Firestone Walker 17th Anniversary Ale XVII

Firestone Walker XVII 17th Anniversary Ale

© 2013 popsonhops

Firestone Walker 17th Anniversary Ale XVII

Tasting: December 25, 2013
Style: Stong Ale
Beer #: 508

In 2010, Firestone Walker made a grand entrance into New Jersey with their fourteenth anniversary beer. I recall at our first “Pops on Hops meeting” (meeting – meaning reason to go to the Cloverleaf for drinks) we each had one on draft. It was big and boozy and was really too wild to handle or appreciate. The bottles were in stores everywhere but the $20 price tag (unheard of at the time) was a bit steep – especially for a beer that did not impress. I passed on fourteen – but decided that I would pick up subsequent vintages as a little age would probably be the perfect prescription to tame the beast. So, fifteen, sixteen and a couple bottles of seventeen are resting nicely in my basement.

Like previous releases, this anniversary brew is a barrel-aged blend of some of their limited release offerings. Since the brewery is in wine country and the Firestone family is deeply seeded in wine history, it should be no surprise that Firestone Walker enlists the talents of local vintners to create each year’s blend. The wine makers pair up in teams and create blends for judging in a blind tasting. The winning blend becomes the anniversary ale. This year’s cuvee breaks down as follows:

30% Bravo Barrel-Aged Imperial Brown Ale
25% Stickee Monkey Barrel-Aged English Barley Wine
15% Velvet Merkin Barrel-Aged Oatmeal Stout
15% Parabola Barrel-Aged Imperial Russian Oatmeal Stout
8% Double Double Barrel Ale
4% Helldorado Barrel-Aged Blonde Barley Wine
3% Wookey Jack Black Rye India Pale Ale

Here again, this is big and boozy right out of the gate – not surprising for 13.3% alcohol by volume. The burn mutes some very interesting and complex flavors. I get waves of raisin/figs, brown sugar, vanilla, some honey. This is a massive beer that will certainly improve with age. The alcohol burn will subside and the complex flavors are certain to deepen. Mouthfeel is extraordinary and sticky. Very pricy at $25 for a bomber-sized bottle. The booziness and price throttle back my impressions and I’ll put this at 92 points. However, I fully expect this to be a legend in a couple of years.

I’ve had a few of the components of this beer and here are my notes…

Parabola (97 points)
Double Double Barrel Ale (88 points)
Wookey Jack (90 points)

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