Helldorado | Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

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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

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Reviews: 145 | Ratings: 642
Photo of johnnnniee
3.86/5  rDev -9.2%
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.

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Photo of Dustin_Sallitt
4.38/5  rDev +3.1%
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

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Photo of Chris_Huston
4.49/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2014 bottle poured close to 12/2015. I've grown less fond of barleywines, esp. American barleywines, but this one is a keeper.

Immediate vanilla scent when popping the cap. The alcohol also gallops to the nose once poured, reaffirming its barrel quality and backbone, and its status as a proper barleywine despite its "blondeness".

Taste is a proper match to the smell with vanilla and honey sweetness that tames the barrel alcohol that is so often poorly restrained in barleywines, but far from eviscerating it. It adds a dangerous smoothness (at 13% ABV) and sweetness that cooperates superbly with the spirits, making an exceptional drink that I think works even better than its darker English-style cousin, Sucaba.

Great, appropriately medium-light body and smooth feel. This is one smart blonde.

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Photo of ONovoMexicano
4.12/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bomber into a tulip.

Pours golden. Shows copper color like a maltier IPA in the body. Frothy pale white head. Steady carbonation. 5

Smells like some sweet candy. Caramel, raisin, flowers, resin. Spicy, resinous and earthy hop aroma. 4.25

Same as nose. Caramel, light raisin and plum, vanilla, brown sugar and a bit of a resin-y, solvent-like finish. 4

Quite creamy and full-bodied, almost marshmallow-like in feel. A bit of a spicy bite about mid-palate, but it doesn't feel overly hopped or bitter. More of a sweet, mildly boozy feel that you'd get from a sweeter liquor. 4

Drinks easily and the taste is solid. Very good really.

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Photo of BuccoFan
3.93/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

This is a beer that requires more appreciation for the style, I think. There is no head, and near medium body. It's not atypical of the style, but possibly not what one might generally expect of a barrel-aged beer that weighs in at 13+ABV. Nice caramel taste, nice oak. But doesn't measure up to the other FW barrels.

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Photo of Wasatch
4.12/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz. Bomber
2015 Vintage (Box)
No. 001
3500 Cases Produced
Black Foil/Capped

Poured into a chalice a very nice slightly cloudy golden orange color, very nice carbonation, with a very nice quick, creamy, small off-white head, which leaves some nice sticky lacing behind. The nose is malty, slight yeast note, some vanilla, oaky, bourbon, some dark fruits. The taste is very nice, malty, slightly yeasty, vanilla sweetness, oaky, nice bourbon note, nice touch of dark fruits, slightly spicy. Full body, ABV is hidden fairly well, a complex brew. Overall, a pretty tasty brew, quite a different take on the style.

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Photo of cbutova
4.02/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Moe's Tavern. Full notes taken.

A- Fairly murky medium golden pour from the taps into a tulip. Small white cap, foamy consistency sees it dying to almost nothing. Poor retention and lacks any lacing.

S- Vanilla bourbon and degraded woody oak. Golden raisin fruit esters, alcohol, medium caramelized malts hinting at sweetness.

T- Mostly like the nose with the main woody, vanilla, bourbon, alcohol and spicy fruit. Very much laid back as far as sweetness goes especially considering the heavyweight ABV, really clean fermentation.

MF- Medium-thick and slick oily overall feel. Texture is frothy but only ever so slightly as it is a bit syrupy.

The heat from the ABV comes out later on in this huge but very smooth brew. Lots of vanilla and oaky barreled flavors.

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Photo of Oh_Dark_Star
4.34/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

For me this was not a worthy replacement for the Double DBA. If it's from Firestone it can't be bad, but I'd buy most others before repeating this one.

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Photo of Jimmys
4.3/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2015 vintage. 22 oz bottle, boxed, and foiled up.

A: pours fairly hazy. blonde? I don't know about that. more of an orange hue in my book.

S: aroma is hugely bourbon, vanilla, and honey. the aroma is warming, but not too hot. tons of oak. very prominent on the nose for sure. smells like a honeycomb.

T: flavor follows the nose very closely. booze is definitely there, but frankly it should be expected. delicious and warming. hop flavor is hugely present throughout. pine mostly. bitterness gives way to a very sweet body.

M: average carb on a very full body. everything works good.

D: overall a really sweet, oaky, bourbon beer from FW. getting some balance hops, but nothing overpowering in the aroma, flavor, or bitterness levels. found it a little one dimensional at times and lacking the complexity i have come to love from FW's bigger offerings. have another one for the cellar. definitely curious to see the booze calm a bit and which other flavors become prominent.

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Photo of MattLev
4.62/5  rDev +8.7%
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

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Photo of Zorro
4.61/5  rDev +8.5%
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.

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Photo of irishzombieman
4.71/5  rDev +10.8%
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.

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Photo of kojevergas
2.83/5  rDev -33.4%
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 Shroud0fdoom
3.72/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

22 ounce Bomber into a Wine Glass.

I am stoked to have this brew in my presence, these FW Box Beers usually sellout within a few Hours. So I am excited to see what this Muvfaka has to offer...a New Style Threshold got my beer bones aching! Let's see what this Biatch is talking about. First popping the top and pouring her out, she is Golden Honey with a bit of mysterious haze about her. Her crown was white as snow with tight bubbly texture...looking like a Relaxing Bubble Bath! She looks the part.

Aroma is going to take this brew to the next step! I twirl her around and take a deep whiff.. That is some Bourbon Goodness there! Rich Char and Vanilla takes your Nostrils on a Bourbon Journey. After the Vanilla leaves there's a Cinnamon Spice character that is present giving you a Warm invite. Mild toasted Coconuts is present adding a nice depth to this brew. Also faint Booze is detected. Just an amazing smelling Brew!

Time to taste this muv! Ok, let's discuss this. This doesn't taste as insanely great as the Aroma. The flavor first hits with some Honey Sweetness that flows with Barrel Notes (Charcoal, Vanilla, Coconuts and Spice). There's mild notes of Fruity esters toward the finish that seems out of place. This finishes Weak and Boozy with some alcohol bitterness on the sides of the Palate. The feel isn't improving anything for this, it's very light and carbonation is Cola-Esque.

Overall: This had potential to march a new trend in Beer Style Perversions. Making a Blonde Barleywine sounds pretty great if executed correctly. This though, not really providing a push to forward this type of Style Trend. This brew has a Great Aroma if you love Bourbon. It melts your face with its Barrel Notes, but the flavor is South of the aroma's Greatness. The flavor would be better if the Booze was tuned down a bit leaving for a better drinking experience. This proves to me that Firestone Walker can make a not so impressive brew. This brew is worthy.

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Photo of jdwilliamson79
2.55/5  rDev -40%
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 mothman
4.19/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

On tap at Max's.

Golden yellow color.

Lots of coconut and honey. Caramel and other malts. Lots of oak, bourbon, and vanilla.

A slight amount too much carbonation. Sticky feel. Minimal heat.

Solid offering. Well worth a try.

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Photo of qchic
4.09/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nice lil nightcap, just a small glass, not an entire bomber, mind you. Not as much complexity as Firestone Walker's anniversary series, but a rich, tasty liquid version of a butter rum lifesaver.

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Photo of CraftFan5
4.7/5  rDev +10.6%
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.

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Photo of monkeybeerbelly
4.52/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

this was bizarrely amazing! i wasnt sure how to rate the look because it looked like a golden strong ale, beautiful blonde color and sparkles like duvel. smells nothing like it looks with the nice dark barrel aged barley-wine appearance, and none of the color. nice notes of vanilla butterscotch, and toffee coming through.
Tastes divine, again vanilla, bourbon, caramel, butterscotch, and booziness that i hold so dear. Mouthfeel is where this beer really shines, super creamy, like drinking a creamsicle.
A truly enjoyable experience. now i need to get another bottle for a really special occasion

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Photo of Chcshammonde
4.51/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Not going to post a fine tuned review. This beer is lovely - a complete change of pace from other barleywines. You do pick up a bit of lavender but it is just complementary. Nice honey notes on top of the rich malty-booze barleywine flavors. Bourbon is great on this.

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.2/5  rDev -1.2%
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.

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Photo of KYGunner
4.29/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

This starts with a huge butterscotch wave before settling into caramel, toffee, peanut brittle and honey. It started way too boozy but as it warmed it became silky and thick and presented a far more drinkable beer.

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Photo of jzeilinger
4.24/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A - Golden copper color with a thin but full lacing ring.

S - Vanilla caramel aroma, oak, and alcohol effervescent.

T - Light caramel, vanilla oak, bourbon, very low alcohol burn for the ABV but fusel in the back of the sinuses.

M - Thick / full bodied, sticky.

O - Another big, boozy, flavorful proprietor vintage from Firestone.

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Photo of uvachief
4.13/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Bottle into wine glass because that's all I could find. Pours a golden opaque light brown much like a shot bourbon with a tiny thin layer of head. Smells of light hops and honey. Tastes like an ale with honey and bourbon added. Little oak and vanilla. More bourbon on the back end. That's it. Nothing exciting to me. This is not a barleywine. It is a blonde ale. Ton of booze and ABV burn. Hot. Smooth though. You drink this to get messed up not to enjoy or if you don't have access to bourbon. Really underwhelmed. I'll pass.

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Photo of Beer21
4.56/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Look - (4/5) - Amber color that is quite unusual for a barleywine. Minimal to no foam. Clear.
Smell - (4.75/5) - Terrific aroma with malt forward caramel notes. Bit o orange. Can definitely smell the alcohol content at 13%+. I love it
Taste - (4.5/5) - High alcohol with a touch of sweetness. I an only taste raisin and oak. Alcohol is somewhat too forward for me.
Feel - (4.5/5) - thick and sweet. Quite warm feeling with the alcohol.
Overall - (4.5/5) - I really like this take on a barleywine. Very alcohol forward, warming, sweet, and damn good!

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Helldorado from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
94 out of 100 based on 145 ratings.
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