Helldorado | Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

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804 Ratings
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HelldoradoHelldorado
BEER INFO

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

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

BEER STATS
Ratings:
804
Reviews:
189
Avg:
4.24
pDev:
7.78%
 
 
Wants:
162
Gots:
439
For Trade:
70
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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 804 |  Reviews: 189
Photo of Sammy
3.91/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Very on the mark barley wine. Very good malting. Dangerously drinkable.

71 characters

Photo of acurtis
4.03/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Photo of Texasfan549
4.25/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of kylehay2004
4/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of GRG1313
4.25/5  rDev +0.2%

Photo of jaydoc
4.28/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.19/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

On tap at the 2013 Firestone Walker Invitational held at the Paso Robles Event Center in Paso Robles, CA.

Pours a hazy orange with a foamy bone head that settles to wisps of film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace slowly drip into the remaining beer on the drink down. Smell is of malt, grain, honey, caramel, and toffee aromas. Taste is much the same with caramel and toffee flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of woody bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a very good beer with some great aromas and flavors.

 622 characters

Photo of spycow
4/5  rDev -5.7%

Photo of StonedTrippin
4.4/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

the huge firestone walker beers in barrels is what makes them special. its not the everyday stuff or the wild ales or anything else, its beers exactly like this that keep them above so many other breweries, this stuff is pure magic. honey barleywine, with the honey being present in nose and taste, more than just sweet, its seasonal and earthy and floral and really pretty lightening to the whole thing. some grain weight to this, but no alcohol in the nose at all. the bourbon and the honey go so well together in the nose, with the vanilla picking up the honey sugars and carrying it through to that oaky mature space later on. the flavor follows a similar trajectory, but the beer itself has an english flare. i dont know if its the yeast or then malt, but it is more english than american and not just because there isnt much hops here. the bourbon barrel is dominant in the finish, really nice balance until then though. mouthfeel ranks it higher too, like some of the other huge firestone beers, its thick as jelly, spreadable almost, but slippery going down, as textured as any beer out there, and never getting alcoholically hot in the least. so woody, so much honey, so much bourbon, its a major statement beer. i wish this was packaged and released instead of draft only and stashed for blending. its a beauty to say the least.

 1,338 characters

Photo of djrn2
4.06/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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

Photo of Knapp85
4.34/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of t0rin0
4.25/5  rDev +0.2%

Photo of nmann08
4.5/5  rDev +6.1%

Photo of westcoastbeerlvr
3.5/5  rDev -17.5%

Photo of oriolesfan4
4.48/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Photo of BEERchitect
4.2/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A barleywine for summer? If IPA can be made for the winter's palate, then why not. A quick manipulation of ingredients can turn the heavy, dark and malty beer into something lighter and softer, then a summer barleywine is what we've got!

But its more of a light amber with shades of goldenrod that peaks through the bready haze, casting forth a creamy white foam stance and billowing aromas of bourbon, candy, butterscotch and tropical fruit. But its the honey-dipped sweetness that conjures the memories of circus peanut candy.

And as the middle palate unfolds, the softly caramelized barley is sweet and weighted- perfect for the vanilla, butterscotch, coconut and delicate toasted oak to wrap around the candied malts and to seduce the palate with each sip. With dried pineapple, apricot, mango and orange playing on the tongue, they soften the blow from the strong bourbon overtones to come.

Full but yet not intensely chewy, the beer's soft and malty pillow dissolves on the tongue like cotton candy. With such finesse, the bourbon stands even taller- numbing the palate with its honey liquor character. But its the savory, candied sweetness of those circus peanuts that the mind and the tastebuds just can't get around.

 1,228 characters

Photo of biboergosum
3.81/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

22oz bottle, the 2016 version, @11.8% ABV (to hell with those users who create new entries on here for such trivial things), and an awesome thing to see on the relatively new Firestone Walker account up here! Oh, and the homebrew wine bottle cap covering - gotta love it - smack!

This beer pours a hazy, medium copper amber colour (blonde, swuh?), with two fingers of puffy, finely foamy, and sort of creamy off-white head, which leaves a bit of low-lying berm lace around the glass as it evenly subsides.

It smells of rather sweet bready and doughy caramel/toffee malt, earthy honeysuckle, some musty under your parents' basement stairs 'character', acerbic wooden barrel notes (vanilla, grainy staves, and a weird boozy spiciness), a soft indistinct nuttiness, cheap leather, and some plain leafy, herbal, and floral green hop bitters. The taste is more saccharine grainy and bready caramel malt, a lesser biscuity toffee essence, clover honey, still acrid Bourbon barrel vanilla, oak, and spicy alcohol, sugar syrup, a muddled tropical and domestic fruitiness, and some swiftly waning leafy, weedy, and well-perfumed floral hoppiness.

The carbonation is fairly tame in its barely structure-forming frothiness, the body a decent enough middleweight, with designs on moving up, and mostly smooth, nothing really coming forth to make a party killing ass of itself, right? Right? It finishes well off-dry, the big and amped right up the yin-yang blonde ale malt reveling in just the manner that it should.

Overall, I gotta say, despite the BA treatment, and the heady origin source, I'm just not feeling this one - sure, I will be later, but that's beside the bloody point. This is much more of an English version of the barleywine style, and thus well rendered, I suppose, but I'm expecting a hell (dorado) of a lot more for my north of 30 bucks in these days of stupid beer overindulgence.

 1,899 characters

Photo of kojevergas
2.83/5  rDev -33.3%
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.

C

 2,173 characters

Photo of SocalKicks
4.25/5  rDev +0.2%

Photo of brentk56
4.09/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours amber colored with a slight haze; the head builds to one finger but fades quickly, leaving clumps and dots of lacing

Smell: The malts dominate, bringing honey, graham and butterscotch tones; underneath, there is an herbal, somewhat lemony aspect; wafts of Bourbon intermingle

Taste: Unlike the aroma, the herbal, lemony tone asserts at the outset, with the sweeter malt flavors building in intensity through the middle; honey, butterscotch, coconut, vanilla and graham cracker round out the malty sweetness; after the swallow, the Bourbon takes a bow, bringing a rather boozy finish

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with moderate carbonation; warmth in the gullet

Overall: I get what they are going for but I can't get excited about it; well-constructed, like all Firestone Walker barrel aged beers, but I prefer their other offerings to this one

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Photo of oline73
4.25/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of Phyl21ca
3.5/5  rDev -17.5%
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 LXIXME
4.49/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of largadeer
4.27/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Draft at Beer Rev. Pale blond body with a thin head that doesn't last long. Sweet butterscotch aroma, completely pale malt and barrel dominant. Big sugary caramel notes, stonefruit, little booziness. Smells great, though perhaps a bit one-dimensional. The palate is good, medium-light in body, rather rich and sweet. Body could use more heft, but it isn't overly thin. Big caramel and butterscotch notes meld with warming bourbon, though this doesn't taste 13%; very clean fermentation here. Finishes sweet with mild tannins, and a bit of lingering dried fruit. Pretty damn good, a little too easy to drink for the ABV.

 619 characters

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Helldorado from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
4.24 out of 5 based on 804 ratings.
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