Friday, May 16, 2008

Firestone Walker Brewing Company

This was definitely the most serious brewery we went to on this tour. It is just off a somewhat isolated exit on highway 101. Firestone branched out a few years ago into the beer industry after being in the wine industry for several years. In fact, every time my family and I would go to Southern California, we would stop in at Firestone Winery as well as Solvang, a danish arts community just north of Santa Barbara. Their tasting room was only that, they didn't have any food other than pretzels and mustard. We were able to sample 8 beers all together. Most of them were very sophisticated beers which is pretty uncommon for a single brewery to have multiple of. By sophisticated, I mean beers that involve multiple brewings, aging in oak barrels, or barley wine. Firestone definitely had several of these. When the tasting room got relatively full, the bartender offered a tour to clear some of the people out. We jumped at the opportunity, and he gave a really good tour. Being originially a winery, they now age/brew some of their beers in oak barrels. It definitely gives their Double Barrel Ale and Barley Wine a deeper flavor. Basically, if you are within 50 miles of this place you need to stop in.

  • Pale 31 Pale Ale - This pale ale has a really fresh hoppy smell that makes you expect it to have a very hoppy flavor perhaps even bordering on an IPA. In fact, this pale ale is very smooth and had a very crisp taste. Score: 4/10
  • Union Jack IPA - This IPA has a nice hoppy taste that leads into the smoothest aftertaste I have ever experienced with an IPA. I would definitely recommend this IPA for anyone wanting to start off in IPA land without having to deal with the strong aftertaste which is typical of most IPAs. Score: 6/10
  • Double Barrel Ale - This is actually a British Pale Ale which seems to closely resemble American amber ales. This beer is very malty but unfortunately lacks flavor otherwise. I would say pass on this beer at Firestone considering there are a lot of other far better options. Score: 3/10
  • Walker Reserve Porter - Has the typical charcoally flavor of a porter, but unfortunately does not transform into other more desirable flavors. I would definitely pass on this in favor of the Russian Imperial Stout. Score: 3/10
  • Unfitered Belgian - This is definitely a sweeter beer that would be good if you are eating savory foods. I would say this is a pretty good "typical" Belgian ale (If you haven't had a Belgian before, then you'll just have to take my word for it). Score: 5/10
  • Unfiltered Double Barrel Ale - This beer is a barrel aged version of the Double Barrel Ale. It initially has a a slight oaky flavor that transforms into a malty beer. The aftertaste is very similar to that of a white wine. I really think this is an immense improvement over the Double Barrel Ale. Score: 6/10
  • Barley Wine - One of Firestone's specialty brews, this barley wine has a distinct sweet wine smell. Taking a swig of this beer, you can definitely taste the high level of alcohol but is covered by the sweetness which accompanies it. I wish I had a larger glass of this, and I am not a fan of barley wines. Score: 7/10
  • Russian Imperial Stout - This is definitely one of their best beers. This imperial stout has a rich deep flavor that is accompanied by oaky undertones. While being considerably smooth, it has strong hints of chocolate. This would be an excellent dessert after any great meal. Score: 9/10

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