Review: Firestone Walker Double DBA

Review: Firestone Walker Double DBA

California’s Firestone Walker Brewery was born, like so many craft breweries, in a garage. That was way, way back in 1996. The brewery didn’t even begin recording their batches until they moved to Paso Robles in 2001. 22 years and a whole lot of success later, the brewery is marking its 10,000th batch with a special release of the beer that started it all, their Double Barrel Ale, or DBA for short.

That first beer, a cask-fermented British pale ale, kicked off decades of innovative barrel-aged beers, so it’s no surprise that the commemorative release would have to be something a little extra. Double DBA is, as the name implies, brewed at double strength (actually a bit more) with 2-row, Munich, C-75, Crystal Extra Dark, and chocolate malts. It has been aged a full 12 months in 11-year-old Old Fitzgerald wheated bourbon barrels. Let’s check it out.

The beer pours a gorgeous, burnished copper hue with a light caramel colored head that lingers with minimal lacing. The aroma is savory and rich, all buttery caramel and toffee with accents of sticky vanilla bean and cinnamon sugar. On the palate, it’s one of the easiest drinking barrel-aged beers I’ve yet encountered from Firestone Walker, with a gentle chocolate malt ball bitterness and an elegant cream soda quality that helps to temper the boozy sweetness and make its 12%+ abv almost undetectable, at least initially. The texture is somewhat torn between creamy and almost chewy, again with dark caramel notes dominating a velvety dissolution on the tongue. As it warms in the glass, more dark chocolate and cocoa powder emerge. The finish is long with warm, salted toffee, again mildly sweet, and a fading hint of persimmon and fig jam. 10,000 batches may have been worth the wait. One of the best barrel-aged beers I’ve tasted. From any brewery. Ever.

12.3% abv.

A / $15 per 12 oz. bottle /

Firestone Walker Double DBA




Drew Beard is assistant editor for Drinkhacker and winner of several booze-related merit badges, including Certified Specialist in Spirits and Executive Bourbon Steward. A former federal employee turned hotelier and spirits journalist, he looks forward to his next midlife crisis.

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