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PNC Imperial Buckwheat Stout | Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

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PNC Imperial Buckwheat StoutPNC Imperial Buckwheat Stout

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

Style: American Double / Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 13.70%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
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.

Added by Rifugium on 06-11-2013

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Reviews: 47 | Ratings: 470
Photo of Kuhuh
4.95/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This was the first of the set of 3 someone had given me as a present. The perfect smoothness of a great tequila blended with the dark and rich flavors of an imperial stout. My mouth divulged the oaky flavors and it was a tad bit dry. You will want to have a little water near by in my opinion. This beer will always be in my top due to the fact I never knew you could blend such amazing flavors.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
3.97/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

650 mL bottle poured into a snifter.

Appearance - Black body. A little transparent at the edges. Medium khaki collar.

Smell - Bourbon. Chocolate. Boozy. Vanilla. Some oak.

Taste - Chocolate. Vanilla and bourbon. A little bit of nuttiness. The finish has what must be that tequila barrel flavor, although I wouldn't call it directly tequila. Definitely something that I'm not sure I love. Very oaky finish.

Mouthfeel - Hefty body. Boozy. Sharp oak. Medium carbonation.

Overall - The tequila barrel throws me off, but the rest of this beer is fantastic.

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Photo of dirtylou
4.35/5  rDev -2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

on-tap x2; Burgundian

I was out of town when this limited-release bottle whale blew through Bottleworks and I was beginning to think I was never going to have an opportunity to try it until Burgundian put it on tap for their uber-casual 2nd anniversary. Dark bodied and sporting a full mocha head - this beast is heavy on the chocolate, toffee and vanilla. The tequila barrel imparts boozy and wooden notes, but no discernible tequila flavors for me

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Photo of Stevedore
4.34/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

8oz pour on draft at Falling Rock in Denver, CO. Poured into an unlabeled goblet today, 11/18/2014.

Looks positively black. Dark opaque and black body with a lovely one finger width head with great retention that finally drops into a thick mocha film. Not much lacing.

Smells damn sweet. Lots of oak and a delicious, chocolately sweetness with a nice sharp rye-like flavor to cut the sweetness. Very good, not quite decadent but more than enjoyable.

Similar to the nose- lots of chocolate dark malt sweetness cut by a nice sharpness and plenty of barrel oak. Very interesting combination with the touch of tequila but not über complex. Very tasty nonetheless.

Phenomenal. Thick bodied, creamy and fluffy on the palate. Leaves a nice heat on the back end similar to doing tequila.

Great mouthfeel, unique sharpness and sweet chocolates accompanied to the excellent oak barrel presence as expected of Firestone. I suspect it's higher rated because of the limited bottle production and I wouldn't give up what people ask for bottles. At the same time I'm glad to have tried this thanks to the folks at Falling Rock.

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Photo of SaltySizzle
4.48/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Had this via On-Tap at Toro SD and also via bottle. Not much variance between the two. Enjoyed this thoroughly. Deep black, with a silky mouthfeel. Hints of caramel and oak, and a sweet finish. With a bit more age, this score would go up higher. Usually hate tequila, but this had notes of it and did it well. Excited to try this again if a certain friend decides to crack his bottle! ;)

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Photo of cbutova
4.44/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Reviewed from notes taken at Toronado, San Diego.

A- Pitch black oil thick brew from the taps into a small flute. Dark mocha colored head forms on top of it. A nice size and good retention. Nice ring remains as well as some islands and lace is patchy.

S- Rich chocolate and roast malts lead the way like Parabola but there is a distinct difference with the barrel feel, semi-tequila hint.

T -Super rich roast chocolate malts with some vanilla and tequila character, that hard to describe flavor in only tequila, just a hint of it. Oak vanilla, pepper, spice and some fruit feel. Barrel feel is quite nice.

MF- Super thick and chewy with smooth, moderately high carbonation. Finishes with a substantial but nice warmth.

Reminds me a lot of Parabola in the base beer but the barrel feel is substantially different enough to make this have its own character. Would love to try again but don't see that happening.

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Photo of artoolemomo
4.31/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Appearance- I received this beer with a minimal amount of head which appeared to have been a very light and creamy beige. Minimal retention. The body is a murky and opaque, dark chocolate brown. Good lacing is left behind.

Nose- This is delicious and exactly what you expect from a barrel aged Firestone Walker. Slight coconut. Loaded with caramel, vanilla, and toffee. But what's the star of the show? Butterscotch. Butterscotch which is very warm and glowing. This is very promising.

Taste- Coconut and coconut and more coconut. Another good offering from Firestone Walker. The heat is pretty high that is to be expected from a tequila barrel. Also, this shows pretty much all of the notes of the nose. Caramel, vanilla, and toffee. The butterscotch, however, is not as prominent as on the the nose. The tequila qualities are slight. Lots of chocolate and coffee. Not quite as good as a Parabola or an Abacus but definitely better than DDBA or Velvet Merkin. I was apprehensive about this beer since it was aged in tequila barrels but the slight contribution of the tequila is a nice touch. Very complex malt bill with rich but restrained sweetness. The tequila flirts around the edges.

Mouthfeel- Just below heavy bodied with healthy carbonation. Some grittiness.

Drinkability- Deceptive and thus dangerous. The heat mellows as you go and this is great at 6 bucks for a 6 oz pour given its very limited release.

Overall- Really good, almost great. Wouldn't rank it as high as the mean but still a really good offering from Firestone Walker.

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Photo of corby112
4.02/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Draft at Monk's Cafe in Philadelphia, PA.

Pitch black and opaque wih a two finger, frothy mocha head that very slowly settles into a thick, lasting ring.  Great retention for the style with streaks of soapy lacing coating the glass on the way down.  

Inviting nose with a really strong barrel character that's nicely integrated into whatever the base beer is.  Plenty of damp oak, spicy bourbon, vanilla and coconut countered by sweet and roasted dark malt notes.  Subtle agave/tequila presence but it's overpowered by the bourbon and oak notes. Wouldn't have guessed it was in there if I didn't know.  Spicy bourbon and vanilla bean flavor followed by gourmet roast, dark chocolate and sweeter, dessert-like bakers chocolate sweetness.  Smells great, I just wish that the tequila/agave was stronger/more noticeable in the aroma.

Thick and viscous full body with a strong boozy barrel presence that gives off a lot of heat and spicy bourbon flavor that lingers over the malt backbone into a sweet, slightly dry and hot finish.  Plenty of warmth in the chest.  Agave syrup and tequilla stands out here more than in the nose with a subtle citrus/honey character but again it's overshadowed by the oak and spicy bourbon.  Subtle toothpick/dry oak flavor with some vanilla, coconut and burnt sugar.  Huge spicy bourbon flavor countered by a nice tequila presence that starts to stand out as it warms.   Thankfully, the prominent barrel notes don't obliterate the malt flavors with plenty of roasted espresso bean, oatmeal and bittersweet dark chocolate.  A little bit of dark fruit in there as well with some fig, plum and raisin.  More tequila/agave than in the nose but the flavor profile isn't quite as complex.   Needs some more malt sweetness and it's a bit too hot/boozy at this point for my preference.  It burns a bit going down and you can feel all 13+%!  This becomes more tolerable as it warms and the palate adjusts but it seems like it needs some time to mellow out.  

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Photo of robwestcott
4.64/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Cold and black from the tap at Monks in Philadelphia, to a 10oz fluted goblet with a 2 finger long lasting mocha head with a full sheet of lace.

Big aroma of smoky chocolate and bourbon. A big beer.

Barrel forward, smoky, cocoa, bourbon, dark cherries, creamy smooth. Medium carbonation, big bodied.

Great beer.

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Photo of vfgccp
4.69/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

A - Pours a thick, dark cola. Dark khaki head settles into a medium halo with nice retention and low lace.

S - Anise, white booze, raisin, oak, vanilla, agave, black tequila, nutmeg, molasses, brown sugar.

T - Brown sugar, earthy straw, burnt caramel, reduced plums, soy sauce umami, espresso, black roasted grains, and a soft tequila warmth on the backend.

M - Outstanding mouthfeel - silky smooth, soft, and full bodied with excellent staying power.

O - An incredible stout. Great balance, complexity, and mouthfeel.

P - Excellent pairing with red velvet cake, coconut, and chocolate chip cookies.

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Photo of chugalug06
4.89/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Pitch black body, thick viscosity. Burnt caramel head grows 1 1/2 finger. No lacing

Amazing aroma. Deep toasty chocolate aroma grows the more you sniff. Caramel, no smoke.

Smooth as could be. Amazing. Word cannot describe this brew. Deep dark 90% chocolate, mild sweetness with elegant lingering agave vanilla bitterness. Booze is subtle with mellow kick at the dry end that shoots up the nose.

Clean, crisp, amazingly unique, beyond recommended. So glad I took the time to ask and listen about this brew. Thanks Chris.

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Photo of LiquidAmber
4.56/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured into an Elysian snifter. Pours pitch black with very little carbonation, with only a tiny ring of brown foam around the edge of the glass. Awesome aroma of whisky, dark toasted malt and yes, tequila, possibly a hint of vanilla, but all lighter essences are dominated by the barrel aromas. Flavor is amazing, dark toasted malt, dark dried fruit, coffee, chocolate and vanilla in a high quality liquor base. Tastes very much like a liqueur. Finishes with sweet dark fruit, tequila and chocolate. Medium to full bodied. This is very rich and very nicely balanced. I am floored that the flavor covers the alcohol in this monster, but although there was some in the nose, there is virtually none in the taste. An amazing blended stout. Firestone Walker once again proves to be a master of the barrel.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.45/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Wowcoolman for sharing this one at his tasting.

Batch # 001.

Pours an almost opaque super dark brown with a foamy dark khaki head that settles to wisps of film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of dark roasted malt, cocoa, alcohol, and wood aromas. Taste is much the same with cocoa, wood, and alcohol 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 and medium bodied mouthfeel. Overall, this is a very good beer with an awesome barrel aged presence but I am not getting any discernible tequila aromas or flavors.

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Photo of Igotmypistola
4.56/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Had on tap (multiple times) at the toronado yesterday for their anniversary party. The funny thing is I expected it to be just good, perhaps a bit of a boozy mess, but nonetheless enjoyable. What I GOT was bitchslapped across the face by the tastiest stout I may have ever had. This thing is the TRUTH! When I was describing it to my friends today I told them it tasted like a mix between parabola and bcbs. Just thick and chewy. Rich and robust without being too sweet. And this perfect mild spice/heat lingering just so faintly (tequila?) I could not stop raving about it. top 3 favorite stouts ever tasted. $$ in the bank

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Photo of bifrost17
4.34/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

So glad I was able to score three of the last four bottles of this available at Bottleworks.

A: Exactly what you'd expect. Dark (not totally opaque) inky, viscous. A vigorous pour produces a solid finger and a half worth of a khaki/mocha colored head. The head goes away pretty quickly, as you'd expect in a beer this big, but it sticks around as a nice off white ring around the glass. Only the slightest amount of lacing is left on the glass as I drink it. Honestly this beer looks kind of intimidating, but not in a bad way....if that makes any sense.

S: Oh my god....TEQUILA! I'm not fan of tequila, it's one of my worst enemies, but the way the tequila barrel aging in this beer comes through in the nose is divine. I can't exactly describe it, but this beer has that familiar FW barrel aged beer scent that I'm used to, at least it's the scent I get in the anniversary beers they brew, and Parabola, and Sucaba. Good lord, the tequila, seriously. Wow. Chocolate, vanilla, coffee, coconut, and maybe slight bourbon....? Seriously though, the overwhelming scent I get is all tequila, and not that cheap shit that will get you into a bar fight, I'm talkin like top shelf tequila here. Amazing.

T: Unfortunately the taste doesn't quite live up to the nose. I mean don't get me wrong, it tastes amazing, but the overwhelming flavor I get right now is just BOOZE, especially as it warms up. Although, I'm keeping in mind this is a very fresh bottle, and at almost 14% abv I'm not surprised that it's so boozy. Very sweet, but finishes very nice, just a slight pleasant lingering sweetness. Warms you inside as it goes down.

M: Slides across the palate very slick. Almost oil like. Not too thick. Carbonation is straight up perfection, not flat, but just enough carbonation to let you know it's beer.

O: I'm not sure why, but my expectations weren't that high on this beer, but honestly it's one of the best and most unique beers I've tried. I'm tackling this bomber alone because I just couldn't wait to try it, but this is definitely one that I'd recommend sharing with some friends that will really appreciate it. Firestone Walker has the barrel aged "big beer" game on straight up total lockdown (in my opinion) Parabola, Sucaba, the anniversary beers, and now this...all of them world class. I can't wait to see how amazing Velvet Merkin is once it hits the market this year. Anyways, I'm extremely grateful that I live in a city that has members of the PNC so that I was able to buy some bottles of this at their bottleshop. Thanks to Firestone Walker, Matt Bonney, Matt Vandenberg, and the rest of the PNC members for making this possible. I can't wait to see what some age does to this amazing beer, thank god I have 2 more bottles. Definitely in the top 10 beers I've had. I'll be sure to edit this review in a year or so when I decide to crack another bottle.

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Photo of barleywinefiend
4.18/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A : Poured a jet black with a light khaki head, some decent head retention leaves a light foamy curtains on the sides of the glass

S: A nice roastiness with a light booziness, some chocolate, coffee, light vanilla and coconut. I barely detect the "infamous" tequila

T: Upfront reminds me of a Parabola. Plenty of roast, vanilla, coconut and coffee. The tequila is sordove undercover until the finish and even then its not as boastful as I believe many, myself included were expecting.

M: Well carbonated, velvety, smooth and very flavorfull. Medium-full to full bodied, not very heavy. No stinging booze or astringency. Just liquid smoothness.

O: Very nice beer by my favorite brewery! This was consumed draft at the Bottleworks release. I was actually wanting a bit more tequila presence.

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Photo of TommyLiam
4.54/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A joy to drink but a bit steep on price. Cellar for at least six months to lose some of the heat.

A -- Black, translucent brown on the edges. Thin, light brown head with little retention and almost zero lacing.

S -- Lots of vanilla, some tequila and a base of wet quality coffee grounds.

T -- The tequila is bordering the dominant upfront vanilla and sweet roast malts. Amaretto Cherries with cocoa transitions to a finish of very sweet wood.

M -- heavy and structured. Light carb disapates quickly.

A great one off from a favorite of mine. It will no doubt be too sweet for many fans of the Imperial Stout style.

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Photo of rand
4.51/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

22 oz bottle imbibed at Toronado SD. Poured into a small goblet.

A bit of a surprise, I wasn't aware they were brewing this until recently. Nice of Ian at Toronado to give us the heads-up. This is an amazing brew, not unlike Parabola's flavor profile, with touches of warming, astringent tequila around the edges.

A: Jet black in color, highly viscous in appearance, which seems to dampen any chance of a head.

S: Big notes of vanilla and oak, joined by a hints of chocolate and coffee. Cherries and esters are also noted. The sweet aspects are checked by notes of tequila and booze. Really boozy, especially as it warms.

T: Malt-forward as expected...big notes of vanilla and hazelnut and sugar-sweetness. Some might find the profile too sweet, but these aspects are quickly balanced by warming booze and vinous, pithy tequila. Cherry, oak, toasty grain are all distinct mid-sip. The brew warms significantly as it finishes long and sweet and boozy.

M: About as oily and chewy and viscous as you'd expect...bordering on syrup.

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Photo of TheSevenDuffs
4.44/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap @ Toronado in SF

A - Pitch black with a thin layer of light brown head.

S - Oak, light tequila, chocolate, roast. Lots of barrel but not an intense tequila aroma.

T - Big barrel notes come to the forefront immediately: Oak, char, and light tequila. Chocolate, roast and molasses are all present as well.

M - Full body. Smooth. Light carbonation.

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Photo of bnelson997
4.84/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had this on tap at the brewery the morning after the FW Invitational cause I missed the pour there. You could definitely smell the tequila barrel in this. What an interesting taste too, as one wouldn't necessarily think that tequila would match well with an imperial stout. The flavor had that distinct bite of agave that was smoothed over by the warmth of the alcohol and roasted espresso flavor. The people who get to try this in bottle at the publican places where it was eventually be distributed will not be disappointed!

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Photo of Beerandraiderfan
4.26/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Well to start out, I am surprised to see this classified as an American double stout. I would have guessed it was gonna be classified as a wheatwine, but whaddo I know.

For a double stout, it sure is light and 'not black' looking. It was a reddish brown from where I was standing, but hey, I was a few beers in already at the time I savored this at the FW Invitational. The head was thin and beige.

Aroma was similar to the Melange 3/Bruery Anniversary beers in that it was full of a toffee and barrel sweetness like an alcoholic box of Cracker Jacks. I liked the aroma of Mikkeller's Tequila barrel black hole, and this one is no different. Throw in some coconut and vanilla in the aroma to round it out. Complex.

Taste drinks frighteningly smooth and is easy to drink for something so strong. Tasted nowhere near that type of abv. Oak is pleasant. Mild cocao contribution to the smoothness and just enough sweetness to counteract any bitterness. A mellow ride, man.

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Photo of Rifugium
4.42/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

First had: on tap at Monk's, Philly, PA

Served in a tulip, black, with tinges of brown around the edges, and topped with a thin tan head that receded to a meager ringlet. In the nose, dark chocolate, dark fruits, booze, and lighter notes of coffee and vanilla. Rich, full taste, chocolate, figs, tequila very obvious and actually well-balanced, with a stiff oakiness from the barrel, dark malty sweetness, toffee, and a touch of toasted coconut. This was a big beer. BCBS-ish in nature (only with tequila). Slick, oily mouthfeel, full body, definitely boozy though, so it makes for a good sipper. Very good overall.

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PNC Imperial Buckwheat Stout from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
4.44 out of 5 based on 470 ratings.
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