§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 axeman9182
4.29/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle, allowed to warm before being poured into my Duvel tulip.

Abacus pours surprisingly dark for the style, it's almost stout black. One or two cherry spots do shine through when the beer is held to light though. The khaki colored head is thin and disappears quickly without a trace. The nose is heavy on bourbon (albeit good, smooth bourbon), with toffee and vanilla in the background. Each sip brings forth a fantastic blend of toffee, milk chocolate, vanilla, toasted coconut, and bourbon. No one flavor consistently dominates, every time I bring the glass to my lips any one of these flavors is liable to steal though. If I had to nitpick though I'd say that the bourbon is just a little too boozy right now. The body is full and rich and creamy, without becoming over the top or lending a cloying sensation to the beer. That may be at least in part thanks to a surprisingly active carbonation that feels quite fine on my tongue. It helps give a life to the beer that is lacking any other opposition to malty goodness. Bottled Abacus is quite good at this still young point in time, but it doesn't quite reach the subtle excellence of both the draft version and what I think bottles will turn into in a few years.

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Photo of alalvarez75
4.75/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

The real overall should be a 4.75...

A- Dark brown, mahogany, slightly carbonated, not cloudy at all. Pours with a nice head that dissipates quickly.

S- Toasty and slightly of chocolate.

T- Sweet bourbon... does not taste 13% ABV AT ALL!!!

M- Smooth, creamy, VERY light carbonation... WHAT IS THAT? VELVET? ITS BEAUTIFUL!

O- Amazing beer. You can get REALLY drunk from this as the 13% is totally concealed like a ninja, by the amazing taste.

If there were more I'd go get it. There is not... so I will wait until I can get some and when it's here... I'll rush to it.

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Photo of DoubleSimcoe
4.77/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Firestone Walker Abacus, 32-oz growler filled at Whole Foods Bowery Beer Room for $13.99 plus tax and the bottle.

Appearance: Served in, yes I know, my Sierra snifter, Abacus pours thick and heavy, with a glug and a gurgle- the sound of good things to come! Nice one-finger head, very impressive for a barrel-aged brew. Poor retention, though, with the head dying soon and only a white rim and a mantle left. Color is the customary black with brown overtones.

Smell: The wood is beautiful... so subtle and smooth. Vanilla pods of the highest quality, shipped fresh from Madagascar. High-quality bourbon, sugar, a tad of melted caramel at the end. White chocolate. Some spice. Unlike many reviewers, I do not detect any booziness. This is mellow and delicious. Reminds me of Goose Island Vanilla Bourbon or Goose Rare... yum yum! A total treat. Hardly the smell of a barleywine, though.

Taste: Caramel, wood, bourbon, sugar. Toffee, hard candy.

Mouthfeel: Extremely smooth. I mean it. Let me say it again: smooth... fuck fucking yeah. This beer caresses your throat and tongue like the best pussy out there. Full body and flavor, low-and-perfect carbonation. Woodsy and creamy. Delicious and enticing. Well-balanced, only a hint of alcohol at the end.

Overall: I never expected this to be so disgustingly good. They say it is a barleywine... hardly. But whatever it is, oh dear god it is delicious! Smooth and outrageously drinkable, enticing and engaging, just rightly sweet. Woodsy, bourbon-y, beautiful. Seriously, for a 13% brew, this is immensely poundable and delicious. Need. More!

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Photo of ktrillionaire
4.52/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Big thanks to ericfb18 for the delicious brew(s)

A - Pours a shiny deep cola brown, close to black, with an obvious viscosity. It is capped with a short-lived khaki head that quickly recedes to an encircling collar.

S - The nose is a fantastic assortment of caramelized sugar, creme brulee, candied fruit, amaretto and other cordial liqueurs, vanilla, cinnamon, wood, whisky, and straight-up decadence.

T - The taste is more of the same deliciousness suggested by the nose: buttery oak, notes of rich maple, vanilla, whisky, chocolate, roast barley, dark candied fruits, figs, dates, molasses, creme brulee, jaggery, cinnamon and absolute deliciousness. It could perhaps use a bit of time before it ripens (and loses a bit of heat); if time treats this well, it will be one of the most delicious beers *on Earth*.

M - The feel is silky and softly effervescent for (literally) hours. Not J.W. Lees territory, bjt quite good.

O - This is a phenomenal brew. Thanks Eric. I want more.

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Photo of petacutlasaurus
4.82/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

-- First of all, Firestone Walker, how can only five cases of your Abacus make it to my state? After breaking into this beer a week after purchasing it, I almost have to mourn the fact that I won't see it for another year. Thanks, I guess. --

At one of my local haunts, beer-master Al pulled me aside and mentioned he got a case of Abacus. Said it was being called the best barleywine of the year already. Ha, right. That couldn't be true. And even if it is, I don't even really like barleywines.... Well, I supposed if there was going to be one to change my mind, this might be it. But that's pretty doubtful, right? Well, I'll buy a bottle, that'll show him.

Well, a week later, after my girlfriend and I had both had some long days at work, it seemed like a perfect opportunity to bust out this brown-boxed barleywine. Oh, what's this? Neck support for the bottle built into the box? That's clever, but probably just for show, yeah? No bottle deserves neck support, right? Popped the cap, poured the first share into a couple of wine glasses.

And pretenses start to crumble.

What's that smell? Oh, fuck that's good. Maybe it's from the meal.. that meat was pretty well seasoned. Nope, definitely beer. But how can it...? Don't get carried away, Peter, it's probably not that great. Let's see, the taste? Oh... Oh wow. Oh wait, no. No!

It's 10PM. It dawns on me that all the local stores are closed, and that all of those five cases have likely already been scooped up at any rate.

I'm stuck in that unique, but welcome hell that is having a beer that's so fantastic, so age-able, so already-open, and so finite. Guess it's time to enjoy. We definitely stopped what we were doing a few times to marvel about it. Bounce back tastes and try and pin things down - the bourbon, the chocolate, the vanilla, the dark fruit, the balance of all of these working together, captured with just the right gravity. An amazing beer that happily made me eat my words. Now if they can just fix the typos all over that brown box...

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Photo of cjacobsen
4.62/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had on tap at Barley House

(A) Pours really dark, almost stout or dark porter like. Had a lot of head on it which is surprising for the ABV that this thing carries.

(S) Smells fruity with the citrus notes from the yeast beading through. Some biscuit and light malt even up the nose.

(T) The initial taste is sweet. Has light fruit notes like grapefruit and orange but has a nice underlying tone of medium malt. There is a mild hop bitterness. Has a bit of an oak character toward the middle-end of the taste and finishes off with molasses, raisin and butterscotch.

(M) Being so carbonated I expected it to be bitey but its quite smooth. Had an oily feel but its a filling quality in the mouth.

(O) The alcohol is masked very well. You can get a hint of the booze in the nose but you can't really taste it. I expected it to be a heavily hopped, boozy mess but it was well constructed and balanced and extremely good.

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

22 oz bottle poured into a snifter.

Pours a viscous dark ruby, clear bodied, quickly dissipating off white head, retains a sticky thick ring of lace.

Aroma is a little flat and boozy. Vanilla, oak, sweet plums and sugar dominate, but overall it just smells hot and like alcohol.

Flavor seamlessly transitions from it's start from a sweet, sugary barleywine to an oaky, vanilla sweet barrel finish. Still some faint trace of hops and the finish is extremely hot and raw.

Mouthfeel is very smooth and thick with very light carbonation and not quite as much booze as the nose. Mildly syrup like and much more like a liquor than a beer.

Not quite as ready to go out of the literal box as Parabola was, the heat on this needs time to cool down but this still ehas traces of the typical FW balance and deliciousness of their BA beers.

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Photo of Vdubb86
4.13/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served in a snifter

Thanks to Alpar for providing me the chance to taste the top rated American Barleywine.

Well this beer sure looks the best of all of the other barleywines set before us. Hopefully it's a sign of things to come. This beer pours a clear dark mahogany color with an ecru finger surfacing this pretty beer. The aromatics are oak barrel, caramel, fig and raisin. It was actually pretty weak on all those fronts as well. Because the smells were so good is the reason it gets the rating it does. The flavor matches the same with the nose. It good mellow, sweet and has all the characteristics you'd look for in a quality barleywine, but it feels so standard. I think it could have been smoother, but it was still really easy to drink. Overall this was a very excellent beer, but it felt like something was missing from making it world class.

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

Had this at Kraftwork in Philly. My only beer ever drank in Philadelphia. Not too shabby. Pours a caramel reddish with low carbonation that fades after a time.
By the beard of Zeus! What an outstanding aroma. Big angry booze smacks you across the nose, followed by vanilla and caramel, a little date, tobacco and oak. Blast it all, this is lovely.
It drinks a little on the sweet side, but it is a smooth ride if you don't mind the river of fire flowing through it. Is this tasty! Good mouthfeel even with the low carbonation, very full and enriching to my life. The caramel coats the tongue and inside the cheeks, plunging into the spots between teeth, seeking all the places to hide forever. And I, willing participant, allow it. I do allow it.

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Photo of cpmichael
4.03/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a Cigar City snifter.

A: Pours a medium brown with a nice reddish tint to it. 1.5 finger white foam that faded quickly.

S: Sweet smelling and boozy. Caramel and maple with hints of hops.

T: Very boozy, the caramel comes through nicely, bourbon and vanilla continue to sweet this out, hints of oak smoke and tobacco near the end. hop presence is there, but low.

M/D: Good carbonation and medium bodied. It was overall too sweet and too boozy for me. Tasty and there is a lot going on, but I could have used less booze and more hops to even this out.

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Photo of maximum12
4.22/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to burninator & melliot2811 for sending me bottles of the latest (I presume) Firestone barrel-aged deliciousness. Seriously. I'm convinced they could stick dust bunnies in barrels & make them divine. 22 oz. bomber split with my wife while watching the '11 Twins implode. Infield: Hughes, Tollbert, Casilla, Valencia. No wonder they suck.

Pours a fiery, almost black shade of garnet that winks from within. Pretty still beer. Like a sleeping rattlesnake. Smell is 94.6% barrel. Titches of sweet maple & malts intrude, but not much.

Abacus. Clearly, this is a Ket translation for "whack bourbon". The alcohol stings up front, a Kentucky-sipper-slap with a lush vanilla offshoot. Rich raisins rolled in brown sugar squirt about. Toasted wood. Lovely toffee emerges from nowhere as the beer warms towards room temp. Heavy malts roll in during the mid-section, & the beer closes out with another whale of alcohol. Weee! At 13% this one should be half as drinkable but twice as wicked, if you get my drift. Damn.

Firestone maintains it's standard of excellence for barrel-aged brews. This is one fine BA barleywine. Glad to have a couple more & very interested to see how this stacks up after a little time in the cellar to cool it off a bit.

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Photo of JAXSON
3.75/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle thanks to Mark. Pours a deep, deep crimson with a ring of lace around the edges. Nose is fairly pungent and earthy, of course a lot of bourbon, some wood, and an interesting leafy tobacco note. Not overly bright or expressive. Carbonation is pretty sharp upfront. Flavor profile starts quite hot with darker fruits, segues into a bit of milk chocolate and coffee. Strangely subdued despite a large bourbon heat. Pretty good, does the job, but not an elite example of the style as it's just sort of empty and singular at times. Feel is thick and rich. Good but ultimately uninteresting.

I had this on tap as well and it was about the same, in fact I was hoping the bottle would be better. I was looking forward to this beer for some time but it's kind of a disappointment. I'm not sure age would really help either as the flavors are fairly mellow as it is underneath the hot bourbon.

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Photo of TMoney2591
3.95/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served in a tulip glass.

Big thanks to Alpar for sharing this bottle!

I haven't busted out an abacus since seventh grade math class. Let's hope this beer tops those memories (not much of a challenge, really). It pours a dark garnet-brown topped by a finger of dirty off-white foam. The nose comprises sharp caramel, mild cocoa, graham crackers, and butterscotch. The taste reunites all of these elements, while simultaneously introducing them to a few newbies: ruby red grapefruit, orange peel, and mandarin orange flesh. The body is a solid medium, with a light moderate carbonation and an oily, sorta syrupy feel. Overall, a more-than-solid b-wine, though I'm not sure it deserves all of the praise it gets. Don't get me wrong: this is some tasty stuff, but there are many better barleywines more readily available.

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Photo of SpeedwayJim
3.25/5  rDev -27.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from a 16oz. growler filled on 4/17/11 at Bullseye Beverage in Smithtown, NY into a Darkness snifter.

A: Standard pour yields a barely rising off-white ring of head that dissipates quickly. Beer is a dark, nearly opaque but clear mahogany. Lacing is spotty and with little cling but beer has exceptional legs. Rather standard but the lack of head or lace really hurts this one.

S: Nose is big and boozy. Sweet dark prunes and plum, caramel, toffee, and brown sugar are all present but the alcohol heat in this one covers all but the most pungent smells. Aromatic but almost not in a good way. Stings the nose a bit.

T: Opens caramel, toffee, and brown sugar. Rich with ample amounts of heat that washes over the entire experience. Middle sees prunes and plums peak their head for the slightest instant before returning to the background. Finish is more brown sugar and caramel with a big alcohol sting right at the finish. Aftertaste is sweet brown sugar and some nuttiness. A lot going on in this one but the predominant alcohol kick covers some of the details. Still, a very intriguing and delicious beer.

M: Medium bodied with low carbonation. Slightly grainy and hot in the mouth with some bubbles going down. I can taste all 13% in this one. The comparably (to its style) body helps a bit though. Finish is messy with an aftertaste that lingers. Overall too much booze here and not enough subtlety.

O: Compared to Parabola (which I realize is a different style), this offering from Firestone Walker is overall a big dissapointment. So hot that the alcohol seems to cover everything in the nose, taste, and feel. I recommend sitting on this one for a very long time. There's a great beer behind that heat somewhere...

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Photo of ElGrecoVerde
4.35/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Red/Amber with a creamy off white head.

More roasted than I expected. Sugary caramel, toast, and dark fruits.

Caramel and toffee, a bit sweet with cherry tartness. Good balance with roasted malts, rich wood and hints of toast like flavors.

Superb. Very creamy and an excellent delivery system for the high ABV. This is a sipper but a great one at that.

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Photo of rfgetz
4.82/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I don't even want to review this beer because I am affraid there is no way I can give this beer the words it deserves. While it is labled a barleywine, its much more than that... at any point you could convince yourself you have an American Strong Ale, and Old Ale, an Imperial Stout.

Pours a dark color, only noticing the deep mahogany hues when held against a light, nice cap of tan colored head with good retention and lacing. Scent brings wonderul notes of fine burbon, oak, warm vanilla sugar, rich dark chocolate, ripe black cherry, coconut, leather. While beers with this nose tend to be harsh and warm, it was nothing but smooth... all of the flavors blend perfectly. The barrel againg is the star and FW has this method down. While a fantastic malt profile is the base of the beer, I cant get beyond the oak, warmn vanilla sugar, cocount an burbon. While most barelywines seem to go for clean and bright malts, this definitely brings in some from the darker side - chocolate, char, earth and spice present themselves. Body is full, smooth and creamy, no lingering tastes on the palate, moderate carbonation. Fantastic beer which I would love to secure another bottle of and let sit for a while.

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Photo of gford217
4.62/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Another FW bottle courtesy of Richie.

Pours deep, deep copper, darker than most barleywines, with a thin tan head that recedes slowly to small collar and some sticky legs on the sides.

Aroma is spectacular, everything I'd want in a BB barleywine. There is the deep, sweet caramel malts, toffee, vanilla and hints of hops, though this seems closer to an English BW than American. The bourbon is perfectly balanced in the nose, sweet vanilla, light wood notes and bourbon. Wow.

The taste is almost as good with smooth bourbon and vanilla up front, meshing perfectly with the sugary malts, toffee and caramel underneath. Nice alcohol burn in the finish, just tingling the tongue.

The mouthfeel is super smooth and medium bodied with lots of barrel character and soft carbonation.

This is a fantastic BA barleywine, one of the best I've had in a long time. FW certainly knows their way around barrel aging. World class.

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Photo of Daniellobo
4.57/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

An extraordinary barrel aged brew: complex, long, sweet, and quite the delicacy.

Presentation: 22 oz boxed brown capped bottle. Exposed cardboard box with the seal of the brewery presiding it and highlighting the name. Back box label notes history of the brewery, expertise aging brews in barrels, intent of ales and blending process, and Abacus overall release. Bottle offers a simple Firestone paper label with brewery branding and brew details, noting 2011 Reserve Series, O.G. 27, IBU 42, F.g. 4.7 p, British Ale yeast, 36 SRM, a production of 1500 cases, and 13% Alc. by Vol. Served on a snifter.

A - Clear deep brown pour, small brown head, moderate retention, faint surface memory and minimal lacing. Again nothing extraordinary to look at but in sync with a brew of this caliber.

S - Long, delightful and rich nose with notes of chocolate, roasted malt, charred wood, vanilla, caramel, and bourbon, with a nice spicy hint.

T - Taste stays on message with a nice expansion of flavor, charred malt, with a woody sense, caramel and chocolate sweetness, notes of bourbon tied to its vanilla oak, sugary touch… sticky range retrofeeding the taste to a spicy bourbon dash… what a rhythm..

M - Medium/full to full body, low carbonation, creamy stickiness with a nicely woven and showy boozy presence.

D - As good a sipper as a brew can be. Complex, long, and worth the reputation if one is into this range of barrel aged brews.

Notes: Not the 14th Anniversary but who would complaint when something is this extraordinary. Sure enough, one needs to be into barrel aged, complex, and boozy brews but this is another highlight… I'll keep a bottle, maybe two for the aging, if I can. But it'll be difficult.

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

22 oz bottle split between Nick and I at Craft Ale House. Served into two tulip glasses - Firestone Walker is in Philly, YES!

A: Dark mahogany wood color with some defined maroon hues throughout the opaque body. A small beige head is on top with some splotchy lacing. A nice foam ring sticks around throughout the entire bottle. What a beautiful looking beer.

S: Strong and rich bourbon barreling notes are first, with some wood elements (maybe cedar or oak -like) coming through. Brown sugar, raisins, fig and some sweet vanilla tie everything together. This smells awesome!

T: Bourbon and Jamaican rum coat the palate, wood notes explode and throw your palate into shock. Vanilla comes through towards the end to smooth everything over. Seriously, this is one of the best tasting Barleywines I've ever had the pleasure of having. The barreled aged notes, vanilla, brown sugar and slight booze are blended masterfully into a single bottle. Fantastic.

M: Low carbonation, smooth, creamy and silky.

There's no doubt in my mind now that this is one you absolutely need to seek out. I feel honored that FW is finally in the Philadelphia market, because it will be hard to keep my hands off this stuff. If you want a barrel aged Barleywine done right, look no further - Abacus is your answer.

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Photo of Rizalini
4.7/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bomber into my Deschutes tulip...

A - Pours a very dark mahogony brown, with a slight tan head leaving a little lacing as it disipates.

S - First thing that hits my nose is bourbon. On second smell I get carmel, woodsey malts, and dark fruits. The smell is very inviting.

T - WoW. The taste is more complex than the aroma, letting way to dark chocolate notes, molasses, and even some espresso notes on the back end of the taste. A nice warming alcohol note does follow, but I expected that for 13%.

M - Has a medium-heavy mouthfeel, almost chewy. Great carbonation.

O - My first Abacus, and I'm blown away! To me, this brew is like The Abyss of the barleywines! So deep, so complex. I am very glad I bought 2 of these, and if there's anymore on the shelf when I go back, I might buy 2 more! Great, amazing barrel aged barleywine!

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Photo of xnicknj
4.77/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

on tap at monks in philly

Pours a deep brown almost black color, with some cherry hues which peek out in the light. Thick frothed tanned head dissolved into collar of beige retention, few spots of lacing.

Rich, strong bourbon and booze with earthy wood and oaked tannins. Light chocolate and caramel with a hint of brown sugar and raisin.

Smooth syrupy roasted malts, warm and a bit sweet with rich bourbon. Slight hoppiness cuts thru followed by plenty of barrel character with wood and earth. Some silky caramel, burnt brown sugar, heavy malt backbone. Hints of dark chocolate, raisins, and dates. Finishes boozy and sweet with plenty of lingering barrel touches.

Full syrupy body, milder carbonation, sticky velvet smoothness which wraps around the tongue. Surprisingly drinkable for the alcohol content (I ended up having multiple glasses bc I simply couldn't get enough). Excellent flavor, awesome bourbon barrel usage. One of the best barleywines or barrel aged beers I've ever had - Truly remarkable.

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Photo of charlzm
4.32/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Consumed April 13th, 2011 in a Triple Petrus snifter.

Beer appears a clear mahogany in the glass until held to strong light, when it becomes a clear, prune-colored affair. Virtually no head, just a tiny crown of off-white bubbles clinging to the edges of the glass.

Vanilla and rum greet the nose. Brown sugar? Or just a dark rum? Delicious either way. Sweet, with a caramel note.

Flavor is rum and raisin with some bitter oak and sweet brown sugar notes. Coconut. Vanilla. Slightly herbal and medicinal. Alcohol is a component as well, and brings heat as well as flavor. Pretty easy to sip, regardless.

Beer is silky smooth and thick.

One of the best barleywines I have had, I have no doubt this will age wonderfully (if I can let it).

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Photo of Rhettroactive
4.38/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From 22oz bomber to glass at Shannon's Big Bad Barleywine Tasting on 4/9/11.
*From notes

A BIG thanks to siege02nd for supplying this one. Cheers, John!

A: Rich mahagoney and rustic autumn leaves in color. It's a beaut. A generous pour yields a 1.5 finger head and thick, sticky lacing.

S: Utter bourbon bomb. Alcohol runs rampant to the point where I'm forced to remove the glass from my nose. This one burns. It's like sitting on the porch of a Kentucky B&B at dinnertime, with a plate of steaming, homemade Hot Browns in front of me. As I get past the whiskey, I find spotty hops and juicy prunes.

T: After the nose, I was a bit scared - as I felt this may be too young for early consumption. Happily, this isn't the case. For as brash as it is, it's addictively drinkable now and deceptively smooth. Massive amounts of malt and barley grains are followed by a Costco sized serving of smokey bourbon. A ghosting of hoppy bite interweaves with overwhelmingly chewy tannins and mild, sweet alcohol on the finish.

M: Rich and thick. I wouldn't go comparing it to an Impy Stout, but it's certainly one of the bigger AB's I've had.

O: Firestone Walker's Abacus is simply awesome. This is a delicious beer. For as drinkable as it is now, I would recommend cellaring this for a dime and basking in it's amazingness.

This one's worthy of the hype. It's one of, if not the best American Barleywine I've had the pleasure of drinking.

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Photo of Blanco
4.3/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Lighting was somewhat pour but beer was very dark. Minimal head. Smell was sweet with a light bourbon hint. Taste was similar with hints of vanilla, bourbon, molasses, dark fruit. Very smooth and refined, the mouthfeel was medium bodied. Alcohol presence was very well hidden and almost no warming sensation. Overall, this was a fantastic brew and I was quite surprised how well rounded it was.

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Photo of corby112
4.7/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Draft at Monk's Cafe.

Pours a deep dark copper/chestnut color with dark ruby/mahogany edges and a one finger frothy off-white head that quickly settles into a thin lasting ring. Sporadic small spots of lacing left behind.

Amazing complex nose with a blend of earthy oak, luscious vanilla, sweet boozy bourbon, dark fruit and earthy/leathery malt. The barrel character is very prominent with lots of toasted oak without smelling burnt. Sweet bourbon and lots of vanilla and marshmallow mellowing things out. As it warms the malts become more prominent with hints of leather, toffee, hazelnut and caramel. Slightly vinous with hints of cherry, grape and plum. Smells amazing and the bourbon is well integrated in the nose without overpowering the other elements.

Medium bodied with the perfect balance of earthy barrel character, boozy bourbon, sweet malt and alcohol heat. Very similar to the aroma with a prominent barrel presence up front. Earthy oak that is slightly toasted with sweet bourbon flavor that is prominent but not overly hot. Although the bourbon flavor is strong, it's not overpowering and the other flavors are able to stand out. There are also notes of vanilla and toasted coconut from the barrel, mellowing things out. Slightly hot with some nice burning warmth in the finish but the ABV is pretty well masked at 13%. Underneath there is a nice blend of earthy/leathery and sweet malt flavor. Slightly earthy barleywine flavor with hints of sweet caramel toffee, rye and faint cocoa. Vinous with dark fruit flavor, especially dark cherry as well as some grape, plum, raisin and fig. More heat toward the end of the swallow but this beer is excellently balanced, delicious and dangerously drinkable. One of the best barrel aged beers I've ever had. Amazing!

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