Firestone 12 - Anniversary Ale
Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Firestone 12 - Anniversary AleFirestone 12 - Anniversary Ale
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Strong Ale - American
4.4 | pDev: 9.55%
Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
California, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Firestone 12 - Anniversary AleFirestone 12 - Anniversary Ale
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Reviews: 187 | Ratings: 303 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of scootny
scootny from New York

4.32/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A super dark brown liquid that looks black. Wisp of carbonation on top after the small head fades. A little lacing and syrupy stick traces of the what is obviously a thick brew.

Nose is sweet with lots of dark fruits and thick toffee like malt construct. Bourbon and vanilla flow into cherries and pepper from the fusel vapors.

Taste is surprisingly barleywine like. With huge notes of toffee and dark fruits. The bourbon gives an added depth and complexity that offers vanilla, cherries and oak. Also the lovely surprise of a mocha like chocolate coffee infusion that I guess comes from a base brew that leans in the direction of a RIPA but not quite. while there is definitely some heat it is tamer than you might expect and is well integrated into the overall profile. Hops are very well done, with earthy fuggles being a large presence. Finish is longish with notes of alcohol, dates, raisins and the sweet brown bread in a can from B&M.

Feel is thick and syrupy with a mild and tingly carbonation. Surely a sipper. Surprisingly easy to drink.

After 10 years thesis a great treat. Lovely.

Apr 15, 2018
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Jeffo from Netherlands

4.27/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bomber from bring many moons ago. Thanks for the trade man!

From a bomber into a snifter
Drunk in comparison with FW 13th Anniversary

APPEARANCE: Exactly the same as the 13. Transparent black pour yields a medium sized, medium looking, light tan head with good retention. Black, transparent body with no carbonation evident. Head fades to light wisp and ring. A splotchy wisp and ring remain and leave dots of lacing down the glass.

SMELL: Big bourbon, oak, vanilla, coconut sweet cream and dark chocolate on the nose. Very aromatic. Light espresso as well. Really nice, bold, with lots of barrel and dark chocolate. Just like the 13 but a touch bigger.

TASTE: Big beer for sure. Bourbon and oak up front, with sweet cream and milk chocolate at the swallow. Bold and lingering finish with more barrel character, oak, vanilla, sweet cream and alcohol. Nice layers of bitter, pure chocolate, licorice and a touch of roasted grain offer a solid foundation. This is very similar to the 13 with the same stout-like base beer harmonizing really well with the barrel.

PALATE: Medium body and medium carbonation. Creamy on the palate, smooth as well, goes down smooth and finishes slightly sticky. Some heat lingers on the palate. Identical to the 13.

OVERALL: A wonderful creation all around. I can only assume that this blend worked out so well that FW decided to do the same thing for their 13th Anniversary, as the two beers are virtually identical on the senses. A very robust, stout-like base beer lends a superb foundation for the bold and complex barrel components. Really enjoyed this and would love to drink it, or the 13 for that matter, over and over again. Thanks again for the beers bring. This was really good.

Jan 06, 2014
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elNopalero from California

4.78/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I tasted this as part of a flight at an epic bottle share. The review is from my notes, based on at least 1 ounce and at most 2 ounce pours. In most instances this would be an insignificant sample size but considering the fact that I could quite possibly never even see this beer again, well, I couldn’t pass it up. [This is my standard intro to my tasting notes from the series.]

This pours a stout-black with some foam. For the age it appears to have not suffered in the least. I found a great aroma on it with some coffee roast and dark chocolates, with a touch of vanilla buried underneath. Great flavor, with a dark chocolate and some coffee balanced by a hint of white oak, tobacco leaf and vanilla. A pinch of boozy heat reminds you of its strength. Tasty and no I’m not going to even try to rank them.

Dec 29, 2013
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johnnieoz from Hawaii

4.29/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

22oz brown bomber, bought upon release in November 2008, stored in decent conditions since then.

A: Mahogany hues, small off white head & bountiful tears on the glass.

S: Having a hard time detecting any distinct aromas, just booziness and a bit of plum.

T: A wonderful blend of plums, tobacco, coffee, chocolate...and wood.

M: The carbonation was minimal but still ample enough to help this elixir reach its potential. Definitely dry as it seeps down the gullet.

O: Meant to be consumed fresh perhaps, but holds up extremely well after five years of cellaring at 70F, including one somewhat climate controlled cross-country move from California to Texas in our backseat.

Consumed and reviewed after watching the Avery video on the pros & cons of cellaring. See this BA thread "Avery Brewing on Cellaring Beer, Do you agree or disagree?". I was curious to see how this held up after 5 years in my possession. Verdict: Still awesome.

Nov 12, 2013
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RblWthACoz from Pennsylvania

4.47/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

My. This has held up quite nicely after aging for a few years. The fragrance and flavor carry a full vanilla and bourbon character, but it's nice and smooth and at a level that couldn't really be improved upon. I was a bit skeptical about this one, but it turned out to be very nice.

Aug 30, 2012
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UCLABrewN84 from California

4.3/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle pour courtesy of wethorseblanket at Woodshop 7 held at Beachwood BBQ & Brewing in Long Beach, CA.

Pours an opaque black with a foamy dark khaki head that settles to a film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, vanilla, wood, bourbon, and brown sugar. Taste is much the same with a woody finish on the aftertaste. This beer has a good level of carbonation with a crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a very good beer that is really tasty and highly drinkable.

Jul 24, 2012
Photo of ehammond1

4.33/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Bottle (2008)

Thanks for opening this with me, BdubleEdubleRUN!

(Aged for 3.5 years)

Nearly black throughout with a nicely sized dark brown head that leaves sticky lines of lacing down the glass. Gorgeous and decadent.

The aroma isn't particularly expressive, which is a big surprise after tasting this beer. There's some chocolate and barrel character, but nothing particularity expressive. What's here is still very nice.

The flavor is amazingly chocolate-forward without ever being too sweet, rich, or filling. The chocolate flavor comes in layers, rounded nicely by barrel, bourbon, brownie, vanilla, and coconut. This is simply sublime. All traces of alcohol are gone.

Medium to full bodied with moderate carbonation. A sipper though I motored through my glass it was so simply delicious.

Just fantastic. This doesn't seem as complex as Firestone 13 or 14, but it's just as delicious.

Jun 12, 2012
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axeman9182 from New Jersey

4.09/5  rDev -7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle courtesy of JRSD. This one was allowed to warm some before being poured into my petite Duvel tulip.

Firestone Walker XII pours stout-like in its appearance. It's totally black with maye a finger of mocha foam gradually coming together atop the beer. Head retention is alright, but there's no real lacing to speak of. The nose is highlighted by a dark chocolaty aroma, with some sherry notes also vying for attention. I don't have any of the information as to what went into this blend, but I'd venture a guess that it's heavy on Parabola, and maybe the imperial brown ale they use in their anniversary beers. Chocolate i still the star when it comes to the flavor, a somewhat dry chocolate. Some sherry from the oxidation is still also present, but here there are some more secondary flavors, specifically vanilla, coconut, and just a touch of cherry. The sherry is just a little too overtly boozy and intense, but that's literally the only thing keeping the taste from perfection. The body is disappointingly middle of the road for a 12% malt bomb. I was hoping/expecting it would be a good bit more rich and decadent. The carbonation is nice and understated though, just enough activity to let me know it's there. I've seen a lot of people on BA say that Firestone Walker's beers aren't meant for long term aging, but XII is three years in, and even if it's maybe a few months past its absolute peak, it's still drinking very well right now.

Apr 08, 2012
Photo of drowland
drowland from Georgia

4.7/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

7/23/10. HUGE thanks to mikey711 for this puppy! Had alongside 13 and Port Older Viscosity, and this was my clear favorite! Dark brown pour with a fading khaki head. Huge barrel aroma - oak, vanilla, coconut, and more. The flavor is much the same with an awesome roasty bitterness in there as well. Love it!!

Feb 05, 2012
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breweradams from California

4.27/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Dark tan head very low that dissipates to faint ring. dark dark ruby color.

Smell: Coffee and caramel w/ earthy nose, No hop aroma and slightly tannin and maple notes.

Taste: Roasty caramel coffee like flavor with liquorice after taste. Burnt roasty malt in the after taste. Some tannin flavors that linger well after tasting. Dry finish.

Mouthfeel: Silky smooth bitter after flavor of coffee and liquorice. Bit astringent.

Overall: After warming it has a very strong bitter dry taste with lots of tannins. Very good but a one glass beer.

Feb 01, 2012
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JoEBoBpr from Missouri

4.77/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a tulip glass from a 22oz bottle.

A - Pours a very rich and delicious looking chocolate brown color with some slight amber notes on the edges and definitely some ruby hints in the beer. The head is nice and thin with some nice dense notes that are light tan colored.

S - The aroma is perfection. Roasted caramel, sweet molasses and earthy toffee. Tons of sweetness with some slight vanilla, cinnamon and some licorice notes. Some nice Bourbon sweetness but not so much alcohol. Very nice smooth nose. There are also some slight Belgian yeast notes in the nose. SImilar to a very strong and thick Quad.

T & M - Starts off with some deep and sweet rich chocolate. very interesting. Then followed by some nice rich rich caramel and molasses. Slight roasted coffee notes that are offset by some toffee as well. After about 3 years this beers seems like it has aged wonderfully. It seems to be at its peak. The flavors are deliciously balanced and each beer in this blend contributes some delicious notes. There is so much delicious chocolate in the beer as well as some nice vanilla and cinnamon spice. The mouthfeel is medium and very delicious with a nice slightly hot finish. On the back end there is some nice woody notes as well as some Bourbon the finish is nice and sticky and chewy.

O - This beer hits the spot. Delicious body with a chewy and full mouthfeel that accentuates all the delicious flavors. Balanced notes of chocolate, and vanilla, caramel and cinnamon and some nice wood notes. Near perfection.

Jan 05, 2012
Photo of akorsak
akorsak from Pennsylvania

4.2/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

It's about time to dig into this 650 mL bottle. From a mini Duvel tulip.

A: Popped open, the ale didn't generate much carbonation. Even now, a few minutes after opening, a wispy band is all that remains. Underneath that underwhelming head, a stout dark ale sits contentedly. Nothing more to say, black is black.

S: Nuttiness, vanilla and wood, barleywine and stout. Plenty going around in my glass. Coconut joins the vanilla as the most instriguing aroma, the strongest by a hair. Well-roasted malts, deep and chocolatey and stoutlike, along with thick barleywine, is a strong pairing with the barrel.

T: More barleywine in the first sip, big malts concentrated to the nth degree. The barrel aging adds the requisite vanilla flavors and wooden depth. The barrels don't dominate though, instead sharing the stage. Boozy heat runs alongside the ale, adding a sweet complexity. Larger sips, when allowed to sit on my palate, evoke more bourbon. The finish is a little thin at times but generally provides enough thick maltiness and bourbon goodness. Sweet vanilla as a swansong.

M: I relish my annual afternoon along with Firestone's Anniversary Ale. This is no exception. It was, for those keeping score, the lowest of my Anniversary Ales to date.

Dec 04, 2011
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cpetrone84 from Pennsylvania

3.3/5  rDev -25%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a black liquid with hints of red on the edges and a slightly bubly tan colored head. The nose has hints of peat, notes of caramel, some dried fruits, light dark malts and an almost vinous quality. Dark fruits are brighter in the flavor, plums and figs, hints of ash and notes of roasted malts, light chocolate and bourbon with a bitter aspect with a thin finish. Medium body, light carb and slightly oxidized.

Nov 22, 2011
Photo of Urbancaver
Urbancaver from Ohio

4.13/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks Steve for this :)
Pours a dark brown with reddish tints. A touch of light white head. Smells sweet and malty. Lot of oak on the nose. Very roasty. Tastes sweet and thick. Complex. Lots of roast. A bit oxidized. Overall an enjoyable blend. Thanks Steve!!

Nov 17, 2011
Photo of cjacobsen
cjacobsen from Illinois

4.32/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

(A) Pours a rick dark brown that is lighter around the edges. Small tan head that leaves quickly and leaves lacing on the glass.

(S) Big aroma with chocolate, molasses, raisin, licorice, toffee, caramel, and dark fruits.

(T) You get a decent amount of chocolate and pale coffee. Almost a stout quality. There's a bit of vanilla in there somewhere, but not overly present. There's a solid bunch of a toasted malt with a bit of raisin and brown sugar. The end and aftertaste gives you more of a cocoa and raisin flavor.

(M) Medium to big body, closer to the medium spectrum. Pretty smooth and somewhat chewy.

(O) Great brew. The blend of this one really comes out well. The prior 14th that I had was well done and I think this was as great. Well developed and aged well, but I wonder how it was fresh.

Sep 14, 2011
Photo of scottfrie
scottfrie from California

3.85/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks a ton for letting me try this one, Mike. Served into a snifter.

A: Pours a dark raisin brown with a very thin film of a head that retained a small collar for a while. Low carbonation, little lacing.
S: Sweet raisins on the nose mixed with a good dose of alcohol vapor.
T: I get big notes of oak, vanilla, chocolate, raisin, caramel, bourbon, and a honey-like sweetness along with a touch of oxidation. The finish is full of tobacco and a bit of chocolate, and the aftertaste is full of vanilla and still rather warm with alcohol.
M: Thick bodied, slick mouthfeel, very low carbonation, and a bit greasy overall. We were really surprised how much alcohol warmth was still present.
O: Great blend but so far not my favorite of the ones I’ve tried. This beer was just a bit rough around the edges.

Aug 29, 2011
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claspada from New Jersey

4.02/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle courtesy of hoppymcgee.

Pours a dark brown color with a no transparency and some amber/light brown hues when held up to the light. Small tan foam that settles immediately leaving some minimal spotty lacing.

Aromas of dark bakers chocolate, burnt brown sugars, caramels and whiskey. As it warms you get the oak, vanilla, sweeter chocolate and some subtle dried dark fruits. There is a little soy and slight sherry/oxidation smells as well.

The tastes are very stout-heavy initially; with bitter chocolate and mild roasted coffee malt flavors. The oak and soy sauce and maple syrup flavors emerge as you let this warm up; you also get notes of dark fruits, tobacco and brown sugar. Alcohol is only slightly detectable once this is almost room temp but for a 12% Barrel Aged beer, the slight booze is more than acceptable.

The mouthfeel is super smooth; body is medium-full with lower carbonation. Slightly sweet and sticky finish that helps the flavors to linger on your palate.

Overall this was a pretty stellar beer at is drinking at it's peak right now (maybe on the downside even). I would recommend cracking this open now if you have any bottles because it is only going to go down hill from here but luckily it is still delicious. Firestone Walker is tops in my book for their barrel-aging program and I look forward to this anniversary beer each year because they keep getting better every year.

Aug 17, 2011
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roodie from Texas

4.67/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22 oz bottle into a goblet, purchased at Bluepalms Brewhouse in Hollywood CA

A: pours a dark brown almost black with a very thin chocolate milk colored head.  Light lacing, minor head retention

S: wonderful. Chocolate, molasses, raisins, figs, and roasted malts. Sublime

T: follows the nose. Chocolate and vanilla and raisins dominate. Even better than the aroma

M: smooth like chocolate milk. Sweet silky flavor lingers and teases the palate

D: this is a great brew and it's aged gracefully and will be one to enjoy for several years to come. No booziness just sublimely flavorful

Jul 30, 2011
Photo of glid02
glid02 from Georgia

4.57/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Bottle shared by a generous soul – much obliged!

Pours black with a tan head that leaves solid lacing.

Smells of lightly roasted malts, mild molasses, heavy vanilla, dark chocolate, and slight whiskey spiciness. As it warms the aroma sweetens with more vanilla.

Tastes very similar to how it smells. Equal amounts of roasted malts and dark chocolate up front are quickly joined by sweet black molasses. Midway through, vanilla and whiskey smooth things out. Near the end hints of oak come into play, carrying through to a mildly bitter ending. Mouthfeel is very good, with grainy carbonation.

Overall this is my favorite of the series, taking a slight lead over the XI I had quite a while back. A superb beer and one that’s well worth a shot.

Jul 12, 2011
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jethrodium from California

4.19/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 oz bottle generously shared by colonelforbin. Thanks Mike. Pours a dark caramel brown with close to no head and leaves very little lacing on the glass. The aroma is big bourbon and vanilla with some grape, some roasted notes, cherries, plum, and a little bit of alcohol. Taste is relatively sweet with bourbon, vanilla, roastiness, light cherry, and some chocolate. A light bitterness on the finish. Medium body. Low carbonation. Great beer.

Jun 22, 2011
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AgentZero from Illinois

4.3/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to spycow for contributing this to our FW vertical. Granted, the beers are all different, but they have sequential numbers!

A - Dark brown beer with a tannish head that gets light on the sides (the beer, not the head).

S - Dark fruits, burnt sugar, caramel, figs, oak vanilla. Pretty much all you could ask for, this smells quite nice.

T - Chocolate and vanilla with some chocolate, maple, figs, other dark fruits, and brown sugar. It's very smooth tasting, but the beer has some heft to it. Good stuff.

M - Full bodied, slightly dry, lower carbonation.

O - I think this was my second favorite on the night. Even with the slight bit of oxidation it was still really good stuff. Would drink this regularly if I could.

Jun 06, 2011
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Huhzubendah from District of Columbia

4.42/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle shared by bmanning. Thanks Ben!

Firestone Walker tasting, including FW 10-14, Abacus, Parabola, Walker's Reserve, Black Xantus.

Order of preference and notes: 13, 12, 11, 14, 10
Abacus and Parabola still shined. Along with FW 13, these were my three favorites of the lineup, with FW 12 not far behind.

The beer is dark brown, with a thin, beige head that leaves some decent lacing behind.

The aroma brings, roasted malt, toffee, alcohol, oak, and light chocolate.

Nice flavor here. This is my second favorite of the FW anniversary series. Well balanced and forward. The beer packs a punch, but does it gracefully.

The feel is much smoother than FW 10 or 11, but still brings some heat, most notably in the finish.

Delicious beer. Highly recommended.

May 27, 2011
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drabmuh from Maryland

4.17/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks Thorpe for organizing and hosting the vertical tasting of the Firestone walker beers. Another once in a lifetime tasting experience. Right off the bat I'm going to rank the 5 vintages we had in order of preference 13>14>12>11>>10 (the >> means much greater).

Beer is black to brown with a thin tan head of small bubbles that breaks and pulls to the walls of the cup. some lacing left behind but almost no carbonation.

Aroma is ethanol and roast. Whoa.

This beer is the hottest of all of them for some reason. The lead off is a thin but biting liquor that gives way to some sweet malt and a fuller bodied finish. The finish is mildly bitter with some roast. This was aggressive and in my face but I enjoyed it.

May 26, 2011
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MasterSki from Canada (ON)

4.37/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to Chris (spycow) for contributing this one to the FW "vertical" - much appreciated. I've had this beer a number of times over the past few years, and I always felt it was quite hot out of the gate. Let's seem what 2.5 years has done. Served in a Hill Farmstead tulip glass.

A - A finger of tan foam settles to a thin ring of bubbles, with a wisp on top. The body is a dark brown color with a hint of transparency when held to the light.

S - Chocolate, roasted grains, burnt sugars, oak, vanilla, anise, light oxidation, and hints of smoke, charred woods, and dark fruits.

T - Taste has mellowed quite a bit since it was first bottled. Very stout-like in some respects with chocolate and vanilla flavors, but with some malted wheat and sherry-esque oxidation, as well as hints of dark fruits and brown sugar. Not much oak, spirit character, or alcohol at this stage.

M - Smooth medium-full body, lower carbonation, sticky finish and residual feel. Some mild warming after a few ounces, but nothing out of character for a 12% barrel-aged blend.

D - This has settled down quite nicely, and IMHO at this stage in time is on par with the 10 (although a touch behind the 13). I'd say this is probably at or just past its prime. It's getting a bit sweet for me to drink large quantities but I still found it quite enjoyable to sip on. A very good barrel-aged strong ale from the boys at FW that never quite reached the highs of some of the other offerings but seems to be aging quite gracefully. Drink 'em while you got 'em.

May 15, 2011
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billshmeinke from California

4.7/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pitch black with a finger of beige head. Apparently this is bottle conditioned as I got some yeasty bits at the bottom of my glass. Decent lacing and super impressive retention for the abv.

Smells of caramel, toffee, oak, bourbon, dark fruit, maple syrup, and brown sugar. A truly intoxicating bouqutte.

Tastes of dark chocolate, hints of maple syrup/toffee/caramel, touch of coffee, the maple syrups notes are pretty strong actually, definitely in a good way though. Dark fruits, some tobacco, and a finish that lingers and lingers.

Full bodied but not too viscous, surprisingly dry considering all the sweet flavors. Oh did I mention how long the finish lasts for? Aaaah-mazing!

I don't see how aging could improve this beer. It tastes perfect to me right now. If I had a bottle in my cellar I'd open it sooner rather than later.

May 02, 2011
Firestone 12 - Anniversary Ale from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 95 out of 100 with 303 ratings