Welcome to BeerAdvocate!

Looking to talk, rate or trade beer? Join today by creating your free account.

Dismiss Notice
Curious about recent updates to the site and app? Check the Announcements forum for updates.
Dismiss Notice
Love Belgian Beer?

Join us Sep 17 in Portland, Maine for Return of the Belgian Beer Fest, featuring hundreds of authentic Belgian beers and Belgian-inspired offerings.

Tickets + more: beeradvocate.com/belgian

Helldorado | Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

143 Reviews
no score
Send samples

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

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 13.20%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
Honey infused Imperial Blonde Ale aged in Heaven Hill barrels.

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: 143 | Ratings: 630
Photo of BSiegs
4.37/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A clear, amber-gold color with one finger of white head. Retention and lacing are average. The aroma is superb. Barrel and whiskey are absolutely the dominant notes. Also vanilla, molasses, honey, caramel and some alcohol burn. On taste, again, the barrel and whiskey notes punch you immediately. Rich vanilla, honey, and caramel dance in the background. This is a massive beer. Body is full and rich, almost syrupy. Moderate carbonation, definitive sweetness, but is balanced on the finish. This is an excellent beer, but drinks like a rich whiskey. Delicious.

 561 characters

Photo of Phyl21ca
3.5/5  rDev -18%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle: Poured a dark golden color ale with a nice large foamy head with good retention and some lacing. Aroma of strong residual sugar notes with some maple and vanilla notes. Taste is a heavy mix of strong residual sugar notes with some vanilla, maple and bourbon notes with strong cereal notes. Body is full with good carbonation and light alcohol notes are perceptible. Not bad but sweet as hell which makes it hard to drink in large quantities.

 449 characters

Photo of Stevem68
4.28/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours a golden blonde color with a uniform haze. Aroma is sweet malts, a little bitter hops and some booziness. Flavor is sweet maltiness up front with some crisp bitterness in the finish. Has some warm booziness in the aftertaste. Mouthfeel is thick and rich. Overall a really good barlywine.

 293 characters

Photo of Zythophile
4.52/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Bottle Date: 2015
Palate Contaminants: none

Appearance is a nice, dark gold. Almost orange. It's a bit like a cloudy apple juice. Not much carbonation at all.

Smell is very much sweet bourbon. There's also some buttery caramel, which I guess isn't that far from bourbon. I like this kind of candy scent. Not overbearing, like a Werther's.

The buttery caramel takes over on the taste, with some moderate woodiness. There's also some apple. (There you have it: the apple, the caramel, and the stick.) Some white grape in the background, too. I'll also note that the alcohol is not something in the background on this one; you definitely know that this is an adult beverage. And if you can afford a bottle, it's great to be a grown-up.

Feel is finely carbonated. The savoriness of the caramel and wood make it go down smoothly.

I'm not sure how much it would help to age this a little more. I imagine it might knock down some of the alcohol pungency, but I'll have to find out in the next year or two.

 1,003 characters

Photo of yesterdayfaraway
4.67/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

L: bright orange with a small whate head that fades fast
S: Typically Firestone, nice and smooth bourbon aroma. Sweet smelling for sure.
T: The barrell is outfront and the honey finishes.
F: Very smooth and balances. I get slightly more alcohol than the rest of their boxed beers, but nothing to complain about.
O: Haha, I love Firestone. Very smooth and sweet.

 365 characters

Photo of manfromanotherplace
4.39/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Looks like a murky orange with visible sediment, smell is oak and toffee, taste follows along those lines too. This is a very refined blonde barleywine, its what sweet repute and white oak are striving to be. This is excellent, not the best of the FW special releases but still a great beer.

 291 characters

Photo of Bartleby91
4.71/5  rDev +10.3%
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 rodbeermunch
4.43/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Has the definitive look of a blonde barleywine. Yellow and orange, 1/4" white head on it. Good aroma of bourbon, citrus, American oak, toffee, caramel.

Taste hits all the notes of vanilla, coconut even, toffee, caramel. Very mild hopping. Not bitter. Very easy to drink, hides alcohol amazingly well. Just an amazing amount of mouthfeel and flavor from a beer with a relatively light body and appearance thereof.

 421 characters

Photo of JohnnyHopps
4.25/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Appearance - The beer poured a beautiful golden color with little white bubbles along the sides.

Smell - One detects a sense of sweetness amid the hops. There is definitely honey here.

Taste - I don't think I have ever detected so much honey it a beer. The beer is not overly sweet. The honey actually blends well with the resinous hops. As the beer warms, the sweetness comes more to the front. There is a sense of warming in the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel - The honey lets the hops stick to the tongue, keeping the tongue under repeated assault.

Overall - This is not my favorite barleywine, but I appreciate the style in this one.

 637 characters

Photo of Rimbimhoot
4.19/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: Blonde indeed, pale dark yellow
S: Bourbon, vanilla, light oak, caramel, brown sugar
T: Caramel, butterscotch, bourbon, light oak, dark fruit, orange peel, alcohol, honey
M: Medium heavy with light carbonation
O: Delicious lighter bourbon barrel beer. Second to DDBA in the FW BA barleywine line

 304 characters

Photo of tigg924
4.58/5  rDev +7.3%
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 ilikebeer03
3.68/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours a light orange. Decent head . Nose is soft bourbon, honey sweetness. Taste is soft bourbon oak a slight touch of vanilla, malty sweetness. Carbonated nicely. A good beer, but I've had better BA barley wines.

 213 characters

Photo of Tonyjenlasc
4.48/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Look - A nice hazy golden honey type color.
Smell - Honey, caramel, bourbon, oak
Taste - Follows the nose. Bourbon, vanilla, oak, honey, caramel/toffee, booze
Feel - A big beer. Boozy but goes down super smooth

Overall - Another awesome FW Prop Vintage beer.

 261 characters

Photo of stortore
4.34/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

22 ounce bottle into a snifter.

Pours a bright, mostly clear, apricot color, with a small head and not much lacing. Smell brings malt, vanilla, grapes, some cherry, light bourbon, a little caramel. Taste has more bourbon than the nose, malt, vanilla, light oak, a little caramel. Some alcohol. The honey does give it a fair amount of sweetness. Smooth, good body, could use a little more carbonation.

This is very good, but I did not like it as well as I did on tap. I'm also surprised to see all the reviews with big bourbon aroma and taste. That was not my experience, especially with the aroma. Not as outstanding as most of FW's other elite distributed releases, but still has loads of flavor. Have one more bottle, maybe that one has more of the magic. Still well worth the purchase.

 802 characters

Photo of cjgiant
4.33/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

On tap:
Pours a very hazy to cloudy burnt orange. No head, and none forthcoming.

Nose is malty with honey and barrel characteristics along with a little alcohol heat.

Taste follows nose in general, a light sweet tropical fruity opening backed with the BA notes including and mainly coconut/vanilla combination. Woodiness behind starting mid-taste.

Feels a bit hot, but otherwise nice low but noticeable carbonation that altogether makes for an almost dangerous level of drinkability.

Lives up to or close to the hype, maybe a bit hot, but lovely malt-leaning high gravity brew (might debate the "American" qualifier on the style a tad).

 642 characters

Photo of BucannonXC5
4.25/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Type: 22-oz. bottle
Glass: AleSmith Barrel-Aged Reserve snifter glass
From: Firestone Barrelworks in Buellton, Calif.
Price: $16.99
Purchased: July 28, 2015
Consumed: Jan. 29, 2016
Misc.: 2015 vintage

Bought this back in July at the Firestone Barrelworks after sampling 10-to-12 beers. Basically it was one of the cheaper 22-oz. brews and I went with this and a Velvet Merkin, which I had never tried. I sampled the 2015 and the 2013 version at the Barrelworks location and liked both, slightly giving the edge to the 2013 edition. My cabinet is not the best place to age a beer, so why wait? Have since had this on tap and think it’s just OK. Hoping to be between 4.10 and 4.15. Here’s to a drunken purchase.

Poured a caramel, bright orange, clear color with 1-to-2 fingers of fizzy, off-white head. Light bubble streams coming up from the bottom of the glass. Below average spotty lacing on the glass. Below average retention. (Sight - 3.75)

Smelled boozy bourbon, oaky wood, Heaven Hill whiskey (partly because my last beer five hours ago was a Heaven Hill whiskey aged beer (Rip Current BBA Black Lagoon) and mainly because I mistakenly looked at a description of the beer on Beer Advocate), honey, butterscotch, vanilla, Circus Peanuts and banana. Very interesting. (Smell - 4.25)

Taste was not as strong as the nose, but still getting boozy Heaven Hill whiskey. Also bourbon, oaky vanilla, honey, butterscotch, Belgian candied sugar, light tropical hops and smooth caramel. (Taste - 4.25)

Medium body. Creamy texture. Average carbonation. Long, warming finish. (Feel - 4.50)

This was a very good beer. Very interesting overall, but would love to have it again. (Overall - 4.25)

4.25 | 95 | A

 1,709 characters

Photo of GreatStoutman
3.5/5  rDev -18%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

2015 on draft, pours cloudy, bright copper. Small head recedes quickly and no lacing.

Smell is all bourbon barrel. I'm looking for the sweeter/fruit smells but just not getting it. Medium body and low carbonation combine for a pleasant mouthfeel. Taste follows the nose, its almost all bourbon and you definitely feel the booze in here. I'm used to drinking the heavyweights, but this is not well balanced.

Overall, I don't really care for it. I'm not getting any balance or complexity, and the honey flavors seem to get lost in the mix somewhere. Probably won't have this again.

 581 characters

Photo of TheSixthRing
3.69/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

2015 release

Apppearance - Pours cloudy with a hell of a lot of sediment (not that I mind) with less than a finger's width of off-white head. Sub-par retention results in a completely bare surface with few clumps of suds around the edge. Virtually no lacing.

Smell - Predominantly boozy, with lesser notes of honey and lemony citrus. Maybe a hint of lemon cake? Hot, sweet and slightly tart booze is the best I could generically describe it.

Taste - Follows the nose. Sweet honey with lesser notes lemon and white bread, quickly met by a punch of bourbon booze and coconut to round out the predominant flavors. Hints of caramel? Rum raisin and oak come through mid-taste and into the finish. Quite hot as it peaks and slowly drifts into the woody, coconut-like aftertaste.

Mouthfeel - Full in body with low carbonation. There's certainly a quality of light stickiness behind it, and there's also a moderate level of difficulty with each swallow.

Overall - Not too far off from their usual 'BA brews' but lacks the ideal depth that accompanies their more palatable offerings. Parabola has plenty of flavor outside the Barrel Aging influence. This one? Not so much. If you like your BA brews without the heavy boozy influence, look elsewhere. Like your local creepy neighbor, this one is naked and aggressive. That's obviously a joke, but buyer beware. Do you like straight shots? If so, go for it. I can appreciate the effort, but this one is not for me. Like DDBA and Velvet Merkin, the base beer simply doesn't hold up to the harsh BA process.

 1,554 characters

Photo of CHickman
4.41/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

On tap at Sapsuckers, pours cloudy amber to copper color with a small off white head that faded about average time and left minimal spotty lacing.

Smells of honey up front, followed by toffee, caramel, brown sugar, fruit candy like gummy bears, honeydew melon, orange peel, graham cracker, fresh floral hops and sweet malt. The honey is incredibly strong yet not overly sweet, completely hiding the high ABV but also basically blocking out most of the hop fragrance. Gets much better and more fruity as it warms, with apricot, white wine and the oaky notes (finally) coming through.

Tastes basically like it smells but with more booze and barrel influence in the flavor. Like the nose it tastes of honey up front, strong honey that's mead-like, followed by toffee, caramel, maple syrup, brown sugar, Belgian sugar, fruity candy like gummy bears or Razzles, honeydew melon, orange, red grapefruit, graham cracker, toasted grains, fresh floral hops, booze like dark rum and sweet malt. Not cloyingly or overly sweet, but it hides the ABV while also letting the toffee and caramel come through for that English Barleywine essence. Like the aroma the barrel aging is trailing and much like the finale, saving the best accents for last with a display of light bourbon, smoked malt or peat moss and oaky notes with a whole bunch of earthiness.

After the smell and taste the mouthfeel is about where I expected it: smooth and on the thin side as it slides down easy, with a medium body and mild carbonation. It has minor heat, a little bitterness, a solid malt base plus the bourbon and honey advertised which created a dynamic and interesting slow sipper.

This beer seems just above average until the barrel flavors come through at the end of the aroma and flavor, like a super hero swooping in to save the day and make it really damn tasty. Obviously that can be attributed to the warming of the brew, but the change as it warmed really made it very easy to drink and extremely enjoyable.

 1,987 characters

Photo of Ozzylizard
4.39/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

$ 17.99/22 oz bottle ($ 0.817/oz) at Consumer’s Beverages, Lancaster, NY
Thanks Ryan!
Undated capped bottle (2015 vintage) at 42 degrees into hand washed and dried JK snifter, allowed to warm to 55 degrees
Aroma of oak and honey
Head average (Three cm, aggressive pour), off white, frothy/fizzy, diminishing to three mm ring and thin partial layer
Lacing poor – few tiny islands of tiny bubbles
Body medium orange, cloudy (NOT chill haze), effervescent
Flavor – instantly oak, followed by alcohol which then mellows some, no doubt because of the honey; no distinct malt or hops flavors, no diacetyl
Palate full, creamy, lively carbonation

Appearance 3.5, Aroma 4.5, Flavor 4.5, Palate 4.5, Overall 4.25

 709 characters

Photo of Shrdder253
4.31/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Cheers to my first review! :)

A: Pours a beautiful, foggy, dark gold to amber color with an ivory head that dissipates quickly with slight lacing. Might lace a little more if it weren't for the thick legs and tears dragging the foam downward into the beer.

S: Didn't realize this beer was infused with honey until I read the description, but it was one of the first things I noticed on the nose. Followed by vanilla, booze, and citrus. Most likely orange. Slightly woody from the oak barrels.

T: Up front flavors match the booze and vanilla quickly and then fade gently into the honey. Soft brown fruit flavors follow. Dates, figs, etc. The usually suspects in many barley wines. Slightly sweet nuttiness at the end.

M: Mouth feel is wonderful. Almost the standout feature in this beer. Slightly thick but exceptionally smooth. Letting it sit for just a minute on the tongue causes it to foam then finish like a boozy cream. Really excellent.

O: Overall, this was delicious. Kind of a funky style so comparison is tough. It's certainly a Barleywine, but has a few very unique characteristics. Reminds me a little of High Divide by Two Beers, which is an imperial blonde aged in Chardonnay barrels. This almost finished like an oak-aged, old-world chardonnay. But nothing unpleasant in the slightest. Beautiful beer by Firestone as usual.

 1,362 characters

Photo of HopHunter19
4.68/5  rDev +9.6%
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 rodmanfor3
4.5/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is one of Firestone Walker's better boxed offerings.

The golden pour of liquid deceives the palate, as this beer is a straight-up barleywine. Intense alcohol on the nose but not quite so prevalent on the tongue. Very sweet and well executed.

I am not sure why this beer is not as well received as others from the FW limited lineup, but this bottle is worth picking up.

 377 characters

Photo of johnnnniee
3.86/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Bottle from Bert's
Crystal clear deep golden with a decent sized bubbly white head that shows moderate retention. Brown sugary caramel maltiness with bits of dried fruit and an earthy woody bourbon note. Light vanilla. It's a bit thin and a little boozy but tasty.

 264 characters

Photo of Dustin_Sallitt
4.38/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

I really enjoyed this barleywine. The nose has lots of bourbon, and a nice bit of honey as well which is very pleasant mixing with the bourbon. First sip is on point with the nose, with bourbon and slightly sweet honey infusing together nicely, before a slight bit of barrel character enters, and a very late nutty finish which is my favorite facet of this beer. Nice full mouthfeel as well

 390 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Helldorado from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
94 out of 100 based on 143 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.
  • Return of the Belgian Beer Fest

    BeerAdvocate Brings its All-Belgian Fest to Portland, Maine on September 17, 2016. Tickets are on sale now.

    Learn More
  • Get the Mag

    Become a BeerAdvocate magazine print subscriber today.