Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

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Barleywine - American
Ranked #11
Ranked #986
4.29 | pDev: 7.46%
Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
California, United States
Notes: Part of the adventure of aging beer in retired spirits barrels is the synergistic interaction of different malt flavors with the oak and spirit flavors from the barrel. Darker beers like stouts and darker barley wines have typically been the favored candidates for barrel-aging, due to their deeper caramel and roasted flavors. Helldorado breaks that mold with a deep golden color from being brewed solely with English and American pale malts. The bready, honeyed flavors of pale malts pull out rich wildflower honey, vanilla and coconut notes from the oak, creating an overall flavor evocative of bourbon-glazed graham crackers that stands as singularly unique in our Vintage lineup.
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Photo of Treyliff
Treyliff from West Virginia

4.21/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

taken from notes, 22oz bottle poured into a snifter

Pours an amber color with a one-finger foamy off-white head that has good retention. Smells of oaky bourbon, sugary malts, berry-like hops and caramel. Taste is sweet and malty, giving notes of caramel, vanilla, dried tropical fruit and oaky bourbon. Medium body with moderate carbonation, foamy mouthfeel that turns slightly creamy into the finish.

Jul 11, 2021
Photo of SHODriver
SHODriver from North Carolina

4.5/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle from 2016

A: Poured into a snifter to a deep golden orange beer which is topped by a dense and slightly rocky two fingers of off white head which fades slowly to a collar around the edge of the glass
S: Smells of caramel, cocounts, faded hops, oak and a touch of vanilla
T: Taste is caramel, honey, faded piney hops with a little citrus, some coconut, oak, toasted malts, a little doughy bread, along with a little vanilla. On the swallow there's more coconut, caramel, faded hops, oak, and some slight lingering vanilla
M: This beer has a body which is on the slightly heavier side with a slightly syrupy feel. Carbonation is slightly effervescent and adequate for the style while the beer has a drying finish due to the ABV.
O: Overall this is a really well done beer. This lighter barleywine brings a lot of complexity to the party along with a really nice amount of balance. The beer has also held up very well for being bottled in 2016. Definitely a nice summery style of a barleywine.

May 23, 2021
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hopley from Massachusetts

4.78/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2015 Vintage, Batch 001, drank March, 2021. Best Barleywine I've every had, hands down.

Clear golden color, little head - just looked of quality.

Smelled like candy.

Tasted clean golden honey with a little hops tossed in. Nothing bitter or overwhelming in any direction. Just about as perfect as you can get. Not too sweet or cloying like Aaron. The oak was masterful - think it produced a mellowness that just made this beer.

Mouthfeel just right.

Awesome. Not sure how much the aging helped with, if any, but look forward to trying a fresh one sometime. Just a wonderful Barleywine. Cheers!

Mar 08, 2021
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Alieniloquium from Florida

2.93/5  rDev -31.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.75

650 mL bottle. Pours very clear and very pale. Smells of bourbon, oak, booze, and honey. Tastes of booze, oak, bourbon, honey, light fruitiness. Dries out. Oaky and boozy back end. No lingering sweetness at all. Medium body and quite dry. Intense alcohol flavors and nothing to soften them. A little rough.

Feb 21, 2021
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dcotom from Iowa

4.5/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This could change my whole way of looking at barleywines. Vintage 2017, poured at 43°F from 12-ounce bottle into a thin-walled goblet and allowed to warm to 52°F. Slightly hazy, dark orange in color, with reddish-orange highlights here and there. Lovely aromas of vanilla, honey, light toffee, and coconut, with undertones of bourbon and oak. These characteristics obtain on the palate as well. At four years (give or take) from the bottling date, this is superbly mellow and very easy-drinking despite the booziness. This is quite sweet, with a silky mouthfeel and a touch of oaky astringence lingering on the finish. Overall, a very memorable beer that leaves little to be desired.

Jan 30, 2021
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MikeWard from Pennsylvania

4.1/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

650ml bottle into a tulip. 2016 vintage, #002.

Looks pretty good in the glass. Golden honey colored body. Initially a lot of carbonation which quickly tapers off. No head, hence no lacing.

Subtle aroma of honey.

On tasting, sweet, warm, some honey. Abv apparent, but very smooth drinking. Nice sipper.

Mouth between medium and full. Finish sweet and slightly boozy.

Overall, smooth drinking beer. Sweet, warm, enjoyable sipper on a cold night.

Dec 31, 2020
Photo of Bierman9
Bierman9 from New Hampshire

4.25/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I stopped into The Flight Center Nashua today for some Founders shtuff.... The owner said Firestone was pulling out of NH and he had a few last bottles... snagged this for $11 (pre-discount).

Poured a mostly clear bier into my sniftah... Has a rich copper color, with a creamy, fine , close-cropped light tan head. Lacing is mostly solid, all-in-all. Aroma had some vanilla, toasted malt, toffee, and subtle coconut. Body is medium-plus, with only light prickle on the tongue.

Flavor is semisweet, with bready, toasty malts. Had some honey, a touch of vanilla, and earthy notes. Bourbon aging is present yet subtle, with some oak action also present. Not boozy at all- yikes!!! Very nice!!!


4.25/5 rDev -0.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25


Jul 15, 2020
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Holderness from Massachusetts

4.46/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Aged for five years (2015 vintage)

L -- Looks straight up like a high-quality NEIPA in the glass. Lovely golden orange with a moderate amount of haze and a finger of pure white head produced with moderate pour. Minimal retention and some lacing
S -- Apple juice, molasses, peat, oak, wildflower honey, fresh grass, booze
T -- Light floral/honey sweetness alongside some grassy astringency from the hops and a bit of smokey oaky peaty character from the barrels. The aging has allowed the sweetness to mellow out wonderfully here, which ups the complexity immensely
F -- Bit mouthfeel, medium- carb. They did a good job on bottling this, no noticeable drop in carb over half a decade
O -- Wow. Sometimes I forget how critical extended cellaring is for barleywines to be anything but a sickly sweet mess. This was probably the best 'blonde' barleywine I've had. Although I admittedly do not buy FW offerings much, it's examples like these that make me sad they're ceasing distribution in MA.


Jun 24, 2020
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leaddog from Canada (AB)

4.35/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

2016 vintage No. 2 at 11.8%

Appearance - Pours a honey gold with a fingers of bubbly white head.

Smell - earthy, leafy, and floral hops, honey, toasted malts, hint of marmalade, lemon, hint of vanilla, and earthy yeast.

Taste - earthy, leafy, and floral hops upfront then quickly goes into the sweetness from the honey. The toasted malts, marmalade, lemon, and hint of vanilla follow suit. The earthy yeast rounds out the brew.

Mouthfeel - Medium to full bodied with moderate carbonation. Finishes chewy with the honey sweetness lingering alongside the warmth from the ABV.

Overall - A bold and flavourful brew. I like how the honey takes precedence over the hops as it makes for a nice engagable sipper.

May 11, 2020
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TooManyGlasses from Canada (AB)

4.31/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2016 Vintage 11.8%. Pours a clear copper colour with minimal white head. Certainly a little sediment in bottle but did not hit my 8 ounce pour.
Aroma hits with the bourbon and oak; notes of toffee and vanilla, slightly floral.
Tastes of sweet caramel malt, vanilla, bourbon; a bit bready and oak flavour, toffee, and a touch of boozy warmth.
Full mouthfeel - sweet but not cloying - tame carbonation, leaving a treacle like effect on the palate.

May 10, 2020
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Dan-Man from California

4.73/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

2015 Firestone Helldorado, 650 ml
13.2% by vol., 3500 cases produced

Pulled this bottle out of my wine cabinet recently...
Pours with just a thin head...hazy golden color. Nose of Barleywine booze. Nice full balanced profile in each taste.
This blonde ale oozes butterscotch over the lingering alcohol. Long pleasing finish begs for another sip. Excellent representation of type.
2015 Firestone Helldorado.

Apr 03, 2020
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GarrettB from Colorado

3.75/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

December 31st, 2015 - My last beer of 2015 is Firestone Walker's Helldorado, and it's a proper send off. Flexing it's muscles right from the start, it smells like carrots and salads mixed together with a huge alcoholic and boozy nose. But the flavor is stickier and sweeter, while still featuring that blinding alcohol note. I then catch flavors of ginger cookie, carrot cake, orange frosting, and a long burn that settles into a orange liqueur glow. It's rough and tough, and could probably stand a year or two more in time out before coming out to play again.

Mar 11, 2020
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ZebulonXZogg from Illinois

4.63/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a cloudy brownish orange, small quickly fading head, no lacing, no oily residue.
Snot locker likes it, fruit, wood, toffee, leather bourbon.
Taste buds love it, matches the aroma.
Medium bodied, minimal carbonation, some heat from the 12.8%.
This quickly became the best Barleywine to date. Box says 2017.

Jan 25, 2020
Photo of thebeers
thebeers from Pennsylvania

3.93/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Hazed bronze and effervescent with a half-finger of sand-tinted head that’s quick to dissipate into a wisp and soupy crown. Sheets of lacing, for the most part, quickly drop back into the glass — save for a few spots of lacing here and there.

Wood, vanilla, toffee and coconut stand out most in the nose, perhaps with a hint of pear.

Vanilla, toffee, pepper and wood show first in the taste, with any sweetness tempered by herbal hop bitterness and moderate alcohol heat.

Light to medium bodied with a somewhat syrupy feel that’s cut by decent carbonation fizz.

Not as deep and mysterious as some from these guys, but a quality barleywine nonetheless. The wood definitely stands out here.

Jan 23, 2020
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DokiDokiLitFam from New Jersey

4.23/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A 750 ml bottle of 2016 Helldorado.

Pours a hazy yellow amber with a finger of white head. Some particulate floating about and such.

Nose is mild bourbon, wood, toffee/butterscotch, malt.

Taste is buttery toffee, mild bourbon and wood. Moderate floral peppery notes from the hops I'm guessing. Goes to bready malt with the bitterness lingering for a while.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with medium carbonation. Quite lively on the pallete.

Overall an interesting brew. Has a rich butter cookie flavor profile with a nice bittering hop quality to reel it in. I always wonder how much age affects beers as they sit on the shelf. And for this one it's hard to tell if this one aged well or not so well. Enjoyable, but not extremely vibrant.

Dec 28, 2019
Photo of Todd
Todd from California

4.44/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

2017 Helldorado is tasting fantastic tonight! Creamy, viscous, honey, herbal, pepper, vanilla, toasted malts, toffee, oak, and some char.

One of my favorite Barleywines.

Dec 27, 2019
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ryan1788a5 from Massachusetts

4.05/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

22oz bottle poured into a snifter. 2015 vintage.

A: Tawny colored with a uniform haze. Not unusual for beers with a certain amount of age on them. Virtually no head or lacing.

S: Lots of treacle and honey. Blonde brownies and toasted scones. Whiffs of golden raisin and sugar dates. Bread pudding. Sweet and dessert-y.

T: More or less follows the nose. Rich and dessert-like with blonde brownies, caramel, bread pudding, treacle and honey being called to mind. Traces of a mild and steely hop bitterness barley pull through. A gentle spike of alcohol helps tame the sweetness too. Toast. Vague fruity suggestions of dates and booze-soaked golden raisins. A mild taste of papery oxidation. Sweet overall, though it dries just a bit toward the back end. Caramel and toast finish.

M: Hefty and chewy body. Coating. Gently scrubbing carbonation. Warming alcohol.

O: Fortuitously I had bought some salted caramel cookies earlier in the day and they made for a great pairing here. It’s a fine beer, but I think I preferred it younger. This will not be one I hang onto for long in the future. It still hit the spot though. One of the better Blonde Barleywines out there, though there aren’t many.

Aug 12, 2019
Photo of AyatollahGold
AyatollahGold from Indiana

4.4/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From a 12 oz. bottle (2017) into a PAA Dino glass, this beer pours out like an iced tea, with plenty of sugar and lemon. It formed a thin crown, light butterscotch in color that dissipated quickly.

The nose carries in toffee, toasty caramel notes, figs, some fruit and leather.

The taste brings in bourbon soaked fig cookie crust or graham crackers along with lightly toasted caramel notes. I do get a light fruitiness, maybe touches of coconut.

The mouthfeel is warm, but not burning. It offers a dry finish.

Overall, this might be one of my favorites from the FSW barrel aged program that isn’t counting the anniversaries. I love the balances and nuances. Very good.

Aug 10, 2019
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DoctorZombies from Florida

4.34/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours an opaque coppery iced tea color at 52 degrees; quick white head; thin ring; minimal lacing; no cap retention; thin legs. Caramel intake; alcohol exhale; lite floral hop nose as it warms. Caramel, bitter spicy floral hops; not getting any honey, but there is plenty of oaky barrel vanilla. Medium minus body; light carbonation; slightly dry tongue coating; no warmth from 12.8%. Overall, nicely balanced and not as sweet or as malt forward as other barley wine style ales I’ve had from this brewery.

Jul 22, 2019
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sokol_1993 from California

4.48/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Got one bottle for Keg and Bottle La Jolla.
An excellent beer, full of bourbon smell and taste, as well as dark fruits. Beautiful color as well! A bit too boozy though.

May 15, 2019
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Franziskaner from Missouri

4.02/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Copper amber in color with a fingernail of off white around half of the rim and covering a small amount of the top. The beer has excellent clarity. The aroma is of biscuity British malts. I’m tasting a blast of the biscuity British malt, oak, and bourbon. The mouth is smooth for the ABV and a tad boozy.

Apr 14, 2019
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Cthulhusquid from Washington

4.37/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

2016 Vintage.

Look: Half-finger white head, hazy orange-yellow body.

Smell: See below.

Taste: Bourbon, oak, crackers, mild honey, a hint of orange. The age might have decreased the flavor.

Feel: Medium body and carbonation, a hint of sweetness upfront with an off-dry finish. Warming alcohol presence.

Feb 03, 2019
Photo of hoptheology
hoptheology from South Dakota

4.46/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle from Hinda65 traded in last year. 2017 vintage.

Pours a nice honey color with a bubbly 1/2 finger of head.

Aroma is pleasantly fruity - orange and lots of tropical pineapple; soft floral/open field aromas; honey, molasses, light candi sugar, alcohol heat, and more bright tropical fruit.

Barrel oak and alcohol heat open this up briefly, and then it blooms into sweet malt, honey, orange blossom, oranges, pineapple rind, brown sugar, pineapple candy, strawberry candy, and floral hops. The only flaw whatsoever in the flavor here is faded hops but that's to be expected with a year old barrel aged barleywine. They are very muted. Otherwise...it's all gold, man.

Feel is crispy and busy, with a lovely alcohol heat underneath, a great soaking tongue coating, and more heat on the finish.

Overall, this is one great BA Barleywine. The alcohol heat is tamed enough to just barely be dangerous, and the flavors pop and explode. You simply cannot go wrong with Firestone Walker's Barrel Aged beers. Everything from the cardboard boxes to the simple yet elegant bottle wrapping screams excellence to me.

Jan 26, 2019
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josanguapo from Spain

4.75/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

De craftbeer-shop. En copa Teku. Viendo Los 100 5x08-09. Asombrosa integacion del roble en la birra, dando lugar a un sabor marcado a la madera pero sin saturar. Abv sorprendentemente bien oculto

Jan 07, 2019
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LampertLand from Canada (BC)

4.39/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Firestone Walker 'Helldorado' @ 11.8% , served from a 650 ml bottle , 2016 vintage
A-pour is a blonde gold from the bottle to a hazy gold in the glass with a smallish off-white head leaving a spotty lace along the tulip
S-boozy , honey , wild flowers
T-big , a smooth oak barrel aging thanks to the honey , very warming
MF-mild carbonation , feels full bodied
Ov-share this beer with friends , too big for one sitting
prost LampertLand

Dec 21, 2018
Helldorado from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 95 out of 100 with 1082 ratings