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Firestone 12 - Anniversary Ale | Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

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Firestone 12 - Anniversary AleFirestone 12 - Anniversary Ale
302 Ratings
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.

Bros Score:
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Ratings: 302 |  Reviews: 186
Photo of GClarkage
4.82/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

01/17/09- Purchased at Ledger's Liquors in Berkeley, CA.

Presentation- 22oz bottle in a commemorative box with a piece of paper describing the beer and what went into the making of the beer. Later 2008 release poured into a wine style glass.

Appearance- Copper-caramel colored pour. Slight 1/4 inch head upon pour, quickly dissipates. Lacing is spotty and rather sparse, but wasn't expecting much anyway. Pretty much the norm. Not much to fault.

Smell- Rich nose of lots of stuff. Vanilla, butterscotch (in a good way), brandy, bourbon, oak barrels, wine-like aromas, dirt, caramel...you name it, it's in there. I would call this a dead on highly aromatic English Barleywine if you had asked me.

Taste- Again, lots of flavor melded together. Alcohol is noted, but not as much as one would think. Feels and tastes like a 16-20% abv beer, but is actually only a 12%. Thick and viscous. Caramely and sugary. Brandied dark fruits and some rich milk chocolate. Vanilla intertwinded throughout. Mild hoppy burn during consumption.

Mouthfeel- More carbonation than I was expecting. Thick and chewy, fairly smooth though. Hoppy lasting aftertaste as well as a caramel tongue coating.

Drinkability- Had to keep reminding myself this was NOT an English Barleywine and was a Strong Ale. Therefore, it's about the most perfect tasting Strong Ale I have had. I think it's going to improve also when the hops burn off a bit and the carbonation lessens. This is the first beer I have had that costs $20 and was worth every penny.

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Photo of weeare138
4.6/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to Josh for opening this one...
Appears a dark brown, nearing black with auburn edges when held to the light. A decent sized, tan head slowly fades out into a floating cap of sea foam. Scattered remnants of the lacing are left around the glass.
Smell is of rum, bourbon, cocoa, caraamel, ripe fruit, raisins, and pecan pie.
Taste is of the mentioned complexities with more of caramel and nuts coming through.
Mouthfeel is medium-full bodied, oaky, bourbon laden, with cocoa clinging to the palate.

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Photo of ArrogantB
4.03/5  rDev -7.8%
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 JoeySchlitz
4.9/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Split a bottle with abfraser and waltonc last night.

A vigorous pour leaves a quarter inch head which quickly dissipates to just the edges and lasts throughout the tasting. It has the same color and viscosity as root beer.

The smell is unbelievable - toffee, caramel, slight chocolate undertones with a rich vanilla-bourbon alcohol finish. Reminds me a little of the Abacus but only in initial whiff - definitely has the distinctive FW barrel aging character.

Initially the taste follows the smell closely but after a few sips the Parabola base becomes much more discernable. This is a perfectly mix of imperial stout and alcohol - silky smooth and delicious mouth feel. Great carbonation as well.

The only fault that I can find in this is the high abv - not that I mind it but it definitely limits the number of glasses you can put back before passing out. Also the price definitely makes this a special occasion beer.

Overall one of the best beers that I can say I've had the chance to drink and am glad to have reserves in the cellar for future tastings. Only time will tell but I think that this will age better than the FW 11 and is on par with the 10 for quality if not better. A superb effort by Firestone.

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Photo of beachbum1975
4.75/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Got this one from RedwoodGeorge - awesome trader and fantastic guy. Shared with newtonty (Why doesn't this idiot review beers???) Anyhow... Oh yeah, pwoods... where are you? Oh, working late! You fool... ;)

Firestone Walker's 11 was my "hands-down" favorite beer of 2008, so let's see how the 12 can contend...

Pours a super dark brown with reddish/brown clear edges. A sticky, light mocha head lingers with great lacing.

Complex smells of vanilla, caramel, toasted malts and light floral hops and trailing alcohol. It's much like a hoppy red ale of some kind with the malt and hop presence when it's cold, but the American Strong Ale characteristics shine as it warms.

Taste is like a SUPER rich and tasty mix of caramel goodness, butterscotch mixed with some sugar cane and oaky vanilla ending. I'm not a fan of "sweet" beers, but the finish was very candy-sweet, but doesn't overwhelm the senses. Personally, I get the maple syrup like quality from when I recently had Angel's Share Bourbon barrel. Sweet and creamy mix of goodness. The malt character is so unique, like a lightly sweet, barrel-aged American barleywine.

This is a fantastic dessert in a bottle! Where's my smoking jacket and fireplace?

What a fine and amazing creation. Firestone Walker, you are amazing!

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Photo of Crosling
4.7/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Brown colored out of the bottle, but appears black in the glass. Thin, wispy, quickly diminishing white head. Intricate nose loaded with malt and barrel complexity. Flavor is shockingly complex and intense. Notes of chocolate, marshmellow, graham, vanilla, caramel, toffee, oak. Terrifically balanced and wow, what aging potential. Thanks Malcolm!

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Photo of Sandstone
4.64/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Cracked one of these open for New Years and got the year started off right.

I guess I should begin by stating that for $20 a bottle, I'm going to demand a lot from my beer. I think that's only fair. With that said, this beer did not disappoint.

This is probably one of the best smelling beers I've ever had. The smell of wet oak really just smacks you in the face. Vanilla and bourbon play backup.

Taste? Muy excellente. Very strong vanilla notes battle it out with the bourbon to dominate the palate. This is a sweet beer, but not so sweet as to be sickening.

For 12%, this beer goes down smooth as silk, although its definitely going to warm up the back of your throat. Great to sit with next to the fireplace and sip your way to heaven.

Can't wait to see how my other bottle ages for next New Years.

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Photo of sweetbrew82
4.33/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

22 oz. bottle into a pint glass; "bottled on" date 11/04/08

P: Pours dark brown from the bottle and sits pitch black in the glass with the only light sneaking through on the edges. Chocolatey brown head is thick & creamy, and showed great retention. Good lacing left behind as the head settled to form a sheet of bubbles on top.

A: Heavy bourbon, dark chocolate, vanilla, coffee, maple and smokey oak.

T: Sweet start with deep roasted malts, vanilla, and maple. Dark fruit begin to creep in soon afterwards, accompanied by an ever-increasing Bourbon presence with some charcoal buried beneath. I do get a smidgeon of hop flavors that are kind of earthy, and really have to be searched for. Finish is dry, but does leave a resinous slick on the tongue. Very warming on the tongue, throat, and chest from the Bourbon domination.

M: Full-bodied, thick & viscious, syrupy and so smooth.

D: Hoowee!It's so damn tasty and full of flavor that you don't notice how bad the ABV is kicking your ass, until its too late! So, I'm not sure about 2 or 3 of these puppies.

Notes: Wow! What a hell of a Christmas gift to receive from my wife (she's a keeper!). It reminds me of GI BCS in an American Strong Ale version. Although, I thought this had more complexity and dimensions to it. Not saying its better, but this is an elegant sipper to behold for sure. Perfect candidate for aging, to mellow the heavy alcohol and release the subtle notes would really do this justice. But even as it is, what a way to bring in the New Year!

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Photo of LongBeachHopHead
4.79/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Cracked this as my New years 2009 beer.

Appearance: Black, not much head, super thick motor oil. Very inviting. Thin brown grid of lacing as the the glass slowly empties.

Smell: amazing bright chocolate, coffee, tobacco, bourbon sweet scent.

Taste: I had the Eleven and Twelve two nights before with BrewbakerE side by side. IMO the Twelve is a better beer. Taste is amazing balance of the chocolate, coffee and bourbon flavors is top notch. The 12% is there but almost invisible to me, reminds me of BCS.

Mouthfeel: I split a bottle with some stranger Brian from Oregon that was into beer at this party I went to. No one else was into it so half of a 22oz was PURE HEAVEN. Let it warm up to room temp and it was awesome. Coats the palate and complex flavors linger for a long time. Would be great with a nice cigar or some chocolate bourbon balls that a co-worker of mine makes.

Drinkability: I liked this one very much and could drink a bottle once a week. It will stay in my top ten greatest beers for a long time! Thanks Matt for making such great beer!

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Photo of Murchmac
3.7/5  rDev -15.3%
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 hoppymeal
4.47/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours black with a good sized dark tan head that very slowly chunks down. Aroma is a nice big bourbony aroma, some definite alcohol is evident by the booziness in the smell. Also, some cola, caramel, and vanilla sweetness. A swirl produces some nice notes of leather and aged dark fruits, raisins etc. Taste is full of a vanilla sweetness, it is up front and a good portion of the way thru the taste. Some booziness and a drying woodiness towards the finish. Some strong licorice characteristics are present throughout as well. Mouthfeel is medium to heavy in body, carbonation creates a nice soft and creamy feel, some biting and warming alcohol in the finish. The alcohol is definitely big, but is balanced by the big flavors and feel, and never becomes disproportionate. Just like ten and eleven before it, this is an excellent beer. This beer needs no ageing, it is drinking great in the present.

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Photo of AES
4.75/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle from Spencer's Fresh Markets, Atascadero 12-31-08

A: Pours nearly black with very dark reds when held up to a neutral color. A centered pour produced one-finger head after a few moments, which soon dissipated. Lacing is fair, sticky.

S: The smell is striking in its similarity to Walnut lumber, rather sweet. Esters come through late and stick.

T: Very complex, the initial impression was very sweet chocolate with some caramel and bitterness from the hops. Esters quickly came through; this tastes like a chocolate-covered banana. The finish is bourbon with malt bitterness and alcohol.

M: Mouthfeel is heavy and smooth. Silky comes to mind. The carbonation is initially noticeable but dissipates quickly. Leaves residual sugars on the tongue and lips.

D: After the first few sips, this brew is very impressive but not especially drinkable. It becomes more palatable as the sips go by and by now I'm wishing I had bought the other. The only real limiting factor is 12% alcohol.

Overall, this is an excellent brew and I can't wait to see what FW puts out next year. These anniversary ales are always interesting.

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Photo of JWD
4.72/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A- brown almost black in appearance eith a slight red color

S- lot going on here, bourbon, vanilla, oak, booze, and many others, one of the best smelling beers i have ever had.

T- outstanding a thinner much more complex version of GI BCS, continues to change as it warms.

M- thinner than expected however the flavor is intense, it coats your mouth with an array of flavors

D- OK due to the high ABV, I would say that one of these is enough.

Overall outstanding beer with a lot to take in well worth the $20 a bottle.

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Photo of mikesgroove
4.77/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I have to say first, Thank you soo much to Jim and Joan for bringing me this bottle all the way from the Pac NW. Thank you soo much. I took this one home and chilled it down and enjoyed it thoroughly. Served in a large wine glass and consumed on 12/27/2008.

The pour was very nice. Rich, dark brown in color with no light shining through this one at all. Very dark and menacing looking I have to say. Small tan head rose up quickly and faded down almost as quickly, leaving a semi bare top to it.

The aroma was wonderful. Rich with whiskey and vanilla tones that were so absurdly dominant I did not even know what to do with myself. Lots of sweetness in the malt here as well. The flavor was just rediculous. Tons of oak in here, but the vanilla is some of the most dominant and overpowering I have ever come across. Really just superb. Smooth, easy drinking and an exceptional sipper, this offered not a dull moment and for that reason, was a perfect night long sipper.

Overall does it live up to the hype, yes, indeed it does. This is an entirely different animal then last year, but at the same time, simply wonderful. I am very fortunate I was able to try this.

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Photo of gameface23
4.03/5  rDev -7.8%
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 RodBurg
3.77/5  rDev -13.7%
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 Wasatch
4.5/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a very nice dark brown color, very nice carbonation, nice little brownish head, with some nice sticky lacing left behind. The nose is malty, with some whiskey, vanilla. The taste is sweet, malty, with some whiskey/vanilla notes. Medium body. Very drinkable, this is one very tasty brew.

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Photo of WeisGuy
4.45/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

a - pours a dark brown, nearly black color, nice one-inch tan head with retention around the edges and good lacing, cascade of bubbles develops with each sip

s - oak, caramel, and deeply roasted malt are the predominate aromas, some dark fruit and a pronounced toasted pecan flavor add quite a bit of complexity to the nose, along with an underlying note of vanilla, decent amount of alcohol as well

t - very smooth and complex on the palate, semi-sweet chocolate and caramel mix with oak and vanilla cream up front, some dark fruits and caramel malt on the mid-palate lead into a moderate bitterness and warm boozy finish, alcohol is definitely prominent, but not overwhelming

m - full-bodied, medium-carbonation, well-balanced finish with just the right amount of dryness, very good, if not perfect mouthfeel overall

d - certainly a sipper, but a pretty drinkable one, alcohol is there but not overwhelming, pretty easy on the palate, sweetness is not too much and is balanced by the moderately dry finish

Great beer overall, and a worthy continuation of the barrel-aged anniversary series from Firestone Walker. Yes, the price is a bit steep, but I, for one, feel this is worth it. Seek out a bottle if you can!

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Photo of John_M
4.54/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

With some help from my friends, I was able to drink most of a bottle of this elixir at Stone today.

The beer pours an impressive dark brown color with minimal head retention, but OK lacing. The beer doesn't look super impressive, but then I stuck my nose in the glass.

On the nose, one gets a huge aroma of chocolate, molasses, prunes and vanilla. As good as this beer is on the nose, on the palate it's other worldly. The beer has the consistency of liquid butter on the palate, with flavors of chocolate, vanilla, more molasses and honey. There is also some lovely underlying hoppy bitterness, which keeps the beer from tasting too heavy or cloying. The beer has a huge soft creamy mouthfeel, especially after it warmed up a bit. (this beer really should be served close to room temperature, IMO). The beer is very, very boozy, but that's expected and appreciated in this beer. The flavor profile keeps the alcohol in check, though there's no denying that a little bit of this goes a long way.

A very, very impressive beer from FireStone. Just very good stuff...

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Photo of magictrokini
4.5/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle from Beverages 4 Less. Pours viscous, opaque brown with mahogany edges. Short and thick off-white head. Slight lacing. Rich, oaky bourbon aroma. Vanilla, tobacco, leather, and chocolate abound. Smooth, heavy mouthfeel with very little carbonation. Full bourbon taste with swirling chocolate, caramel malt, vanilla, and licorice. Drinks like a cognac. Very alcoholic, but no ethyl flavors. More porter-like flavors than stout, but both are present. Delicious. Easily one of the best of this year.

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Photo of paytoplay
4.47/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

All the 4.5's will be 5's with a couple years of age on this beer. Aroma is a bit conservative. Drank out of wine type glasses at Live Wire San Diego. only $20! Amazing balance, acidity and alc to go along with the power of the bourbon flavors. that is what sets this beast apart. it all comes together to be very smooth and elegant. So much going on besides the bourbon profile of oak vanilla coco carmel. They know what they are doing with this beer. Give this one a couple hours in the glass to open up and drink at room temp. Glad to have more as this beer will be very rewarding in 2 or 3+ years. Bravo!

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Photo of illidurit
4.79/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Review #500! Poured into a brandy snifter. Out of the bottle it's a maple syrup color but in the glass it sits a complete opaque black. An ecru head tries to form through the dense liquid but manages only about a half finger of height.

Aroma features all the great qualities of a fine bourbon but with none of the alcohol sharpness. Chocolate drizzled on oak and peat, with sumptuous vanilla and a raisiny fruitiness, even hazelnuts.

Flavor seems to morph with each sip. First I got a really portlike Utopias character, then I got a nice roastiness, and now it seems to be sweet bourbon and wood. Similar notes as the aroma, and I'm also getting a slight candied citrus note, which may be the only trace of hoppiness here. Brown sugar, smoke, molasses. Delicious.

Mouthfeel is a touch under thick, which lends a nice drinkability. Carbonation is lowish but there's nothing wrong with that, considering this beer is almost closer to bourbon than beer anyway. Finish is surprisingly clean. Wonderful warming sensation from the high but well-hidden alcohol makes this just perfect for cold weather and winter in general. Top notch beer.

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Photo of hopdog
4.39/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle purchased and consumed on site at the Stone Bistro in Escondido, CA. I was actually happy to find this during my San Diego vacataion. A little expensive at $28 a bottle, but what is a beer geek to do these days. At least the Waiter asked if I am sure I wanted to pay that much for a beer and also said it was very popular.

Poured a dark brown color with a small sized off white head. Aromas of wood, roasty, chocolate, somem dark fruitiness, and vanilla. Tastes of plums, raisins, woody, chocolate, caramel, vanilla, and wood.

Alcohol finish got stronger and stronger as I drank this and I had a problem finishing the bomber by myself - trust me I did. On the sweeter side. One to share for sure.

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Photo of tpd975
4.64/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Picked up on my trip to San Fran.

A: Pours a nice dark black hue with tones of brown showing thru. The heady is brown in color and rather wispy. No retention at all though it somehow manages a bit of spotty lace.

S: Bold oak aromas you can tell this one has been in the barrel. A big blast of vanilla comes next with hints of brown sugar, sweet fruit, and caramelized brown sugar.

T: Missed out on the Ten and Eleven, but if this is an indication I can see why they have a cult following. Lots of barrel in this beer. Bold nutty oak with hints of pure vanilla bean. Dark fruits make an appearence along with some caramelized brown sugar. There is a boozy burn in the finish.

M: Full bodied and smooth. Very rich and creamy. Packs a bit of sting though from the booze.

D: Very sippable. Shared this with the tasting group, and I have to say it was one of those beer that lives up to the hype. Have another one to age, which is what I plan to do. A little age could take this great beer and make it out of this world. Time will tell.

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Photo of likestoswallow
4.55/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

650 ml bottle.

A: Pours a dark brown-nearly opaque black color with a small tan head that has fair retention.

S: The aroma is strong and rich with whiskey, roasted malts, dates, plums and coffee.

T: The flavor shows a good balance of whiskey to ale blends. There is a distinct taste of roasted barley intermingled with bourbon, dates, plums, vanilla and black walnuts.

M: The mouthfeel is smooth and creamy with good carbonation. The finish is long and glorious with lingering malts and Bourbon.

D: This is a beer that begs to be sipped and savored. As this is an over-hyped product I approached it with a great deal of skepticism. Much to my surprise it really is that good. Perhaps I'm just too easy to please (sometimes), but this is a great brew that exceeds its hype.

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Firestone 12 - Anniversary Ale from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 4.37 out of 5 with 302 ratings
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