In 2012, Firestone Walker Brewing Co. introduced a new beer in its bottled Proprietor’s Vintage Series1, Double DBA.  As the name implies, Double DBA is the brewery’s DBA (Double Barrel Ale) blend that has been brewed at double strength, using the same hops and malts, but double the amount. The brew is then partially fermented in a “union” of new American oak barrels before being aged for one year in bourbon barrels. The finished beer is then bottled without any filtration.

Firestone Walker Double DBA 2014 box

Double DBA is a 12 percent ABV ale is brewed with five different malts as well as magnum, styrian golding and east kent golding hops, and is dry hopped with east kent golding hops as well before being packaged in 22-ounce bottles. Only 3,500 cases were produced at a suggested retail price is $15.99 per bottle.

Firestone Walker Double DBA 2014 bottle

The Calif.-based brewery describes the Proprietor’s Vintage Series:

Our finest offerings; delivering on the ingenuity, craftsmanship and dedication of our brewers.  These offerings showcase the spirit and creativity of brewing with distinctive styles and quality ingredients. Limited release vintage beers reveal the exceptional craftsmanship of our brewers and the rewards of cellaring beer in barrels.

There are currently five different bottled beers in the Proprietor’s Vintage Series:

  • Parabola (14 percent ABV) — barrel-aged Russian imperial stout
  • Double DBA (12 percent ABV) — barrel-aged imperial special bitter
  • Stickee Monkee (13.4 percent ABV) — barrel-aged Belgian quadrupel
  • Velvet Merkin (8.5 percent ABV) — barrel-aged oatmeal stout
  • §ucaba (13.5 percent ABV) — barrel-aged barley wine

In July, Firestone Walker announced that 2014 would be the last year that Double DBA would be distributed in bottles.

The Firestone Walker Double DBA pours a opaque amber brown color, with a respectable foam head that is tinged with yellow, but dissipates quickly. The lacing that remains is thin, but does remain for quite a while while drinking. The aroma coming from the glass is strong cherries, grains, vanilla, caramel, coconut and oak.

Firestone Walker Double DBA 2014

Starting off, the Double DBA is loaded with flavors of toffee, vanilla, oak, licorice, malt and caramelized sugar. The finish is quite a bit sweeter than I expected, although that does seem to hide the alcohol nicely. The mouthfeel is a bit light, as is the carbonation, but it seems to work very well with the profile that it has. I can still taste the alcohol, but it is well masked, at least until the beer starts to warm up.

As it warms up, the sweetness dissipates noticeably, and the alcohol starts to become quite a bit more prevalent. While the other flavors are definitely still present, they fall off into the background, leaving oak and vanilla as the dominant flavors. The carbonation has mostly disappeared by the time I finish, but that is not a detriment at all. This is defiantly a beer you want to drink cold, at least at this stage in its life.

Firestone Walker Double DBA (2014)
BREWERY: Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
LOCATION: Paso Robles, Calif.
STYLE: Imperial special bitter
ABV: 12 percent
IBU: 29
PRICE: $15.99
AVAILABLE IN: 22-ounce bottles
I have to say, the interplay of overt sweetness on the finish and bitterness on the palate really sets this beer apart. The profile is well balanced overall, although at this point in its life, the sweetness does dominate at times. This is an excellent sipping beer, and in fact, it only gets better as it warms up. Firestone Walker knows what they are doing with their barrel aging program, and the Double DBA will only get better with some cellar time.
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