candy sweet malts and a gentle waft of alcohol. Full bodied, creamy and incredibly easy to drink for its size. Worth the hype, absolutely. Easily my new favorite in the barrel aged BW style.

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Photo of nhindian
4/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle poured into a snifter. Bottle provided by jodan, thanks Jordan!

A - Pours a dark brown with deep red highlights to it, like the color of rosewood. It is hard to see through, but carbonation can clearly be seen streaming from bottom to top and clinging to the glass. A one-fingered, tan-colored head eventually forms, but it fades quickly. Lacing, likewise, clings precariously before falling apart and sinking back into the liquid.

A - The nose on this just screams malt and barleywine. This definitely packs some sweetness to it, as well as alcohol. The bourbon is smooth but it's forward, and the alcohol does pack some punch as well. The barrel is apparent too, giving off a lot of vanilla and especially oak. I'm also getting a bit of fruit in the back-end, with cherry pits and grapes that gives it an almost sherry-like quality.

T - The flavors of Abacus are really influenced by the barrel, as the oak gives a strong wood flavor. The vanilla and bourbon are also noticeable at the very front, and the fruits moved up to the front. As it warms I'm really getting some of those dark fruits that last well until the end. The malts come next and they give off a sticky caramel note, as well as some milk chocolate. Unfortunately, the alcohol comes through quite strongly in the finish and ends the great flavors on a solventy note.

M - Mouthfeel is moderately heavy-bodied with good carbonation. A little bit syrupy but the flavors and carbonation keep it moving easily. It's fairly smooth, and the lasting impression is alcohol-soaked fruits.

D/O - Drinkability is moderately high. This beer is interesting as the bourbon doesn't punch you in the face, but the 13% at the end sort of does. While the fruits really take this to a new level, the combination of them with the solvent alcohol burn at the end is a bit of a turnoff. Still, it's a great beer that has a nice barrel-aged profile, but don't be surprised when this beer bites back.

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Photo of MADhombrewer
4.26/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This was a part of a 7 bottle BA barleywine tasting. Shared with Hopsbreath, Tulipsnifter, and witchesbrew.

Appearance- Clear crimson with a big bubbled head. Little lacing. 4.5/5

Smell- Maple syrup and vanilla. Not much other than that. The alcohol comes out a little when it warms. 3.5/5

Taste- Fruity. Lots of dark fruit flavors. Plumb and figs. Some alcohol heat to it as well. This is a very good beer. 4.5/5

Mouthfeel- Thick and very close to port- like. It sticks with you after each sip. Very nice. 4.5/5

Overall- This is a very good beer. A great winter weather sipper. I assume it will get thicker and sweeter as it ages. I guess I will find out, though. Firestone Walker does it again. 4.5

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Photo of jrallen34
4.02/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

pours a dark brown, not glass or shine to it, a little ugly, a light beige head, good retention and lacing... the aroma is decent, not as good as I as expecting, can’t really tell it was barrel-aged at all, molasses mostly, a hint of hops... again can’t really tell this is barrel-aged, a little bourbon, lots of chocolate, caramel, and vanilla, hoppy bourbon finish... good not the greatness I was expecting

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

Poured from a 22oz bomber into two St. Bernardus tulips. Thanks to HeatherAnn for the assist!

Bottle dated 02/18/11

A: Pours a murky, hazelnut/rust color with about 1/2 a finger of dark khaki colored head on top. Retention was fleeting with just a bubbly collar remaining after about a minute. Lots of suspended sediment was visible in the glass.

S: Killer caramel and coconut nose. Also layered in for good measure are aromas of charred barrel, roasted malt, vanilla, a little chocolate and some cherry.

T: Exactly as above. Excellent! The flavors get deeper and more complex as it warms...as does a strengthening alcohol presence.

M: Sweet, smooth, and velvety with nice balance from the alcohol mentioned above which gives it a slight minty quality.

O: This is a monster of a Barleywine. The alcohol is there but really pretty subdued. Great to be able to buy this off the shelf in the Chi!

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Photo of AJacob81
4.45/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Very pleased to score this. Poured into my trusty 12-oz. unbranded snifter.

A - Chocolate-mahogany, with deep red highlights. Head and lacing is minimal, but a ring of nougat-colored suds is present throughout.

S - Vaniila, oak, and bourbon on first whiff, then dark cherries, cocoa, and burnt sugar on successive sniffs. Very aromatic, with a sweet caramelly smoothness tying the different scents together.

T - Early on, the first chilled sips are heavy on bourbon and vanilla, and a slight nutty character from the malt. After that, the beer really opens up, revealing cocoa, molasses, French roast coffee, and fine port wine. Buttery caramel, soft dark fruits, and tart cherries in particular rise in the finish and become stronger as I drink, as does a pleasantly warming booziness.

M - Appropriately silky and creamy for a barleywine of this stature, medium in body and moderate in carbonation, but not as decadent as it could be.

If this is what Firestone can do with a barrel-aged barleywine, then my anticipation for Parabola is spiking into the stratosphere. I enjoy the anniversary blends, but I think beers like this really showcase this brewery's mastery of the barrels.

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Photo of TheDudeRules
4.2/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into my Darkness snifter.

A brown liquid with a reddish tint. Less than half a finger of slightly off white head. Nose is malty with caramel and toffee notes. Obviously it's a barleywine so carbonation is non existent. Taste is right on with the smell. Big toffee and caramel notes. Almost like a coconut on the finish. Basically a tasty damn liquid candy bar. Very happy to try this.

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Photo of Agold
4.53/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer is very dark and has a minimal head. It leaves no lacing or legs. Not that impressive, but who the hell cares how this beer looks. The aroma is great, dark fruits, caramel, toffee, coffee, chocolate, and oak. There is a slight alcohol burn, but it is not too apparent. The taste too is great. Surprisingly light and nuanced for such a big beer. Great oak / bourbon presence. Good chocolate, caramel, molasses, and toffee flavor. Firestone Walker really knows how to use -bal aging to enhance a beer instead of taking it over. Mouthfeel is smooth and approximately medium bodied. Mild sweetness, but nothing that overwhelms the palate. Drinking a whole bomber of this by myself was not as difficult as I thought it might be. Does not get heavy or cloying. Really well made beer.

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Photo of hawks10
3.89/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz brown bottle - Bottled February 18th, 2011 - Poured into a snifter...

Pours a dark brown/plum color, when held to the light the edges are burnt orange and dark yellow...a little bit of light tan head forms, somewhat soapy looking and recedes to a haze...

Smells of wonderfully warm and sweet bourbon, the barrel aging is very prominent. Sweet, caramel, molasses and vanilla with a bit of oak and smoke, but the bourbon takes the forefront...

Bourbon. Booze. Heat. But still smooth and tasty. Sweet and malty, caramel, vanilla. Barrels. Some dark fruits add a bit more sweetness. Finishes hot.

Full bodied and lightly carbonated. Thick and creamy, very smooth. Tons of lingering alcohol heat...

Not bad. Aromas were wonderful, taste was a bit too hot and one sided, but still pretty good.

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Photo of CampusCrew
4.27/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

appearance: lovely garnett glow with nice white fulffy head rentention

smell: impression of alot of heat, cherry, maple

taste: alacohol well hidden for 13%, lots of cherry, brandy, maple

mouthfeel: medium-full bodied

drinkability: love beers that blow you away liek this, what a treat!

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Photo of HuskyinPDX
4.67/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle poured into a snifter.

A - Deep, ruby red with a touch of brown. A tan head fades quickly to the edges.

S - Tobacco, chocolate, oak, coffee, bourbon.

T - Bourbon, cherries, oak.

D - Very silky, sweet.

O - Very complex and unique. I could not stop from going back for more.

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Photo of mothman
4.39/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a beige head. Color is a caramel copper brown.

Aroma: Sharp bourbon, toffee sweetness. It smells like a candy bar. Chocolate, vanilla, and coconut flavors. I also get some oak mixed in there.

Taste: More bourbon. Oak, vanilla, caramel, toffee, and coconut. Reminds me of a Mounds bar. Very malty.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and warming. Medium to full bodied with a medium amount of carbonation. Ends clean, but dry.

Overall, really awesome beer. Very impressed with this one as it did live up to the hype. Pretty drinkable as well. A very tasty treat.

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Photo of mikesgroove
4.54/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

had the pleasure of splitting this one with calton last night and what a great beer, poured into my pint glass and enjoyed on 5.24.11

great look here with a nice hazelnut brown color and a smooth and even head of light tan that really seemed to show quite nicely how well it would be.

aroma was to die for with rich vanilla tones, tons of barrel and just a huge oaky and caramel presence. this was a monster for sue. it seemed each sip became more complex then the one before and soon i was totally sucked into its workd and just beaten down. nice light feel , a bit different then what i would have thought but overall i think it was quite nice.

an outstanding ba barleywine for sure!

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Photo of Kelly88
4.06/5  rDev -9%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bomber into my Kentucky bourbon barrel ale snifter.

A- pours a brown dirty color and settles into the glass as remarkably dark blackish brown. No head at all, just the faintest suggestion of wispy khaki smoke rings on the surface. Absolutely no lacing at all.

S- there is lots of alcohol in the nose with sweet caramel wood also. Deeper in there is vanilla and some whiskey. Very aromatic

T- rum and liquor infused chocolate. Wood and sweet vanilla remind you of it's barrel and a definite alcohol heat and taste reminds you of abv. A little hot

M- smooth and medium bodied. A touch under carbonated. The alcohol makes a slight harsh tingle on the swallow. Not to bad for the abv.

Overall an interesting beer that stretches the barleywine style. Flavors are very strong and make you notice them. The alcohol takes away from the experience and definitely needs to be toned down.

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Photo of angelogarcia3
4/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

At The Lark having a beer sampler my favorite is Firestone Walker Abacus.  13% ABV really good with caramel taste and aroma.  Dark color with a creamy white head. An excellent barleywine. Unexpectedly good taste, flavor, mouthfeel, and aroma. Who would of thought I would have liked a barleywine style beer.

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Photo of Sean9689
4.42/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Finally opened one of these during our Firestone Walker tasting. 22oz bottle poured into my Bruery tulip.

A - Pours a amber brownish-red color, light carbonation, thin collar, some whisps on top.

S - Candy sugars, fruit, smooth booze, no real alcohol heat. The sweetness and smooth booze is exactly how I want my barleywine to be. For 13% and fresh, I can't believe it's so smooth.

T - Burnt sugars, caramel, fruit, smooth booze. The alcohol is there, but not "hot" at all. Very smooth, rich, and adds to the overall enjoyment. The fruity sugars and caramel are excellent as well, not overly sweet, just right.

M - Medium, smooth and rich, light carbonation.

O - Excellent barleywine, in my book. The smooth alcohol, sugars, and sweetness were just right for me. I can't believe how smooth this is right out of the gate. Looking forward to seeing how this one ages. Recommend.

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Photo of Bfarr
4.29/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Dark brown with light red highlights thin light brown head with no retention or lacing. Strong boozy bourbon vanilla and oak aroma. Molasses and alcohol up front mwllowing into the bourbon vanilla sweetness. Balancing hops and alcohol with a light sour and clean finish. Silky smooth and robust feel with light fuzziness.

I’m very torn on this one. I usually like a challenging barleywine and this is so smooth and easy, especially for a beer with 13% abv. There’s a very strong warming but it’s very pleasant without a trace of burning. The flavor is strong and clear all the way to the end but it’s hard to call it really complex. It’s not a chore to finish nor difficult aside from the abv but it did get almost boring. Fantastic as a single glass so the bottle is definitely something to share. It certainly wasn’t as deep or dark as “Black Swan” (my movie pairing of choice) but it is certainly as mentally debilitating.

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§ucaba from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
4.46 out of 5 based on 4,882 ratings.
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