Good evening and welcome back to another installment of Tap Trail Reviews. We’ve got a fun one today and one that has brought a prediction to fruition. Firestone Walker has long been one of the greats and one of the pioneers in Barrel Aged Beers. Their Parabola is repeatedly ranked one of the best stouts in the world.
This release is a first for Firestone in more than one way. Bravo has long been part of their barrel program, showing itself rarely at the brewery and a couple times outside on draft, but never packaged. Furthermore this is the first time Firestone has released a Barrel Aged Beer in a 12 oz bottle, forever that have been only available in the dreaded 22 oz bottle. I still have a number of 22 oz Firestone bombers laid down, and I’ll happily consume them, but I am much much happier with the 12 oz size. It is a more manageable portion, a lower price point and easier to store, what’s not to like?
So what exactly is Bravo? It is an “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.” The don’t disclose exactly which barrels are used, which is fine, with a release of this size there is bound to be a collection of barrels used. The last Imperial Brown Ale we had, from Double Mountain, was quite good, I wonder how this one will stack up, it is a fairly forgotten style.
Beer — Bravo 2017 (Imperial Brown Ale aged in Bourbon Barrels)
Brewery — Firestone Walker (Paso Robles, CA)
ABV / IBU — 13.2% / 28
Price / Availability — $9.99 (12 oz) / Limited (Seasonal) @ Elizabeth Station
Appearance (3/3) — As anticipated, this pours out with a nice leathery brown hue. Some clarity to it, with a light khaki colored head on top. Oily and sticky lacing is left behind with each sip.
Aroma (8/12) — Holy Bourbon, delicious, sweet Bourbon. A big hit of vanilla, caramel, oak, brown sugar, milk chocolate, toasted bread and butter. A nice bouquet that is heavily focused on the Bourbon and a touch sweet.
Flavor (15/20) — An initial warmup of toasted brown bread leads to a vanilla and caramel sweetness that resounds and asserts its dominance. A touch of cocoa powder adds another layer of sweetness. Balanced out by a dry and smooth toasted oak finish.
Mouthfeel (4/5) — Medium-Full bodied with ample sweetness and a lingering and warming finish.
Overall (7/10) — A great foray for Firestone and a great easy going entry for the new 12 oz format. Part of me does miss Sucaba and I am okay with retiring it for a bit, but this Bravo doesn’t quite tick the same boxes that Sucaba does. Still Bravo for Bravo and I am quite looking forward to the remaining Proprietors Reserve Series beers being released this year in the 12 oz package size, cheers!
— OVERALL 37 / 50 —