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 Oakenator
4.66/5  rDev +20.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a dark black with a solid head at pour. Head remains mostly around the rim of the glass. Some chunky lacing is present.

S: Really good - malts and an overwhelming chocolate aroma - somewhere between sweet and dark.

T: roasted malts up front followed by chocolate and malts on the back. Lots going on and really, really good.

M: Perfect carbonation from front to back. Good heft.

O: Awesome brew and at this ABV almost sessionable with loads of flavor.

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Photo of BobZ
3.89/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22 oz Bottle poured into a Duvel Tulip.

Appearance: Rich dark brown with a nice 1/2" tan head that disappears quickly leaving only a cap, nice lacing.

Smell: Coffee/Roasted Malt over dark chocolate, maybe a small whiff of smoke.

Taste: The bitter dark chocolate is what I noticed first quickly followed by the coffee and roasted malt flavors. Really a nicely executed balance of flavors.

Mouthfeel: Seems a little light in body even for a porter, clean on the finish.

Overall: A very nice and flavorful porter, good when you're looking for a lot of flavor in a lighter bodied beer.

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Photo of ThickNStout
3.43/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.25

22oz bottle from Lets Pour. No bottling date. Served in a Southern Tier tulip snifter.

Pours cola brown with two fingers of pale tan head. The head settles to a thin cap that leaves bits of lace.

I get aromas of chocolate and burnt figs.

A roastiness dominates the flavor. Char, bitter cocoa, smoke, weak coffee, burnt carmel, earth and semi sour dark fruit.

Thin bodied with a fairly lively carbonation. Roasty dark fruit in the finish.

Quite rich and complex for such a low gravity brew. Ultimately too weak and thin for my preferences but it was worth this one try.

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Photo of Axnjxn
4.18/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

22oz bottle into a Goose Island pint glass. Bottled on 2/1/13

Pours a dark blown, almost black with an inch thick head that quickly dissipates. The aroma of burned chocolate and a smokey forest is what i gather from the nose. Not bad. Taste is quite impressive for a porter. good characteristics of coffee and smokey chocolate. roasted malts. exceptionally easy to drink. on the lighter side of medium bodied with tangy carbonation. so easy to down this bottle.

overall this is a very well made porter and so far this is my favorite offering from firestone walker. everything i've tried from them has been well above average and this one is excellent.

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Photo of woosterbill
3.84/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Bomber into a Duvel tulip. Thanks for sharing, Drew!

A: Black body with clear red-brown highlights. One-inch off-white head. Ok retention, light lace.

S: Burned toast, dark chocolate, and plenty of herbal hops. Straightforward and good.

T: Follows the nose. Roasted malt, char, and a 50/50 mix of coffee and hops on the finish. Solidly bitter aftertaste. Tasty enough.

M: Fairly light-bodied and well-carbonated. Good for the style.

O: A little on the bitter side for my personal tastes in a Porter, but definitely a solid example of the American version of the style.


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Photo of BurgeoningBrewhead
4.45/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Poured jet black into a 34oz mug, with a relatively thick light tan head. Smells clean and metallic, with coffee and chocolate undertones. Tastes thick and sweet, almost like an oatmeal stout at first; then fades into subdued roasted malts and chocolate. A great, full-bodied porter.

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Photo of BlurryVisi0n
4.03/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Served in a pint glass.

Appearance: Superior dark brown, medium bubbles rising to the surface of the brew with a nice light tan head that rose to about a quarter inch.

Smell: Light malt, scent with a super light roast coffee...not bad but then again it's light.

Taste: Pretty awesome if you ask me, robust bitterness with a super smooth espresso finish give it the right dose of what you need.. Light sugar notes gets my thumbs up.

Mouth: Without a doubt heavy carbonation, light roast after taste...smooth.

Overall: This definitely is hit, this proves to you that a beer does not need to have a strong ABV level to prove that it's all about quality. Strong flavors, linger with you and for that its worth the six bucks or so for the bottle. Salud!

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Photo of TappaKeggaBrew
4.27/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A: Clear, but dark mahogany in hue (apparent with a bright back-lighting). Head was thick, two-plus fingers of dense, dark-tan froth that really lingered. Lacing was also good.

S: Dark fruit, floral hops, toasted grain, and something soapy.

T: Sweet, dark fruit up front, with well-toasted malts. The sweetness lingers almost until the finish. Coffee notes poke through near the middle, and there's a touch of fatty acid and diacetyl near the end before the bitterness of hops shows up. And the bitterness is potent, but that's not out of place as it balances the malty sweetness.

M: Just slightly chewy, more moist and well-carbonated. Finish has a hint of dryness.

O: Quite tasty indeed, sure to have another showing at my house (perhaps shared with a friend next time... Or not!)

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Photo of rgs0204
3.29/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - Cloudy, off-white head that doesn't last very long. The body is black and thick looking.

Smell - Smells like a dark loaf of homemade bread, toasted malts

Taste - very balanced; the initial flavor has a hint of sweetness, but the finish is moderately bitter and relatively short. The flavor has tastes lightly of cocoa and coffee, but certainly shouldn't be compared to a Cocoa Porter or Coffee Porter.

Mouthfeel - Whilst swirling this porter around in my mouth, it has a medium, oily body with a light fizz.

Overall - While this really is just a standard American porter and there is nothing about which to write home, the balanced flavor makes it a very drinkable/accessible porter. The bitterness is not overwhelming.

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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 MattSweatshirt
3.93/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours fairly dark with amber and brown coloring coming through in the light. Light brown head. The carbonation is visible despite the dark appearance.

The aroma is sort of mild but brings some complexity with roast, smoke, chocolate, wood, grassy and spicy hop.

The flavor comes across as roasty coffee, touch of char, smoke, the hop character is there, wood, chocolate and caramel.

Drinks pretty smooth with a medium body and medium carbonation. Finishes dry.

Good porter and priced as well as a bomber.

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Photo of Pegasus
3.53/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Utter black in color, with a moderate, dense tan head, which retains quite well. Thick, fine beaded lacing coats the glass walls.

Aroma: Deep aroma of pine hop, bitter cocoa, cold espresso, dark chocolate, ,

Taste: Roasted malt, bitter cocoa and earthy hops at the open, soon followed by cold coffee. Wood and char appear later in the taste. Towards the close, leafy, earthy hops assert themselves. Finishes with a mild, lingering herbal bitterness.

Mouth feel: Fairly full, with a hint of zesty carbonation.

Drinkability/notes: A solid, competently-made example. At $5.99 for a bomber, this seems a bargain.

Presentation: Packaged in a twenty-two ounce brown glass bomber sealed with a pry-off crown, served in a New Belgium Brewing chalice.

Sourcing: Purchased at Spec's in Texas for $5.99 for a twenty-two ounce bomber.

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Photo of oN3xM
3.56/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A - Dark and pretty transparent carmamelly brown with low head retention.
S - The nose is nice oaky burnt scent. A decently strong alcoholic aroma.
T - Dry cigar flavor with hints of oak hitting the back of the tongue.
M - Thin body with a decent amount of carbonation. A little bit of bitterness at the back of the tongue.
O - A decent porter. I'd prefer it have a thicker, fuller body, but for the price, it's a great beer.

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Photo of BigBarley
4.43/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Pours a deep, black, almost jet black, though a very slight visibility around the edges when held up to light. Thick, tan foamy head. Smells like roasted malt, somewhat sweet with caramel or toffee notes, and a biscuity nose. Tastes like bitter, dark malts, sweet, with a touch of coffe and roasted character all over. Extremely drinkable, with just a touch of carbonation and a velvety feel. Amazing porter in my opinion.

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Photo of champ103
4.26/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Pinthouse Pizza in Austin.

A: Pours a dark brown, nearly black color. A two finger tan head forms with good retention. Plenty of lace is left behind.
S: Roasted malt, big bittersweet chocolate aromas, coffee, and bread.
T: Follows the nose with a Roasted malt flavor that is not over barring. Again, that lovely bittersweet bakers chocolate flavors, light coffee and bread/biscuit flavors. Very nice.
M/D: A medium body with good carbonation. Crisp, but smooth at the same time. Man, FW always makes superbly drinkable beers. This is no exception.

Another excellent, well made, and to style beer from Firestone Walker. Highly recommended.

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Photo of BBQSteve
4.36/5  rDev +13%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

I went for this on the strength of the Bros. 95. Other users bring this down to the good range.

Poured into a tulip nice lighter head, not caramel like british porters.

Aroma is sweet and caramel, very pleasant.

Taste is sharper than english porters leaning toward an american black ale. Thin mouthfeel.

Balanced flavor throughout the taste, sharp and condensed on the palate.

Worth the try.

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Photo of herman77
3.81/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Bottled on 11/20/12

A: Dark brown/near black with a light tan head. Some nice lacing.

S: Tons of rich carmel. Some coffee and bittersweet dark chocolate as well. So much milky sweet carmel.

T: Bittersweet chocolate, roasted malts, toffee, tobacco, coffee and a bit of carmel. Slight acrid flavor near the finish that isn't too appealing (maybe from the age?) Finish is fairly smooth and clean. As it warms, it gets a bit sweeter, more of the toffee and carmel coming out.

M: Medium body, average carbonation. Smooth.

O: Fairly good drinkability. A good porter, wish I could try a fresh one to see how different it would be since this is barely within 120 days.

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Photo of dln646
3.77/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Today's tasting note takes place at the Blind Tiger Ale House at Bleecker Street in New York. On tap I'm being poured a shadowy brown beer with a fine lacing and a in-between off-white and tan medium head.

Relatively fresh and light, it carries beams of chocolate, yeast, wood and complex sweet malts to my nose.

While the palate is more chunky, it still has an unsullied soul. There's unquestionably plenty of roasted malts here that reflects characteristics of coffee, chocolate, toffee and a bit of wood. With only 5,8% alcohol I'm surprised by the robust malt body that comes across as much more mouth-filling and soft than I would've forecasted. With a to some extent floral bitterness, the flavor intensity and malt body makes sure that the body stays in sheer balance. A silky carbonation concludes an accurately energetic, and extensive finish. Espresso-like the finish is expanding in structuring bitterness and flavor for almost minutes to come.

I've drunk countless low-quality watery porters lately, so the Walkers Reserve is certainly a game-changer. Thanks Blind Tiger and Firestone Walker! http://quaffable.org/?p=534

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Photo of flayedandskinned
4.33/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Bottled on 2/18/13
Poured into a Duvel tulip.

Appearance: Pours a pitch black with a 3 and half finger tall khaki head which leaves plenty of nice lacing as it slowly recedes. Gorgeous looking porter.

Aroma: Grassy and herbal hops straight away and some faint notes of baker's chocolate, coffee and some dark roasted malts. Pretty low key, albeit very balanced aromatics on this porter.

Taste: Very similar to the nose; grassy and herbal English hops right away, with some soft notes of chocolate, light coffee and slightly nut like roasted malts before the dry, bitter finish. Lingering impressions of vanilla, herbal hops, espresso and roasted malt are left on your palate until the very last drop.

Mouthfeel: Very full bodied with a sublimely creamy texture. Soft carbonation. Honestly, this beer almost tastes cask-conditioned. Superb.

Overall: Yet another perfectly balanced beer from Firestone Walker. This ale offers
plenty of flavor and has a very rich and creamy mouthfeel at only 5.8%. While I do wish the roasted malts peak through a bit more in the more in the nose, they certainly do have a stronger presence in the flavor profile. This is by far the most balanced porter I've tasted, and I can pretty much say its my favorite. Highly recommended.

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Photo of AgentMunky
3.6/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Served in a pint glass at Blue Palms.

A: Dark ruby that lets through a modicum of light. Creamy head.

S: Bland and sweet with a whiff of soap.

T/M/O: Competent, but unexceptional. The main taste is malty, moderately robust, and chocolatey, with a bitter finish laced with cacao. Overall though, it's brief, at times thin, and largely dull. Mouthfeel is carbonated and a bit sterile (think metallic shining clean). Still, it's a decent beer. I'd have another.

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Photo of RoninTK3
4.36/5  rDev +13%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A - Jet black with a finger off of white head that settles into some nice lacing.

S - Dark chocolate, a touch of smokiness, and dark malts. Maybe some coffee.

T - Roasted malts, cocoa, and a touch of smoke. Exactly what I look for in a porter.

M - Smooth and medium bodied. Heavier carbonated and lighter than expected.

This is everything I look for in a porter. It's very drinkable, smooth, and roasty. Another great beer from Firestone Walker and this one is at a great price point. If this came in six packs I'd drink it all the time.

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Photo of Tucquan
4.07/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Had this on 2013-01-27 in Columbia, PA

A - Very dark brown but clear. 2-finger tan head and very good lacing.

S - Light roast, touch of coffee, dried apricot,

T - A little tart pucker, dried stone fruit, char, more coffee bitterness than hop, light chalk and a hint of sweetness. Light tanin.

M - Astringent initially but finishes reasonably creamy.

O - A really top-shelf porter although I slightly prefer the Founders porter. My wife really enjoyed this one as well.

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Photo of Maxwell
4.19/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Aged One Year in the Bottle

The beer pours a very dark coffee brown, nearly black, and it sits in the glass as black, with a nice little sand dune tan head on it. The body is dark and impenetrable to the eye, but carbonation bubbles can clearly be seen racing to refill the head. Odd enough, the beer leaves alcoholic legs on the sides of my glass, despite its lower alcohol percentage. The lacing left by the beer on the sides of the glass is thin and slick, but does leave some nice patches on the sides of the glass. On the nose, this beer smells tremendously oaky, with lovely chocolate touches. Slight dark fruits, brown sugar, and what seems like candy sugars can also be detected in the nose. The smell is rich and decadent, with some great malty complexity, and some tremendous smells from the wood this beer aged in. On the tongue, the beer tastes of oaky chocolate with brown sugar and raisin notes. The beer begins with nice oaky wood before slowly working into chocolate, very slight coffee, and dark brown sugar. The finish touches lightly with roasted malt, but they are very faint, and a watery taste and feel can also be felt. The aftertaste is quite clean, with only a light lingering of roasted oak. On the mouth, this beer feels heavenly smooth and wet, while feeling medium in body, though it thins out as it drops from the back of the throat. The mouth is left damp and sticky sweet, longing for more of this beautiful beer. Overall, this beer aged wonderfully, I would be really curious to try a non-aged version of this, but as it is, it is delicious. I suspect that the roasted malts have died away to leave the lovely oak and chocolate more room to play, which is fine by me. My only complaint is the slight wateriness in the finish, but honestly that just makes the beer easier to throw back. This is a great beer for sure with superb oak notes. Try this beer.

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Photo of BeerAdvocate
4.25/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

From BeerAdvocate magazine Issue #61 (Feb 2012):

LOOK: Rich, dark brown, near black, opaque, creamy tan head

SMELL: Dark malts, chocolate, cold coffee, faint wood

TASTE: Smooth, creamy, a bit viscous, soda water-like carbonation, leafy, toffee, chocolaty, bready, oaty, semi-acrid, coffee, char, smoke, wood, semidry finish with rich, dark malt lingers

The use of the word “Reserve” seems to throw some beer geeks off—they apparently think it’s meant to an special release—but this is one killer robust Porter that should be judged for what it is; an über beer without the hype, and more than enough backbone to back it up.

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3.45/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Firestone Walker Walker’s Reserve

Appearance: Firestone’s year-round porter offering pours a dark brown, somewhat Coca-Cola-like color. There is a healthy looking three fingers of dark khaki head, but it has a strange, reddish tint. The retention and lacing are fantastic. The carbonation is just visible and is reminiscent of soda. This is a pretty classic looking porter with the addition of impressive clarity.

Aroma: The aroma is typical of a porter, no more, no less. The hops are prevalent, the roasty, coffee/chocolate malts back it up, though one imagines that the taste will be the inverse of this.

Taste: Exactly as expected: an inversion of the aroma. The malts are on the forefront, but are not dominating. The roastiness is not as powerful as one would expect from a porter, for better or worse. The hops are there and provide typical bitterness, which is a bit awkward for the style. Lastly, the alcohol (only 5.8% ABV) comes through in the end of the taste, along with a slight woody, vanilla type flavor that seems to permeate most Firestone beers. Like the rest of this beer, it is just above average.

Mouthfeel: The carbonation is far too much both for the style (and for most styles for that matter). This, added to a slightly watery viscosity, makes for a rather underwhelming overall mouthfeel. One cannot help but think that some more alcohol would have helped this category out.

Overall: This beer is not bad by any means, but it is not really any better than the average porter. There are far better options out there for less money and wider availability in my area. Firestone’s smaller ABV beers seem to be, by and large, a disappointment. The rest of their lineup and their barrel program make up for these average offerings. 13.5/20

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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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