"Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires"

Brewery and Country of Origin: Anderson Valley Brewing Company of 17700 California 253, Boonville Ukiah Rd, Boonville, CA 95415-0505, USA

Date Reviewed: 3-08-13

Barney Flat is the name of both this beer, an oatmeal stout from Anderson Valley, and a historic site of a former logging railroad in Arizona. Specifically, the flat is a stump field; evidence of early logging methods which cut trees above the base at the ground, leaving stumps. The field is located within the Kaibab National Forest which is 104 years old and 1.6 million acres wide. The designation is part of the United States Forest Service, a US Federal Agency whose mission is to conserve and protect wildlife and forests. But besides logging and lumber production, forests face a number of other dangers as well. No, this isn't some tree hugging hippie bull about saving the rainforests (even though the US doesn't have any), and we're not about to chain ourselves to a Sequoia which you can drive a Prius through. Aside from being a part of Teddy Roosevelt's vast legacy, the US Forest Service is also famous for Smokey Bear, a black bear who spreads the word about preventing forest fires. He is the mascot of the Forest Service, and even has his own congressional act (The Smokey Bear Act of 1952). Smokey The Bear has been around since 1944 and over the course of his storied life, he has taught students, campers, boyscouts, and parents about the dangers of forest fires, and how you can help prevent them. He has remained one of the most prominent icons in all of Public Service Announcements and advertising. According to the Ad Council, about 97% of all adults and 77% of all kids in the US are familiar with his trademark "Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires" message. Today, the message actually uses the word "wildfires" to remind people that uncontrollable fires can occur in places outside of a forest (like grasslands or neighborhoods). Smokey bear was originally a replacement for Bambi, which of course, everyone knows and loves... even though his relatives are known to jump in front of cars for no apparent reason whatsoever. Disney actually loaned the white tailed deer character to the US Government for a year, and when he departed, the idea for a fire prevention Black Bear was conceived. Smokey gets his name from a firefighter, "Smokey" Joe Martin, who served as one of New York's Bravest. Martin was a hero who was severely burned and blinded during a daring rescue in 1922. And unlike Bambi, who'd probably prefer to ruin someone's day and cause a car accident like every other deer out there, Smokey Bear is a strong willed character who would stay and fight fires, rather than run from them. Though, like all bears, he'd rather be sleeping, so he spreads his message of preventing fires so he doesn't have to wake up to fight them. A bear's gotta sleep, you know?
Date Sampled: 2-20-13 (7-09-11 original)At: Yard House Fenway, 126 Brookline Ave, Boston, MA, 02215, USA
Beer Style: Oatmeal Stout
Alcohol by Volume: 5.70%
Serving Type: Keg, 32 oz Half Yard Glass
Rating: 3.63


This stout pours smoothly with a low amount of carbonation action. This beer has a high density, creamy textured foam head with a good retention, and an inch tall height. This beer has no sediment and is clear, but this beer's very dark brown color gives it an almost opaque apearance with only a dull shine. This beer laces completely.


There is a very strong coffee and dark chocolate roasted dark malt aroma with some slight nuttiness and an earthy undertone. There are no fruity notes and no alcohol tones present. A slightly hoppy and malty bitter smell finishes out the aroma.


This is a full bodied beer with a dary finish and an average amount of lingering. There is a medium level of carbonation with a smooth texture overall, a medium high amount of viscosity, and a somewhat heavy weight. This beer is somewhat filling, but still pretty casual drinking. This beer has a slightly creamy texture.


Barney Flats has a full coffee flavor along with a bold roasted malty dark chocolate taste. This beer starts off somewhat sweet with a bitter close supplemented with a slightly hoppy character, and a mostly hoppy finish. There are some nutty and toffee notes with a slightly lingering bitter aftertaste.

Our Take

This beer leaves nothing to the imagination. A true, traditional oatmeal stout, this brew delivers everything that it is expected to. The strong espresso coffee like aroma and flavor, and the heavy indication of dark roasted chocolate and other big malt are two of the trademark qualities of a real oatmeal stout. And of course, as we discussed in our review of another oatmeal stout we recently tried, there is no flavor of actual oatmeal in this beer. This is just a big bodied beer with a lot of malty presence to go around. Perfect for this time of year, and this beer goes great with any pork or beef based dinners, or with a sweet dessert. As there is only a subtle amount of hops detectable in this brew, we wouldn't recommend this to anyone who is a fan of bitters or IPAs, but dark, sweet beer drinkers will rejoice at the thought of this very satisfying beer. And it may be a bit of a stretch, but we're sure that because bears are big and are believed to like honey (though this isn't necessarily true), we think this sweet, heavy, winter time brew is perfect for them. Or Molson if they're from Canada. Whatever. Forget we mentioned it. Funny thing though, the real Smokey Bear (yes, the actual black bear who was rescued from the Capitan Gap Fire and lived at the National Zoo for 26 years) was a fan of honey and berries. So maybe this isn't all just smoke and no flame.