Firestone 13 - Anniversary Ale | Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

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Firestone 13 - Anniversary AleFirestone 13 - 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 Todd on 11-02-2009

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Reviews: 226 | Ratings: 399
Photo of Alieniloquium
3.08/5  rDev -29.7%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

650 mL bottle poured into a snifter.

Appearance - Thin khaki collar but not much else. Black body.

Smell - Ack, lots of cardboard. This hasn't oxidized well. Bourbon. Vanilla. Chocolate. Brown sugar lingers.

Taste - Better. Less cardboard, but it's still present. Rich dark chocolate. Bourbon. Vanilla. Oak. Cardboard lingers in the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel - Medium body. Still decent carbonation. Seems thin.

Overall - This is way past its prime. Way past good, in fact. Too much oxidation.

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Photo of craytonic
3.3/5  rDev -24.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Tried alongside 10, 11, 12 and 13

Pour: Coffee/mahogany brown/black, smallish head

Smell: Bourbon/booze, molasses, raisins, caramel, and toffee

Taste: Raisins, molasses, bourbon, toffee, caramel, chocolate. A bit hot and bitter

Mouthfeel: This but a bit hot

Drinkability: After fighting our way through 10-12 we poured half this bottle out to move onto other beers. This one tasted a bit young.

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Photo of charlzm
3.36/5  rDev -23.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Consumed October 10th 2010 at Blue Palms, Hollywood, CA.

Beer is essentially black with a thin tan head made of extremely fine and uniform bubbles to start. It disappears fast, but leaves plenty of sheeting on the glass.

Subdued aroma consists mainly of some chocolate and red grape.

Compared to the other Firestone Anniversary beers, this one has a smaller flavor. Somewhat porter-like in malt character: dark and roasted but not to the point of a stout. Also detected oatmeal and a slight raisin trace. Low bitterness. Not a whole lot going on, really.

Somewhat thin in the mouth.

The smallest of the big Firestones, this one is somewhat lacking in the flavor department. A large glass of this would be overkill.

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Photo of jrallen34
3.42/5  rDev -21.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This beer pours a very dark brown with a light tan head, only rises about half a finger and is gone right away. Light lacing.

The aroma is medium in strength, pretty nice and complex. Bourbon, oak and vanilla present a lot, a pretty nice mixture of the three.

The taste is a little disappointing, doesn't really bring the sweetness of the aroma, just brings all the oak, bourbon and alcohol.

The feel is pretty light, not very drinkable.

Overall, another fw disappointment to me. FW 12, not that great, neither is this, altough a little better than fw12.

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Photo of Arbitrator
3.55/5  rDev -18.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Re-review. I opened a bottle to celebrate the completion of a major manuscript. Yes kiddies, Arbitrator actually gets work done. Surprising!

I've had this beer multiple times, mostly bottles I opened because I keep missing all the *@^%ing tastings where this gets shared. But I'm not bitter.

Anyway, at release, it started out at a 4.7, moved up to a 5.0 in a few months when the small booziness faded, and since then it has been dropping. To MY palate it peaked about 6-8 months after release. Now the subtleties are fading and it's tasting more like Parabola. Weirdly enough, it's also getting hotter and harsher in the process. The finish is astringent. It's not a very enjoyable beer anymore. I'm glad I drank most of my bottles early on, but I regret holding on to the last two (well, now one).


Original review:

Chilled 22oz bottle into a glass. Shared twice by largadeer (thanks Chris), but I didn't feel confident in reviewing it then, so here's my own bottle to judge from.

A: Probably the weakest part of this beer, but that's not saying much. The body is a pitch black-brown that appears totally opaque in my snifter. The head is a light tan color that retains well for a 12%er. Agitation produces milky swirls on top of the brew.

S: Immediately upon cracking the bottle, I'm greeted with a puff of vanilla, coconut, and chocolate. Mmm. The poured beer also presents those aromas most strongly. The rest is a nuanced, subtle blend of caramel, oak, bourbon, oats (!), apricots (!), and tobacco. Wow. This is superlative.

T: The taste is up there, as well. Like the nose, it leads with vanilla and coconut. Chocolate is more subdued than expected, pairing nicely with earth, tobacco, and bourbon in the mid-taste. Oats and caramel sweetness emerge at times, along with dark fruits (I'm tempted to say raisin or even port), coffee, even some butterscotch. The finish brings out tannins and tobacco once more, along with a surprising presence of stone fruits. Apricots or peaches, I guess. A lightly lingering peppery / earthy / tobacco bitterness that cleans up the residual sugars.

M: Medium-full bodied, with low carbonation. It's nearly velvety on the tongue; very smooth, delivering lots of flavor. There is also some light heat at the end that reveals the ABV on this bad boy, but it doesn't ruin the experience.

D: What an amazing beer. What an AMAZING beer. I can put down a bomber myself without problems; at $23 it's (IMO) reasonably priced. I want to have Firestone 13's babies.

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Photo of cpetrone84
3.56/5  rDev -18.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Re-review in April of 2011, score from this.

Pours a jet black with a light brownish head, slighlty thicker than the 2 previous years in our verticle. Sweetest nose of the bunch, lightly roasted quality, hints of peat and oak, notes of anise. There are vinous grape notes, a blend of alcohol and dry wood. The flavor is more bright than 11 and 12, lightly roasted with strong vinous tastes. Hints of caramel and chocolate malts with dry wood and some light heat in the finish. Another big beer, full bodied with an assertive carbonation balancing that hefty body.


Original Review from 4/28/10

A-pours a dark brown, almost black liquid. The head is tan in color, tight and creamy with some bubbles on the top. There is only about one finger of head that dissipates quickly.

S-the nose is quite nice and reasonably big. Vanilla and oak set in right up front and hold a nice presence. A touch of plums and booze settle in softly behind all of the oak aging. Tons of chocolate follows in the middle with a touch of molasses.

T-this is fantastic and only improves on the nose. The flavors are similar and have melded together to form delicousness. Sweet plums right up front. Oak, vanilla, and some bourbon lie in the middle fading into a ton of dark chocolate, some roasted malts, and notes of molasses.

M-the body is huge, full, and chewy. It is so smooth on the palate. It is creamy and soft, coating the mouth lightly with a light carbonation, perfect to give it a good clean finish

D-this is an awesome beer, I want more! Great barrel aging and very complex. Insanely big and creamy. Awesome!

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Photo of DavoleBomb
3.57/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured into a snifter. Thanks to Alen for a chance to try this.

3.5 A: Murky dark brown, nearly black color. One and a half fingers of tan creamy/frothy hybrid head. Retention is poor, even given the ABV and a few spots of lacing.

4.0 S: Initial impression is that this is a bourbon forward brew. Leather, vanilla, oak, and booziness from the bourbon and barrel. While my initial impression is correct, there are aromas underneath strong enough to be distinguishable. Plum and raisin fruitiness. Tobacco, brown sugar, molasses, and some toastiness.

3.5 T: Bourbon is too dominant in the taste. It has a boozy bourbon aftertaste which is one of the main reasons I don't drink straight bourbon very often. Leather, oak, vanilla, some what tannic-y. Plum, raisin, tobacco are all there again, but cannot be fully enjoyed due to the booze overload. Brown sugar, molasses, bitter roastiness, and some chocolate.

4.0 M: Heavier medium body, but drinkable as if the body was less dense. The only issue I have is that the carbonation is a bit low. Could also be a bit creamier.

3.0 D: I honestly believe the great scores for this beer are a result of XIII riding the coat tails of the previous releases (none of which I've had). This beer is overly boozy and a bit of a mess. I like bourbon brews in which the bourbon complements the beer instead of dominating it. This one is definitely the latter.

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Photo of muttyd
3.6/5  rDev -17.8%
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 alcstradamus
3.68/5  rDev -16%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Received earlier today, thanks Jeff. Couldn't wait to crack this one even though I'd rather let it age for a bit. Hope I made the right decision!

Black pour with a finger of head that drops down to a collar and leaves some webs of lacing. The smell is very smooth whiskey and toasted malts. Much more well integrated than even a year old 12th anniversary. Surprisingly subdued even. Hints of wood, toffee, and marshmallow in the background. A bit of agitation causes some boozy burn to rise. Pretty nice.

The taste is very big on burnt caramel maltiness. Vanilla on the mid palate, and an acrid coffee bean bitterness in the finish. Some hot booze rises up after the initial flavors pass. Notes of pine resin and some harsh oak. Not sure this one is quite ready yet, I would advise holding onto your bottles for at least 6 months or so. There is definitely some potential here though.

Mouthfeel is awesome. Heavy and rich with a tad bit of carbonation sting which is the only thing keeping this from being a 5 in this category.

One thing I have found with the 2 Firestone Anniversary beers that I have had the honor of drinking is they are unmistakably blends. I don't find that meshing of flavors that really makes a huge beer like this easy to drink, or even desirable really. I would drink this any time it was offered, but I would be hard pressed to purchase one if I saw it on a store shelf other than as a mere experiment to see how time changes it. This is definitely an above average beer, but in the world of gigantic barrel aging it is not on par with its peers.

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Photo of ChrisPro
3.8/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz bomber thanks to callmemickey. Pours black with hints of burgundy in the light. Thin tan head that fades quickly. Aroma is all over the place with bourbon, coffee, rye, cherry and a touch of coffee as well as some roasted coconut.

Good carbonation, medium body and ABV hidden well. Lots of hop flavor with a nice dry bitter finish.

Incredibly complex blend and I'm glad I had the opportunity to try it.

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Photo of Damian
3.8/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Drank from a 1 pint, 6 fluid ounces/650ml bottle
Acquired in a trade with oregonskibum
Served in a snifter

The dark chestnut brown liquid was topped by a thin film of khaki colored bubbles. Within seconds, the head dissipated to a clingy ring of froth.

The nose was sweet and smooth. Raisins and prunes were immediately noticeable. Molasses and brown sugar notes came through as well. Moderately boozy. A touch of vanilla was also detectible. Some leathery notes appeared as the beer warmed, along with a bit of smoke.

The flavor profile was malt dominant and much more roasty than I anticipated. Black coffee came through strong up front. Some vanilla notes too. Dark fruits appeared in the center, along with indications of brown sugar. Nutty. Notes of char and piney hops were detectible in the dry, tannic, oaky finish. Bourbon was present but it did not play as big a part as I would have liked.

The mouthfeel was medium bodied with a fine, moderate effervescence. Creamy, smooth and slick on the palate.

This beer drank incredibly well for its alcohol prowess. I definitely would not have guessed it to be 12% ABV.

After trying Firestone Walker's 11th, 12th and 13th anniversary beers, I can definitely say that this was my least favorite release to date. Perhaps if they cut back on the roastiness, the flavor profile would have been more balanced.

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Photo of thetomG
3.8/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark brown color with a decent layer of tan head.

Aroma is roasty & has a nutty aspect to it as well. Flavor has some nuttiness as well, but also has a bitter element to it with underlying sweeetness. Medium mouthfeel - surprisingly bubbly though.

This one is tasting good now, but I think it could use even a little more time to age and improve.

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Photo of RoyalT
3.82/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance - This is very dark in color, almost black, with little head owing to the high alcohol content no doubt.

Smell - There are some wonderful fruits in this nose and the coconut is especially aromatic, but the sharp alcohol takes away from the overall bouquet. It's similar to a bourbon smell, which sounds great, but just a bit heavy on the booze.

Taste - The up front fruits just explode in the mouth especially as the ale warms. This is a fruity burst of flavor like none other. The natural coconut from the nose is the stand out of this crowd. The malts are heavily roasted into a nice flavor but struggle to keep up with the fruiting.

Mouthfeel - The alcohol sting that I was expecting thankfully was not here. What I did get was a nice, very pleasant feel with a slight boozy tingle. The body of this ale is close to full with a touch of bitterness.

Drinkability - This went down surprisingly easy for such a big beer. The high ABV though came across I think a bit too much.

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Photo of LilBeerDoctor
3.85/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed on 3/5/2010. Bottle thanks to mkade8883. Pours black with a small ring of white head. Aroma of roasted malt, bourbon, graham cracker, alcohol. Flavor of vanilla, sweet roasted malt, alcohol, bourbon, bitter chocolate. Full-bodied and quite tasty. Very enjoyable!

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Photo of harrymel
3.86/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a nice oiled leather brown with little foam formation. Rich smells of cocoa, vanilla, nougat, toasted sugars, hints of oak nad caramel. A nice grouping that together seems like a turtle candy. Flavor is sweet and toasty with gobs of vanilla toffee and hints of almonds and pralines. A nice, tight netting of caramel corn flavor on the edge with a bit of alcohol warmth. Medium bodied with sparkly carb and a good off dry finish. Nice beer. I wouldn't really seek it out again, but it is a nice beer.

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Photo of fear025
3.87/5  rDev -11.6%
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 iowaherkeye
3.87/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

22oz bottled sometime in (I think) November, 2009. Don't remember where I got it. Clear deep garnet with a small mocha head, fair retention. Oak and vanilla and bourbon is up front in the nose with moderate amounts of brown sugar and prune/raisin notes, some dark chocolate and roast, hints of anise. I can even pick out the Rufus in this, with toffee and lots of aged (old) hops. Flavor has some butter cream notes to go along with the oak and vanilla quite nicely. Finishes roasty with some chocolate, moderate spicy alcohol and bourbon. Bitterness peaked at a 3. Medium body with light carbonation--nowhere near as full bodied as Parabola. Even with almost a year and a half of age on it, this beer is still pretty hot--tasty though. Lots of barrel influence, so if that's your thing, you'll like it.

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Photo of portia99
3.88/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle courtesy of a trade with hoppymcgee. Thanks Greg! Poured into a New Belgium globe. Immediately sampled this following FW11.

A - Dark, dark brown in color...looks to have good clarity when held to a light (for what I can see). A finger of off-white head dies quickly to a foamy collar with a bit of lacing left clinging to the glass.

S - Boozy, bourbon, alcohol, caramel...lacing a bit in complexity.

T - Vanilla, roasted malt, coffee, bourbon, booze, caramel, molasses, dark chocolate, hoppy - earthy and fruity...a bit of heat...

M - Warm, boozy, smoothed out a little bit by the vanilla aspects. Creamy medium body with a foamy lite carbonation.

D - This might have been more impressive if it wasn't for the FW11 had before it. Seemed a bit rough and harsh by comparison. Boozy, bourbony warmth...still very good and enjoyable. Would love to get another one of these and let it sit a couple of years to see what happens to it.

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Photo of TJBurgess
3.9/5  rDev -11%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a tulip from 22 oz bottle.

Appearance is black. Pitch black. Small caramel colored head leaves quickly. 4.0
Smell is sweet with a tart / sour note in the front and a sugary molasses touch. Slight bourbon and vanilla in there too. 4.0
Taste is right behind the smell. Some heat and molasses right in the forefront with bourbon, sweet barleywine-ish vanilla notes on the finish. 4.0
Mouthfeel and drinkability are good. Creamy thickness in the mouth with a nice balance of carbonation. 4.0. Drinkability is hurt by the heat and sweetness that just don't quite balance each other out. Not sure if time will help this, but I have 1 bottle left to find out! 3.5

Overall nice to try, but it was tough finishing this bottle even over a few hours.

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Photo of ReDave
3.92/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

I found this in the back of 'deep storage'. These Anniversary Ales started tasting like pruney strong ales, and this may have been the last year i bought.
This seemed to hold it's age well, maintaining a pretty complex taste.
I'm thinking it might have been a little low carbonization to begin with, and it surely lost some on the way, but maintained enough effervescence to bring out the flavors well. Not much lace however.
As the beer warmed up, it was very drinkable, and hid the higher alcohol well.
Some bourbon, wood, and sweet flavours, very nice.

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Photo of younger35
3.92/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Received this beer last year and for the life of me can't remember who sent it to me. I've had FW10 & 11 and they were both very solid. Excited to try this one. Drank from my Ithaca Excelsior tulip.

Appearance- Pours a pitch ass black with a nice half finger creamy dark tan head. A super thin collar is all that remains after a few min and zero lacing is left behind.
Smell- Despite how dark it is it still has a fairly familiar Barleywine smell. A light malty sweetness upfront that's full of caramel and butterscotch. A buttery sort of woodiness from the barrels that adds just a touch of vanilla. Not sure if this is aged in bourbon barrels but there is a light spirit like influence in the nose. Fairly simple, upfront nose that I don't get any hops or that usual candy like aspect. Not really roasted either despite how dark it is.
Taste- Starts with a light bit sweetness upfront with a fair amount of rich caramel and a touch of milk chocolate. No roast is really noticeable but there is that sort of astringent bitterness that you get from dark malts. A bit of vanilla from the barrels bleeds in and adds a majority of the flavor of the beer. The finish is lightly sweet with a touch of candied malt. Not an ounce of alcohol is detectable.
Mouthfeel- A touch on the thin side for a Barleywine but not a deal breaker. A light touch of carbonation that could be ratcheted up a notch.
Drinkability- Overall a pretty tasty beer but not really the Barleywine I was hoping for. I feel like the flavor could use another 'layer' as it's pretty basic (all in all I suppose). It's different in the Barleywine sense but I did enjoy it. Thanks whoever sent this!!

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Photo of AgentZero
3.95/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Very black, surpringly so for something that is not a porter or stout. SMall head that left a slight abmout of lacing in it. Nice looking. but truthfully not sure how it takes on the style.

S - Very chocolatey, with some vanilla notes and a slight bit of whiskey bourbon.

T - Decent bourbon taste, but it's mostly chocolatey. A decent amount of oak influcent, but mostly toffee, with a bit of dark fruit. Surprisingly full flavor for what it is. A bit of alcohol burn in it.

M - Full bodied, nicely carbonated, works very well for the style.

D - Very rich and filling, the high alcohol makes this definately a sipper.

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Photo of Halcyondays
3.95/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On-tap at Beachwood BBQ,

A: Pours a medium dark brown with a soft light tan head. Nice spots of lace.

S: Light initially, but ended up getting some enticing butterscotch, molasses, and coffee.

T: Dark chocolate dominated with notes of coffee and licorice. Oak is prevalant, giving interesting wood notes, but more terpene like/actual wood flavour than vanilla-type flavours. Strong character in the taste I liked it a lot.

M: Not as thick or robust as I'd like, but solid overall, compared to the 12 though it's a bit of a lightweight right now.

D: This is clearly good beer. Maybe I'm expecting too much out of the Anniversary series right now, I'm expecting to be blown away out of the gate like I was with 11 and 12 which were exceptional upon release. This one is still really good, though I think it needs some time to achieve greatness.

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Photo of tpd975
3.97/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had a couple people send me this one as of late.

A: Pours a deep dark shade of black with a puny tan head. Zero retention or lace.

S: Aromas of dark roasted malt, dark fruit, chocolate, barrel, and booze.

T: Same as the aroma with not as much depth as the previous vintages. I did pick up some vanilla as well along with hints of coffee.

M: Medium in body, light boozy burn in the slightly dry finish.

D: Not too bad, hopefully it improves a bit with age. Just good, not great.

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Photo of BarrelO
4/5  rDev -8.7%
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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Firestone 13 - Anniversary Ale from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
4.38 out of 5 based on 399 ratings.
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