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Helldorado | Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

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890 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: 890 |  Reviews: 221
Photo of xcdarrel17
4.66/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of Beginner2
4.29/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

2017, Imperial Blonde Ale or Blonde Barley Wine. My first in this series. My lesson is: be not tempted and, instead, age it.

Its blonde Looks took some getting used to; but blonde is good... even for a barley wine. Aromas are consistent with style: mostly malt, honey and vanilla from the barrel. Tastes are wonderfully smooth, liqueur-like; consider it liquid dessert (better than the monks' liquid bread.) Mouth Feel loses points from the alcohol sitting on the tongue. (I'm hoping aging solves that problem.)
Sipped over three evenings, this is a great ale that I need the patience to age, say, three years. And damn the price.

 632 characters

Photo of smcolw
4.14/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Amber color with the lightest of hazes. Good starting head, but the lace is limited to a couple of spots.

The smell reminds of honey with cinnamon--there's a sweetness that isn't overly strong.

The flavor is sweet but with a nice bitter counterpoint--literally bittersweet in a good (i.e. complex) way. This is a beer that's worth holding in your mouth to get the complexity: I get honey, white pepper, cinnamon, and caramel. The body is chewy and the carbonation is relatively high, especially for the style. Not as "warming" as most of the barley wines, but it is more complex.

 583 characters

Photo of CayseyW
4.26/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Photo of MikeBogert53
4.74/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Photo of cavedave
4.3/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A clear amber and beautiful beer with a quick to flee finger of white foam. A swirl leaves oily legs of lace on the glass. Nice.

This is a caramel/toffee/honey bread dream of an aroma. Very full and extremely enticing.

Warming alcohol spice joins the simple mix of malty goodness advertised in the bouquet to create a deep taste that is perfectly balanced. Just the right hit of hoppy bitter keeps it from going off the rails.

Full bodied, highly viscous, low carb., and a long lingering finish that never cloys.

Really digging this beer, it is a clean wonder of sweet malty goodness that satisfies. Highly recommended.

 623 characters

Photo of drdiesel9483
4.2/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Look - light caramel color with slight film and lacing
Smell - caramel booze
Taste - sweet caramel like smell and boozy but pretty easy going for how high the abv is
Feel - smooth slight cream
Overall - fantastic

 213 characters

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

Photo of rolltide8425
4.26/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Photo of rgk3
3.7/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Photo of NeilSilber1
4.84/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Medium color with fading head, drinks like a strong dark bit golden color with deep caramel and honey malty coconut and bourbon graham. Strong at 12.8 abv!

 156 characters

Photo of SierraFlight
3.94/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Photo of ICTguy21
4.42/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Look: golden amber with tons of micro bubbles and a thin white half ring of a head

Smell: sweet, honey, touch of caramel and boozy. Reminds me of a braggot

Taste: honey, caramel, bit of vanilla, I pick up on the breadiness but it's dominated by the other flavors, oak and barrel character is present. Booze is noticeable as it should be for nearly 13%

Feel: very strongly carbonated and sharp, not what I expected from a barleywine.

Overall: strong, decadent, honey. A fantastic beer, price is its downfall though.

 518 characters

Photo of KShophead
3.74/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Photo of wmartin
3.82/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Was a bit disappointed with this as the flavor deviated too much from what I was expecting from a BW. Actually tasted like a blend of Grand Cru and BW. Was interesting, but didn't like it as much as I thought I would. Admittedly, they intended this to be different from a standard BW, so they succeeded! But I wanted more of the deep bitter flavor of a BW, but got a beer with muted bitterness and cloying flavors that don't really compensate for the loss of bitterness.

Fans of Grand Cru should probably take-out a second mortgage to get a bottle, but fans of BW will wonder what the point was.

 600 characters

Photo of Dougwillhike
4.61/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Photo of HorseheadsHophead
4.33/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

The appearance is a stunning clear golden-copper with a small off white head. Medium-poor retention, but some small head remains with spotty lacing.

The aroma is super boozy--warm toasted coconut, vanilla, lavender, honey, caramel, oak.

The taste is shockingly smooth--crisp honey malt, apple esters, vanilla and coconut, caramel. Some spice notes of cinnamon and clove. Heavy oak tannins on the finish, but booze is remarkably well-hidden.

The mouthfeel is surprisingly light. Crisp with medium-plus carbonation. Dry, tannin finish that's remarkably clean except for a slightly warmth.

 596 characters

Photo of juneof44
4.17/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Photo of leprechaunandfatman
4.24/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of DIM
4.24/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I've pretty much stopped buying beer that costs too much damn money. Unless it's a barleywine I haven't tried...then I can't stop myself. Looking forward to trying this, but it just costs too much damn money.

Lots of honey sweetness up front, fading mid-palate. The barrel character is light on the vanilla and oak, with moderate coconut and plenty of sweet bourbon. The finish dries out somewhat with sharp toffee, flowery booze, and a touch of honey.

This was very good and I don't regret the purchase. One and done though, plenty of options at a half or a third of the price.

 580 characters

Photo of ovaltine
4.44/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Golden-hued copper color, very light tan head, first thing I get on the nose is bourbon and oak from the barrel, with just a touch of vanilla.

The taste, though ... huge vanilla notes, plus some honey, and coconut, too, with a slight burn from the barrel. And then, at the very end of the taste, the slightest hop tang. Truly magnificent. The subtlety which Firestone used to meld these flavors into a cohesive high-ABV beer is a testament to their prowess as a brewery.

I only purchased one of these, but I could’ve purchased more. I didn’t, and I will be the first to admit that I screwed up, because this is truly world-class, IMHO.

 645 characters

Photo of DaverCS
4.5/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Quick review at Whole Foods on tap. Pours a golden color. Aroma is of honey and a light berry character. Taste is of moderate thickness. Lots of honey and berry notes with some vanilla. Sweet toffee. Good stuff. It gets a 90/100.

 229 characters

Photo of russpowell
4/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 2 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours an effervescent honey color with a pinky of beige colored head. Zero head retention & lacing

S: Some Bourbon, pick up strenth as it warms

T: Lovely Bourbon smoothness, plus a touch of honey malt & oaky dryness up front. A touch of honey & Bourbon as this warms. Finishes oaky with sweet honey & a touch of vanilla

MF: Medium body, fairly firm carbonation, warming

Pretty good, was hoping for better, especially for the cost. Drinks pretty easy & was happy to get a chance to try it

 502 characters

Photo of Manfrombelmonty
4.46/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Photo of mitch3114
4.57/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Drank fresh-delicious

21 characters

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Helldorado from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 4.27 out of 5 with 890 ratings
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