Helldorado | Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

184 Reviews
no score
Send samples

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

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.80%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
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. Helldorado may be lighter in color but it is a full-bodied and densely concentrated sipper.

Added by wethorseblanket on 10-21-2011

For Trade:
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 184 | Ratings: 789
Photo of Beer_Line
5/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours like gold with a sweet vanilla and honey smell

taste is very similar with strong oak, vanilla and fruity flavors. Mouthfeel is not too syrupy which I was very much pleased with.

Another world class offering from Firestone Walker. Such a great variation from a normal BW

 278 characters

Photo of GSThorn
4.87/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

2015 bottle served abt. 60 degrees and poured up in a full tulip glass. A beautiful pale gold. The nose is an essence of Highland malt and richer than the color prepares you for. The flavor profile is amazingly complex for a single malt, single hopped brew! I kept thinking... is this really a beer? It drinks like one but tastes like a favored Speyside . I'm just in awe!

 372 characters

Photo of WindUpBird
4.81/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Poured from a bomber into a tulip.

Rich almost glowing amber, very little head and champaigny bubbles rising to the surface (I know that's not a word, lol).

The aroma is first of vanilla, then other fruits underpinned by a hint of oak

The taste is gorgeous: sweet but not cloyingly so; boozy and substantial...wow I like this!

 329 characters

Photo of seedyone
4.78/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

From bottle at home. Hard to find. Cheese. Tart & salty cheese. That's what this needed to put me in a place I want to be.

On it's own I saw a light haze, thin head but a honey hued amber. In the aroma, all was revealed. What you smelled, is what you got. Rock candy, coconut & a vague barley. You could sense the sweet through the nose, the taste was strong & distinct but not overpowering in any one direction.

The flavor lingered without being cloying. I considered a chaser but thought better. The thought of diluting the fullness of the flavor had me doubling down with a cheese side. Black rind Gouda hit the spot.

I really enjoyed this. The sweetness playing off some cheese reminded me of what this is all about.

Glad I was able to acquire 2.

 756 characters

Photo of Impfan
4.77/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Immediately, I was impressed by the shimmering golden hue, the creamy head, and the nose, which is redolent of vanilla, and wildflower honey/lavender.

The body is lighter than I expected, and I consider this a plus, having grown a bit surfeited with syrupy textured barleywines. The flavor contains the same elements as the nose, but also clotted cream, coconut, and bourbon.

The finish was the really pleasant surprise for me, as it it was much drier than I was expecting. There is a bit of excess heat at this youthful age, although I suspect that it well mellow nicely.

Helldorado is a very worthy companion, and also a wonderful counterpoint to the wonderful Sucaba, and a must try for anyone looking for something different in a barleywine.

 749 characters

Photo of bgold86
4.75/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Poured into 12 once brandy snifter, pours a lightish orangish, tons of vanilla and caramel sweetness on the nose. Taste is laid back, definitely still a sipper, but pleasant for a bourbon barrel aged barley wine.

 213 characters

Photo of Bartleby91
4.71/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Really unique hazy yellow-orange appearance. Aromas of bourbon, vanilla, oak, malt sweetness, alcohol heat, honey and a bit of floral notes. Tastes are bourbon, vanilla, honey, maltiness and some alcohol. The mouthfeel is really nice with lingering alcohol heat as well. Overall another amazing beer in the FW barrel aged program.

 330 characters

Photo of irishzombieman
4.71/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Amazing beer! Lemme say that again--amazing beer!

I may've had three beers in my life that were this good. Boozy as all get out but I love that. Resisting the urge to splurge and horde.

 187 characters

Photo of CraftFan5
4.7/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

How is this one gonna work out? Another shout-out to my opponents on the west coast. Let's go Mets! 22 oz. bottle into a wine glass.

A - A beautiful translucent orange. It's not a light orange by any means, but it almost seems to glow. No head whatsoever, so a ding for that.

N - Smells like pure FW barrel to me. Lots of vanilla and caramel, and a slight bitterness. I even get some tropical fruit, although not hop-wise.

T - Mmm! Not too disimilar from Sucaba, although not quite as luscious. Very sweet, but not too sweet. It's like drinking dried apricots. Exactly that, dried apricots.

M - Hmm, it's somewhat thick, and I get plenty of coating, but it's not really frothy. That's a strange combo. I mean this is really hanging around, like Matt Damon in Rounders. Like I took 30 seconds or so to look up which movie it was, and even now it's all over the place. Very well done.

O - I'm surprised how good this is. The extra ABV really takes the blonde-ness of it to another level. Really enjoyable.

 1,025 characters

Photo of Emberwake
4.69/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.75

I've had the privilege of enjoying this rare concoction twice now: once at a tap takeover at Harry's Hoffbrau in San Jose, and again at the 2013 Firestone Walker Invitational. While the experience was consistent, I'll base my review on the recent 2013 invitational.

Served in a 6oz tasting snifter (filled to the 3oz mark)

A - Pours a deep, cloudy, gold color with a small, fine head that quickly dissipated leaving tight lacing.

S - Sweet, slightly fruity, and boozy. Very slight oak barrel.

T - Rich, sweet, slightly buttery booze in balance. The hop character is so mellow it can be difficult to pick out at first. No burn despite the 13% abv, and no aftertaste to speak of.

M - Medium-heavy mouthfeel. Very little carbonation. Clean finish.

D - Simply the best barleywine I've ever encountered, and a shining example of barrel aged american ale. Its a shame FW doesn't bottle this. If you ever have the opportunity to try Helldorado, do not hesitate.

 960 characters

Photo of HopHunter19
4.68/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

A - nice orange amber murky color with a white head that dissipates pretty quickly, not much lacing
S - big caramel, vanilla, toffee, coconut, oak, bourbon barrel, little bit of fruitiness, specifically oranges
T - caramel, toffee, nougat, bourbon, oak, citrus fruits, orange, lemon/lime, coconut, sugary sweet
M - medium mouthfeel, alc covered, dangerously drinkable at 13.2%, aftertaste is vanilla, sweet sugary, barrel characteristics
O - pretty damn good beer. I think it's hard to make a kind of beer that's less well liked and judge it against a brewery's imperial stout or english/darker barley wine. Yet as usual firestone does an awesome job here. I hope to see more of their beer around my area in the future.

 719 characters

Photo of 303beer
4.66/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours golden color. Few floaties . Quickly dissipating head. Sweet aroma. English yeast but almost smells like Belgian yeast. Wow. That's a tasty barrel flavor. Fine job. It is sweet but delicious.

 197 characters

Photo of oldn00b
4.66/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a slightly hazy dark gold. Little to no head formation.

Nose is big on bourbon, lots of Bourbon and a bit of booze, toffee is big. Smells delectable.

Booze is softer than expected which is nice. Big vanilla and oak comes out. Smooth caramel and lingering sweet bourbon finish with a ice touch of warmth on the back.

Feel is a wonderful body. Edges, if any, feel mostly smoothed from the barrel. I do wish there was a touch more carbonation on this one to help balance out the sweet. Its body is great, and it's great all around. It's just a touch sweeter than I'd like on the end.

 599 characters

Photo of justintcoons
4.65/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

22 oz bottle poured into a wine glass.

Golden with a short head that dissipates quickly. Good clarity with light carbonation.

Butterscotch, honey, caramel, toffee, and bourbon. Hint of vanilla and coconut.

Robust amounts of caramel, honey, toffee, and butterscotch. Well integrated notes of bourbon. Lesser notes of vanilla, oak, and coconut. A hint of pineapple juice.

Full bodied, smooth, silky, sweet, and warming.

Rich, decadent, and candy-esque. Excellent barrel aging and overall awesomeness.

 544 characters

Photo of ThickNStout
4.64/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Black foil capped 22oz bottle from LambicPentameter (thanks man!). No bottling date but this is the 2015 vintage, released in July. Served in a Toppling Goliath teku.

Pours a deep gold with orange highlights and a finger and a half pale sand hued head. The bubbles remain as a milky haze across the surface and deposit only a few pin pricks of what I will generously label as lace. The brew it's self is beautiful.

Sweet inviting aromas of bourbon, caramel, oak and cereal grains. The caramel and vanilla quality from the barrel are more pronounced as it warms.

Tastes really opens up and expounds upon the nose. A rich, whiskey caramel reduction note kicks off and becomes a delicious, overarching theme. Additional notes of bourbon, toffee, honey, wheat, cereal grain, vanilla tinged oak, faint berries, a hint of maple and a healthy dollop of booze. The sweet flavors blend beautifully and cover the considerable alcohol quite well. The closer to room temperature this gets, the smoother and more delicious.

Medium full body, somewhere between oily and creamy with supple carbonation. The finish is a rich, delightful mix of caramel, bourbon, wheat and vanilla.

As I had hoped Helldorado, labeled a blonde barleywine, is ever so close to a wheatwine. Looks and tastes like what I expect from wheatwines but it could just be the sweetness from the honey and barrel aging that threw me off. Whatever the style, Firestone Walker has hit this one out of the park.

 1,472 characters

Photo of jmkoller11
4.63/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

2015 22oz Bottle

Look - Shimmering golden/orange ale with small foam bubbles around the outer parts of the glass. Looked beautiful in the Better Half snifter glass.

Smell - Big sweet nose from the honey with a slight hop smell as well. Similar to DDBA but more sweet. Expected a little more barrel aromas but not disappointing by any means.

Taste - Once again expected more barrel in this but it turns out it wasn't needed. SOOOOO delicious! Honey is on point and comes through all the way down to the last sip. Its like a more mellow DDBA, which, IMO, makes this even better than that Prop Vintage brew.

Feel - Absolutely what I had hoped for in the mouthfeel. Almost like a blonde stout that a lot of places are making nowadays, but with more carb surprisingly.

Overall - Completely blown away. Was feeling pretty darn good after taking down the entire bottle on a Monday night. If my luck hasnt run out yet, I will be trying to get another bottle.

 956 characters

Photo of bowzer4birdie
4.62/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Another world-class barrel aged offering from FW, they can do no wrong in my book. Exceptional color with moderate head which dissipates somewhat slowly. Very drinkable for a 13% beer and the honey and barrel influence are incorporated exceptionally well.

 257 characters

Photo of MattLev
4.62/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

L: like a rich lager, medium head golden dark opaque golden
S: rich bourbon and caramel, sweetness
T: superb balance for the high abv. Crisp but with dark rich notes on the back end.
F: coats the back of the mouth, drinks syrupy sweet
O: a dangerously good and easy to drink barley wine. Incredible balance

 306 characters

Photo of Zorro
4.61/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Chill hazed golden colored ale with a small white colored head.

Smells strongly of bourbon. Big scents of vanilla, coconut and caramel. Strong scent of sandalwood. Strong pepper rides on the ethanol fumes. Exceedingly aromatic beer, it punches you in the nose with scent but in a good way. Strong scent of Marigold flower.

Starts out sweet with a strong vanilla and caramel flavor. Abundant tastes of Bourbon whiskey and coconut. Unexpected passion fruit flavor. Flavors of butterscotch and honey. This is a powerful beer this is like a 2X4 or flavor broken across your tongue. Decidedly boozy, this is a powerful beer that will just get better with age.

Mouthfeel is damn close to syrup. You could probably pour this on pancakes.

Overall just an outstanding flavor bomb. This will just get more complex over the next five years, right now it is young. Best beer I have had this year.

 901 characters

Photo of HopHead84
4.6/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5


On tap at Hamilton's.

A: Yellow with nice transparency and a white frothy head.

S: Big floral notes with pronounced lavender honey. Malt is rich and complex, reminiscent of toffee, caramel, and bread. Vanilla wafts from the glass with each swirl. Bourbon is light.

T: Caramel accompanies toffee and a firm earthy bitterness. Honey is pronounced. The beer is lightly sweet with hints of vanilla. I get a little bourbon and oak, but I read nothing about this beer being barrel aged.

M: Lower medium body with upper medium carbonation.

Overall: Very impressive. They should barrel age this and release it as their next anniversary beer, forgoing the blend. This is dangerous shit for 12%. It goes down like water.

 727 characters

Photo of Phigg1102
4.6/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Buddha Beer Bar in NYC. Poured a golden amber color with a finger of foam. Vanilla and caramel are first in the nose with apple and pear coming through as well. The aroma reminds me of bread pudding. Rich mouthfeel with a touch of carbonation that cuts through it, more apple and caramel in the taste. Not overly boozy at all.

 336 characters

Photo of BWood
4.59/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Creamy orange look with no head retention. Smooth as silk bourbon taste with the barleywine bite at the end. As it warms it gets even better. Not as good as some of the other FW box beers, but still phenomenal.

 210 characters

Photo of ihazabucket7
4.59/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a snifter. Light cloudy golden color. Very sweet smell and taste. Was a little boozy but with age I bet this beer would be amazing. It is already amazing but with age it would lose that boozyness and it would be left with a sweet, barrel aged goodness that you would cry when finished. Cheers!

 310 characters

Photo of tigg924
4.58/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Pours hazy, caution light yellow in color with 1/2 inch head. Taste is caramel, honey, vanilla, and bourbon finish. Amazing combination of flavors. Pure malty goodness.Right up there with FW's best. I would not hesitate to get this again. A big beer worth the money.

 270 characters

Photo of vfgccp
4.57/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Special thanks to Jman for picking up this 2015 bottle at Bottleworks, opened Aug 2015

A – Bright orange amber body with lively carbonation in the glass. Grey-sky white head settles into a medium halo with great retention and low lace.

S – Ouuhhh. That is absolutely fantastic. Bright honey, butterscotch, and golden raisins with a fantastic backbone of woody white oak, plantains and vanilla. (It's a combination that's reminiscent of some of my favorite parts of the nose on Allagash Curieux)

T – Beautiful. Opens smooth and sweet with honey, butterscotch, amaretto, and caramel blondies. Rich tawny port, warm cognac, vanilla, and oak blend through the center. Warm booze, oak and soft caramel through the finish.

M – Medium-light frame with a boozy and surprisingly creamy finish.

O – Firestone Walker is just ridiculous. For those who know the local NY brew scene, think of this as a high-end luxury version of Super Kitty.

 956 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Helldorado from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
4.24 out of 5 based on 789 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.