PNC Imperial Buckwheat Stout
Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

PNC Imperial Buckwheat StoutPNC Imperial Buckwheat Stout
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Stout - American Imperial
4.5 | pDev: 7.33%
Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
California, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
PNC Imperial Buckwheat StoutPNC Imperial Buckwheat Stout
Notes: This bold and deliciously complex beer is an Imperial Buckwheat Stout aged in Tequila barrels for 13 months. Only a collection of pioneering, well seasoned, extensively traveled and passionate pub owners could come up with such a notion. A massive grain bill consisting of Pale, Munich and toasted Canadian Buckwheat was blended with pearled drum-kilned barley from Chile, a generous amount of Wisconsin toasted wheat and a slug of British crystal malts. A couple lumps of Mexican Turbinado sugar were added for good measure while we loaded the kettle with Styrian Golding hops. This carefully calculated collision of flavors, concocted over copious amounts of Orval well into the night, was laid down in fresh Tequila barrels wrangled over our southern border by the beautiful and gracious Meg Gill. We simply call this beer “PNC” in honor of its collaborative creators – the gothic symphony of flavors will speak for themselves.
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Reviews: 50 | Ratings: 488 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of rodbeermunch
rodbeermunch from Nevada

4.14/5  rDev -8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

There's been a weird undercurrent the last few years that 'there aren't good tequila aged beers'. This, central waters and fiftyfifty often come to mind when I hear that aforementioned incorrect opinion. Had this at the very first Firestone Walker Invitational. Quite the nice find. Did they also bring it to the Bistro's barrel aged festival a few years ago? I dunno, you always remember the first and then after that its like "meh".

Anyways, pours black, had a very thin head on tap. Aroma gave off a nice mild tequila and wood presence, I thought it was cool. The taste took on a smooth, sweet tequila and low roast low bitterness kind of stout beers. A mix of different mild sweeteners, brown sugar, agave, vanilla = smoov just doin' his thang. Its a rather creamy beer that doesn't get bogged down in being oversweetened, fully hits the sweet spot but doesn't go beyond.

Its pretty good stuff and I could easily see dropping a nice penny to have this again. Its unique and very good.

Jan 01, 2019
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dafla67 from Pennsylvania

4.66/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On draft. Pours black; the aroma vanilla, chocolate, caramel & tequila. Taste is amazing. Just as it smells. Incredible balance of the tastes though the tequila is not as strong as expected. Full and creamy feel. One of the best stout.

Jul 16, 2018
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John_M from France

4.47/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at the Apex the other day.

The beer pours a blackish brown color with pretty good head retention and lacing. The nose on this beer is pretty fascinating, as I get considerable tequila, along with milk chocolate, vanilla and coffee. In combination, I ended up picking up something of blackberry and blueberry flavor that was very nice. The flavor profile replicated the nose pretty closely in this fairly sweet stout, though the tequila wasn't as noticeable. Mouthfeel was very full, with a soft and creamy finish. Alcohol is very well integrated into the flavor profile, and so drinkability is exceptional.

Excellent beer, and one that is all too easy to just gulp down. Have not had many tequila barrel aged beers, and most that I have tried have not been all that great. This version is one of the very best.

Jun 15, 2018
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floyd_pugman from California

4.61/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Enjoyed from the bottle at Toronado SD, 9/12/17. Poured into a house bulb. Nose is subdued barrel: vanilla, chocolate, caramel. I want to say port-soaked buckwheat too, but I never would have pinpointed that if I didn’t already know it was a buckwheat stout. Can tell it’s not a bourbon barrel beer, but wouldn’t have suspected tequila. No heat. Palate starts with vanilla and caramel, then adds chocolate, and finishes with port flavors. Very elegant beer; slightly thinner-than-expected mouthfeel at first but ultimately perfect for the flavor profile. Tequila presence there but none of the typical barrel flavors that in my mind ruin other tequila-barrel stouts. Gets even better as it warms; getting some nice nutty flavors on the finish now. Wonderfully rich without being sludgy; a must try. Get it before it goes extinct.

Sep 12, 2017
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metter98 from New York

4.38/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Bottle at Monk's Cafe, Philadelphia, PA

A: The beer is black when viewed from afar, but when held up to the light it is clear dark red in color. It poured with a collar of beige bubbles around the edge of the glass.
S: Moderate aromas of tequila are preset in the nose along with hints of dark malts.
T: The taste has flavors of tequila from the barrel aging along with notes of oaky vanilla, toasted malts, and hints of sugary sweetness. Some hints of alcohol are perceptible in the finish.
M: It feels medium- to full-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation. There is some warming from the alcohol in the finish.
O: This beer grows on you—it gets better as it warms up as the complexity increases. It tastes strong, but the alcohol is not that dominant.

Serving type: bottle

Apr 22, 2016
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PHBoiler from Illinois

4.47/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

This beer surprised me. The spices and layers of flavor from the tequila barrel were so interesting. Agave, cinnamon, clove, pineapple, anise, and hints of vanilla all throughout the drinking experience. The mouthfeel was so rich, and the barrel still shined but was subdued enough to not be overtly boozy.

Apr 04, 2016
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scottfrie from California

4.21/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2013 batch 1. Reviewed from notes. Snifter.

A: Pours black with a thin dark brown head.
S: Sweet nose with light raisin notes and mild barrel or perhaps buckwheat spice.
T: Slightly sharp alcohol notes of a tequila followed by toasted marshmallow, chocolate, caramel, vanilla, and spicy buckwheat. Spicy and sweet but slightly astringent.
M: Full body, thick, slick, and greasy mouthfeel.
O: Sweet overall with the barrel and other flavors adding a integrated blend of complexity.

Feb 29, 2016
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mothman from Minnesota

4/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tan head. Dark brown color.

Hard to tell the barrels are tequila. Chocolate and coffee roast. Some alcohol heat. Caramel and toffee. Big malts. Toasted marshmallow. Oaky. Maybe a hint of tequila in the finish, but it's hard to tell.

Full bodied. Ends a bit roasted. A very nice beer.

Feb 20, 2016
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Kevinpitts from Illinois

4.55/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Opened with about 2 1/2 years age on it (bottled April 2013). Initial smell said it all. Tequila from barrel came through with a rich stouty smell. All incorporated together well. Taste was same... tequila bitterness with a complex buckwheat stout flavor. So much going on, but all characteristics well blended into a truly great flavor. Unique and great!

Oct 03, 2015
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twiggamortis420 from Texas

4.61/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

thanks to fthomasl for sharing this one with me. Pours black with a bubbly brown head. Fair retention and not much lace.

Sweet chocolate with caramel. Alcohol, blackberries, wood. I would have guessed some sort of barrel treatment, but never would have thought tequila.

Definitely sweet - more of a sugary sweetness than chocolate. Zing from the alcohol and barrel treatment, I think I can pick out a little agave flavor. If pressed, I probably would have guessed Rum as opposed to tequila after a few sips. Some husky aspect from the buckwheat. Definitely of of FW's finest right here, amazing brew.

Sep 24, 2015
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jakecattleco from California

4.73/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Pour at 2015 Craft Beer Summit from FW tent. REALLY like this offering, all the flavors are subtle enough to pick them out individually. A great beer, that hides a very potent punch well.

Sep 13, 2015
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brewmastercat from California

5/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

By far the best barrel aged stout I've ever had.
It's rough, yet smooth. Spicy, yet sweet. Fruity, yet bitter. So many contrasting and complimentary flavors...a great wood character with a hint of a very fine agave.
Fruity, spicy, sweet, smooth, rough edges, chocolate, booze, delicious.

It's like Clint Eastwood in a suit.

Jun 20, 2015
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Davepoolesque from Massachusetts

4.63/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This smells awesome. Huge dark chocolate fudge right away. Toasted coconut after it warms. Getting a bit of fruity, sweetness on the very back end. Super dry on the finish. Medium thickness. Tiny amount of alcohol heat. Divine.

Jun 09, 2015
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ArrogantB from Colorado

4/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at the Falling Rock for their Imperial Stout mini-fest. Almost no head on this one and completely black. Aroma is odd, boozy, must be the tequila. Flavor is a nice maltiness backed up by that punch of alcohol. Overall, pretty good but I bet bourbon barrels would be better.

Mar 23, 2015
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GreesyFizeek from New York

4.08/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Bottle shared by Curran last night.

Pours a dark, oily deep black, with a half inch head, and a good amount of lacing.

Smells a bit boozy and tequila forward, but I am not a huge fan of tequila, so I probably pick it up a bit stronger than most people, who seem to say the tequila is milder. Beyond that, I get a good amount of oak and chocolate.

I wouldn't classify this one as the best of the FW boxed series, but it's still pretty tasty. The tequila feels pretty strong to me, with lots of oak, some coconut, vanilla, and a lot of fudgy chocolate. It feels fairly bitter, due to the booze, oak, and possibly the buckwheat?

This is pretty thick bodied, with a creamy, fudgy, and pretty boozy mouthfeel. The booze lingers on the palate a little bit after each sip.

This is a pretty unique stout, but my slight to strong aversion to tequila makes it hard for me to love this. As it is, it's well made and tasty, but a little boozy.

Feb 14, 2015
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AgentMunky from New York

4.29/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22 ounce bottle into an Altamont glass. Vintage 2013. Batch 001.

A: Nice off-white head fades fast and leaves nice lacing.

S: It smells...fine? Reminiscent of something. Cereal grain? Maybe that's the buckwheat. Slightly oxidised?

T/M: Huge vanillins right up front and they just last and last. A really rich, sweet, beautiful beer. I get barely (if any) tequila at all. Maybe barrel-aging? My tequila-hating friend Adam swears he can taste it right at the end, and I do suppose there's a tang right at the end. It's mostly just a big sweet stout. I don't taste the booze but my buddy,

O: Man, this is good. Skepticism aside, FW knows what's up. Incredibly delicious, highly recommended, very nice stout, Sweet, but balanced.

Feb 12, 2015
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stakem from Pennsylvania

4.13/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Many thanks to anotherjoe for surprising me with a bottle of this. Pours black in color with a rich brown cap. The aroma contains cocoa and lots of barrel with slight mineral feel. Plenty of oak and solvent alcohol blend to almost something like raisons. The solvent alcohol feel carries over from nose to flavor with plenty of roasty char appeal as well as fruity chocolate covered raisons. The barrel aging imparts oak and vanilla with some herbal hops being the last things noted. This is a very full and creamy feeling body with moderate carbonation. I cannot think of a tequilla barrel aged beer that I have enjoyed more than this. Well done.

Dec 05, 2014
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dar482 from New York

4.85/5  rDev +7.8%

The beer comes in a dark black color.

The aroma offers a touch of spicy spirit, sweet caramel, roasted malt.

The flavor follows of roasted malt and chocolate, surrounded by tequila. The beer is slightly light in mouthfeel for its ABV, but it makes up for it with a beautiful dance of spicy spirit of tequila and medium roasted malt of the base beer.

A very interesting brew that ends being executed very well.

Nov 04, 2014
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DefenCorps from Oregon

4.46/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

SEP 26, 2014
Bottle, batch 1. Bottled 17 May 2013, consumed 26 Sept 2014. Thanks, Chris! Pours jet black with a dense, creamy, dark brown head with excellent retention and lacing. The nose is awesome. Rich, dense and layered, there’s dark chocolate, dark wheat bread, buckwheat honey, and a beautiful tequila note, rich with its agave character. Booze is shockingly well hidden. Toasted bread, toasted agave, brown sugar, mild toffee, some earth, a touch of cinnamon. Really good. The palate opens big, full and with a blend of booze and sweetness. Dark brown sugar, toffee, dark chocolate, flavors of German fitness bread and a mild Kahlua note are present. The mid palate is where the tequila character really comes out. Toasted agave, mild vanilla, plenty of tequila flavor. A long, mildly biker, moderately roasty finish with a blend of tequila, caramel, buckwheat honey and dark chocolate are present. Immaculate palate. Exceptional stuff.

**Edit 25 Oct **
Soft oxidation is present, lending a mild savory note to pair with the tequila, which is still quite potent and fleshy and spicy. Full, rich flavor, buckwheat honey, dark sugar, dark caramel. Full, rich, awesome. 4.5x3

Oct 26, 2014
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Mikeypnh from New Hampshire

4.3/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a tulip glass. No noticeable head, very black, some nice tan swirls on top with bubbles clinging to the side.

Smells really sweet. Some chocolate, oak, some small amount of tequila.

Taste is pretty sweet. Very dry finish. Chocolate and brown sugar is very dominant, tequila is there, nice oak notes. Something bitter that lingers at the end, too. Very sweet, happy to be splitting a bottle. Pretty interesting taste here. The alcohol shows up but it's not overpowering.

Pretty thick mouthfeel, coats the whole mouth and leaves that dry finish. Very warming and sticky. Probably it's best feature.

It's a decent beer, was hoping to pick up some more of the tequila barrels, they are mixed in with the base beer. Overall it's good, and happy I got to try it.

Jun 18, 2014
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FosterJM from California

4.2/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

1792nd Review on BA
Bottle to Stemmed Tulip

Batch 1
Purchased at Toronado SD for my birthday 5/16

App- A standard appearing stout from FW on this one for. A good solid dark color, a nice soft khaki brown head, a slight cling and no light penetration.

Smell- I am going with a 4 because it was just a little hard to pick anything out on this one really. I let warm for about 10 mins and tried to get the Tequila and had minimal chocolate aromas. Maybe a touch of lime to go along.

Taste- I enjoyed this one. It was quite different and brought a lot to the table. Many flavors competing on this one and then they all kind of got lost in the shuffle. The oak is really what dominates.

Mouth- A big solid medium body with a medium carbonation level. Delectable creamy and quite a bit smooth. The tequila is there when it warmed to almost room temp.

Drink- I don't quite think this was worth the price I paid for it, wish I would've had it at retail price. Don't we all have those moments though.

May 19, 2014
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Auracom from Illinois

4.08/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Sent to me and then shared at DLD 2014. 4 oz. in multiple pours in a glencairn.

A - Typical, deep cocoa with a frothy dark khaki head. Looks a lot like Parabola.

S - The tequila spirit only hints in the aroma. Char/ash, dark chocolate, lime, pitted dark fruit.

T - More presence now. Spirity, oak, lots of espresso, obvious alcohol solvency, sultana.

M - Plentiful warming, smooth moderate body, semi-short bitter finish.

D - This is really unique and on-par with the best FW has to offer. Would have no hesitation to try again. Can only really knock the hefty alcohol presence and wondering if it's tougher to keep a tequila barrel in check vs. the usual whiskey treatment.

Apr 28, 2014
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MusicaleMike from Pennsylvania

4.24/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Sampled this at Falling Rock Taphouse in Denver. Served chilled in a balloon glass.

I was very excited to sample this beer, having heard amazing things about it. The pour is in the glass with a creamy tan head consisting of small bubbles. The head retention is good, not much in the way of lacing.

The smell of this beer is simply an intense oak aroma, almost completely dominated. There are dark roast malts and subtle tequila, but really this is an oak bomb. It is certainly enticing, and smells wonderful really, but is it too one dimensional?

The signature Firestone Walker smoothness! The velvety smooth body is contrasted with a slight heat on tongue, and notes of tequila in the finish. Simply perfect carbonation level here, with very fine bubbles that helps to contribute to the smooth body. Flavors of roasted malt, coffee, berries, agave, and corn syrup all mingle together. There was more to appreciate in the flavor than was hinted at in the aroma. The tequila is extremely subtle....very understated. I think that is a positive thing here.

Firestone Walker's PNC is incredible. Extremely flavorful, and despite the heat, not harsh but so so smooth, and I wish that I could drink this again. I will say that the brewer I was hanging out with just said "I fucking hate Firestone Walker." And he meant that in the nicest of "How the hell do they do it?"

Apr 11, 2014
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ricknelson from Vermont

4.85/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Can not believe how far down the Top 250 BA beer list this beer is ranked. A group of four of us had this Firestone Walker PNC Imperial Buckwheat Stout at Falling Rock Pub in Denver. It was sold only as a drink it on premise bootle. It came in a nice Firestone Walker box with a sheet of paper inside which explained how the beer came about. How a group of beer bar owners from across the U.S., that gets together from time to time at a brewery and make a special beer. The PNC was their 3rd effort and was only available at Falling Rock Pub in 22 ounce bottles for consumption there.
A guy was watching the four of us drink this beer at Falling Rock. So I waved him over to our table. It turned out to be Chris Black owner of the Falling Rock Pub and one of PNC's recipe originators. I got Chris to autograph the box for me before we left. All four of us totally loved this beer. I have a chance to get another one from a friend here in Vermont, and I sincerely hope it works out.

Apr 11, 2014
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Treyliff from West Virginia

4.24/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Batch 1, consumed at Monk's Cafe, Philly
Poured into a snifter

A- pours pitch black with a small fizzy light tan head that reduces quickly, leaving no lace and some short alcohol legs

S- dark chocolate with some toasty and smoky malt, the tequila is definitely noticeable with an agave-like aroma mixing with vanilla and oak barrel, dark prunes

T- chocolate and smoky malt mesh with a big barrel presence with the tequila popping through. It's not a lot different than bourbon barrel aged beers, but definitely a noticeable difference with the agave sweetness popping through. Notes of dried fig with a hint of coffee kick in, leading to sweet caramel and more dark fruit on the finish

M- medium-viscous body with moderate carbonation lead to a foamy mouthfeel and a warming finish

O- my first tequila barrel aged beer, and it was welcomed. It wasn't a huge difference in flavor compared to a BBA beer, but a nice change. Another great beer from Firestone

Mar 13, 2014
PNC Imperial Buckwheat Stout from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 99 out of 100 with 488 ratings