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

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Walker's Reserve - PorterWalker's Reserve - Porter
Very Good
1,644 Ratings
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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Ratings: 1,644 |  Reviews: 643
Photo of GarthDanielson
3.98/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bomber into a pint glass, the beer is almost jet black with a huge, frothy, yellow-cream colored head that settles quickly, but leaves a huge lacing. Auburn-brown highlights on the edges, this beer has aromas of coffee and not much else. Nose stays smooth with a round, roasted feel to it. Flavor is all coffee as well, with a much lighter profile than the aromas would lead you to believe. The flavors stay light and smooth on the palate, with some roasted and smokey character throughout. The body is almost creamy while you drink. The beer's aftertaste is the dark roasted coffee character again, with a hint of mocha flavor. The beer has a clean and smooth finish, and leaves just a hint of the coffee behind on the palate. Very smooth and very balanced, this is a tasty Porter.

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Photo of nrbw23
3.83/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- Pours a brown color with a nice tan head. Head becomes a thin layer of foam and leaves some really nice layered lacing.

S- Smell is huge on roasted malts, a light coffee, toffee and chocolate. A bit of nuts as well.

T- Taste follows the nose pretty well. Earthy hop bitterness here, bitter chocolate, coffee, caramel, roasted malts, and a very light touch of darker fruits.

M- Lighter side of medium and carbonation is medium. Has a nice creamy feel to it.

O- This one drinks really easy.

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Photo of CooperEllis
3.94/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I was expecting to like this more. I'm a big porter fan and I typically enjoy Firestone Walker offerings. A very good selection though.

22oz into 12oz 'pint' glass.

It's pretty. I mean that in the purest way. The body is dark, but has subtle colors throughout, with a ruby coloring towards the edges of the glass. There is a nice head of tan that slowly dwindles to a thin top covering which leaves fluffy lacing as you drink.

Aroma is good. It smells a bit like mash for me to rate it higher, but the malt aroma is there.

It is creamy up front, but there is a nice bite at the same time. Very well balanced. You can almost taste the 'brite' in it.

Solid, if not exceptional. I don't know what it costs in most markets as I had mine flown in from Chicago a few months ago but I could see this rivaling Founders porter as my go to if it was readily available in my market.

Full disclosure: I sampled this after sampling Dark Horizon 2.0 which I felt was very heavy on the booze. There may be boozier notes in this that I'm not catching because they're too subtle.
Does really impact my rating, but in reading my review I didn't note any booze notes and there may be some faint note I'm missing.


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Photo of shangwang
3.62/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Picked this up at the brewery during a West Coast swing a couple months ago. Bottled on 4/7/11.

Poured into a traditional pint glass. Lots of foamy tan head initially, and it gradually dissipated leaving big chunks of lacing on the glass. Deep black-brown color. Smelled of roasted coffee, bakers chocolate, and honey. Tasted much mellower than I expected - lots of roasted malt flavor with very little bitterness. Not a very heavy aftertaste and a clean finish. Watery mouthfeel with lots of carbonation.

Not a whole lot of complexity to the flavor - it's very straightforward and for a porter I'm surprised at how little coffee/chocolate there is in the taste. Drinks more like a brown ale than a porter, but doesn't seem to have any other funky characteristics. Solid, but nothing special IMO.

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Photo of OWSLEY069
3.74/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep amber to black in color with a light tan head. In the aroma, dry cocoa and a nice roast. In the taste, cocoa, roasty, a bit toasty, and almost feels a bit Belgian like. A nice hop bite and medium bodied mouthfeel, with a dry small roast and small cocoa in the aftertaste. Almost Belgian like, quite pleasant.

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Photo of BeerFMAndy
3.23/5  rDev -17%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

22 oz bottle split in a Bruery tulip.
5.8% ABV, no date.

A - Slivers of clear dark mahogany show through the bottom of the black tulip while mounds of tan head fade to a thin skim while leaving gorgeous lace on the glass.

S - Heavily roasted dry cocoa, this porter smells incredibly dusty with a full earthy hop nose. It reminds me of cheap wood paneling in a dingy liquor store. Not entirely pleasing.

T - The gritty, dirty flavor follows through from the aroma. Roasted malt is big but messy and thin finishing with a fairly present metallic taste. Earthy hops complete the dusty, dirty spectrum.

M - This porter feels exceptionally thin for a porter but is really medium-bodied, just high carbonated with a bite to the finish. Very, very dry.

O - I'm not a fan of this one. It's overly dusty, dry, and near the point of being cloying. This porter just doesn't live up to the caliber of the other FW brew's that I've had the pleasure of sampling.

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Photo of sethmeister
3.88/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Opaque dark brown in the glass but shines red when held to the light. Large cakelike tan head. Excellent lacing and retention.

Nose is toasted, molasses and caramel. Leafy hop note.

Taste is sweet molasses. Milk chocolate and an almost fudgy note. After the swallow a nice mild bitterness emerges and lingers. Toasted and nutty flavors. Smoke. Hints of coffee.

Mouth is very soft, rich and creamy without actually being heavier than medium. Low carbonation.

A very tasty English style porter.

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Photo of bld81
3.63/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle poured into a pint glass:
A: dark brown, appears lighter as the edges, no head or lacing, maybe an older bottle?
S: faint coffee and toffee, more chocolate as it warms,
T: smoked and burnt malt, sweetness with caramel
M: the lack of head hides the carbonation and nice texture
O: the word Reserve raises the bar for me, this is very good and very drinkable, this is very solid but not highly impressive.

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Photo of tlazaroff
4.09/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a dark dark brown with brown highlights when held to a light source. It is topped with a thin tan head that quickly dissipated for me.

S: Roasted malts, kind of a bitter-smokey quality, but not overpowering. I get a sweetness out of this as well. The smell is quite nice!

T: On the palate I get slight coffee notes with a finish of hops and dark chocolate.

M: Mouthfeel is great. It is light in body with moderate carbonation.

D: Easy drinking beer here. At 5.8%, this is quite quaffable.

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Photo of Jesstyr
4.03/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I've now had this in bottle and draft form, and it is definitely on of my favorite stouts. In this case the draft was better than the bottle, but I'm reviewing the bottle form.

Pours dark brown with light reddish amber hues. Sizeable head, a little more than 2 fingers, is perfect, and lingers nicely with excellent lacing. Nose is very malty, but with a perfect mix of smokiness, that really balances it nicely.

Taste is a little bit of burnt dark malt, with a taste of chocolate or coffee. Lots of roast in there, but its balanced nicely with a good smooth finish. Medium body is perfect for drinking, but pretty standard for a good porter. All around one of the best hand full of porter's I've ever had, and parabola was even better...

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Photo of Rifugium
3.85/5  rDev -1%
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 Kinsman
4.08/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a rich and dark brown/black colored body and is crowned by a dense, sticky, and rocky dark tan colored head. Slowly fades to leave a thick and clumpy lace behind.

Initially sweet on the aroma with some vanilla and fruity notes before the bittersweet chocolate aroma comes along and dominates the rest of the nose. Finishes with just a slight roasted coffee note that reminds you of a robust porter.

Bittersweet and roasted notes duke it out with the sweeter caramel and toffee notes and the slight oaky-vanilla flavor. Lighter caramel malts and wood flavors keep the robustness in check making this a bit sweeter and lighter in flavor than some other porters.

Mouthfeel is relatively light but with a nice creamy texture that makes this drink so easily. Overall, I'm really enjoying this porter as something a bit different than the normally strong robust porters that I reach for. Plenty of flavor and a sweeter flavor that make this a nice dessert beer.

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Photo of pmarlowe
3.86/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tulip glass.

Pours very dark brown, three fingers of great looking foam with very good retention, and some lacing. Big tobacco and smoke up front, leather, very austere freshly cut oak, burnt caramel. Taste is primarily smoke and some tobacco, a faint wisp of coffee and malt, with a little bit of coffee bitterness on the finish. Medium carbonation, medium body. Overall, very drinkable and well done, but more towards the smoky side of the porter spectrum; I tend to prefer less smoke and more coffee in my porters. But a well done effort.

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

Walker's Reserve is not darkness, but more like dusk. It is dark, to be sure, but like a summer's night sky still has some colour and clearness. A kind of reddish-brown tint, made more obscured by the muddying contents of the bottle's bottom quarter, is readily visible to the light. Its head is foamy, with a squiring lacing that any seamstress could work with.

Chocolate fudge overtones share the bouquet with cherry-ish esters and roasty dryness, but the trio comes together as a rather mild and temperate ensemble. Bready-sweet malt character is detected far above and beyond any caramel or toffee-like dessert notes, although such notions could be partially entertained (but not like in a high-gravity stout).

The brewery no longer advertises it, so I'm unsure whether or not they still age this beer on oak; it certainly tastes like they do. It has a dry, woody resonance that mellows the bittersweet chocolate, tobacco leaf and roast smokiness. The barrels also (assuming they're still in play) lend an almond-like nuttiness that, again, breaks up those heavier flavours.

Probably because of the prestige attributed to their anniversary offerings, Firestone Walker is often thrown into discussions of America's most cutting-edge micros. But look more closely and you'll see that most of their lineup are British inspired and most follow the classic English (not American) guidelines, if not to the letter, at least to the spirit of the law.

Walker's Reserve (a British sounding name) is a perfect example. It has the faint fruitiness, sooty smokiness, leafy hops and roasty dryness that you'll find in traditional examples. It certainly doesn't have the aggressive roast or hoppiness or decadent, rich flavours of most modern American examples. For a Californian beer, it's actually a bit of an oddball.

Don't let the Paso Robles location fool you, this porter is cut from the same cloth as traditional English offerings. It is an agreeable, serviceable dark beer that is neither too heavy, rich nor too strong to discourage continuous pints; unlike many Firestone Walker offerings, this one calls for no special occasion at all. It is best enjoyed simply for the sake of being enjoyed.

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Photo of doughanson78
3.95/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz. bottle poured into a snifter.

A: Very dark, although not pitch black. Brown hints around edges when held to the light. Very frothy two finger head, tan in color, excellent head retention, and great lacing.

S: Burnt caramel. Dark coffee. Roasted malts. Light chocolate and a slight oatiness.

T: Roasted malts. Light chocolate and vanilla. Very mild oats. Finishing with a mild burnt caramel/coffee flavor.

M: Medium bodied. Slightly creamy. Light mouth coating. Medium carbonation.

O: I was very disappointed with my first Firestone Walker beer. This definitely makes up for that. Solid porter. Nice roastiness to it.

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Photo of bennetj17
4.32/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Black, with thin tan foam, not much head really, just a little ring. Aroma of sweet chocolate with a good smokey balance. Nice.

The flavor focuses on the roasted malts, with little sweetness. Fine bitterness and drying finish. It seems clean and well crafted. The low ABV is excellent for such a flavorful brew. Foamy carbonation, semi-thick body yet not coating. It's easy to drink and doesn't finish heavy.

This beer has amazing drinkablility, considering the depth of flavor and 5.8% alcohol. A good value as it is, but I would like to see it in 6-packs of 12oz bottles.

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Photo of Gmann
3.68/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a near black color with a huge khaki colored head that settled into a sparse cap with some lacing on the glass.

The aroma is of chocolate, brown bread, and scorched caramel. Some wet wood and other earthy notes.

The taste is of a toasted brown bread, some burnt edges. Light caramel and honey notes. On the finish there seems to be a grassy bitterness. The beer reminds me more of a robust brown ale.

The body is full and has prickly carbonation which helps break up the malt body. Starts lightly sweet on the palate and finishes with a roasty and slightly grassy hop bitterness.

Despite the fact that this tastes more like a brown ale to me, it is a tasty beer. Porter or Brown, not the best I have had but still very good.

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Photo of crewfan16
3.66/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured from a bomber into a pint glass. No date on the bottle anywhere to give me an idea of how fresh it is.

a-pours a dark brown, not quite black color that doesn't let any light through. A quarter inch of cream colored head dies fairly quickly and doesn't leave much lacing.

s-roasted malt and cocoa and maybe some faint oatmeal.

t-similar to the nose. a nice roasted characteristic immediately with a bit of chocolate that sits on the back of the throat nicely. A little sweetness at the end as well, perhaps a bit of vanilla and oak.

m-very drinkable and actually sort of creamy. I feel like it has a bit too much carbonation for my tastes, but besides that its very tasty

overall, I feel strangely disappointing. I expected a bigger beer for whatever reason and thats not really what this one was. As far as porters go, I think its a very good example, but considering it was a "reserve series" I expected a bad-ass version. The price was right for sure at about $6 for the bomber, but it isnt necessarily one I would go and seek out. Would definitely have one if it was offered to me though.

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Photo of Pencible
3.68/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: This poured a clear black mahogany with some tan head.
S: It smelled like roasted coffee and bitter dark chocolate, with some burnt barley and licorice.
T: It tasted like bitter dark chocolate and coffee, with some licorice and burnt barley. Maybe some orange? It had a clean and bitter aftertaste.
M: It was fairly thick with moderate carbonation. Nice and full body.
D: This was a very basic porter. The scent and taste were enjoyable but nothing special at all. It was easy to drink and had nice body, but otherwise was pretty forgettable. You wouldn't be missing much if you never tried this beer.

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Photo of haazer
3.88/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bomber poured in a pint glass.

A- Pour produces a large amount of chunky light brown head. Lasts for awhile and stays as a nice cap on top of a light looking dark brown brew with red highlights near the bottom. Hardly any bit of lace forms on the glass from the head settling.

S- Smells like roasty malts and a dark chocolate. A little bit of a cardboard like scent, drying in the nose. Hopefully not a sign of oxidation. A little bit of caramel and toffee scent at the end.

T- Flavor is dry roasted malts, some light cocoa powder, caramel, and toffee. I detect some nougat also. This isn't too far from a candy bar. Fairly good flavors to this, better then the aromas. None of the cardboard flavor.

M- The mouthfeel is rather soft, but not on the light slight. Maybe a hair under medium, and detectable bubbly carbonation. Very easy to drink.

O- Definitely a good porter. The flavors are complex and interesting enough to keep you drinking, and the low abv makes this somewhat sessionable. Though this was good, something tells me the Abacus I have in my cellar will be better.

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Photo of DavoleBomb
3.41/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a pint glass.

4.0 A: Very dark brown, nearly black color. Two fingers of creamy beige head with decent retention and a solid ring of lacing.

3.0 S: Pretty uninspired here. Small amounts of dry, dusty roastiness with some cocoa powder. Light crystal sweetness.

3.5 T: Same thing in the taste. Subtle crystal sweetness with a dry roastiness on finish. Light chocolate in between. It's not bad, it's just a bit boring.

3.5 M: Lighter medium body. Good moderate carbonation. Reasonably creamy for how light it is.

3.5 D: Good beer for a craft brew initiate - not a whole lot of flavor, but pleasant and drinkable.

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Photo of arizcards
3.96/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Picked up a bomber from the Francestown Village Market this past Friday for $5.99. Did not see any of this in the Phoenix area.

Beer poured a deep brown with a solid tan head that is leaving lacing behind.

Nose has hints of roasted malts and cocoa.

Taste is nicely balanced, roasted malts, bitter chocolate, dry hopping represent the style well.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and very smooth from the oats.

Overall this is a solid beer, nice representation of the style.

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Photo of Bendurgin
4.03/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint glass. This one pours almost black. A little brown on the edges with about a finger of bubbly beige head. Nice retention here and soapy lace.

A bit of roasty cocoa in the aroma with a mild coffee aroma here. A little bit of toasty malt in the aroma. The taste is simmilar to what the aroma would lead me to believe. A little bit of dark bitter chocolate here. Pretty solid roasted malt flavor on this.

The feel is solid. Nice robust full body with lively carbonation. A solid offering here. Glad to see this one locally now.

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Photo of beagle75
3.35/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Draft service into a shaker pint glass at Yard House in Irvine.

A: Opaque, dark brown color showing some clarity at the edges with one finger of mocha-tinted foam head. Heavy lacing remains on the glass and submerged bubbles cling all over to the wall of the glass.

S: Extremely mild, consisting mostly of carbon dioxide with a trace amount of milk chocolate.

T: Begins off-dry, with dark fruit, weak roasted malt, and restrained acidity. The middle reveals slight astringency that seems associated with a weak and transient soapy flavor. Bitter roast swells up in the finish, with suggestions of coffee and cocoa powder alongside. Charcoal lingers on the palate, but not overly long.

M: Medium viscosity, creamy and slightly astringent on the palate, with low carbonation.

D/O: While not much of an attention-grabber, this porter has a feel of authenticity about it. It is more bitter than the average porter, apparently deriving from a combination of hop and roast influence. It has the potential to match most other craft porters of American origin, in terms of favorable qualities, but fails to really stand out amongst them.

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Photo of Franch
4.1/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

a really solid porter - ultimately unremarkable, but unremarkable in a very good way. when i think of what a "porter" should be, firestone walker's reserve porter comes up strong. i did notice it was a bit thin compared to other porters of similar ABV that are a bit more full-bodied, but nevertheless, it was great.

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Walker's Reserve - Porter from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 3.89 out of 5 with 1,644 ratings
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