Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Firestone Walker Bravo (2017 Vintage)

The Stats
Style: American Brown Ale
ABV: 13.2%
Current Ratings...
- Beer Advocate: 4.3/5
- RateBeer: 3.86/5

"We proudly present the 2017 Vintage of Bravo, our Imperial Brown Ale aged in retired American oak bourbon barrels. Although Bravo was the first strong ale brewed for our Anniversary Ale blending program over ten years ago, it has yet to see its own bottled release, until now. Balancing rich toasty and chocolate malt flavors with a gentle balance of noble hops, Bravo is brewed to showcase barrel flavors with massive bourbon barrel notes that morph as the beer warms in the glass."

Pours a beautiful mahogany red with a dirty, murky body and a finger of almond-colored head.

They didn't half-ass the barrel aging on this one as the bourbon is plentiful and sticky sweet. There's a small nutty flavor with oak along with a Barleywine-esque toffee and caramel.

The first impression on the taste is just like the aroma: Big bourbon. The oak barrel lends some subtle char, but nothing too extreme or tobacco-like. Some quad-like dark fruits show up with plums and raisins coming to mind and those toffee and caramel flavors aren't too far behind. I'm actually picking up a decent hop presence here as well as bitterness pulls a Scruff McGruff and takes a bite out of me. I got a tiny bit of nuttiness on the nose, but there none on the taste and there's not a lot I find in common with a typical Brown Ale, but hey, since this is better than your typical Brown Ale, I'm not going to bitch and moan.

Mouthfeel is full and heavy, but not syrupy or sludgy. It has decent carbonation which helps move the body along. I wouldn't guess this was over 13% and there is no alcohol to be found aside from a small, boozy warming sensation on each sip.

Bravo has long been a component to the Firestone Walker Anniversary Ales and I'm glad FW has given it it's own time to shine. While not a Brown Ale in your typical sense, this barrel aged monster packs in tons of flavor while not being tough to drink. Combining characteristics of both English and American Barleywines with a pleasant hop bitterness, this one has earned it's spot in the series.


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