Saturday, February 2, 2013

Firestone Walker Sucaba 2012

From Firestone Walker:

"Big boozy bourbon and American oak aromas combined with soft chocolate malty undertones. Complex malt flavors framed in oak, with hints of dark chocolate, vanilla, tobacco, coconut and just a touch of dark cherry. This is definitely a sipping beer, best served in a brandy snifter. This ale pairs well with dark chocolate and sturdy cheeses."

Been excited to try this ever since I received it in a trade.  I have heard nothing but great things about it but I have dragged my feet when it came to opening it but on a cold Northwest Indiana day and nothing to do I figured this was a perfect time to open it.  I've only had a few of Firestone Walkers barrel aged beers but none of their big 4 so I am very looking forward to this.

Out of the bottle Sucaba poured a somewhat clear brown with a little red mixed in there as well.  In the glass it is a deep red color and I can hardly see anything through it.  As it poured it brought out a small 1 finger head that soon left nothing but a ring around the beer where it meets the glass.  No real lacing but the beer definitely does stick the glass when swirled but runs back down into the beer.  Nothing awesome as far as looks go, at least compared to Barrel Aged Naked Evil, but I am just being nit picky because this will probably be the only criticism I have of this beer.

Right upfront I get those barrel notes of oak and whiskey and vanilla but these aromas don't overpower the beer at all.  I get a big dark fruit note in there as well that mixes with a big caramel-y and toffee backbone.  Definitely a big beer but also extremely well balanced with all these big aromas playing off each other.  As the beer sits in the glass without being agitated the biggest notes on the nose are definitely a sweet vanilla and oaky character and then followed more by the caramel but swirling the beer definitely opens it up and brings that raisin and fig to the forefront and uses the vanilla and caramel as a luscious canvas of a different type of sweet.  If the taste matches the aroma then I will be expecting a balance between sweet, ripe dark fruits and a decadent sweet vanilla and caramel.


I really wasn't expecting this type of balance in the beer.  Upfront I get the barrel characters like oak and vanilla but towards the middle and finish I get huge ripe dark fruits and a small amount caramel.  I get a bit of a bitterness on the finish and a small note of alcohol as well as warming in the chest.  On the finish there is also a very nice subtle coconut character that I really enjoy because that isn't really something I get in other barrel aged beers.  The coconut isn't as big as it is in Stickee Monkee or Velvet Merkin but it is there and compliments the front and the middle of the palate perfectly.  As I taste more of this I think the slight bitterness on the finish comes from a bittersweet chocolate which is interesting.  With the subtle coconut and heat the finish is dry and really helps welcome in another sip.

I have a bit of this left and I enjoyed every sip I have taken as it seems to get even better with each sip you take.  I really appreciate how well balanced this beer is and the dark fruits in here are big and in your face while the caramel really helps it along to bring it all together.  Having said that, and I am scared to say this, I have to say this might be my least favorite of the barrel aged barleywines I have had.  King Henry was exceptional (actually, I plan to open one with a buddy fairly soon),  Barrel Aged Behemoth is outstanding despite the price tag, Barrel Aged Naked Evil blew me away and is possibly my favorite beer I have had this year.  Considering I would rate all of the beers I just listed as an A, I would probably rate Sucaba as an A-.  Will I seek it out again? For sure, it is a great beer and possibly one of the most balanced barrel aged beers I have had but for my palate I would have to give the edge to others I listed.  With all that said, this is a great beer and definitely something I will seek out when this years vintage is released.

Cheers ladies and gentlemen!

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