Firestone Walker 2017 ‘Helldorado’ BA Blonde Barleywine


56938243_1071409749709836_9124575698713837568_n“Part of the adventure of aging beer in retired spirits barrels is the synergistic interaction of different malt flavors with the oak and spirit flavors from the barrel. Darker beers like stouts and darker barley wines have typically been the favored candidates for barrel-aging, due to their deeper caramel and roasted flavors. Helldorado breaks that mold with a deep golden color from being brewed solely with English and American pale malts.”

Glassware: Tulip.

Appearance: Burnished orange to amber complexion with a short yet reasonably well retained head. Eventually it settles to the rim with patchy lace as we go.

Aroma: Straight away we detect the bourbon barrels, vanilla and sweet buttery malts…it’s a trait that FW carry through almost all of their barrel aged range and we absolutely love it! Underneath it are rich caramel malts, toffee, ripe stonefruits, raisin, apple pie and cinnamon. Certainly get a flutter of doughy short crust pastry as well.

Flavour: Again lots of bourbon character, barrels and vanilla but with a balanced sweetness. The warmth from the booze (12.8%) predictably playing a role. Getting a floral aspect that’s fused through the sugary dark fruits and ripe stonefruit i.e apricot and melon. Finishes with warming bourbon, woody oak vanilla and dark fruits.

Mouthfeel: Not as dense and chewy as your typical barleywine but it’s still full and well rounded. Low co2.

Overall: Brash yet elegant. The use of pale malts definitely helps to create this light and delicate texture so uncommon to the style. Love the creativity and impulse to push the boundaries. Kudos FW!