Firestone Walker Brewing Co – Fifteenth Anniversary Ale

This week is pretty much the one year anniversary of this blog.  I’m not really sure of the exact date I put this entire thing together, but I know I made it and waited a couple of days before I actually got a post together to put up.  So a few of the posts this week will be somewhat celebratory for the whole one year anniversary.  I started thinking about what beer I wanted to enjoy for the anniversary a couple of months ago.  Everything I had was pretty standard.  I had a few bottles that were nice, but I really didn’t think any of them were all that special.  Then I got a call from my beer store that this beer had come in.  They have changed their policy since then, but I had put my name down on a list to reserve a bottle of this Firestone Walker brew and then completely forgotten about it.  So it was a pretty expensive trip to the store that week.  Ultimately, I knew I had found the beer I would be reviewing for the one year anniversary.

As I’ve said before on here, aging beer in barrels is all the rage right now.  It seems like everyone has to throw some release of theirs into a barrel and age it.  Firestone took this concept in a little bit of a different direction with this bottle.  This beer has some fabulously extravagant packaging, and it comes with a sheet (back and front) of information on the beer.  This beer doesn’t just take one type of brew, it is a blend of 197 oak barrels and 8 different beers.  That’s right, this one bottle actually contains 8 different styles of beer all aged in some form of oak barrel.  Here is the list of all the beers involved in here.

HelldoardoBlonde Barley wine aged in bourbon and brandy barrels, Sticky MonkeyEnglish Barley wine aged in bourbon and brandy barrels, Bravo Imperial Brown Ale aged in bourbon and brandy barrels, Double Double Barrel AleDouble Strength English Pale Ale aged in 100% in retired Firestone Union barrels, Good FootAmerican Barley wine – aged in bourbon barrels, Velvet MerkinTraditional oatmeal stout – aged in bourbon barrels, ParabolaRussian Imperial Oatmeal Stout aged in bourbon barrels, Double JackDouble India Pale Ale 100% Fresh-n-Hoppy 100% Stainless Steel.

I know that’s a lot of different styles all contained in one bottle.  I’ve never really had a beer that is a blend of a bunch of different styles; however, I have had wine that uses this concept.  Ultimately I was really excited to get this one out of a fridge and into a glass.  Thankfully my good friend John was up for enjoying this bottle with me as well.  So we cracked this one open Friday!

This one poured out a rich black color.  It didn’t really have the oil consistency, but it was somewhat more like a charcoal black.  It actually did let some light in here and there.  There was a light brownish head that developed on top of the beer and quickly disappeared.  There was basically no lacing at all on this beer, and it really had no sticky lacing developing on the sides of the glass either.  While the beer did allow some light in, it was too dark to really get a feel for the clarity of it, and you definitely couldn’t see any carbonation at all.  Even agitating the liquid revealed very little activity from the carbonation.

There is a whole lot of activity going on in the nose of this one.  I suppose it really isn’t all that surprising.  They combine so many different beers into one, and you age each one for extended time in some form of barrel, you definitely aren’t going to have faint smells.  The biggest aroma you immediately get is the ample bourbon booze scent.  It is almost to the point where it burns your nose like a typical glass of hard liquor.  With the alcohol comes an expected overall sweetness that accompanies it.  The sweetness is really interesting.  It has a burnt sugary quality to it. Some of the lesser smells are the roasted coffee notes.  You also get a lot of earthy woody tones to this one as well.  The raisin scents are really ample here as well.  Overall you get a lot of big malts and no hops.

The taste, much like the smell, is dominated by an ample amount of the bourbon booze flavor.  It is so big it has that alcohol burn to it.  This is one of those complex beers that has different flavors at different temperatures.  When I poured the beer cold I experienced some flavors, and I found others coming through as I allowed the beer to warm up a little bit.  The sheet this one came with states that you need to let it warm up to 55F to fully enjoy the pleasing and complex aromas.  While cold I managed to pull out some sweet dark chocolate qualities; however these seemed to blend in a little more as you allow it to warm.  There are a lot of rich malts in here.  Following some of those malts and chocolate flavors you get some really big raisin qualities.  The raisin has a lot of sweetness surrounding it, and it really leads you in well to the big bourbon burn that come in towards the back half of the flavors.  The bourbon gives way to a really sweet vanilla flavor on the finish.  The vanilla is almost like the prize for having made it through the alcohol burn.  There is a lot of lingering booze on the ending with a little hint of anise as well.

The mouth on this one is a lot of thickness overall.  It really isn’t a light beer by any stretch of the imagination.  There is a little bit of light carbonation to help break up the syrup, but as you let it warm, the beer loses a lot of that carbonation.  I’m fine with the thickness of this beer.  You really don’t pick this beer up thinking it’s going to be light and easy drinking.  Overall it is an amazingly rich and creamy concoction.

This is a beer for people who love beer.  You don’t pick this beer up if you want something to pound and get you drunk.  It might get you drunk, but it is because it’s a really heavy beer.  Thankfully I didn’t do too bad with this one.  I really don’t know if you’re going to be able to find this beer anywhere anymore, but if you do you’ll be rewarding yourself big time.  You’ll have to shell out a couple extra bucks, but trust me, you’ll really appreciate this complex brew!

Teacher Grade: A+



  1. OK, now you’re just showing off. 🙂 Just kidding. That beer sounds ridiculously good. Congrats on your blogiversary. You’re doing a great job on the blog. I can’t believe how much quality content you crank out….posting every day of the week, and whatnot. I can only manage to come up with 2-3 posts per week. You’re an animal.

    • Thanks man I definitely appreciate it. I definitely enjoy reading your material too. I won’t lie it’s hard getting material out every day of the week, but I do enjoy it as well.

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