Walker's Reserve - Porter | Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

very good
642 Reviews
Walker's Reserve - PorterWalker's Reserve - Porter

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

Style: American Porter

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.80%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
A singularly distinctive beer that represents our finest brewing efforts, Walker’s Reserve is a elegant dark ale featuring robust flavors of toffee, caramel and bittersweet chocolate. This brew employs five specialty malts, as well as oat and barley flakes, for added complexity and flavor.

Added by Jason on 11-15-2002

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Reviews: 642 | Ratings: 1,642
Photo of Sammy
3.8/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A great drinker. Black with a flagship of a head, leaving some lace behind. Roasted aroma. Creamy mouthfeel, with a good roast and chocolate, and hops not forgotten, Goldings and Cascade.Nutty. Solid.The only acidic part only with the sediment at the bottle's end.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.36/5  rDev -13%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours an almost opaque dark brown with a 1 inch tan head that becomes a film on the top of the beer. Random streaks of lacing form on the glass on the drink down. Smells kind of weak overall. Some roasted malt, graham crackers, and only a hint of any coffee/chocolate aromas. Taste is of roasted malt, bitter cocoa powder, slight coffee grounds, and a citrus zest hop finish. There is a very mild bitterness on the palate after each sip. This is a light bodied beer with a crisp level of carbonation. Kind of watery for what it is. Overall, this is a decent porter but lacks many of the classic smells and tastes commonly found in the style. This is a beer I would like to try on tap to see how it differs from a different serving style.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
4/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

pours a hazy burnt caramel color with a red tinge and a lazy tan head. smells like bourbon, oak, and roasted malts. flavor has definite woody notes and vanilla is also present, although not sweet. smokey like charcoal and very very mellow. nice balanced hop vibe as well for a porter. mouthfeel is smooth like all of firestone walkers beers, with light carbonation. overall this is a nice porter for the wood beer champion, and a good example of the style.

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Photo of Knapp85
3.91/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This poured out as a deep brown color with a really nice looking tan colored head on top. The lacing was very light but it did cling to the glass fairly well. The smell of the beer was toasted and burnt almost, there was a little bit of earth in there too. The taste of the beer gave off a well balanced flavor of roasted malts with a dry bitter finish. The mouthfeel of this pretty good too, it had a slightly creamy texture to it with a decent carbonation in there. Overall this brew is quite nice on just about every level. It's a solid porter for sure, this is probably worth trying if you haven't had it already.

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Photo of metter98
3.85/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: The beer is very dark brown (near black) in color and poured with a finger high tan head. The head died down, leaving only a ring of bubbles on the surface around the edge of the glass.
S: There are aromas of roasted malts in the nose.
T: The taste is similar to the smell and has flavors of roasted malts and molasses along with hints of chocolate.
M: It feels medium-bodied on the palate with a high amount of carbonation.
O: The beer is very easy to drink for the style because it’s lighter bodied compared to other porters.

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.2/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A very classy and bold Porter that hits all the style characteristics squarely on the head and in assertive fashion. Exquisitely balance and very smooth- this beer is a winner!

The dark brown beer shows near-brilliant clarity and with a glossy sheen. A firm tan head caps the beer and carries stubborn retention and leaving rings of lace with each sip.

Firm toffee and burnt molasses flavor carry early malty sweet taste with complements of bittersweet cocoa, bold roast coffees, oily walnuts, heavy toast, and light woody taste. Balanced hops only contribute to the woody, grassy taste with a mild citrusy counterpart.

Firmly malted, the beer starts and finishes very creamy and lush. But early malty sweetness fades nicely into a toasty-dry finish and light spicy hop bite.

Delicious and drinkable, this classy Porter belongs in the conversation with Founders Porter and Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald.

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Photo of biboergosum
3.86/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

22oz bottle, thanks to doktorzee for packing this back from Cali for yours truly.

This beer pours a clear, dark reddish brown hue, with two ample fingers of densely foamy, chunky beige head, which leaves some nice loosely honeycombed lace around the glass as it evenly subsides.

It smells rather underwhelmingly of lightly roasted caramel malt, a bit of sweet biscuit, bittersweet cocoa, fleshy drupe fruit, and leafy, somewhat minty hops. The taste is mild caramel and toffee malt, medium baker's chocolate, a hollow musty dark fruitiness, and herbal, earthy hops.

The carbonation is quite understated, and very soft, the body a decent middleweight, decidedly smooth, and a fair bit creamy to boot. It finishes well off-dry, the subdued caramel and steady chocolate notes carrying this one through.

An interesting American-style porter - tasty, but weirdly too laid back, as the herbal hops don't really measure up, and the malt, while suitably beguiling, just seems a little too vanilla, for lack of a better metaphor. Agreeable enough, I suppose, but it needs more kick, and not necessarily in the ABV. Glad I got to try it, at any rate.

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Photo of brentk56
3.6/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a dark chocolate color with ruby highlights; the tan head pancakes the liquid and leaves many clumps of foam behind

Smell: Chocolate, oak and coffee

Taste: Lots of surprises here; starts out with the anticipated chocolate flavor and adds some oaky complexity but by mid-palate, the hops jump to the fore, adding a pithy balance; a touch more vanilla and oak builds in the aftertaste but they are dominated by the hops

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate carbonation; somewhat aqueous

Overall: In a sense, this is the father of the black IPA, with the major difference being the amount of chocolate in the malt bill; in any event, I don't think the flavors work together particularly well so the beer just doesn't match up to some of the others in its category

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Photo of largadeer
3.58/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Black, a hint of translucency around the edges. Pours with a 1-inch head that settles into a small cap.

Smell: Very aromatic; coffee and dark chocolate with a bit of smoke and caramel.

Taste/texture: Caramelly at first, with roasted, bitter notes coming out toward the middle. Espresso, baker's chocolate and just a hint of sweetness. Very smooth on the tongue; medium-bodied with gentle carbonation. Good, not great.

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Photo of kojevergas
3.58/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

1 pint 6 fl oz brown glass bottle with standard pressure cap served into a Guinness goblet in low altitude Los Angeles, California. Reviewed live. Expectations are above average; I've yet to be impressed with the brewery but I like the style. Served refrigerator cold.

A: Pours a one finger head of good cream, good thickness, and impressive retention - though the ABV is merely average. Colour is a predictable solid nontransparent black. It's about standard for a porter, which for me means it's appealing. The head itself is of dark off-white colour. I prefer them tan but I'm nitpicking.

Sm: Cream, vanilla, caramel, and some chocolate. A bit milky as well. Roasted barley is sorely missed. A light to mild strength aroma, and a pleasant one. To style, and rightly so. I'm slowly getting excited for this beer.

T: Chocolate dominates, with caramel (most notable on the climax and as it dies through the finish), milky notes, hints of oats, and cream. Fortunately the chocolate is not too rich. A well balanced beer all around. It hits the notes it needs to but doesn't make any risky choices, playing it safely to style. No alcohol or yeast come through - not that they should. It delivers on the promise of the aroma, but doesn't surpass expectations. The cream on the open is a great introduction to the beer, but fades all too quickly. Not a whole lot of layering happens here, but as aforementioned the balance is right so it matters little. I enjoy it. Very pleasant indeed.

Mf: A touch coarse on the open, but all around indisputably smooth and wet. The thickness is near perfect to support the flavour profile. It's a bit creamy but not as much as would be ideal. Complementary of the flavours all around, and brewed with care.

Dr: A very drinkable, average ABV porter that will satisfy fans of the style. I could drink it all night. I'd love to try it on nitro-draught if it's available. This is the first beer from Firestone Walker I've had that has been anything more than mediocre, and it makes me excited to try more beers from their reserve series.

It wouldn't age well - the ABV is too low.

Would pair well with mild chocolate or restrained truffles. Perhaps barbecue.


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Photo of emerge077
3.9/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Transfers placidly into a hefty mug, tawny glints of mahogany at it's edges, black in the center. Sticky khaki liddage. Frothy lacing all around. The head eventually breaks up in the center, leaving a khaki coastline around the edges. A second pour rekindles the foam, and forms a convex dome that rises above the lip of the glass momentarily.

Very dry, roasty toasted malt aroma. A classical porter, nothing really jumps out at you.

Dry roasted malt, clean and roasty, with little aftertaste at all. Thankfully not sweet or cloying, a big boy porter. Flavor is a little bit mellow, seems to focus on the black patent malt, roastiness in a vacuum. Some molasses and honey essence. Dry with very little residual bitterness, just a touch.

Very drinkable, a west coast challenger to local midwest favorite Edmund Fitzgerald...

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Photo of Phyl21ca
4/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle: Poured a pitch-black color porter with a large dark brown foamy head with good retention and some light lacing. Aroma of sublime creamy black chocolate with light lactose notes and light dry roasted malt with floral coffee notes. Taste is a rich mix of creamy black chocolate with light residual sugar coming through as lactose notes with a dry floral finish with some coffee notes and zero astringency. Body is quite full with good creamy texture and good carbonation. Easily drinkable with good amount fo complexity.

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Photo of oline73
3.58/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bomber into a goblet.

Appearance: This beer Pours a murky dark brown with a finger of fluffy, off white head that fades to a ring around the edge of the glass.

Smell: Slightly sweet from the grain with some roast. Nothing really stands out here, but it's not bad either.

Taste: This is a smooth one, some roast and a mild sweetness. This doesn't have that full flavor that shows up in the best porters. Mild dark chocolate and bitterness in the finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium body with fluffy, smooth carbonation and a dry finish.

Overall: This is a solid porter. It has most of the things you'd look for, but I would have liked some more chocolate notes.

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Photo of zeff80
3.97/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured out an opaque, jet-black color with a small, tan head of bubbly foam. It had nice retention but left very little lacing.

S - Strong chocolate notes dominate the aroma with toffee and caramel malt.

T - Good chocolatey flavor with toffee and caramel added more sweetness. There was just enough bitter hop bite to balance things out.

M - It was crisp, sharp and smooth. A medium bodied ale with a dry finish.

D - This is a pretty tasty ale. A nice robust porter.

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Photo of Thorpe429
3.78/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a chestnut brown with a nice tan head.

S: Dark malt with a bit of chocolate and coffee notes.

T: Some coffee flavors with some dark malts creating roasted flavors.

M: Quite dry; medium-bodied.

D: A good porter, but not particularly drinkable.

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Photo of oberon
4/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a reoasted chesnut brown with a nicely formed tannish colored one finger head that held nicely thru the duration,seems a bit lighter in color than most of the style.Roasted nut,earthy hops,and bitter chocolate in the nose,not much sweetness with a nice mix of roast and somewhat raw earthiness.Mild molasses-like sweetness and big earthy hops upfront on the palate,a finish of bitter chocolate and more raw earthy hops.This is an American hopped up porter,I liked it it's solid.

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Photo of superspak
4.18/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 ounce bottle, no bottle date. Pours crystal clear dark reddish brown color with a nice 2 finger dense khaki head with excellent retention. Some nice lacing clinging all around the glass as well. Aromas of caramel, toasted malt, chocolate, biscuit, and some spicy hops. Fairly nice and standard porter aromas. Taste of big toasted malt, caramel, chocolate, coffee, nuttiness, biscuit, and spicy hops. Fair amount of bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of chocolate, coffee, toasted malt, biscuit, and spices on the finish. Medium carbonation and body; with a fairly creamy and nice mouthfeel that goes down smoothly. No alcohol noticed other than a slight warming after the finish. Overall this is definitely one of the better robust porters I have ever had. Tons of flavor and great balance.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Walker's Reserve delivers an almost opaque black/brown body with just minimal highlights of ruby at the base, and dark mahogany along the upper lip of the glass. Its beautiful, huge, creamy, and yellow-accented tan head holds well and leaves some nice lacing about the glass. The nose delivers a combination of dark chocolate; roasted barley; mildly floral, leafy and grassy hops; and wood that's both welcoming and engaging. Across the palate it's mildly zesty carbonation awakens the tastebuds before it warms to become almost silky smooth. The flavor is bold, with an back and forth tussle between solid roastiness and dark, bitterweet chocolate. Throughout, notes of milk chocolate; toffee; creamy coffee; and leafy hops also work their way in before the finish, which is bone-dry, solidly bitter, and loaded with oaky-dryness and a splash of vanilla. Interesting!

This beer is oddly both more than I expected, and less than I expected. But in the end it redeems itself as an interesting and charming porter that's both easy to drink, yet powerful in its flavor and strength (5.9% abv). It's well balanced and surprisingly engaging. Worth trying.

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Photo of Kegatron
3.65/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle into a pint glass.

Pours a deep brown with 3 fingers of foamy darker mocha colored head. This quickly settles down into a creamy half finger that leaves a moderate amount of fizzy lacing back. The aroma is chocolate roast, coffee, toffee, light floral hops, and a touch of citrus. Wow, the chocolate really comes out strong in this as it warms, taking control of the nose.

Thick chocolate is coming out equally strong in the taste as well, with some toffeed notes adding a bit of tang to the overall sweetness of this. A flush of dark roast, coffee, and a dry spicy bitterness rounds out the back, leaving a pleasant lingering toasty feel on the palate. The mouthfeel is medium bodied (maybe a bit fuller) with a sharp feeling crispness to the carbonation that really brings out the roasty bitterness of this.

This took a bit to get things going, but once it did, I feel like this finally started living up to it's name. Fuller flavored Porter here, with a nice sharp body that kept the drinkibility good. Solid effort from Firestone Walker.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.36/5  rDev +13%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

My night of porters continues with yet another beer acquired via trade from IntriqKen, so a big “Thank you” goes out to him. I told him I was on a porter kick and he certainly delivered. Poured from a 22oz. bottle into a mug glass.

A: The beer is a deep dark brown color with a reddish hue, creates a dense, foamy, tan head that fades slowly and leaves a very thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of chocolate, coffee, dark fruit and some hops.

T: The flavor of smoky malt, coffee, dark fruit and chocolate all come out at once when you sip it. There’s a faint hops background to provide an excellent balance. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

M: Very smooth and crisp, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

D: This one is really tasty, goes down easy with a good kick, a little bit filling. It’s the perfect sipper and a very enjoyable beer.

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Photo of mactrail
3.68/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark brown with a good topping of foam, and lots of lacing down the glass. Warm and rich tasting. Malt is quite evident along with a distinct chocolate flavor. Aromas of roasted barley. Good dose of sweetness on the tongue followed by a little raspy darkness of burnt sugar, and some hops. Maybe a little raisin toast.

A highly drinkable and mellow dark beer. Nice tanginess to accompany the malt. Attractive in the glass. More darkness in the finish. Not a bad beer. I have only started drinking FW beers this past year, so they are all new to me.

Update 01/20/2013: Had this on tap at Pizza Port OB. Liked it again. Rich and roasted, pleasant woody and leathery flavor. Just sweet enough.

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Photo of Rifugium
3.85/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

First had: on tap at Misconduct Tavern, Philly, PA

Poured into a pint glass, a dark brown with a thin, wispy, almost non-existent head. Roasty aroma of dark malts, coffee, and a touch of semisweet chocolate. Big roasty taste, earthy, rich dark malts, pleasantly bitter coffee notes, and a touch of ash. Not quite full-bodied, but very flavorful and very drinkable.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.3/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Opaque mahogany with cherry tobacco trim, topped by a large, tight-bubbled, stubborn head of golden beige. Even though it's disappointing initially, by bomber's end there's a fair amount of thick lace in blurred rings. Firestone Walker calls Reserve a robust porter and describes it as "somewhere between porter and stout". If the appearance is any indication, that's right on the money.

Bittersweet chocolate dominates the nose, with freshly roasted coffee beans running a close second. There aren't many other aromas (hops for instance), but then this is one of those dark beers that doesn't need much else. The uncluttered, straightforward beauty of roasted barley is all that is required.

As goes the nose, so goes the flavor. Walker's Reserve is closer to a porter than it is to a stout, although it's my kind of porter... the best kind of porter... the big, bold, richly flavored kind of porter. The beer is well-malted, with gobs of dark caramel, dark chocolate and black coffee roastiness. For that we can thank the murder's row of malts: crystal, chocolate and black patent, among others. There's also wee bit of vanilla, although I can't say that I taste whatever might have been imparted by oak aging.

Sweet and bitter fight to a draw, with my taste buds being the only clear winner. Unlike the aroma (nope, still not there) I can appreciate the grapefruit zestiness of Cascade hops on the palate. They contribute behind the scenes, but that contribution is, I believe, still essential in adding some measure of complexity to the flavor profile. They become even bolder on the finish. As is usually the case, they outlast the malt.

There isn't a thing wrong with the mouthfeel. It may not be as robust as my idea of a robust porter, but it's much more full than your garden-variety porter. While it stops short of chewy, it's smooth, supple and a delight in the mouth. As a result, drinkability is increased in a beer that was already flush with it.

Walker's Reserve is identified as the flagship beer of Firestone Walker Brewing Company. And a fine flagship it is. It has no weaknesses and is a well-crafted, delicious American porter. Even though I haven't quite drained the last ounce yet, I'm already wishing I had another bottle waiting in the wings.

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Photo of mdaschaf
3.7/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Review from notes. Had on tap at the Salty Pig in Boston.

A: Served in a pint glass, the beer is dark reddish/brown with a small tan head on top. Decent retention, slowly reducing to a thin layer on top. Sporadic lacing.

S: A combination of chocolate, cocoa, coffee, and a some lightly roasted malt. Overall it seemed to be a little weak though.

T: A bit more flavorful than the nose lead on. A good bit of roasty malt/toasty bread, some coffee, and to a lesser extent cocoa.

M: Medium bodied, slightly bitter, but relatively smooth.

O: Not bad, expected a bit more based on the other beers I have had from FW thus far. Good, but not great, especially the weak nose.

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Photo of russpowell
3.85/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Props to my buddy Eric for hauling this from Cali!

Pours a chestnut tinged mahogany with a finger of tan head. Good lacing & average head retention

S: Cocoa & a bit of coffee

T: Cocoa & coffee up front, plus some dryness. Roasted grain & some mocha as this warms. Finishes dry with a bit of leafy hops & apricot fruittyness blending with roasty grain

MF: Medium bodied, pretty smooth with moderate carbonation

Drinks easy enough, a solid porter

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Walker's Reserve - Porter from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
3.86 out of 5 based on 1,642 ratings.
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