Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
from United States (California)
4th highest rated brewery (of 635)
Highest RatedWookey Jack (98 / 100) Average score77 / 100 (Excellent)
Lowest Rated805 (41 / 100) Number Tried29
Nitro Merlin Milk Stout
Reviewed by Jez on 04.01.21 from a nitro can
Overall:
75 / 100
(Excellent)
12oz can purchased for me by Sam for Xmas 2020, after he enjoyed it so earlier in the year.

After the proper nitro-pouring technique, it looks a picture. Starts with a swift but obvious reverse-cascade, and settles out quite quickly. Fine-bubbled, persistent nitro head, with a crisp delineated line between it and the body. Colour is dark brown, certainly lighter than a full black at the thinner parts of the glass. But that head is a thing of beauty.

Nose is quite pleasant. It's very malt forward, almost with a kind of underattenuated brewday malt kind of aroma—like the smell of decocting a proportion of your grist. But it's lighter, slightly more roasty and with a hint of that lactose sweetness as well. It almost has a woody, nutty character to it as well, which works nicely. It's a good-smelling beer.

Taste is light and quite drinkable, aided by a beautiful smoothness from the nitro. The main flavours are those slightly burnt-toffee malt note—again, it tastes a lot like decoction to me—with a rather metallic, almost coppery finish. It's smooth as hell though, like a shark.

Extremely smooth, extremely drinkable and for 5.5% ABV, I'd smash this all night. Lovely beer—unpretentious but very good.
appearance: 4.25 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | drinkability: 4.25
Nitro Merlin Milk Stout
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 24.03.18 from a nitro can
Overall:
83 / 100
(Exceptional)
Can purchased by a friend of Chris' while travelling in the states. Kindly gifted to me.

I obeyed the instructions to invert the can and SURGEPOUR the contents, and as you can see it looks lovely. Big nitro cascade up the glass that settles into a dense, creamy pale head that ain't going anywheres. Body is dark-umber, fairly dense looking from the pour; yeah it looks like a classic Irish stout. Lovely stuff.

Smells quite nutty, with a dry husky grain character blending with roasty bitter chocolate, and some caramel sweetness. Slight burnt character similar to petrol and a mild salty character as well. Mostly just nice, chocolatey roasty notes that are very pleasant.

Tastes good. Very good, even. Big chocolatey notes throughout, with a rich vanilla and milky vein running through it as well. Has this creamy flavour early-mid that lightens and smooths up the palate but the finish allows the chocolate grain and slight roasted bitterness to take the fore even while remaining fairly sweet on the linger. It's a very palatable drop indeed, with just the right amount of bitterness to harness that lacto sweetness which is still the dominant character. Really nicely tempered; subtle sweet and bitter balance that's very moreish.

Mouthfeel is creamy-smooth, maybe a little light in the body so the bitterness cuts through slightly too strong. Minor shortcoming though, I wouldn't even call it a flaw.

It's a simple style, and it's very gratifying to see one of my highest rated breweries pulling off a simple style with this much aplomb. Firestone Walker are that highly-rated on the back of a whole bunch of huge special release flavour bombs, and this isn't one of them. It's not bombarding me with flavour, it's reassuring me with its balance and subtlety, and that makes the brewery so much more worthy of my esteem.
appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | drinkability: 5.0
Bravo
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 12.12.17 in bottle
Overall:
62 / 100
(Decent)
Pours a brownish orangey colour, cloudy and a bit dirty looking. Head is jaundiced off-white, whispy-looking with large bubbly foam all around. Decent cascade as it's tilted and good retention. Lace is pretty thin though. Bit odd; pale and yet murky.

Smells nutty. Malty sweet with peanut and hazelnut character. Subtle coconut oak character as well, that gets less subtle when you whiff deeply and look for it. Not much else; feels a little thin for the style.

Taste is a lot better and bigger. Malt character upfront develops some strong coconut bourbon oak notes midway, with some chestnut and peanut characters that get somewhat savoury late-mid. The vanilla coconut sweetness dominates the back with a raw booziness which gets unfortunately strong. Nutty on the finish and slightly too hot, but otherwise a nice oaky palate.

Deceptively thin upfront, that crescendoes in a raw and harsh boozey finish. Definitely needs more body.

Some really quite pleasant flavours but a bit too strong without the balance or the substance in the end, so it feels a lot heavier than it really needs to, or should.
appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 2.75 | drinkability: 3.25
Bravo
Reviewed by Jez on 21.10.17 in bottle
Overall:
72 / 100
(Very Good)
12oz boxed squat brown bottle purchased from The Willows Market in Menlo Park, CA. Shared with Sam back in Sydney. 2017 vintage.

Pours very murky, almost amber in colour rather than brown, with a coarse-bubbled head of yellow-tinged beige. Lacing forms in tine specks, but not much more than that. Body is thick, with lots of static carbonation when tilted, which eventually scrambles to the surface. Looks okay, although the colour is surprisingly light.

Nose is quite boozy, but in a pleasant, well-incorporated way. There's enough malt to support it, and the strength of it lends it to characters of aniseed and cracked black pepper. It has a touch of something papery at times, but this weirdly morphs into a pleasant note of cinnamon. It's quite nice.

Taste is similar, and it settles down pleasantly to a chewy kind of malt mid-palate, just laced with overtones of the aniseed and booze. The back is a bit hotter, with a sharp twang from the young alcohol. And it does finish extremely boozy, almost heady in its immediate intoxication. There's no denying its strength at least.

Feel is hot and surprisingly dry. It weirdly works, especially given the heat and booze on the back-palate.

It's definitely still young, and I'm sure it will appreciate a little more time in the bottle. As it is though, it's raw and rugged, and it demands your respect. Maybe I'd like it more when it's less headstrong and more mellow.
appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 3.75
Opal
Reviewed by Jez on 05.10.15 in bottle
Overall:
58 / 100
(Decent)
Dry-hopped saison, you say? Sign me up! 22oz brown bomber purchased from Whole Foods, Los Altos. Bottled on July 10 2015.

Pours a mildly hazed bright yellow colour, almost lurid in the light. Head is a fine white, that settles out to a film without leaving much in the way of lace. Body is surprisingly light for 7.5% ABV. Carbonation is fine, but minimal. All up, there are some good things to it, but it doesn't look the picture all up.

Nose is pleasant enough in certain, slightly awry ways: there's a funk to it, but it gives it a slight wet corn character. There's a greenness from the dry hops, but it does tend towards the grassy. But, everything is subdued, and in a relatively nice balance, so it still feels reasonable.

It's a similar story on the palate. There's a pleasing roundedness to the palate, with a touch of funk and organic haziness to it. But it's hard to deny that this makes it feel overly sweet, and without much in the way of hop character outside the aroma, it feels slightly rank and sickly. And yet, it feels well-structured—nothing is necessarily wrong with it, and the characters feel quite deliberate. I'm just a little unconvinced.

Feel is full and round, with a subversive carbonation which doesn't tingle the palate, but does provoke a lot of burping the more you drink.

Overall. I know it's hard to justify why, but I'm not a fan. There's not anything necessarily wrong with the beer, but all together, I don't necessarily want to drink it. There's pleasant things to it, and a few weirdnesses, but the structure and composition is good. And yet here we are—I don't really like it, and I don't know why.
appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | drinkability: 3.25
805
Reviewed by Jez on 04.10.15 in bottle
Overall:
41 / 100
(Not Great)
22oz bomber purchased from BevMo in Sunnyvale, CA. "The beer for your friends who don't like craft beer" stated the display. As you know, I'm ambivalent at best when it comes to craft beer, so I thought I'd better try this out to see if it could turn my head.

Pours a clear pale golden colour, with a fine ring of white that persists around the edges but doesn't leave much lace. Body is pretty light, but the carbonation is fine and copious when tilted. Looks decent enough.

Nose is dull. Very dull. It's like the opening plenary at the cardigan convention. Some light, grainy malt, that gives it a character like stewed corn kernels, mingled with a faint, waifish suggestion of nothing. As it warms up, the nothing becomes more prominent, leaving it like the brisk, enlivening sensation of a fresh morning cup of cardboard.

Taste is similar. Thin, slightly sweet, with faint grain characters and almost nothing else. Feel is weak, flavour is minimal if inoffensive. Aftertaste has all the character of Mitt Romney's photo collection of his favourite towels.

I get the idea—take would might be a fine beer, take out all of the things that are offensive to people (such as myself) who quail at anything more challenging than a flat, warm glass of Budweiser, and market it as a "gateway beer", designed to get people to switch their brand of choice, while still supping on tasteless swill.

Get a grip, FW, this is beneath you.
appearance: 3.75 | aroma: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.25 | drinkability: 3.0
Pale 31
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 04.11.14 in bottle
Overall:
77 / 100
(Excellent)
Pale gold, metallic looking. Nice white head, whispy but nice retention, fairly good amount of lace all around. Bit pale but nice.

Smells a bit oxidised, but nice. Hoppy, with citrus and pine, fair amount of malt with oxidised currants, loads of caramel. Nice.

Taste is very caramelly upfront, sweet and malty with a touch of popcorn, toffee then nice gentle hop character but a nice citrus edge to flood the palate with bitterness and take the edge off the sweetness. Well constructed, good balance. Great pale ale, right up there with the best of them.

Smooth, but a little thin and short, doesn't last to the back.

Nice drinkin' beer, very pleasant.
appearance: 3.75 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | drinkability: 4.0
Double Double Barrel Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 26.07.14 in bottle
Overall:
74 / 100
(Very Good)
22oz bomber purchased from Healthy Spirits in San Francisco, CA. Brought back to Sydney where I shared it with Sam.

Beautiful reddish-amber colour, very clear and bright in the body. Some slightly sudsy streaking lace. Body is thick and fine, and holds wonderfully slim streams of carbonation. Looks pretty wonderful.

Nose is incredible. Oaky, bright but leavened with a sweetness that keeps it grounded and tethered. The lightness comes from the hops, which are heady, but still tied to a slightly English earthiness—they give a denseness to the beer. Really beautiful stuff.

Taste is similarly good—here, though it has a sweetness that really takes it beyond anything resembling an ESB. That's fine, but the bitterness has a hard time keeping things together. There's a oakiness towards the back that smooths over all of the oddities, but it's hard to deny that all of the weight doesn't necessarily work.

Feel is very smooth and clean, but with a slick, marble-like sweetness always providing a bit of weight.

Overall. This is nice stuff. As part of the big, intense blended anniversary ales, it's clearly a integral part. But on it's own, it's a little bit of an oddity.
appearance: 4.25 | aroma: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 3.75
Firestone 15 - Anniversary Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 26.10.13 in bottle
Overall:
78 / 100
(Excellent)
22oz boxed bottle purchased from Belmont Station in Portland, OR, approximately 18 months ago, when it was already a little on the agèd side. Brought back to Sydney, where I sat on it for a while and then shared it with Rich and Sam.

Pours a pleasant deep umber brown colour, with a pale beige head that seemed to form swiftly, but in the end turned only into a mass of large bubbles around the edge of the glass. Body is thick, and it holds what minor straggling carbonation it has very firmly. Looks thick and old. That's good.

Nose is oaky and a little flat, perhaps with a tad of oxidation coming through, giving a slightly buttery note. Stacks of sweetness, but more oak. Slight vinous notes, a little roast and a hint of balsamic. I do think that it has a fair amount of oxidation and age on it, but there's still plenty to enjoy here.

Taste is very smooth and very pleasant. Here, the oxidation has been kinder, leaving a pleasant smoothness to complement the intrinsic oak notes. There's some roast and a richness on the back of the palate, suggesting sultanas and baked rye bread. Some estery notes still come through, more of those raisin notes and a touch of sweet overripe banana. It's very pleasant.

Feel is good, but has lost a bit of carbonation: just a fine tingling would help it a lot, but I fear that's something that has come and gone.

Overall, this is still great stuff, but I feel as though it's showing its age. As much as I feel as though you should be able to cellar these beers, the ones I've had in the past have been much superior to this one, and I had them sooner after their release. The next time, I'll choose to drink my FW anniversary ale earlier.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.0
Abacus
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 21.03.13 in bottle
Overall:
79 / 100
(Excellent)
Pours a dark burgundy colour. Quite murky but a bit of a vibrant hue when held up to the light. Head is beige, with small bubbles, just a ring of foam left with disappointingly little lacing. Looks good, but a bit too big for its own boots.

Smell is very, very sweet but a nice sweet, with massive, massive coconut aroma - just huge, sticky coconut flesh, touch of vanilla and some pleasant sugar notes. Hint of some peachy, floral hops behind, but it's all that secondaried booze note, lovely clarity and tempered sweetness.

Taste is in a similar vein. Plenty of sweet malt underlying, with caramel, toffee and brown sugar, then over the top comes a succulent boozey sweetness with that lovely desiccated coconut flavour, hints of vanilla, and then yeah, a bite of booze late which is an unfortunate glitch. Palate is beautifully constructed as far as strong, sweet malt bombs go, but that unmistakeable heat from the booze on the back is a definite overstepping of the line.

Good body, not too thick and heavy but the hot booze on the back is noticeable and sharp.

With that in mind, this is a big, cuddly and loveable brew. Flavours I love and the development of the palate is superb. If not for that slight overheated booze on the back, this would have been held in wonderful balance.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.5 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 4.5
Parabola
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 07.03.13 in bottle
Overall:
81 / 100
(Exceptional)
Pours a dark brown colour; head is a bit whispier than I'd like. Nice pale beige colour, specks of lace. Looks OK, but thick.

Smells solventy, belying a strong, sweet malt base, with touches of roast underneath that. Peanut, marzipan and a touch of cranberry. Intriguing.

Taste is dark fruit; sweeter & complex with raisins, lots of vanilla and oak, currants, figs and dates with dry spicing - nutmeg, cumin and pepper as well as liquorice. Dark, roasty but with a lot of complex sugars, glaze and spice esters. Very, very nice indeed.

Thick and boozey on the mouthfeel, as you'd expect. Yeah, it definitely feels like 12.5%.

Lots to explore here; I really like that in a beer. When I started out on this particular journey of discovery, I felt disappointed and a bit nonplussed. I wish they'd given me more of a precursor on the look or the smell, because the anticipation and excitement is half of the fun. This doesn't look or smell nearly as good as it is.
appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 4.5
Parabola
Reviewed by Jez on 13.10.12 in bottle
Overall:
89 / 100
(Superb)
2012 boxed bottle purchased from Belmont Station in Portland, OR. Shared with @LaitueGonflable and @tobeerornottobe during a brewday in Sydney, Australia.

Pours a fine deep brown-black, with a slightly frothy, large-bubbled head of mocha brown that leaves speckled lace. Body is solid but fluid, leaving fine carbonation, but swirling quickly. Looks good.

Nose is an excellent deep sweet oak-aged stout melange. Hints of vanilla mixed with a depth of roast, with a sharp ashy tinge like the cold remains of an overnight campfire. There's a little touch of sulphur to it as well, which lends some organics in a slightly weird, but not necessarily unpleasant way.

Palate is exceptional. Incredibly smooth and rich, and wonderfully balanced. Deep darkness is obviously the order of the day, but it's blended and folded over itself again and again until it has no harshness in it: it's smooth, rich, and certainly dark, but in the most mellow and approachable way. Light oak gives some vanilla, but as ever, that darkness sits around and draws the flavour back to its midnight depths. Wow. Incredible stuff.

Feel is smooth but with a lightness that again antagonises the true darkness that is at its heart.

This is a wonderful beer. It straddles the dichotomy of dark and light, of good and evil of sweet and bitter. Of everything. This beer is a little of it all. Really great stuff.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 5.0 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.5
Double Jack
Reviewed by Jez on 18.08.12 in bottle
Overall:
88 / 100
(Superb)
Bottle purchased from BevMo in Sunnyvale, CA. Brought back to @LaitueGonflable and @tobeerornottobe in Sydney.

Pours a lovely clear golden colour, with a crackling, but slightly inconsistent head of pocked white. Some patchy speckled lace forms. The body is pleasantly heavy, and it has an unusual consistency in the glass, perhaps because the colour is so light. Looks decent enough.

Ah, yes. The nose is where this was always going to shine. Huge bright US hops, giving a powerful and potent citric punch. Stacks of lemon, mandarin peel and a touch of sharper pith or leaf characters. Brilliantly potent, but still full and nuanced. Amazing stuff.

Taste is also good—clean fresh hop flavour throughout, with a restrained bitterness on the back that melts perfectly with the until-this-point latent malt to give a slight biscuity kiss on the back. Still, this is about the hops, and we get some lovely orange marmalade characters, leafy tea and a bright crushed vegetation note. It's good stuff. Very good stuff, indeed.

Feel is smooth but light: a good enough vessel for transporting those lovely hops.

Overall, this is really great stuff: one of the better DIPAs I believe I've had. It really emphasises the hop flavour, and while it really ups the ante in this department, it never gets harsh or unbalanced. Great stuff, once again, Messrs. Firestone Walker.

appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 5.0 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.5
Wookey Jack
Reviewed by Jez on 18.06.12 in bottle
Overall:
98 / 100
(Best of the Best)
Bottle picked up from BevMo in Sunnyvale, CA.

Pours a deep brown colour (certainly more brown than black), with a firm and frothy head of mocha foam. Body is solid, holding its carbonation nicely. Lacing is great. Overall, it's a top-notch looking beer. If it were actually black like advertised it would be a clear 5/5.

Ooh, the nose is phenomenal, and is making a good play for a 5/5 itself, straight off the bat. Big fragrant hops meander among the complex and almost unknowable malt basis. Rye gives peppery notes, which mingles with a hint of faintly smoky roast, sweetness and even a touch of salt. The hops complement this, and seemingly fill in the gaps, creating an immensely nuanced but coherent and expressive whole. Gorgeous stuff.

The taste is also complex, but excitingly in different ways than expected from the nose. Here, there is really a genuine hint of smoke, which adds a subtle comforting sweetness underneath everything, above which is layered roast, malt, bright hops, smoothness. There's spice and pepper on the back, but smooth fruitiness, and even a caressing chocolate character. Wow. It's like there's such complexity to every layer at every point on the palate. I feel like I could keep describing the exciting little things which pop up at different points, and still not scratch the surface.

Feel is smooth and rich, but never so much that it starts to overwhelm the palate—it lets the flavours of the beers talk for themselves.

Wow. Just wow. This is a phenomenally good beer. Exciting, complex, rich, but for all that balanced and exceptionally drinkable. Gorgeous stuff. Just gorgeous.

appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 5.0 | taste: 5.0 | feel: 4.5 | drinkability: 5.0
Abacus
Reviewed by Jez on 10.12.11 in bottle
Overall:
91 / 100
(Superb)
2011 Vintage, purchased in May of this year, brought back to Sydney Australia and shared with @LaitueGonflable and @tobeerornottobe.

Pours a lovely deep brown, just flecked with hints of ruby. The body is a thick, glutinous blob of chewy malt, and the bubbly inconsistent head is really the subsistent, secondary part of the appearance. Nice fine carbonation. Looks very decent.

Nose is just lovely, and a brilliant archetype of the Firestone Walker barrel-aging genre. Lovely coconut-vanilla characters coming through above a gorgeously thick and sweet malt basis. Slight hints of earthy vegetation coming through, giving a touch of tea and a minerally hint of seaweed. Very nicely accentuated. Lovely.

Taste is smooth, luscious and gorgeous, with big sweetness beautifully worked off the oak tannins and faint acidity. Coconut comes through, along with hints of reduced bourbon, barley sugar and a slick resiny aftertaste. Really smooth, and gorgeously integrated—the characters all meld together really beautifully, and although the complexities are manifold, they form one coherence, blissful whole.

Feel is spectacularly smooth, while remaining quite fluid. The feel is pretty much the only way to truly detect the alcohol as well, sitting as it does as a warmth on the back of the throat.

A gorgeous beer from FW. I love their anniversary barrel blends, but this one shows that they can do something amazing and comparable with a single brew as well. Great stuff.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.5 | taste: 5.0 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.5
Pale 31
Reviewed by Jez on 15.10.11 in bottle
Overall:
71 / 100
(Very Good)
Bottle purchased from BevMo in Sunnyvale, CA.

Pours a very clear, bright golden colour, with a fine body and a pleasantly thick white head that leaves complex lacing. I love the bright, yet light colour of it—it makes it look vibrant and inviting. Yeah.

Nose follows on with this vibe of brightness, with a really lovely crisp citric hoppy nose, layered with sweet-savoury pastry tones and a touch of apricot. It's fruity, but layered and complex. Ooh, yeah. It doesn't break the boundaries or make you question your assumptions about the style, but it's brimming with character and about as good as you can imagine an APA nose being. Awesome.

Taste is a lot lighter, as probably was to be expected, but it continues that nice apricot flavour while not spiking it with any bitterness. Also carried along is the slight pastry character, which is what gives its lightly sweet basis. The back drops out a lot, not giving the pleasant staccato bitterness which would cut it off and round it off nicely—instead, the sweetness sits around and fades away rather limply.

Still, this is a nice APA, and a cracker for such a rather ubiquitous brew, at least around these parts. Very drinkable and enjoyable.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 4.0
Velvet Merlin (Merkin)
Reviewed by Jez on 10.10.11 in bottle
Overall:
70 / 100
(Very Good)
Pours much lighter than I expected, more a deep brown than a brown-black, and still letting light pass through rather easily. Head is yellowish beige, large-bubbled and frothy where agitated, but otherwise forming a thin film. Pretty good static carbonation when tilted, but overall, it just doesn't win me with its look.

Nose is dry but pleasantly roasted, with grainy cereal notes and a hint of coconut. It's rather mild in aroma, but the characters it has are very pleasant.

Taste is similar, and it has a really nice smoothness on the back palate that melds with the dark grain notes to almost give the suggestion of chocolate, even though there's absolutely minimal sweetness. Finish is quite dry, and with that mealy cereal character that suggests you have another sip. It's light on the palate, really, but it's pretty drinkable.

Certainly something I'd happily drink again, and something with plenty of dry roasty character that is eminently sessionable. No bad at all.

appearance: 3.0 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | drinkability: 4.0
Walker's Reserve - Robust Porter
Reviewed by Jez on 06.10.11 in bottle
Overall:
73 / 100
(Very Good)
Pours a dark, hazy brown colour, with a filmt but fine ring of coffee-coloured foam at the edges of the glass. Minimal body, minimal lacing, and, in fact, the lack of any sort of head forming is a bit of a disappointment. Otherwise, it's alright.

Nose is pleasantly balanced between a sharp coffee bite, and a smoothness of creamy vanilla. Mellow and light, but pretty well representative. There's a touch of thick, slightly goopy under-attenuated malt to it, but otherwise, it's nicely held together.

Light and pleasant on the palate, lifted by a decent jolt of roast grain bittersweetness on the back. Initial characters of dusty cocoa and light roast coffee get taken on an upswell in the bitterness stakes. Feel is light throughout, which is fine for the style, and accentuates the sharp roasty, charring character in the finish. I can see a bigger version going for something bigger, with more sweetness to compensate as well.

Overall, a nice brew, and one that is surprisingly gentle and drinkable. Despite this, it packs plenty of flavour, and feels pretty solid throughout.

appearance: 3.0 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 4.0
Firestone 14 - Anniversary Ale
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 03.08.11 in bottle
Overall:
86 / 100
(Exceptional)
Pours a very dark colour, just brown at the edges with pleasant ochre head, small bubbles but sparse around the edges. Lace is thin; could be better. Nice colour though.

Smell is sweet, chocolatey, rich and nutty. Lots of peanut brittle, almond and a kind of sweet battery malt to it that gives it a savoury but sweet edge. Oaky, nutty and pleasant. Man it's good.

Taste is sweet, with all the same characters of the nose - sweet, nutty, almost salty at times. Starts sweet with a barleywine complexity to it, burnt sugar and toffee that then develops dark malty roastiness with peanut butter, batter and coffee, some red wine notes as well with oak, cedar and that lovely bourbon vanilla sweetness at the back. A lovely blossoming palate full of delicious flavours; just drink it.

Full, smooth, with a hint of booziness at the back that adds a slight sharpness. Otherwise beautiful.

Delicious beer, with a perfectly drawn balance between those rich, dark beer flavours and the sweeter flavours from the booze and oak.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.5
Firestone 14 - Anniversary Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 30.07.11 in bottle
Overall:
93 / 100
(Superb)
Always a pleasure to try another of these releases. I hold high hopes for this one. This one was purchased in California and brought back to Sydney to share with @LaitueGonflable.

Pours a deep, heavy, viscous black-brown, with a mottled but reasonably solid head of mocha foam. Very fine static carbonation in the exceptionally heavy body. Lacing is almost non-existent, but that's not unusual in a beer this heavy.

Nose is just gorgeous. That perfectly balanced and sweet vanilla oak character, with dark chocolate and slightly astringent boozy notes. Even some dark toasted coconut—the barrel gives it such a redolent and mellow character, and the blending just gets the proportions right. Wonderful.

Taste is smooth and creamy, and genuinely darker than the previous release. Here we have big chocolate and coconut characters, like a toasted Bounty bar. It's so sweet and luscious, complementary and balanced. Still, it's smooth and leavened—it certainly doesn't have any roasted astringency. So smooth, and so drinkable young—and yet, it makes me want to squirrel away a bottle and see what it's like in ten or twenty years time. I think it would stand the test.

Such a gorgeous beer, and such a valid and perfect addition to the series. Genuinely one of the most well thought-out and well-balanced beers I've ever had. They put such a concerted and nuanced approach into these beers—I can't wait for number fifteen.

appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 5.0 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | drinkability: 5.0
Firestone 13 - Anniversary Ale
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 29.04.11 in bottle
Overall:
90 / 100
(Superb)
Pours a very dark colour, can't find much colour in that at all, just dark. Touch of brown on the outer fringe but it may just be a glass refraction effect. Head is lacklustre, just bubbles on the top, small specks of lace around. Looks too heavy, really, to bother about the niceties.

Smell resembles gorgeousness. Oaky to the max with masses of vanilla, caramel, and a touch of funk; loads of woody aroma. It's really quite dominantly wood with only underlying hints of roasty chocolate, and coconut as well. Seriously though, oak-age your beers, people. It just works.

Taste, to put it mildly, and not to put too fine a point on it, is a motherfucking crackhouse of pimping ecstasy. Dark base, with chocolatey edge takes on huge oak notes with all the wonderful associated flavours - coconut, vanilla, a slight mouldy funk, cinnamon and dark, dark wood. Bit of boozey heat on the back with a touch of caramel, mint and butterscotch - not diacetyl though, a proper, rich butterscotch. What a fantastic mélange of deliciousness; sweet, complex, magnificent.

Actually the body is surprisingly thin, but with a hot booze sensation late. Oddly enough I'm not hugely enamoured of that given the flavour.

Overall it does seem a bit hot and overcooked at times. It's a big beast of a beer, and while the aroma and flavour are fantastic, it's definitely a 'share with friends' beer and would knock you out if you tried this on your own.
appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 4.5 | taste: 5.0 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 4.5
Firestone 13 - Anniversary Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 16.04.11 in bottle
Overall:
90 / 100
(Superb)
Purchased, I have to say, somewhat arbitrarily in the US on my last trip, saved up and brought back to Australia to drink with @LaitueGonflable and @tobeeroronottobe.

Pours dark, very dark indeed—a deep black colour, just browning at the edges, with a frothy and bubbly head of ochre. Head doesn't stick around for long, but that's somewhat to be expected in a beer of this weight. Body looks thick, and it leaves some very good static carbonation when tilted. Looks good.

Nose is beautifully rich and redolent with big oaky characters, giving vanilla and coconut whiffs with a good bourbon booziness. Not as dark as it might be, indeed, it's leavened with a sweetish almost strawberry like fragrance, but it's so pleasantly balanced. Lovely, just gorgeous nose. So complex, but so wonderfully even handed.

Taste is similar, and the oaky characters come out in full here, giving a mellow vanilla-pod tweaking to rich full flavours of creamy sweet caramel and gooey chocolate cake. Smooth but light on the palate, which leavens the sweet and heavy flavours enough to make is surprisingly and welcomingly drinkable.

Holy goddamn what an excellent beer. Smooth and complex, but leavened and really perfectly balanced. Such lovely rich flavours but never too much in any direction. Gorgeous. Just gorgeous.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 5.0 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | drinkability: 4.5
Union Jack India Pale Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 29.10.10 on tap
Overall:
60 / 100
(Decent)

Pours a deep coppery amber colour with a filmy head of white. Looks pretty dark, and pretty filmy for an IPA. Lots of lacing at least. Decent, but not exciting.

Nose is very pleasant, but lacking some of the potency and sweet straight exciting complexity. Some lightly spicy pickled orange aromas, with a big malty caramel and butterscotch character
Not overdone, like diacetyl at least. Decent.

Taste is sharp and pleasantly hoppy. Pretty well done. Caramel is a bit too pronounced but it is killed by the pleasant, direct hoppiness. Feel is a little thin, but the carbonation is spot on.

Drinkable enough. Not a great IPA, but a decent one. I wanted something more, but this is good enough in its way.

appearance: 3.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.5
Double Barrel Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 28.09.08 in bottle
Overall:
56 / 100
(Decent)

Pours a bronze-amber colour, with a thin head of white foam. Head dissipates pretty quickly, despite the steady carbonation. No lacing. Looks pretty tame.

Lighty toasted malt characters on the nose. Dark, a little sweet burnt sugar character. Although it's pretty weak, there's not a lot on it.

Taste is also pretty weak, a light roasted character on the front palate, and a light slightly sour character later on. Finishes with an earthy taste that leaves the palate feeling a bit rough. Pretty light mouthfeel too.

This is a pretty bland beer - there's nothing really wrong with it, but there's not a lot to it. Simple flavours. It's drinkable enough, but not very exciting.

appearance: 3.0 | aroma: 3.0 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 3.5