Saturday, April 2, 2016
Firestone Walker 19th Anniversary Ale
Style: American Strong Ale
- Beer Advocate: 4.43/5
- RateBeer: 4.03/5
If you've read my previous Firestone Walker reviews, then you know what this series is about (See: 14, 16, and 18). Teams of winemakers compete to create the best mixture of Firestone beers and the winner becomes the anniversary ale. The 19th anniversary blend is as follows...
Parabola - 13% abv
Russian Imperial Stout aged in bourbon barrels (33.33% of final blend)
Stickee Monkee - 12.3% abv
"Central Coast Quad" aged in bourbon and brandy barrels (33.33% of final blend)
Bravo - 12.9% abv
Imperial Brown Ale aged in bourbon and brandy barrels (16.66% of final blend)
Velvet Merkin - 8.5% abv
Barrel Aged Oatmeal Stout aged in bourbon barrels (16.66%of final blend)
Immediately you'll notice that the number of beers in the final blend is significantly lowers than previous anniversary ales. The final product is 49.99% stout, which I love, but I am interested to see if using only the four beers can still produce the same complexity as previous batches.
Pours dark brown out of the bottle, but sits almost pitch black in the glass with just glimmers of that dark brown on the edges. An aggressive pour still yielded just a finger of khaki-colored head.
When inhaling normally, the aroma is bursting with charred oak, dark chocolate, and cherries. When you take a deep whiff, massive quad-like plums, raisins, dates, and brown sugar are smacking me in the face. Like hermaphroditic porn, it is the best of both worlds.
The best thing I can compare the taste to is a chocolate-covered cherry (which I've never received as a gift...hint...hint). The influence of the Parabola is strong as this has an overall presence of a Russian Imperial Stout. The spirits that are soaking all the flavors are sweet, so the brandy barrels no doubt have the biggest impact. I've let the beer warm up to room temperature and the Stickee Monkee is just shining so bright. Plums for days, raisins, some red grape juice and a multitude of vinous notes make for some incredibly sweet flavors which go well with the brandy and the sweet, sticky bourbon barrels. There's a slight splash of alcohol which I actually don't mind in the case of such a big, complex beer.
Mouthfeel has a rich, thick body which is helped by the Parabola, but the Velvet Merkin has made for such a velvety smooth ride on my tongue. The finish has noticeable warmth from the alcohol with even a minuscule sting, but it's not a deterrent as a beer this big actually handles rather well.
When ranking FW19 among the other anniversary ales I've had, I cannot put it at the top of the list, but that doesn't mean it was not another stellar entry into the series. I was skeptical going in as this blend utilized only four Firestone Walker beers, but the result was (as usual) a rich and complex concoction worthy of being in the Anniversary series. It's easy to say "If you love Parabola and Stickee Monkee then you'll love this beer", but it's only until you actually mix them together that you find out how well they can live happily ever after.