Firestone 13 - Anniversary Ale
Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Firestone 13 - Anniversary AleFirestone 13 - Anniversary Ale
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Style:
American Strong Ale
ABV:
12%
Score:
96
Avg:
4.41 | pDev: 8.39%
Reviews:
228
Ratings:
403
From:
Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
 
California, United States
Avail:
Retired (no longer brewed)
Wants
  282
Gots
  136
SCORE
96
World-Class
Firestone 13 - Anniversary AleFirestone 13 - Anniversary Ale
Notes:
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Reviews: 228 | Ratings: 403
Reviews by Reagan1984:
Photo of Reagan1984
4.82/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Well, it's time to review #13. I've had 3 bottles previous to this one, but now is the time for the official review. This series is one of my favorites and I love the base beer as well. (Parabola)

The balance between flavor, mouth feel and aroma here is just fantastic. Maybe I'm a sucker for the entire process here, but I don't care, I just love it. 12 remains the answer to the question, "what's the most special beer you've ever had.

This one pours with a light tan head that fades rather quickly to a thin film. The beer is a deep dull brown color with no light getting through at any point. In the reflection of light coming through the beer there are some burgundy colors.

Aroma is fantastic. Vanilla, wood, molasses, dark caramel, deep fruits.

There is a ton of stuff happening in the flavor here. You can spend quite a bit of time on the glass here. The complexity is what makes this special. Everything noted in the aroma makes an appearance, plus some additional flavor components. Vanilla, Wood, some fruit and a touch of cocoa. Also some coconut as well. A tiny sense of the abv here, but so well hidden. It's just a warming glow.

One of the best characteristics here is the velvety smooth mouth feel. Just like silk on your tongue. I think the 12 was a little more rounded, but this is still fantastic. You just let this lay on your tongue and enjoy the ride. The carbonation is the slightest prickle on the end of your tongue.

Drinkability is just wonderful. You get lost in the glass (& bottle!!) A true classic. Can not get enough of this series!!!

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More User Reviews:
Photo of mjl21
4.42/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

22 ounce bottle poured into a snifter. Comes in at 12%. Nice to see FW included the piece of paper describing the blend since they skipped it for XII.

A-Pours a dark brown and has a minimal sandy head that quickly breaks into a few small bubbly patches around the rim of the glass. There is lots of spotted lacing left in between sips.

S-Lots of vanilla in the nose throughout the entire time it is in the glass. Also get bourbon and oak. Roast dark malts stand out more as it warms and I get occasional notes of coffee. The nose is very nice, but subtle when compared to a lot of -bal aged beers that I have tried recently. I kept sticking my nose in the snifter because it was perfectly balanced.

T-Lot of vanilla, sweet chocolate, and molassess start it out. It has a big chocolate backbone that is not as evident in the aroma. Lots of oak and caramel hit midsip. The oak is also strong on the finish. Bourbon flavors also pop out as it goes down. There is a touch of booze, but it is not distracting. Every few sips I get some roasted malt flavor.

M-It is not as thick as I expected. It is extremely silky and smooth with a perfect level of soft carbonation.

D-Like they mention in the paper description, this one is all about the subtleties and quiet tones. The booze is not very strong. It is still a little oaky and some age should help mellow that out.

Another great FW beer. Well worth trying one fresh and then cellaring a few to think out the oak.

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Photo of KeefD
4.15/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Finally getting around to drinking this after it was sent to me by my man Knifestyles back in February. Thanks a ton for this one, Chris!

Pours a dark brown color that is solid black in the glass. There's a small tan cap that pops up, but not much else. Aroma has a nice mix of caramel, chocolate, vanilla, oak. Pretty much what was expected. Taste is the same. Caramel is at the forefront, you can really taste the imperial brown in the blend, as well as the Parabola, which gives a nice roast flavor, but I think considering this is a year and half old now (after bottling) a lot of those flavors have rounded out and given away to chocolate, molasses, and caramel. There's also some sweet brown sugar, a bit of dark fruit, and very little barrel/oak/bourbon/rye whiskey qualities going on here, but again, this could be to age. All in all, it's really tasty, but I still think beers like this that have already been aged in barrels should be had shortly after bottling rather than hanging on to them for so long. Body is a nice medium, alcohol comes through and gives a very mild warmth, but it's good overall, despite maybe need a bit more Parabola in these regards. Damn good beer overall. I have no idea what it tasted like soon after bottling, but I can say it's definitely holding up well as the flavors are all very well-balanced, and there's no sign of it going downhill at this point. Thanks again Chris!

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Photo of BarrelO
4/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle poured into a goblet.

A: Body is pretty much black. Reasonably thick white head that doesn't leave much lacing.

S: Vanilla, coconuts, wood, and alcohol.

T: Pretty much the same as the nose. Complex, but not necessarily good. The alcohol is well hidden, though.

M: Middle of the road in body and thickness.

D: A pretty decent sipper. It's not something I'd go out of my way for, though.

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Photo of billab914
4/5  rDev -9.3%

Photo of fear025
3.87/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Aroma:Dark Malt, a little boozy, raisins and other dark fruit.

Appearance:Black and opaque. Very little head.

Taste:Dark bitter chocolate, slight sour cherry taste.

Mouthfeel:Medium body, some hot alcohol burn, good carbonation.

Drinkability:This beer has some harsh edges, and could definitely be improved by some age.

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Photo of emmasdad
4.42/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours from the bottle a deep dark brown, almost black color, with some hints of red around the edges. In the glass this one is thick and opaque, with little, if any, light poking through. When poured, a thin off-white head quickly formed, but just as quickly disappeared, leaving behind a few random bubbles. This one has a huge, inviting nose, with alcoholic heat competing with hints of oak, coconut and cocoa powder.
On the palate there is quite a bit going on. In addition to the aforementioned oak, coconut and cocoa powder, I get some bourbon, vanilla, chocolate and maybe a whisper of coffee. Creamy and rich, lightly carbonated, with just a touch of lingering bitterness and alcohol heat. Rich, complex and very well done.

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Photo of nickd717
4.72/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle shared by largadeer on BA, who is a good guy to live near as far as beer is concerned. Great packaging, although I would have appreciated it more if they had skipped the shiny silver box and knocked a couple bucks off the price of this beer. I was lucky enough to pick a few bottles up at Whole Foods Los Altos for $20 apiece, and after tasting this, I'm glad I shelled out the cash for those.

Pours black in color with a one finger tan head and some lacing.

Aroma is lots of caramel, toffee, roast, chocolate, and vanilla. Barrel notes also evident. A lot going on there.

Flavor is complex and awesome with roasted, caramel, and chocolate malts all apparent, rich chocolate, molasses, sweet toffee, syrup, brown sugar, spices, vanilla, oak, and even some dark fruits. Yeah it's all here. This beer exceeded the high expectations I had for it.

Palate is incredibly smooth and creamy with fairly full body, with only a little booze despite the young age, hiding the 12% ABV very well.

Drinkability is very high for an intense 12-percenter like this. Overall this is an amazing beer. Even stood up to Black Tuesday fairly well, and that's saying something.

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Photo of ThreeWiseMen
4.35/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Split a bottle of Firestone 13 with my roommate, JustinA1, last night. We each reviewed the beer simultaneously, jotting down notes without saying a word, and then compared our thoughts afterward. This followed a silent review of Firestone 14. Onto the review:

Poured into a Cigar City snifter.

Appearance: Poured thick and jet black with a short, light brown layer of foam. Head quickly settled to a thin ring and stayed that way for the remainder of the session. When swirled, orange-gold foam emerged from the depths. Spotty lacing.

Smell: Bourbon, dark fruits (notably cherries and figs), chocolate syrup, faint oats, vanilla, and bread crust. The bourbon, dark fruit, and chocolate contributions seem to outweigh everything else; I'm unable to pick out much besides them. Bourbon and flowery esters take control as the beer warms, though the dark fruit aromas still prevail.

Taste: Chocolate mousse, vanilla, chocolate cake, sweet bread, and undeniable bourbon. Very, very similar to the recent release of Parabola, but with a mildly lighter flavor profile. Thought-provoking and nostalgic. Beautiful.

Mouthfeel: Amazingly smooth for such a high ABV beer (blows FW14 out of the water in that regard, and FW14 actually had a pretty nice feel to it, too). Full, malty, lightly carbonated, chewy, and a touch syrupy. Drinks much like an imperial stout. One year of age has mellowed this one out A LOT! Burn and dryness are very subdued. Alcohol is detectable, but nowhere close to offensive.

Drinkability: The initial complexity has faded, but damn was this easy to drink! Exceptionally smooth and ... the word that comes to mind is "elegant." Dangerous at 12% ABV.

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Photo of jminsc76
4.05/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Courtesy of alexd3891 to complement a vertical with Firestone 14. (note: we had this several months ago with chocolate cake at alexd3891's birthday party) [yum], but he was quick to point out during this tasting that the strength of the aromas and flavors have died down considerably since then)

Into a wide-rimmed, non-stem wine glass pours a cocoa-colored head atop a black body. Reemerges quickly upon agitation, only to die down just as quickly.

Aromas include slight quantities of coconut, graham crackers, and some roasts. Despite the loss of intensity, I still *whiff* away because what is there is decent.

Flavors are still fairly rich, with an excellent amount of chocolate and roasts on the finish. The issue noticed among those of whom I am sharing this with is not that it lacks complexity, but impact (i.e., oomph!). A shame considering the ABV level.

Mouthfeel is soft and silky; a bit thinner than I prefer, though not unsurprising.

Overall, I may have enjoyed this more had Alex said nothing, but he's right. It is blunted, sadly only a shadow of its former self oh so not long ago. It tastes good (pairing extremely well with the blue cheese and chocolate/peanut butter cookies present) rather than great. That being the case, and considering how awesome a previous bottle was, I will be kind with my rating.

Here, enjoy some eye-candy (from bikebusbeer via flikr; yes, that is me in the background with pen and notebook in hand):

http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/5252682151/

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Photo of womencantsail
4.5/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle split with crazeguy and t0rin0 tonight.

A: The pour is just about black with a thin layer of dark brown colored foam.

S: The smell is quite similar to Parabola. A lot of smooth bourbon, chocolate, coffee, vanilla, and a bit of oak. There is also a bit of alcohol, but not very much at all considering the blend and the ABV.

T: The flavors are quite similar to the nose. The initial sips seem a bit boozy, but this quickly dies down. The dominant flavors are chocolate, vanilla, coffee, and roasted malt. There is a bit of alcohol and oak, but surprisingly balanced for its (young) age.

M: The body is quite full and the carbonation is moderate but quite proper for the beer.

D: I thought this would be a bit hot and tough to drink at its young age, but it is quite an exceptional beer. This one will surely get better with age, but it will be tough to keep my hands off of.

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Photo of JoeySchlitz
4.32/5  rDev -2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A 22oz bomber poured into a snifter - from notes taken on 11/27.

A: A deep chocolate brown - almost black - very similar to the previous FW anniversary beers. This is poured very cold and there is minimal head, almost none with a faint ring of lacing at the edges. After a gentle stir, a swarm of tiny bubbles surface and form a dark tan coating then disappear.

S: Impressive. This is really cold, too cold in fact, but in spite of that there is a wonderful, smooth oak barrel aroma. Charred oak soaked in vanilla extract with some butter notes. The smell is intoxicating. There's also some rich fruit undertones also with a bit of chocolate at the bottom. An awesome smelling beer.

T: Again, it's starting out too cold, but it seems to be a bit muted and not as flavorful as the 12 was. A strong alcohol burn, both in the mouth and on the way down, ending with a slight warming feeling in the belly. A bit of a medicinal quality to the beer - it could use a bit more flavor to back up the alcohol bite / burn.

M: Very good viscosity and perfect carbonation. It mixes well with the alcohol and gives it a bit of a unique prickly warming sensation.

O: A very good anniversary beer but not as good as last year's 12, which was balanced with more imperial stout character. The base bravo ale is not as flavorful to balance out the high abv of the beer. Will have to see how this ages and if the heat dies down and some of the more subtle flavors make their way to the top.

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Photo of Desaparecido
5/5  rDev +13.4%

Photo of vacax
4.32/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

Pours black with dark brown edges, a thin head but the retention is high and loads of tiny bubbles entrance the eye every time the glass is moved. Smells of toasted oak, maple, bourbon, brown sugar, and leather. Tastes of maple and brown sugar with lots of oak and vanilla on the midpalate. Finish has roast, treacle, herbal hops, and piles on the oak. Feels full, silky, chewy, low but proper carbonation. Very tasty brew, though too oaky at the moment, this is an excellent candidate for cellaring, expect improved flavors in the future.

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Photo of chugalug06
4.32/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

Nice soapy short caramel colored head with nice big bubbles. No lacing. Brew is deep robust coffee color.

Lots of toasted coconut, almonds, caramel, coffee, a bit gummy, solid bourbon vanilla. Solid.

Carbonation is a bit heavier than I'd like it to be a bit lighter. Lots of coffee, laced with vanilla. A slight heat burn. High cocoa powder. Solid, unique, spicy brew.

A sweet yet spicy mix of solid brews. Recommended , but I wouldn't give up an arm and a leg to get.

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Photo of AndyAvalanche
4.99/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

39%- Porabola (13% ABV) - Russian Imperial Oatmeal Stout - Aged in Bourbon Barrels
24% - Bravo -(11%AVB) Imperial Brown Ale - 2 Barrel varieties Bourbon and Brandy 50/50
15% Velvet Merkin (6% ABV) - Traditional Oatmeal Stout - Aged in Bourbon Barrels
6% Opal - (11%ABV) Wheat Wine- aged in rye barrels
6% Rufus - (11%ABV) Continental Imperial Amber Ale- aged in rye barrels
6% Double Double Barrel Ale - ( 10.9% ABV) - Double Englis Pale Ale - 100% aged in FW union retired barrels
4% Saucerful of Secrets (9% ABV) Belgian Strong Ale - Aged in bourbon barrels.


22 oz bottle poured into a Duvel tulip glass. Out of the bottle towards the glass it's a dark cola brown color but as it pools up in the glass it becomes black and you can't see through it. Still there are some slightly lighter areas producing some slight brown highlights on the side. Slightly darker than kaki colored head with small and medium sized bubbles that sticks around a good portion of the session. Decent lacing and has a nice syrup effect after each sip. It's a good looking beer.

Smells awesome. Sweet aromas of vanilla, molasses, dark grain, ripe and not quite ripe plumbs, and a bit of leather and sweet tobacco. Some hard alcohol aromas, bourbon and a dark rum blend.

Taste is truly outstanding, I absolutely love it. Lots of vanilla, bourbon and bruleed caramel. There's also some sweet toffee flavors but there's a fruity element with flavors of dried plumbs and maybe even some raisons. A lot of natural sweetness, but there's a natural earthiness to the flavor as well. Roast grains, but there's a hop flavor as well at the end especially when it reaches room temp.

Mouthfeel is pretty near perfect, especially considering the style. Full bodied with some nice lingering flavors for several seconds. Nice natural sweetness, very smooth in the middle and has a nice warming finish at the end. A pinch of heat at the end, I wouldn't describe it as "hot" though. Very drinkable beer a very easy sipper. Firestone killed this one and it aged extraordinarily well. Wish I could find more of this one.

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Photo of xhuskr
4.73/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Cracked this one with some friends...to make sure my aged beers were holding up..this one..yep!
A: black beer gold with a bit o'lace
S: complex as you'd expect from a blend...not one dominating aroma...just a mixture as you'd get from standing in a pasture on a Spring blooming day...ahhh
T: licorice, choc..all the usual suspects were present and accounted fo
MF: carb was spot on...smooth on the palate begging for moe
O: Wish I had more

this hit the spot and bummed I only have one left...next up..a FW12 or FW14

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Photo of thebouch01
5/5  rDev +13.4%

Photo of imperialking
4.75/5  rDev +7.7%

Photo of ehammond1
4.4/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

On Tap

Pizza Port
Carlsbad, CA

(Aged for 2 years)

Dark as night black with a thin brown head. This beer looks shiny, oily, and menacing. Spotted lacing down the glass.

A wonderful aroma, and very similar to Parabola's, though this one simply isn't quite as strong. The rich bourbon, vanilla, and wood come flooding forward first, followed by sweet caramel and toffee, and a bit of coconut.

The flavors consist of wood, earth, vanilla, bourbon, coconut, and a bit of coffee and chocolate. It's delicious, and the alcohol is incredibly well hidden.

Medium to thick mouthfeel and a touch oily--absolutely coats the mouth. Luscious and lovely.

A stellar beer--near perfection.

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Photo of Shumista
4.97/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bomber split 4 ways and poured into assorted glassware.

Pour is cola like. Dark brown, light brown head. The aroma is absolutely amazing. I enjoy smelling this stuff almost as much as I do drinking it. The aroma consists of bourbon, wood, dried fruits, oak, molasses and maybe a hint of booze. It's difficult to say what exactly sets this aroma apart from other similar barrel aged beers but it certainly is better. Maybe the balance.

The taste is as wonderful and comforting as the aroma suggested. Soft and round. Bourbon, oak, coffee, chocolate, dried cherries, buttery molasses, vanilla. Reminds me of pancakes with butter and maple syrup, maybe with an irish coffee on the side. Mouthfeel is warming and medium to thick bodied, a touch syrupy.

Drinkability is great, I could drink a whole bottle by myself very easily. While I love sharing beers with my friends I do wish I had more of this one for myself.

Overall, this is about as close to perfect as it gets I think.

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Photo of 100floods
4.54/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

First off, I was stoked to open this box and find a sheet of paper with an explanation and appreciation of this beer, written by the brewery. What's even better, since is a blend of beers, they have all that stats on what went into the final batch. They definitely catered this to the beer nerd. I was going to save this for when I graduate in December, but the Giants made it to the playoffs, so I have a good excuse.

Poured into my favorite, carocole glass. Hue is pure black. A tanned, mocha head lingers for a bit and fades away. No visible signs of much carbonation, but I'm sure its there. From a distance I can get very faints of the aroma, but not like some other beers I've reviewed.

Dipping my nose in I get scents of vanilla and some wood, no sugar or super malt aromas, nice. The blend of aromas are not over powering.

You can definitely taste the darker beers in this right off the bat. A slight alcohol tingle lingers after words. The first sip is smooth, definitely reminds me of Velvet Merkin, which is in this brew. I can definitely taste other beers in there. While the Parabola and Merkin seem to serve as the beers foundation (they make up over half the beers in this blend) other flavors cut through and provide other familiar flavors. You can definite pick them apart, but I couldn't tell you which beer I was tasting past what I've already mentioned.

Definitely pleased with the outcome of this beer. Another example of a great brewery making a controlled big beer, and with so much going on there, too.

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Photo of muttyd
3.6/5  rDev -18.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A - Pitch black pour with a foamy tan head. Great lacing.

S - Huge vanilla & bourbon aroma upfront. Very boozy as well. As this one warms up, the chocolate and roasted malt notes come through.

T - Follows the nose. Very boozy. More reminiscent of a stout. Cherry, red wine, and leather also present.

M - Velvety smooth and chewy. Alcoholic finish.

D - Very boozy. Still average drinkability.

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Photo of wisrarebeer
4.45/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Extremely drinkable for alcohol strength. Velvety, creamy mouthfeel, well-balanced with rounded malt up front, could use a few more years cellaring (4-6) to round it out a bit.

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Photo of MrFootstones
4.54/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured into a snifter, a small tan head forms but quickly disappears. Appears black but when held to the light cedar edges and ruby highlights appear.

S: Not too apparent when the snifter was full and the beer was cold. As it warms and the glass becomes half full the gorgeous aroma comes out. With a swirl of the snifter notes of sweet, rich amaretto, booze, vanilla, and bourbon blossom forth. As it warms further a touch of roast, and then of toasted almonds become apparent.

T: This beer is very delicious. Coconut, vanilla, booze, light bourbon, warm, fresh cake. The aromas of amaretto and toasted nuts come back to show themselves in flavor form.

M: Nicely carbonated, perhaps even a bit much. Creamy and rich texture. Good for the style, mostly.

D: Give this one some time for the booze to mellow and it'll be just about perfect. Very good initially though. No problem finishing my half of the bomber. I enjoyed every sip.

Overall: The most interesting thing I found is that this was much better in a bottle than on tap. More of the complexity and interesting flavors came out for me. This was damn good, and I am glad I have plenty of it to see how it ages.

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Firestone 13 - Anniversary Ale from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 96 out of 100 with 403 ratings