Firestone Walker Brewing Company
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A Note on This Beer
Last week, my neighborhood beer bar hosted a Barleywine takeover. There I was, mingling with my Malt-loving brethren and sipping tasters of sweet, copper-colored booze. My night was a blur of molasses and toffee when -- “Is that a vintage bottle from 50-time GABF medalists Firestone Walker behind the bar?!” Of course, I had to get a taste. And the moment the barkeep poured that golden elixir, Helldorado, my Barleywine world stopped turning.
Could this liquid gold possibly belong in the same category as the caramelly brews I’ve come to love? A sweet, boozy taste answered with a resounding yes: It’s the #11 American Barleywine on BeerAdvocate.
With aromas of caramel-apple, cotton candy, and butterscotch, it’s a Barleywine through-and-through. The secret behind its golden hue is that Firestone Walker uses only English and American Pale Malts, bringing forward flavors of rich wildflower honey. Notes of lavender and oaky vanilla weave throughout, from the barrels where this complex brew aged. And oh yes, there’s the booze … Helldorado’s 12.8% ABV lurks below its smooth surface.
Back in 2006, Firestone’s original plan was to release a limited amount of Helldorado on draft, but its cult following grew quickly and demanded a bottle release. Barleywine fans everywhere are thanking their boozy stars the brewers listened: This 2017 vintage is rated a 4.22 on Untappd. We advise sharing one now, then cellaring a bottle or two to taste as it mellows ever further.
*Cellar at 45-55 degrees.