Firestone 12 - Anniversary Ale | Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

186 Reviews
Firestone 12 - Anniversary AleFirestone 12 - Anniversary Ale

Brewed by:
Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
California, United States

Style: American Strong Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 12.00%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by barleywinefiend on 11-09-2008

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Reviews: 186 | Ratings: 302
Photo of cpetrone84
3.3/5  rDev -24.8%
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.

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Photo of craytonic
3.3/5  rDev -24.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Tasted side-by-side with 10, 11 and 13

Appearance: coffee/brown/mahogany, decent head and lacing

SMell: Caramel, fig, bourbon, brown sugar, vanilla, molasses, raisins

Taste: Toffee, caramel, bourbon, vanilla, oak, booze

Mouthfeel: low carbonation, alcohol is a bit harsh

Drinkability: I did not notice any big differences between FW 10-13, they range from OK to slightly better to my palate. THis one was a bit hot, although most of them were to some extent.

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Photo of sweemzander
3.61/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Bottle poured into a tasting glass. I believe thanks go out to John or Jim for sharing this one!

(A)- Pours a dark brown; almost black color. A decent tan head that dissipated after awhile.

(S)- Kinda closed. Some roasted bits and some raisins. Touch of heat.

(T)- Some rich nutty hazelnut and vanilla caramel and molasses. Still a bit hot.

(M)- A good carbonation level and balance. As mentioned before, it is a bit boozy, but otherwise a good rich, malty sweet monster.

(D)- Good, but a tad sweet and boozy for my taste. Maybe another 6 months could help this one out?

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Photo of Goliath
3.63/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours nearly black and opaque with some ruby hues at it's edges. A large one inch light tan head forms on the pour and lingers with excellent retention. No real lacing is left behind.

The aroma is decent. It's fairly boozy, but I get a good dose of vanilla and oak, with a touch of caramel and phenol.

The taste is ok, but a bit of a disappointment. It's slightly bitter, with a bit of a dying hop presence, a bit of a phenolic quality, a ton of booze, and a big dose of oak. No real pleasing flavors are available.

Mouthfeel is pushing full bodied, and is slightly slick and creamy. Carbonation is very low, with a gentle bubble giving a bit of a tickle at the back of the throat.

Drinkability seems low. The alcohol is high, and it's very apparent in every sip. The flavor profile is lacking pleasing qualities. I just don't get this beer. 11 was much better.

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Photo of Murchmac
3.7/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Is that guy from the bachelor the same dude that is Firestone? Either way, this beer is better than the show.

Pours a deep dark brown with ruby highlights, frothy tan head. Look out for the yeasty sediment crap that can float on down like a disneyland snow globe.

Smells of strong bourbon up front, makes way for vanilla, dark fruits, coffee, toast. Smells a lot like the 11.

Straight up bourbon taste, bleeds into melted chocolate, hops, roasted coffee, burnt toast. Very complex, the bourbon dominates like Buster Douglas against Tyson.

Warming alcohol numbs your head and coats your throat, bourbon chocolatey coffee tastes linger like Piston Honda. Very complex, good, but not great, yet. I liked it but would let it chill for 4-5 years and see what happens.

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Photo of Lothore
3.7/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- Pours a deep, dark brown hue with a thin, frothy, off white head.

S- Smell is deep with hints of plum, fig, caramelized sugar, a little mettalic

T- Taste very round, hints of spices, rum soaked raisins, brown sugar and rounded out with a bit of roasted malt / coffee flavor at the end. Very balanced and full but not nearly as complex as some other big beers.

M- Thick with medium low carbonation.

D- Very big, thick, and sweet with alcohol that is pretty "in your face". I really don't think I can justify the retail price let alone some of the ridiculous markups (not that i graded it down for this, just thought i would mention it).

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Photo of trappistlover
3.72/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

(sampled at Dak's Final Four Tasting, courtesy of Rusty!). Pours dark brown with khaki head. Aroma has loads of bourbon, vanilla and wood. The taste is sweet with bourbon notes. Medium bodied with an oily texture. This is a nice beer. Thanks Rusty!!

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Photo of RodBurg
3.77/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours an opaque dark brown with a thin layer of head gracing the top that leaves no lacing. Small highlights of amber peak through the edges when held up to light. Extremely viscous.

Lots of bourbon in the nose. Vanilla, oak, caramel, sweet corn.

Taste is all Kentucky Whiskey and caramel malt. Vanilla, brown sugar and molasses notes combine very well with a thick and chewy mouthfeel. Good carbonation and a slight alcohol burn in the finish.

Incredibly complex and tasty. Definite sipper, I had to share the bottle.

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Photo of youradhere
3.8/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From notes of a 12, 13, 14 Vertical

Poured a deep maroon tinged mahogany, no head and little lacing. Looks very clear, nice legs on the brandy snifter. Smells of subdued oak, bourbon and slight vanilla. Tastes sweet with still some alcohol hear, the flavor is mild with notes of chocolate, caramel, honey. Slight sediment as the bottle goes down, mouthfeel isn't that thick but still drinks good.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
3.82/5  rDev -13%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Sampled January 2009
A vigorous pour sneaks up on my and creates a bit of a foam over in my 25cl tulip glass. The head starts out a fat-three-fingers in height with a nicely browned, dark tan color. The beer is quite dark, but more of a concentrated brown than black color, when held up to the light the beer shows flashes of a brilliantly clear, ruby color. The aroma has a nice mix toasted coconut, a light barrel spiciness, lots of vanillin, butterscotch and a finish that has a touch of bourbon like warming to it. The aroma is incredibly smooth for showing so much barrel influence and is actually not quite as powerful as I was expecting. Notes of toffee, hints of dark fruit and some toasted grain notes provide a touch of character underneath the other more dominant notes.

This starts out on the cool side (high 40s to low 50s), but I plan on slowly consuming this over the course of the evening. Thick, viscous and heavy as it first hits my tongue, there is a solid prickle of carbonation as the bubbles struggle to release from the beer. The beer is sweet tasting, but this is balanced a lot by spicy bourbon notes, a lingering woody bite in the finish, a middle that has notes of toasted coconut as well as a roasted malt contribution that is sprinkled throughout. The finish also has a touch of cherry like fruitiness to it, though this quickly succumbs to a more dominant, spicy, bourbon heat (which can be a little too much at times). The sweetened coconut flavors are heightened by barrel influenced notes of vanillin and butterscotch.

As the beer warms up it looses a bit of the sweetness but remains quite rich. This is most definitely a sipping beer. While I was grilling some chicken I was noticing a bit more fruit in the flavor as it seemed to bring out notes of figs and raisins. Dark caramel notes, some solid toffee and some salty caramel start to become noticeable after my third pour of this beer. The flavor has some nice things going on, but it just gets too hot, almost phenolic in the finish because of the barrel spiciness and higher alcohols.

Perhaps not quite as much toasted coconut as the XI, but this certainly has quite a bit of it too. I really like this in strong, barrel aged beers, and it makes me wonder what are they doing / using that most other brewers are not. For some reason I am not quite enjoying this near as much as the 10 or 11, it is not bad, but just doesn't achieve the finesse of either of those brews.

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Photo of scottfrie
3.85/5  rDev -12.3%
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.

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Photo of lackenhauser
3.85/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Quite dark in color-a very deep mahogany in fact. Slight carbonation level. Wine like and quite vinuous. Freshly cut oak smell. Small trace of vanilla. Quite winey upfront flavor wise. Fairly heavy hand of oak here. Oak seems very "fresh" and bright flavor wise. Not as subdued or aged as I am use to in a beer. Vanilla notes. Lingering bitterness tends to come from the slight alcohol flavor then anywhere else. Decent body for the style. Quite enjoyable and interesting. Maybe a tad to oakey for my liking. Bet this would age great but I went for it now.

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Photo of jrallen34
3.85/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I drank this from a 22oz bottle into a Rochefort glass.

The beer is very dark brown you can just tell its brown not black but irregardless its very drak. The head is a very light tan rising about a finger but is gone quickly, under 30 seconds. The lacing is very light and watery. There some spotty drops around the glass.

The front of the aroma is really sweet with some vanilla, toffee and raisins and finished with oak and bourbon. Its complex but light, wish it was a tad bit stronger.

The taste of the beer is tons of vanilla which is awesome on the front. It fades to some oak and bourbon and finishes with some bitter alcohol.

The feel is a little light, somewhat disappointing.

Its decently drinkable but something about it just makes it a sipper not a chugger.

Overall its pretty good but has some draw backs in lack of overall aroma and too much vanilla mixed with a bitter end that makes this beer only good not great.

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Photo of ballewblake
3.87/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Shared a bottle at Blue Palms in Hollywood.

No head from the bottle. After warming up I got a tiny tan head that faded quickly. Oak, sweet malts, ethanol on the nose. Alcohol on the back of the tongue, sweet malt blends, great balance. Very low carbonation on the palette. Excellent drink ability for the alcohol content. Looking forward to seeing how this ages.

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Photo of tjthresh
3.88/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 ounce bottle shared with Josh and Jaquie. Pours dark brown with some some red highlights. Lots of bouron and vanilla goodness in the nose. Really nice and robust. Vanilla, oak, bourbon, some smoke, a bit of heat, and even kind of chocolaty. Very full bodied and a malty dry finish with a long boozy finish. This a real good beer, but its just like a glass of bourbon.

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Photo of treyrab
3.9/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Brought this out at our Graduation tasting to complete the vertical!

A: Pours a dark brown, almost black with a nice khaki head. Darker than I thought it was going to be, but with so much Parabola in this, I guess it shouldn't be too surprised.

S: Some bourbon right up front mixed with some toffee, caramel and roast. The bourbon is the most prevalent scent though.

T: The flavors are there, but this needs more time in the cellar. The bourbon is still hot and the flavors of sweet caramel, toffee and bitter roast and hops are clashing.

Overall, this will get better, but more time will help this.

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Photo of BearsOnAcid
3.95/5  rDev -10%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Beer poured out like a thin stout. A thin head rose and fell back into the dark liquid.

Smells similar to XIII but with some more prevalent rye characteristics. An oak smell is dominant and then some very faded hops and maybe a bready/yeasty smell.

Tasting it was very pleasant. Sweetness quickly mellowing into oak and then a faint rye flavor in the background. It's a very subtle beer even for 12% abv. Flavors aren't really as explosive as you'd think. Mouthfeel comes up a little thin.

I actually enjoyed XIII a bit more but there were a lot of similarities obviously. This beer is perfect to drink right now. I can't see it getting any better.

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Photo of Phelps
3.97/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Enjoyed during a vertical (diagonal?) tasting of FW Anniversary 12, 13 and 14 with tlay10. This one was poured from the bottle into a snifter.

Pours a light maroon, clear like coffee, that becomes a cola-colored dark burgundy with crimson highlights in the glass. Tyler says it's darker than he remembers it. A faint, whispery head of tan fizzles away rather quickly, leaving behind a large-bubbled ring and fat spatters of lace. Some tiny floaters of yeast pepper the dusky liquid.

Smells very sweet. Cherries, vanilla, dark chocolate, plums, oak and a tiny bit of ethanol. Age seems to have done this bottle well; it's so smooth.

The flavor isn't as sweet as the nose. Way more bitter, acrid coffee flavors. Vanilla, light oak, figs, plums, cocoa nibs and a blast of maple syrup. There's a pretty hefty alcohol in the nose and flavor, but it's blended beautifully.

In the mouth: medium-light, massaging carbonation creates a very light fizziness. Soft body with impressive viscosity. It's a creamy medium-light in fullness. Alcohol is noticeable in the nose and as my tongue becomes progressively more numb, but it's not out of place.

Tyler, who's had this beer fresh, says it hasn't gone downhill at this point. He would know better; all I know is it's dryer than I expected, but nice. Good flavors, excellent smoothness, tasty beer.

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Photo of claspada
4.02/5  rDev -8.4%
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.

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Photo of gameface23
4.03/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours a whiskey brown with a small, dark head. This beer reminded of bourbon more than any other beer I've tried. It is also similar to an Imperial Stout in a lot of aspects (except for the appearance). The smell was of bourbon barrel vanilla and chocolate. The taste was similar, with strong alcohol that warmed as it went down. Drinkability was average. I doubt I would ever be able to finish an entire bottle of it or want more than 2 full drinks.

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Photo of ArrogantB
4.03/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle thanks to someone here. Dark black, short film of tan bubbles. Smells like bourbon barrel, stout, rich. The flavor is mostly imperial stout with some barrels, again very rich and took me awhile to finish my sample which was around 7 ounces. This was good but not as good as the 11th anniversary which is my favorite.

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Photo of Vixie
4.05/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours very black, not much light passing through this one. Not much of a head, which I expected from a beer of this strength.

Smell was strong, to me was on the smokey side. Some fruit and vanilla in there as well.

Taste is of molasses and raisins, quite a bit of alcohol as well. There is a smokiness there, I think from the barrel aging.

Mouthfeel was pretty solid, ther carbonation makes it feel more active.

Overall this one is a sipper. It's strong, came across a lot like liquor more so than beer. Compared to the 11, this one is good, but not up to that level.

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Photo of DefenCorps
4.05/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I've had this 3-4 times since the release, and each time being at a tasting of some sort. I've always enjoyed spending time with one of the FW Anniversary beers, and tonight's the night for the 12.

In my snifter, this beer pours a very dark brown with a dense, light brown head with good retention and rather excellent lacing. Reddish brown highlights are present.

The nose is rather muted, and it's surprisingly so. I drank a Parabola a few weeks back and absolutely loved it. This has a moderate blend of booze, bourbon, vanilla along with some spicy oak. As it warms up, the paradox of this beer becomes apparent. One usually finds a beer that looks like this and with as prominent a bourbon character to have a ton of chocolate on the nose, but that's not to be. Instead, what I get is a rather fruity, malty base with some caramel, prunes and brown sugar. As it warms up, the nose does open up a lot.

The palate is a lot better than the nose. Opening with a rather pronounced alcoholic burn, there's bourbon, and along with it, a blend of sweeter flavors - brown sugar, a little molasses, some prune. A little cocoa is present in the mid-palate, but this tastes like a rather big, bourbon barrel brown ale. Moderately oaky, this has a rather tannic character on the finish. Some vanilla is present too. The malt character seems to be oxidizing a bit, tuning just a little dull. I'm also struck by the fact that what balances the sweetness is not a grainy bitterness or a solid roastiness, but the spicy, boozy bite. The mouthfeel, OTOH, is excellent. Medium-full in body with a soft, creamy carbonation, this beer has a wonderful finish, rather excellently balanced with light cocoa, caramel, booze and tannins. I've got a couple of hours to work through my bottle, and it won't be a problem at all. It's better suited to be a digestif, but hey, I'm not complaining. As well done as this beer is, it is my least favorite of the FW anniversary beers.

** Original Review dated 23 May 2009.
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | drink: 3.5
At The Graduation Tasting. How fortunate was I to be at a tasting where this was the "worst" beer?

A: Jet black with reddish brown highlights. Thin tan head with OK retention

S: Big and bourbony with ridiculous malt depth - prunes, dark caramel, brown sugar. Not that much roasted/burnt malt character. The barrel-aging complements the existing flavors really well

T: Like a good BA RIS, this is big, boozy with vanilla and oak, but it also has a richness and depth reserved for barleywines, with toffee and caramel present. Boozy, but well integrated.

M: Big in body with spot on carbonation and a booze, sweetish bitter finish

D: This is a sipper that could use a little more time in the cellar before it's consumed. Maybe when the 13 comes out?

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Photo of willjschmidt
4.05/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22oz bomber into a Stone IRS glass.

A: Pours a near jet black with red tones around the edges. Virtually no head.

S: Bourbon, vanilla, and quite a bit of alcohol.

T: Layers of complexity. Quite a bit of bourbon, vanilla, chocolate. Very little roasted or coffee flavors. Slightly sweet throughout. Lots of wood and very boozy.

M: Viscous and thick. Very little carbonation.

D: A sipper for sure as it's a very boozy brew. A nice beer to sit and sip on a cold winter evening.

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Photo of PatronWizard
4.05/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Been drinking a lot of, uh, lesser beers lately, trying to save a few bucks. My cellar is a faint shadow of its former glory, but I can't help it: today one of my few remaining gems must die. Firestone XII, your time has come.

Pours extremely dark. A just barely off-white head stands up, converses with me for a few minutes, and quietly sits down. Respectable and polite, it was. Light brown highlights play at edges of my glass.

Intoxicating aroma, though not very powerful. Maybe some dark fruits playing grab ass with some coconut, coffee, and alcohol.

Taste is dark fruits and booze. Black cherries. Caramel. Toffee. Coconut. Alcohol. In fact, the alcohol is a little big in the taste profile, and that's saying a lot for me because I adore high ABV. Don't worry, this bottle is still gonna take me to a happier place. The high ABV means the wife doesn't really dig this, so I get 21 of the 22 oz straight to the head. Darn.

Oh so smooth and slightly thicker than the XI, making it slightly better in my opinion. The small burn at the end results in a 4.5 instead of 5.0 for feel.

Half the bottle and I feel more like I do now than I did before if you mean what I know. So glad I broke down and opened this although when I see the empty space in my cellar tomorrow I may silently weep for a minute or two.

Overall: awesome big beer

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Firestone 12 - Anniversary Ale from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
4.39 out of 5 based on 302 ratings.
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