Tuesday, May 3

Beer Review: Firestone Walker 2011 Abacus Barley Wine Ale

I was lucky enough to find one of these bombers at a Whole Foods in East Vancouver, WA about a week ago for $14.99. I love barleywines, but more so love barrel aged barleywines. Unfortunately not much of this barleywine was actually barrel aged due to some stupid laws in California. As far as I know, about 20% or so was actually barrel aged. Good fellow beer advocates in California told me to drink it fresh, and not to worry about aging it as it wouldn't get any better than it is now. Now for the review..

Appearance: (3.0)
- Pours a dark ruby brown which as far as I can tell, is clear.. not cloudy. Very quick fizzling light brown bubbles which practically vanished and left what looks to be a port in the glass. Can't say it's an overly pretty beer. Guessing this aspect will be the beers low points. Nice thin oily film in the glass.

Smell: (4.0)
- Fig, prune, esters hit the nose. Thick sweet raisin molasses and brown sugar with a sweet malt presence. Little bit of alcohol, but not much. Overall this smells like a wonderful sweet desert beer.

Taste: (4.5)
- Caramel and molasses come to mind at first.. then a blend of vanilla, earthy oak, burnt brown sugar, and prune show themselves. Very tasty, sweet, and balanced. Not overly loaded with alcohol flavors. Perhaps some earthy and grassy hops. Finishes with a nice spicy touch.

Mouth Feel: (3.5)
- Not as thick as I thought it would be. Plenty carbonated, just doesn't leave any head. Slightly chalky and sticky. Somewhat chewy and drying.

Overall: (4.0)
- Overall this is a killer barleywine. Has a wonderful array of flavors and a desert-like quality that can be rare in such a style. Overall not the prettiest beer, but is quite nice and a bomber worth sharing with some fellow beer advocates!

A- / 4.13

(Based on BeerAdvocate.com's rating scale)


  1. I love that beer and was lucky enough to get it on tap at the brewery.

  2. Lucky! I bet it would be killer on tap as well!

  3. It is one-hundred percent barrel aged, every part sees the inside of a Heavens Hill Bourbon barrel. Also this beer will age well and change with time although it is tasting quite good right now. Glad you enjoyed the brew.