Friday, January 3, 2014

Firestone Walker 17th Anniversary Ale

Forsyth Sold out!
In stock at Rock Hill, Ballwin
(New Ballas is still waiting)

I took it off line.  Each store has a little extra.  
The rest is for in store pick up only.  
If you come to the store to pick up while it still lasts, you can get up to 2 bottles.

You have 7 days to pick up or it will go back out for sale!

Firestone Walker 17th Anniversary Ale...$17.99 / 22oz
Since founding our brewery in 1996, we have specialized in the rare art of brewing beer in oak barrels. in the fall of 2006, we released a limited-edition, oak-aged strong ale called 10 to commemorate our 10th anniversary. the experience was greater than any one of us could have ever imagined. we now present xvii, our eighth release in what has become an annual autumn rite at our brewery. 

XVII - The Components: To create XVII, we blended together 220 oak barrels and 7 different beers creating something truly complex and exceptional. 

Following are descriptions of key components with their original code names: Final Blend %

Bravo (13.6% ABV) - Aged in Bourbon and Brandy barrels

-Imperial Brown Ale (30% of the final blend)

OG=26.5 FG=7.7 IBU=35 Color=32 / Hopped with 100% US grown Fuggles

Stickee Monkee (15.3% ABV) - Aged in Bourbon and Whiskey barrels

-English Barley Wine (25% of the final blend)

OG=27P FG=5.4P IBU=45 Color=28 / Brewed with Mexican Turbinado (brown) sugar

Velvet Merkin (8.7% ABV) - Aged in Bourbon barrels 

-Traditional Oatmeal Stout (15% of the final blend)

OG= 15P FG=5.5 IBU=32.5 Color= Black / 15% Oats / Hopped with 100% US grown Fuggles

Parabola (12.8% ABV) - Aged in Bourbon barrels

-Russian Imperial Oatmeal Stout (15% of the final blend) 

OG=31P FG=8.5P IBU=80 Color=Black / Hopped with Magnum, Styrian Golding and East Kent Golding

Double Double Barrel Ale (12.0% ABV)- Aged in retired Firestone Union barrels

-Double strength English Pale Ale (8.0% of the final blend)

OG=25.0P FG=5.1P IBU=30 Color=16 / A double version of our flagship beer created by Ali Razi

Helldorado (11.5% ABV)- Aged in Bourbon and Brandy barrels 

-Blonde Barley Wine (4.0% of the final blend)

OG=24.7P FG=4.5P IBU=24 Color = 8 / Brewed with Buckwheat honey and 100% El Dorado hops

Wookey Jack (8.3% ABV)- 100% Fresh, dank and hoppy, stainless steel fermentation

-Black Rye India Pale Ale (3.0% of the final blend)

OG= 18P FG = 3.0P IBU = 80 Color =black / Extremely hoppy double dry-hopped BIPA – Citra & Amarillo blend

a note from brewmaster matt brynildson

our 17th year – looking back – looking forward – coming full circle

Our brewery began its journey into oak-infused flavors back in 1996 when two exceptionally bright, adventurous vineyard owners and beer lovers, Adam Firestone (the Bear) and David Walker (the Lion) decided to start a tiny brewery in a small outbuilding on the back forty of the Firestone Vineyard Estate. Their cocktail napkin business plan centered on utilizing some old Chardonnay barrels from the family winery as fermentation vessels to create a unique old world riff on the English Pale Ale. The beer wouldn’t have to travel far since its intended purpose was to refresh the local winemaker community and pour on local taps. Fermenting in barrels would create interesting and familiar flavors and avoid the extra cost of stainless steel fermenters. After some not-so-successful experimentation, where they likely created some of California’s first American Wild Ales purely by accident, they brought in a trained brewer, Jeffers Richardson, who further researched the subject and helped to define and refine the program that is still used in the brewery today. His research led him to Burton-on-Trent, home of Bass; Marston’s and the famousBurton Union oak barrel fermentation system. This old world method of making clean, straight ahead beers started long before beer was commercially brewed. It was a simple method developed by monks who made ale for their guests. They realized that fermenting in barrels resulted in bright, clean beers (less prone to sourness) and that the resulting yeast was viable and strong for subsequent fermentations. Later the great pale ale brewers of Burton-on-Trent utilized this same style of barrel fermentation on a larger scale, harnessing hundreds of barrels together, creating the very best pale ales and IPAs the world had ever seen while defining a new genre of beer. Rolling the clocks ahead, back in California, Adam, David and Jeffers’ persistence in using oak barrels resulted in our beloved flagship Double Barrel Ale, the beer that started it all. Every week we brew DBA in the Paso Robles kettles, and after cooling the wort we inoculate it with our proprietary British Ale yeast. After about 12 hours, the yeast grows to a full ferment, able to protect the wort for the rest of its journey to becoming a finished beer. It is at this very particular moment that we completely change what is known as normal modern brewing practice. We carefully move the active fermentation from the stainless steel fermenter into a series of oak barrels to finish out the primary fermentation process. An oak barrel is a very different environment relative to a stainless steel vessel. The barrels provide a perfect place for flavor development and at the same time add a 5th element to the brew. Many flavors come directly from the wood and are infused into the beer: vanilla, cinnamon spice, molasses and coconut flavors. It’s no wonder that oak barrels are considered a food product! There are also flavors and textures that science has yet to explain that come to life when ale yeast and wort are introduced to a fresh oak barrel. Soft stone fruit tones start to peak through the malt and hops. Barrels trim away the sharp edges with their mellowing affect, adding unique textures and creating an integration of flavors that just doesn’t happen in stainless steel. We learned early that we were on to something special and we have continued it to this day. Even as our brewery has grown and our beers are shipped further away, DBA is still fermented in the “Firestone Union” oak barrel system every week! It is a non-negotiable part of making beer here. As the rest of the craft brewing world slowly woke up to the incredible flavors that barrels possess and started to experiment with aging beers in oak, we stood by our methods and resisted the urge to become distracted from our unique process… That is, until our 10th anniversary. Yes it took our brewery 10 years of barrel fermentation to finally experiment with barrel aging! Those initial experiments lead us to the beer you have in your hands today. Seventeen years after our first barrel fermentation and seven years after our first barrel-aged release we are still completely obsessed by barrels, so much so that we have gone back to where it all started and opened a new facility in the Santa Ynez Valley that we call Barrelworks. This facility is dedicated to a 3rd method of utilizing barrels to create flavors through secondary barrel fermentation known as American Wild Ale. Under the close eye of Jim Crooks, our quality manager of 12 years, we are now releasing a whole new world of flavors created through the use of wine barrels, wine country microflora and wine country terrior. Yes, after 17 years, we have come full circle to replicate something that is quite similar to the Lion and the Bear’s original experimentations on the back forty of the Firestone Vineyard Estate. It’s amazing how beer always leads you back to the basics. Water + Malt + Hops + Yeast + Oak = Firestone Walker

The Blending and The Winemakers

Back to the beer in hand…We had our most exciting blending session ever this year, proving that winemakers are every bit as competitive as brewers. Each year we present our beers to the winemakers to create something unique and something outside of a brewer’s normal sensibilities. Winemakers are master blenders by nature and work with barrels daily. We have an incredible amount of talent here on the Central Coast and once again the very best showed up to help the cause. The winemakers were paired up into teams, each team made their best blend, then we recreated those blends behind closed doors and re-presented the blends blind for the winemakers to vote on. The winning blend is XVII! This year’s blenders included: Neil Collins andChelsea Magnusson of Tablas Creek who created the winning blend; Matt Trevisan of Linne Calodo; Steve Martell of Kaleidos and Sextant; Eric Jensen andConnor McMahon of Booker; Ted Osborne of Olabisi; Justin Smith of Saxum; Kevin Sass of Halter Ranch; Sherman Thacher of Thacher Winery; Russell From andGiovanni Grandinetti of Herman Story; Mark Adams of Saxum / Ledge; and Terry Hoage of Hoage Cellars. I strongly suggest that you seek out these wines and try them. Also joining us was beer writer John Verive as well as our good friends Pete Slosberg and Arie Litman.

The Finished Piece

As a finished beer, XVII is dark, rich and complex. The lead beers of the blend are Bravo, a lean and oak-forward imperial brown ale and Stickee Monkee, a huge brown sugar infused barley wine. These beers are beautiful on their own but together they bring rich molasses drenched oak flavors and cinnamon glazed almond aromas lifted by high alcohol. In the middle of the blend are our two favorite stouts, Parabola andVelvet Merkin, working in concert to provide a dusty cocoa mocha aroma and bitter dark chocolate flavors. Somehow together in this blend I am reminded of Bourbon-soaked chocolate chip cookie dough!Double DBA makes the blend again this year, bringing its signature vanilla-infused crème brulée flavor.Helldorado, our blonde barley wine, helps to bring balance with its honey notes and light leather nuances. Like last year, a dash of Wookey Jack made the cut bringing with it some fresh hop notes derived from bold Citra and Amarillo creating even more interesting complexity. All together I find XVII to be full of soft chocolate and warm spice perfectly balanced by toasted coconut, bourbon barrel notes and smooth creamy malt mellowness. The finished blend is unfiltered and unfined, so there will be a small amount of sediment in the bottom of the bottle. XVII is best enjoyed poured carefully into a half-filled brandy snifter or red wine glass. Allow it to warm to 55F to fully enjoy the pleasing and complex aromas. It takes a while, but as this beer sits and breathes in the glass, more rich chocolate and spice character is revealed as the ethereal spirit characters dissipate - so take your time. If you wait to open your bottle later, store it in a cool dark place. I suspect that this beer will age well and change favorably for years to come. It was an absolute pleasure in the making and I truly hope you enjoy our eighth oak-aged blend. The journey continues and it’s just as fun and exciting now as it was back in 1996. Thank you so much for spending a little time with us!

All the very best


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