Firestone 15 - Anniversary Ale | Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

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Firestone 15 - Anniversary AleFirestone 15 - Anniversary Ale

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

Style: American Strong Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 12.50%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
18% Helldorado (11.7% ABV) Blonde Barley Wine.
17% Sticky Monkey (12.5% ABV) English Barley Wine.
17% Bravo (13.5% ABV) Imperial Brown Ale.
13% Double Double Barrel Ale (11.5% ABV) Double Strength English Pale Ale.
11% Good Foot (14.3 ABV) American Barley Wine.
10% Velvet Merkin (8.6% ABV) Traditional Oatmeal Stout.
9% Parabola (13% ABV) Russian Imperial Oatmeal Stout.
5% Double Jack (9.5% ABV) Double India Pale Ale.

Added by brew3crew on 11-08-2011

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Reviews: 314 | Ratings: 1,112
Photo of OStrungT
5/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This beer pours a mohogany color with a thin but fluffy brown head. the head fades slowly, leaving a decent lacing.

This beer has a great aorma. I get vanilla up front with some chocolate. I detect some bourbon as well. Sweet caramel and roasted malts mix in. All the aromas are mild and blend well.

This beer tastes just like it smells. So well blended. Caramel, vanilla, chocolate, bourbon. This beer is amazing.

The beer is smooth and full bodied. Carbonaton is low, fitting the style. The alcohol is well hidden throughout this beer.

This beer might make a decent session beer, but with a 12.5% ABV, I wouldnt recomend it.

Overall: This beer is a great beer. I decided that I couldnt think of a better day to drink it than on the eve of the first annual Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest. Hopefully they have it on tap tomorrow.

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Photo of Impfan
5/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Simply one of the most complex, balanced, fruity, chocolatey, sherry-like, velvety, silky creations I've ever tasted.

On balance, it's definitely sweet, and perhaps it could use a bit more roastiness to dry it out a tad, but its flavor is so voluptuous that I really couldn't knock it down even a tenth.

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Photo of PlinyBubbles
5/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Served on tap at Draughts in Thousand Oaks, CA in a New Belgium snifter glass.

Deep brown opaque color. Half inch thick head. Gorgeous, with fine, but ample carbonation. Taste is rich, but not overly heavy or sweet. Very complex with oak, vanilla, caramel, and cocoa. Very drinkable considering the alcohol level. Glad I picked up a bottle of this. Curious to compare against having on draft, since my experience seemed better than some of the other reviewers who tasted from bottle. One of the best beers I've had. Maybe shouldn't have had on my lunch break though. Oops.

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Photo of bpfishback
4.97/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This beer is blackish brown, barely transparent with some undertones of red. Head fades fairly quickly but leaves some lacing on the glass.

First smell is a familiar bourbon barrel aged smell, slight vanilla, sticky sweetness, then caramel, maybe slight oxidation, candied plums, cherries, chocolate, toffee, and a bit of spice.

Taste is dark fruits at first, cherries and plums. The dark fruit lingers for awhile, and after what seems like hours you get a finish of bitter chocolate and coffee.

The mouthfeel is very creamy, I would love to known the FG of this beer, it has a fullness in its mouthfeel but it is not cloying, it's a big beer yet I want to drink more and more.

I am really enjoying this beer. I was excited to try it and now I see why. An incredible balance between sweet and bitter, a beer with multiple dimensions, a work of art.

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Photo of obywan59
4.97/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours a thick, dark brown into my oversized wine glass, yielding a 1 1/2 finger light tan head that recedes, leaving some light lacing and eventually just a ring around the glass with some light haze on the surface. Elegant in my glass.

Smell of bourbon, vanilla and caramel. The aroma reminds me of my favorite candy bar, the Zero bar: coconut and white fudge, especially before the beer warms. A little spice from the hops, and substantial alcohol as well.

The taste is sweet malt, vanilla, bourbon, citric tartness, lots of caramel and somewhat subtle bitterness.

Full-bodied. Some light pepper on the tongue. Rich and syrupy. Throat burn.

This is the best beer ever!! It's a sipper, but yet it's easy to drink. Awesome aroma, flavor, and mouthfeel! The ABV will immobilize you!!

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Photo of jtingue
4.97/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured into a snifter.

Appearance. Clear reddish brown in color. Pours with 2 fingers of bone white head. Some lacing, but doesn’t stick around for long.

Smell. Starts out very sweet and with dark fruits and toffee. Some underlying oakiness. As you inhale more there is an intoxicating maple syrup flavor.

Taste. Well, lets begin… this is a complex one. Starts out slightly bitter, but with flavors of oak and aged dried fruit. Some bourbon cuts in and is joined by syrupy dark fruits and molasses. It starts to thin out a bit, but some warming alcohol is introduced, reminiscent of a grape forward cognac. The finish is semi-dry and has an awesome lingering mango flavor, which starts to combine with the other dark fruit flavors that are already present.

Mouthfeel. No complaints here. Medium to thick body with moderate to low carbonation.

This is, so far, the most complex and nuanced beer I have ever tasted. I wish I had bought one more to age. Firestone Walker is really breaking some ground here in the blending department. I really hope this becomes a larger trend in the brewing industry. They have already set the bar high, though.

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Photo of MinorThreat
4.97/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Served from a 22oz Bomber Poured into Duvel Tulip

A- Deep and dark with a subtle ruby/mahogany hint when held to light.

S- While a bit colder (+/- 50) Oak was the predominant scent with underlying molasses, chocolate orange and vanilla. As it warmed up the sweet chocolate and citrus really became more noticeable.

T-So much going on in this one. Tons of bourbon like qualities such as vanilla and slight spice. The oak is somehow weaved through the great flavors of chocolate, coffee, vanilla, molasses and slight sherry without being too over the top. Very well integrated with the slightest hint of booziness (in a great way)

M-Rich and viscous

O-Exceptional, simply put. I will be aging a few bottles for a year or two but am very happy I was unable to resist the urge to get into one early.

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Photo of brentk56
4.97/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Appearance: The cola brown liguid arrives with a small cap the quickly becomes a ringlet though it sheets lace around the chalice

Smell: Many elements here, including caramel, figs, chocolate, coffee, wood, bourbon, coconut, vanilla and a hint of pith

Taste: Layers upon layers of flavor, with a progression ranging from caramel, fig, bourbon, coconut and vanilla, up front, to a hint of citrus and dark fruit in the middle; after the swallow, whisky and chocolate bring on the finish, with some coffee lingering in the aftertaste

Mouthfeel: Full body with moderate carbonation

Overall: Really impressive, with a range of different flavor elements

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Photo of brew3crew
4.97/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

On Tap at the brewery in Paso Robles

A- Carmel color body with little to no head

S- getting lots of oak, burbin and vanilla. Smells like I am in for a treat. Exceptional

T-follows the nose. Absolutely phenominal. Not one thing dominates and it all compliments each other.

M-medium body and smooth. Oh so very smooth

O-excellent beer, went back in for #three more glasses. Bought 7 bottles too. This is absolutely great fresh, can't wait to see it age!

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Photo of PeterMacKellar
4.95/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Bottle poured into pint glass.

A - A rich dark brown, molasses-type coloring. Only a tiny amount of head that disappeared quite quickly.

S - Immediate big notes of oak, whiskey and wine. A bit of vanilla appears after time. The longer it was out of the fridge, the more it really opened up and delivered more of the brown sugar and molasses.

T - The big whiskey smell turns into a much smaller whiskey taste. Also, the vanilla appears later on and with a subtlety. Similar to the smell, the longer it was out the more brown sugar and molasses came through. A rich, full flavored beer. Boozy in a way that you know you're drinking a high ABV beer immediately.

M - Very smooth with a taste that lingers in the mouth, but not in a heavy way or stuck to your tongue. The whiskey notes leave almost a slight, but nice, tingle.

O - This is a great beer, one of the better ones I've ever had. It had been built up quite high by review and the prestige of FW, and it didn't let down in the slightest.

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Photo of WoodBrew
4.93/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

HOLY SH&T!!! This beer is AMAZING. A buddy has been holding this one for about a year and it is AWESOME!!! The beer pours hazy brown with thin white head that is not leaving much of a lace. The scent is dominated by bourbon with hints of oak. The taste carries bourbon, vanilla, molassis or perhaps a dark cherry cream soda. The mouthfeel is full in body with smooth carbonation. Overall this is a F'CKING AMAZING BEER!!!

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Photo of Rollzroyce21
4.93/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I had a serving of this fresh about a year and half ago and thought it was an interesting blend that held inviting flavors of typical barleywine and hints of chocolate-covered cherries, molassas, and dark fruits. The heat was prominent, but wasn't so bad that it had a negative impact on the experience. I liked it overall, but had doubts that it was worth the price tag.

22 oz. Bottled 7-Oct-11
Cellared 15-Nov-11
Poured into stemless wine glass on 30-Mar-13 (aged about 18 months)

Decided to crack it open based on what I've been hearing on how it's been aging. It's straight-up like a fine port with notes of chocolate, caramel, and cherries. Such a beauty! The heat's still there, but doesn't interrupt the fantastic taste; only feel it in the throat as it goes down. A fantastic sipper. Better than XVI fresh. Regret not buying more when I had a chance.

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Photo of Damian
4.92/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Drank on-tap at the The Alehouse, Amesbury, MA
Served in a cervoise

Very dark mahogany with a slight haze. The liquid was topped by a three-finger head of super dense and creamy, light tan foam that was slow to fade. Droplets of lacing clung to the glass.

The barrel aging played a huge part in the aroma. Bourbon came through front and center. Fragrant vanilla and toasted coconut notes dominated. Lots of sweet, rich brown sugar and dark fruits. Quite raisiny. I could hardly stop myself from smelling this.

The flavor profile was perhaps even more impressive than the nose. Super rich and robust. Quite sweet, but not cloying in the least bit. As in the aroma, the barrels played a huge role. In this case, they lent the beer a sweet and complex, dark rum-like flavor. Good amount of caramel malts and toffee on the front end. Strong raisin and plum notes. Vanilla and coconut were noticeable as well. The beer finished slightly boozy on the back end. As the liquid warmed, the booziness increased but never became distracting.

The mouthfeel was super plush and creamy. Pillowy soft and medium bodied for the style. The beer contained a finely bubbled, medium effervescence. The only thing keeping me from awarding the mouthfeel a "5" was that the liquid could have been a bit more viscous.

Contrary to what others are saying about this beer, I thought it was Firestone Walker's best anniversary release to date (I have tried 11-15). Last year, I sampled 14 fresh on-tap and felt that it needed some time to mellow. The bottle of 14 I had a few months ago was significantly smoother and more rounded. Same was true for Parabola. The fresh bottle I tried was rough around the edges, but a bottle with a year of age on it drank perfectly. This beer, however, is spectacular right out of the gate, and I think that is due in part to the decreased role of Parabola in the blend (9% this year vs. 27% last year). If you have a bottle, my advice would be to drink it sooner than later.

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Photo of Kranders
4.92/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a nice deep black that's deceptively transparent. Small head retention. The aroma just knocks you back. Huge hints of bourbon and sweetness come from all directions. One of the most complex tasting beers in a long time. Very sweet, with a ton of bourbon that somehow doesn't taste all that boozy. Lasts a while on the tongue with pronounced sweetness at the end. Fantastic beer.

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Photo of phishsihq
4.92/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

15 years of brewing excellence, in bottled form.

Firestone Walker 15 - Anniversary Ale is a blend of some of Firestone's world renowned brews, aged in barrels. Here is a list of the blends;
18% Helldorado (11.7% ABV) Blonde Barley Wine.
17% Sticky Monkey (12.5% ABV) English Barley Wine.
17% Bravo (13.5% ABV) Imperial Brown Ale.
13% Double Double Barrel Ale (11.5% ABV) Double Strength English Pale Ale.
11% Good Foot (14.3 ABV) American Barley Wine.
10% Velvet Merkin (8.6% ABV) Traditional Oatmeal Stout.
9% Parabola (13% ABV) Russian Imperial Oatmeal Stout.
5% Double Jack (9.5% ABV) Double India Pale Ale.

WOW! Those percents add up to 76% Barley Wine style beers, 19% Stout and 5% Imperial IPA. The real fun is in trying to pick up on all the flavors and styles, challenging too!

15 pours a very deep, dark brown, nearly black with flashes of ruby, all beneath a thin off-white head that dissipates slowly, leaving no lacing. Where to start on the aroma? We picked up hints of bourbon, coconuts, oak, dark fruits (raisins & plums), rum, citrus, alcohol, vanilla, chocolate, and malt, to name a few. Full bodied this brew is crisp, sharp and smooth. The flavor profile matches that of the nose, lots going on and it is easy to become tongue twisted trying to pick everything up. Most notably present is a strong, roasty malt presence followed by vanilla, oak and alcohol. Lots going on here, and it ALL works well. Brilliant brew from a brewery that knows a thing or two about brilliant beers.

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Photo of waltersrj
4.92/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2011 Vintage...obviously.

Pour: Completely black, pitch black, like the night. A tiny, bubbly off white (almost tanned) head. Perfect head for a high alcohol beer.

Nose: Complex. Wow. Toasted coconut, toffee, and tobacco from parabola, chocolate covered cherries, vanilla, slight citrus hops, brown sugar, caramel, dark chocolate, and lavender.

Taste: Chocolate covered cherries, leather, tobacco, vanilla, charred oak, dark chocolate, raisin, brown sugar, citrus hops (pineapple and mango), slight smoke, more tobacco, and toasted coconut. This is an amazingly complex profile here. Can't wait for my XIII to XV vert.

Mouthfeel: Moderately thick at first, viscous, and oily but transitions into a velvety and creamy mouthfeel.

Overall: This beer (as always) is an amazingly complex and superbly executed blend. FW does no wrong in my eyes and once again surprises me. I hope they eventually bottle good foot, he'll dorado, or sticky monkey since they do do much in characterizing this beer. Thanks Adam and David! Amazing stuff here.

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Photo of DaftCaskBC
4.92/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A: 1/4" cream colorued head over cola coloured liquid.

S: Chocolate, oak, bourbon, roasted barley, caramel, vanilla.

T: Creamy caramel, vanilla, bourbon, oak, roasted barley, and toasted malt. Beautiful.

M: Medium to thick viscosity, and a medium level of carbonation.

O: Very drinkable, creamy, and smooth.

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Photo of bcostner1
4.87/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

A: Deep, rich mahogany brown with some dark garnet undertones present. Thin tan head which quickly dissipates (not surprising given the high ABV).

S: Intoxicating. Vanilla, molasses, brown sugar, caramel. Faint EtOH present as well. This really is a fantastic smelling beer.

T: Outstanding. Follows the nose with heavy vanilla and caramel. Some definite molasses and brown sugar present as well. Mild, smooth bourbon. Rich figs. All brought together by the underlying woodiness of the barrel aging. Ridiculously delicious. Reminds me a lot of the Shmaltz Vertical Jewbelation (which is one of my favorite beers of all time) but this one may even be slightly better.
So complex. I think I could drink this over and over again and get something different every time.

M: Smooth. Ever so slightly on the thin side perhaps(?) The alcohol is detectable...faintly so but definitely there. Overall, very easy to drink.

This beer is phenomenal. I am becoming convinced that these blended, barrel aged brews (like this one and the before mentioned Vertical Jewbelation) are one of my top 3 favorite styles when done well. And this one is definitely done well to say the least. I am glad I bought 5 bottles of this (and would have bought more if it were available in my area and not so pricey). Still, this is an almost indescribably beautiful beer and I highly recommend it.

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Photo of MrTopher
4.84/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

8oz serving into a New Belgium Goblet.

A – Dark rich brown/mahogany approaching the color of midnight black. No head, but could have been because of how the bartender poured it, there was some bubbles on the edge of the glass and they lingered. Pretty much no lacing as all.

S – A lot of stuff going on here, and its all GREAT stuff, the complexity of the smell just makes me drool. Some dark fruit (cherries, plumbs, etc), toffee, dark chocolate, brown sugar, caramel, tobacco, oak/earth tones. There is just so much going on in the nose it makes the mind spin.

T – WOW, this is just as complex as the smell if not more. Dark rich chocolate, those dark fruits like in the nose, some good earth notes layered with some oak, inviting and warming vanilla, sweet molasses/caramel/toffee, rough leather also, there is a bit of a hop presence, but hard to get the profile, but seems more citrus than pine/grass.

M – Pour didn’t develop a head, but the level of carbonation was perfect. And this beer isn’t too thick, but it is a little on the thicker side of the spectrum.

O – Freaking loved this beer, I think it’s the best thus far, then again I have only had 14th, I have a bottle of 12th and 13th as well as a 14th, so I’m looking forward to doing a vertical of these soon. But between this and 14th, I loved this one more just the complexity level is mind blowing.

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Photo of CaptDavyJones
4.84/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Beautiful, elegant packaging for this 15th anniversary ale from Firestone Walker.
From the bottle this ale pours a clear cola color and shows dark ruby red hues along the edges once it is in the glass. (Reddish brown transparent color in the glass)
Wow, aroma upfront is all bourbon; strong notes of barrel-wood aged alcohol coming through.
Alcohol warmth is evident the moment this ale touches the tip of the tongue. Lot's of bourbon notes, with dark fruits, raisins/dates in the back. There is just so much going on in this beer. Layers of flavor and aroma which are all woven around strong bourbon notes.
Full bodied with a nice silky mouthfeel. This is a definite sipper; a very, very BIG beer.
Words can't do enough justice to this beautiful blend. Definitely one of those beers that you "must" try. Worth getting your hands on at least one bottle, if not two.
Comes VERY highly recommended.

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Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.83/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

On tap MacGregor's Grill and Taproom in Henrietta, NY.

An aged keg, this was a huge surprise to find.

Pours a ruby garnet brown color, with a quarter inch head that recedes into a film on top of the beer that looks like overhead view of a hurricane on a weather map. Very small splotches of lacing remain down the glass.

Aromas include vanilla, caramel, brown sugar, dark fruits, and sweet bourbon.

The taste is similar and quite complex. At different times, I taste oak, vanilla, bourbon, marshmallow, dark fruits (figs, cherries, raisins), caramel, and brown sugar. The alcohol is mellow and provides a subtle bite.

Medium bodied, creamy smooth mouthfeel. Very easy drinking, despite the ABV. Almost no carbonation after 3+ years of aging.

This was goddamn amazing. It's so drinkable, almost crushable, but it's best to savor the crap out of this one.

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Photo of angelogarcia3
4.82/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had this beer at Sapsuckers Hop & Grub in Huntington, New York. They pour it into a large snifter glass. The beer has beautiful dark amber color and a thin white head. The aromas of bourbon, vanilla, & alcohol are very pronounced on the nose. My first taste is of caramel, bourbon, then notes of vanilla, and carmelization. It is a medium bodied beer that went very well with the Philly cheesesteak on a pretzel roll with a fried egg on top. The combo was a little bit of heaven.

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Photo of cindyjeffsmith
4.8/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Been saving this for today. Finished a half marathon and this is a planned treat.
appearance: Mahogany beauty. Dark brown with crimson highlights. Reasonably meaty head for a 12.5%. Nice messy lacing that retreat quickly.
smell: These folks do know barrel aging. Complex with full malt and bourbon. More than a barley but that's the predominant style imo. Vanilla and chocolate.
taste: Gonna plagiarize brentk56 as the description is right on. "layers upon layers of flavor". Bourbon is up front but balanced with lots of chocolate, vanilla. Finish is just wonderful with dark fruits, chocolate, toffee and oh so cohesive. Wow.
mouthfeel: Very well done. Just a tad thin to give a 5.
overall: This is a masterpiece. Wonderful.

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Photo of Ninjabrew
4.8/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This is an excellent beer, I was a little reluctant to pay $22 for another FW special after having been disapointed by Pararbola, but I am so glad I did.

Appearance, smell and mouthfeel are exceptional but the taste is where this beer excels the most. It has hints of dark fruit and maybe mollases very much like many Strong Ales, but there is something else, a sweet taste that is very evident but took a few sips to place, but once you do its unmistakeable. That taste is Dr. Pepper!!! I don't know what it is that makes it taste that way but that's what it tastes like.

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Photo of DonDirkA
4.77/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A blend of 8 different ales aged in 197 different oak barrels. The smell has definite toasted oak and bourbonesque vanilla notes. There's a little chocolate and a clear alcohol kick as well. Up front the taste has strong bourbon chords such as vanilla and oak followed by chocolate and toffee sweetness. There are definitely hints of honey and a slight floral taste. It has a pretty dry finish and fades out with a tiny bit of hops swirled in with vanilla and caramel. Afterwords the flavors stick with you and change. Awesome. This was hard to describe, its so complex and wonderful. This beer is definitely worth the $18-23 price tag. Luckily mine was a Christmas gift.

NOTE: Now that I've sipped on it a little longer there is definitely some spiciness in there like cinnamon or ginger. A little more of a piney hoppiness in the background too, reminiscent of British hops like East Kent Goldings. Very very slight though, almost undetectable.

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Firestone 15 - Anniversary Ale from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
4.26 out of 5 based on 1,112 ratings.
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