After our last Beer Church service, we promised a review of Firestone Walker's 2011 Abacus vintage, a bourbon barrel-aged barleywine. Or so it was known when we tasted it last month, as the beer is soon to be christened with a new name. We brought the beer as our offering, hoping to get the opinions of regular beer church goers — home brewers, devout craft beer fans, even a Daily Pint bartender paused to join in. It was a blind tasting, of course (God, will the beer and the Bible references ever end?). Turn the page for the tasting notes.
Several of the tasters offered up useful comments in regard to the beer's flavor, like “chocolatey; astringent yet pleasant” and “rich, sweet, chocolate, vanilla, malty, powerful” (all written in one pen stroke). Others seemed to be evaluating Beer Church more than the beer, but hey, by we can't say we disagree. “Beer Church = BBQ!” and “Good for the soul” were among our favorites. Most were somewhere in between, and everyone was pretty clear after one sip this was a barrel-aged beer (some guessed Bourbon barrels on the spot). A seasoned beer drinking crowd.
We'll leave you with our favorite comment for both its accuracy in describing the beer's taste and its price. “Barrel! Knew it would be great just by the nose. Vanilla + depth. Probably costs a lot.”
Firestone Walker Abacus: We've seen the 2011 release going for as much as $50 on Ebay (really?), but you can still find it locally at a few higher end wine and beer shops for $15 per 22-ounce bottle with a one bottle limit per person.