Firestone Walker XV – Recap & Photos
At 11:30 we arrived to the sleepy Central Coast wine town of Paso Robles (pronounced by everyone without the spanish accent as I thought it would be, row-bulls) for Firestone Walkers Blended and Barrel Aged XV Anniversary Ale’s release. The weather was mild as was the length of the line; being from Southern California, I expected an event like this to be wrapped around the building by the time we arrived, so this was a pleasant surprise.
While standing in line I noticed a fine looking gentleman with a white denim jacket walking around greeting people, the vocal figurehead of the brewery, David Walker was just hanging out with a wide smile on his face. Not far behind David was another person I didn’t expect to see mingling so early in the day, Adam Firestone.
The line moved quickly and before we knew it, we were walking through the brewery into, what I can assume was the loading docks. To the left was a long line of people and one tent at the end, some tables with local restaurants offering foods and coffee and a setup for the well known bar game, cornhole. We automatically jumped in line to wait, only to find out there was not much of a wait.
We signed up to take a tour of the Medium Sized Brewery of the Year only to find out our tour guide was, the head brewer, Matt Brynildson. The tour was very informational and entertaining. What we enjoyed the most is that Matt did not dumb down the tour at all and explained everything in brewer terms. To finish off the tour, Matt poured everyone a full taster of a fresh Nectar Humboldt Brown (Hemp Ale), which I have not had for quite some time and enjoyed immensely!
Firestone Walker XV, Helldorado, Sticky Monkey, Bravo, Good Foot and Double Jack as well as Sour Double Double Barrel Ale, SLOambic and Olallieberry SLOambic and a few side tables serving the Firestone Pilsner, Unfiltered Double Barrel Ale, The Beer Formerly Known as Abacus and 2010 Nectar Black Xantus (paired with the coffee from a local roaster).
I was lucky enough to get to try almost every beer they offered and the stand out of the show was obviously the XV, but a close second was actually the largest percentage of this year’s blend, Helldorado. It was amazing to be drinking a Barley Wine that was light in color, but packed the punch with the oak and booze and had a nice amount of residual sweetness from the buckwheat honey. I would love to try a beer not in a barrel to see what the elusive El Dorado hops taste like, since that was somewhat muddled with the alcohol, oak and sweetness.
All in all, this event went as smooth as I could have ever hoped for. It was crowded, but you never waited long for beer, there were no tasting tickets, the people were friendly and surprisingly sober(ish) and the hosts were more kind than I would have expected. And when I say hosts, I mean the staff as well as David Walker and Adam Firestone. These two men did not avoid pulling their weight. Most of the event you could find David talking to customers while pouring beers at the tent.