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Firestone 14 Anniversary Ale: The Turducken of Beer

Sometimes more is more.  Take the turducken for instance.  It’s a deboned chicken stuffed into a deboned duck stuffed inside a deboned turkey, and the whole thing is stuffed with stuffing.  The result is a dish that is both absurd and divine.

Firestone Walker took a similar approach with their Firestone 14, a beer created to celebrate their 14th anniversary that blends several different barrel-aged beers to create something entirely unique.

It’s like a pale ale stuffed inside a stout stuffed inside a barleywine stuffed inside a…well it’s actually quite a few things blended together.  Here’s the official rundown of what’s in the bottle from Firestone Walker: 

Double Double Barrel Ale (10.9% ABV) (31%)

* Aged 100% in retired Firestone Union Barrels
* Double Strength English Pale Ale
* OG= 24.0P FG=5.8P IBU=30 Color = 16
* A Double version of our flagship created by Ali Razi

Sticky Monkey (12% ABV) (29%)

* Aged in Bourbon and Brandy Barrels
* English Barley Wine
* OG = 24P FG = 4.5P IBU = 45 Color = 28
* Brewed with Mexican Turbinado (Brown) sugar

Parabola (13% ABV) (27%)

* Aged in Bourbon Barrels
* Russian Imperial Oatmeal Stout
* OG=30P FG=7.5P IBU=80 Color=Black
* Hopped with Simcoe, Bravo, Styrian Golding and East Kent Golding

Velvet Merkin (6% ABV) (7%)

* 100% Aged in Bourbon barrels
* Traditional Oatmeal Stout
* OG= 15P FG=5.5 IBU=32.5 Color= Black
* 15% Oats, Hopped with 100% US grown Fuggles

Good Foot (13% ABV) (3%)

* Aged in Bourbon Barrels
* American Barley Wine
* OG = 23P FG = 5.5P IBU = 80 Color = 26
* Brewed with copious amounts of American grown hops

Black Xantus (11% ABV) (3%)

* Aged in Bourbon Barrels
* Coffee Infused Imperial Stout
* OG= 27P FG = 6.8P IBU = 55 Color Black
* Rich Stout made with Mexican Coffee roasted locally by Joebella Coffee Company

So what do you get when you stuff all of these beers into one bottle?  Something that’s a pretty special brew, but one that needs a little more age on it.

It starts with a unique pour, as the center is very dark like a stout, yet the edges are translucent, creating a golden halo around the blacked-out core. The head consists of a tan ring around the top of the glass that quickly dissipates.

The nose is fairly complex, with notes of caramel, oak, coffee and vanilla, and has a peppery quality to it that lets you know that there’s a kick waiting for you in the glass. With an ABV of 12.5%, that’s not a surprise.

The first sip starts sweet, with caramel and vanilla smoothness giving way to the taste of coffee, which then yields to a nice toffee flavor.  I wish things would stop right there, but instead this delicious cascade is punctuated by distinct bitterness and a hot bourbon sensation that creeps down your throat.  I guess that’s the kick I sensed in the nose.

All told, this is a very good beer today, and one that will probably be excellent after mellowing out for a year or two.  That harsh finish needs some time to round out the rough spots.

I wish Firestone would have held onto it until it had reached its prime, the way Sclafly’s did with their 2008 Reserve Imperial Stout, which is on shelves now after being aged at the brewery for two years.  I hate the idea of spending $25 for 650ml beer and having to wait two years to enjoy all it has to offer.

Regardless, like the turducken, this is a beer you’ll have to experience to truly appreciate.  My advice is to go in with friends, each buy a bottle to cellar, and pitch in for a bottle to share so you can all get a taste right now.  I think you’ll agree that this is a very cool brew, but one that’ll be even better down the road.

I hate things that require patience!

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Categories: Beer, review

Author:Jim

Craft beer nerd, frequent beer blogger and occasional home brewer.

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16 Comments on “Firestone 14 Anniversary Ale: The Turducken of Beer”

  1. Clayton
    January 20, 2011 at 12:40 pm #

    I’ve had a couple of these recently and they are absolutely delicious! I think I prefer a straight up Parabola, but this was no slouch for sure! I just wish they weren’t so limited and of course we don’t get them in Idaho. 😦

    • January 20, 2011 at 12:42 pm #

      I’d love to try a Parabola, but we don’t get much Firestone stuff out here either!

  2. Evan
    January 20, 2011 at 12:42 pm #

    I can honestly say this might be the best beer I’ve ever had.

    • Evan
      January 20, 2011 at 12:44 pm #

      And I have multiple bottles to age for a few years!

      • January 20, 2011 at 12:46 pm #

        I enjoyed it, but I think I might’ve expected more (like a baby Utopias). Regardless, it’s a very good beer, and one I’d consider aging.

  3. Alex
    January 20, 2011 at 2:34 pm #

    I’ve never had the privilege of trying a Firestone Walker brew, but “Velvet Merkin” is right up there with some of the greatest beer names of all time! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merkin

    I’d love to try the 14th Anniversary ale, but I wonder how many flavors I’d be able to pick out of such a complex beer.

    • January 21, 2011 at 11:58 am #

      The complexity of the 14 is very accessible. It moves through flavors, it doesn’t hit you with them all at once.

      And I agree about the velvet merkin – awesome name! I wonder what the label looks like? 😉

  4. David
    January 20, 2011 at 4:13 pm #

    Firestone 10, the first year they did this, is definitely in my top 3 of all time. Each subsequent year I have liked a little less, but I haven’t had 14 yet. It was staring at me at the store the other day, but at $25 I just can’t pull the trigger.

    • January 21, 2011 at 11:56 am #

      It’s worth it, especially if you cellar it. Consider it an investment in future tastiness. 😉

  5. January 20, 2011 at 8:03 pm #

    Lovely post Jimbo! You’ve got a way with words. 🙂

    Haven’t had this brew. Looks and sounds fascinating! Wanna go halvesies on a bottle? Heh

    • January 21, 2011 at 11:56 am #

      Yeah, as long as you buy it, cellar it and then I’ll give you $15.00 two years from now. 🙂

      This is an example of Sam Calagione’s thought s about why craft beer is so awesome – you can buy the best of the best for $25.00. Wonder what this stuff would cost if it were wine?

      • January 21, 2011 at 2:47 pm #

        Heh… funny man! I’m with you. No patience. If I can’t drink it today, then why are you selling it to me??? I’m not into collecting, I’m into consuming.

        Craft Beer is infinitely interesting and like you said, a good value. I kind of like the rare factor about certain beers. Forces you to try new stuff (if you’re into that sort of thing, which we clearly are) and appreciate what you have while you have. Kinda like life. 🙂

  6. January 20, 2011 at 10:23 pm #

    Did you mean, sometimes more is better?… I’m with Alex on this one…
    I brewed a Porter once with caramel malt, chocolate malt, Munich malt, roasted barley and used Burton ale yeast, which gives the beer hints of fruity, apple, clover honey and pear…

    The beer was good, but my taste buds just can’t seem to do well with complex beers that have so many flavors to distinguish… either way, I’m fascinated by the number of different beers that were combined into this Firestone 14…

    Oh, and yes… letting the beer age made it better…

    • January 21, 2011 at 11:54 am #

      It’s a cool brew and very well done. There’s complexity, but it’s the kind you can wrap your head around. Great stuff which will be even better with age.

  7. January 21, 2011 at 8:47 am #

    I was gifted a bottle for Christmas but I didn’t have to open mine to try it. A friend invited me over to give it spin. This brew may very well be the best beer I’ve had in a very long time. The complexity and intensity on the palate was something to be savored. This is not a beer you sip while watching a game but best enjoyed with like minded enthusiasts; sitting and chatting about the beer. Awesome.

    • January 21, 2011 at 11:53 am #

      I agree that it’s a special brew and I love the craftsmanship, but the finish spoiled it a bit for me. I think it’ll be good with a little age on it.

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