Helldorado | Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

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983 Ratings

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

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 12.80%

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.

Added by wethorseblanket on 10-21-2011

Bros Score:
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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 983 |  Reviews: 250
Photo of nawpnawp
1.77/5  rDev -58.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 1 | taste: 1.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

2015 vintage.

Pours a nice golden yellow with a finger of head that leaves no lacing. The smell is awful. I'm not really sure what it going for, but it smells like dish soap, cheap whiskey and a hint of coconut. The taste fares a little better, but nothing like what you would expect from FW and with such good reviews. Perhaps I should have let it sit a few years more? There is some sweetness balanced out by a very strong bitter profile. Honey and lemon cough syrup.

I don't know if this is just off or what, but it is one of the worst beers I've ever had. I am struggling to finish a 4 oz pour.

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Photo of jdwilliamson79
2.55/5  rDev -40.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Man I wanted to like this beer but just didn't. I know it's 13.2% but my God it's boozy as all get out. No attempt to hide the ABV. Seriously, I think the barrel that was used was still half full with bourbon. No hop presence whatsoever, nor malts for that matter. Taste is booze, booze, and more booze. I love barleywines but this particular style was too much for me. Felt like a 11 ounce pour of pure bourbon. No thanks.

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Photo of kojevergas
2.83/5  rDev -33.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

BOTTLE: Comes in a fancy shmancy cardboard box - probably intended to evoke a fine Scotch. 2015 vintage. 650ml. Brown glass. Classy understated label design. Black papered-over pry-off crown cap.

13.2% ABV. 25.5 Plato. 25 IBUs. 3500 cases produced. 12 SRM.

Served cold into an oversized snifter/tulip hybrid glass and allowed to come to temperature over the course of consumption. Expectations are low given the batshit style and the brewery. Reviewed live.

No bubble show forms as it's poured.

HEAD: 1 finger wide. Off-white colour. Decent thickness and creaminess. Recedes fully within 2 minutes. No lacing sticks to the sides of the glass.

BODY: Vibrant gold. No yeast particulate or hop sediment is visible within. Clean and filtered.

It's a nice look for a beer in general terms. More bonde ale than barleywine.

AROMA: Honey, booze, butterscotch, faint vanilla (probably from the barrel), pale malts, white oak, creme brulee, and ample malty sweetness.

Aromatic intensity is average. I don't pick up on any overt hop notes or off-notes.

TASTE: Boozy and honey-forward, with traces of lavender and heavy barrel sugar sweetness. Barrel presence tips more towards vanilla/creme brulee than oak, with no real rich white oak or toasted presence. Pale malts disappear beneath the barrel, which overwhelms the beer. Alcohol presence is obvious.

I like the vanilla, but I wish the sweetness wasn't so overt; it throws the beer out of balance. It's built alright, I guess, but it's neither much of a blonde nor much of a barleywine. I don't dislike it, but that alcohol presence is hard to get past. Average flavour duration and intensity. Below average depth of flavour.

TEXTURE: Heavy and viscous on the palate, with a somewhat syrupy presence. Thick and hefty. It's a lot to handle, and the boozy warmth is bothersome.

OVERALL: It's a decent sipper. I'm glad I have company to help me finish it. Far from world class, and not a beer I'd encourage friends to try. I wouldn't buy it again meself. We'll finish it with some effort. I'm not sure why it's so well-regarded, but then I could say that about this brewery as a whole. Overpriced and of subpar quality.


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Photo of 01001111
3/5  rDev -29.6%

Photo of SportsandJorts
3.14/5  rDev -26.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

Appearance: pours a yellowish golden color. a finger of a white head that fades fairly quickly and leaves little lacing behind. strong clarity and brightness

Smell: boozy and astringent. a strong caramel and some light butterscotch and honey. strong vanilla.

Taste: opens up with some strong maltiness, grainy and full of caramel/crystal. different sugars come through hugely, with notes of honey, butterscotch and burnt sugars. bourbon is hugely present with notes of vanilla and slight oak character. Booze is often astringent.

Mouthfeel: light, boozy and warm. lingering sticky sweetness.

Overall: I love boozy, sweet beers but this one falls short. it comes of thin and watery. the sweet flavors lack any balance and the bourbon is fairly one dimensional

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Photo of DucksFan16
3.17/5  rDev -25.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Photo of cozmo
3.18/5  rDev -25.4%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Not much of a Barleywine. Not very balanced . I' m not impressed with this beer.

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Photo of Rammed96
3.2/5  rDev -24.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

Photo of retry4z
3.25/5  rDev -23.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Heavy and alcoholic. Large sweetness, but resembles a bourbon cocktail.

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Photo of Red5StandingBy
3.25/5  rDev -23.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Poured from 12oz short bottle into Snifter, no date.

L: Light amber, quite clear, little to no head, thin ring.

S: Lots of bourbon and vanilla, not much else even upon swirl.

T: Mostly bourbon and vanilla, faint hops at the beginning that fade quick. Honestly I am super disappointed. I wanted complexity and this didn't deliver at all.

F: Medium body, crisp, bourbon finish.

O: BOOOOOO make something BBA that isn't entirely bourbon flavored.

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Photo of mychalg9
3.36/5  rDev -21.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Look: Looks decent

Smell: Kinda flat. Sticky malty barrel kinda thing going on

Taste: Meh. Some barrel on top of weird other barrel flavors? Can't even make sense of it.

Mouthfeel: The best part of this one.

Overall: Would not buy again

Gotta be honest, this is the worst FW barrel aged beer I've had by far. Bring back DDBA please, it was loads better than this.

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Photo of ADKbeerguy
3.37/5  rDev -20.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

Photo of kplooki
3.39/5  rDev -20.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Literally tasted like butterscotch. I am not a huge fan but i could see someone that really likes butterscotch enjoying this brew

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Photo of kiki3drt292
3.41/5  rDev -20%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Photo of Iamjeff6
3.44/5  rDev -19.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Photo of Damian
3.47/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Drank from a 1 pint 6 fl oz (650ml) bottle purchased at Pemberton Farms, Cambridge, MA
2015 Vintage
No. 001
Served in a snifter

The hazy, amber-tinged golden body was capped by a frothy, light tan, near finger-tall crown that faded to a lasting bubbly collar. Spotty lacing trickled down the glass after each sip. As the beer warmed, the chill haze dropped and the liquid turned crystal clear.

The aroma was more subtle and simplistic than I anticipated. There was a noticeable candy-like sweetness. Bit of honey. The nose became somewhat more pronounced with time. Caramel and toffee notes appeared. A strong booziness came forth as well. As the liquid warmed, the alcohol began to overwhelm the other subtleties in the beer.

The flavor profile was rather harsh and simplistic. Bit of malty sweetness on the front end. Faint caramel notes. There was a generic fruitiness in the center. The hops kicked in at this point as well. Punchy, citrusy hops. Slightly bitter. Lots of alcohol heat and more bitterness in the finish. I felt like the booziness from the barrel came through big time but I could hardly pick up anything else.

Light, fluffy mouthfeel. Much thinner than I anticipated for the style. The liquid contained a spritzy, zippy effervescence that made the beer feel rather airy. As the beer settled on the palate, it turned a touch smoother and frothier.

The year of age I put on this bottle seemed to do little to temper this beer's alcohol prowess. Like many of the offerings in Firestone Walker's anniversary beer component series, this one is raw and boozy and surprisingly thin in both flavor and mouthfeel.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3.5/5  rDev -17.8%
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.

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Photo of GreatStoutman
3.5/5  rDev -17.8%
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.

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Photo of bundy462
3.5/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of lillitnn92
3.5/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of rhertan
3.5/5  rDev -17.8%

Photo of brandoman63
3.5/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of kvgomps
3.5/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of westcoastbeerlvr
3.5/5  rDev -17.8%

Photo of Ryancthomas7
3.5/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

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Helldorado from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 4.26 out of 5 with 983 ratings