It is important to really recognize craft brewing milestones and Brewery Ommegang has reached one and they have thankfully eschewed an IPA for an imperial amber ale with orange peel, grains of paradise and coriander.


Since I am here in Paso Robles, seems good timing to speak of Firestone Walker and their recently released 25th Anniversary blend..

Here are the details from the press release:

“Winemakers from the following Paso Robles wineries participated in this year’s blending: Booker Vineyard, Desparada Wines, Epoch Estate Wines, Halter Ranch Vineyard, Herman Story, Ledge Vineyards, Tablas Creek Vineyard, TH Estate Wines, Thacher Winery and Torrin Wine.

For the first time, the winemakers were joined by two members of Firestone Walker’s Brewmaster’s Collective beer club, who won the chance to participate in the blending session. Russell From of Herman Story Wines and Taylor Mathiesen of Booker Vineyard, along with Brewmaster’s Collective club member Paul Rios (with guest Christian Smith), created the winning blend that became “25.”

Parabola Autumn Edition – Aged in Bourbon Barrels (41%) Russian Imperial Stout

Tequila Barrel Merkin – Aged in Bourbon Barrels (28%) Milk Stout                                                                  

Brandy Barrel Barley Wine – Aged in Brandy Barrels (13%) Blonde Barley Wine

Stickee Monkee – Aged in Bourbon Barrels (10%) Central Coastal Quad

Whiskey Barrel Wheat Wine – Aged in Tequila Barrels (8%) Strong Golden Barley Wine

25 Blues

One of the favorite of the summer beer events for both the breweries and fans alike has been the Mammoth Bluesapalooza. It is still on my bucket list. Maybe 2022 for me. But this year is a milestone, # 25!

And Mammoth Brewing is releasing a 10% TIPA to mark the occasion. In bombers no less.

DBA at 25

Yes, Double Barrel Ale from Firestone Walker is 25 years young this year and to mark that occasion, the label gets a refresh…

…and might I suggest that you refresh your palate to this beer. It is a heritage beer and I mean that in not only a good but great way. These are the beers we drink at Super Bowl parties, the beer we know will be really good and that many will have fond memories of.


Not much Avery news (other than their re-branding earlier this year), but that changes with their milestone 25th Anniversary ale. And they go with the Dark Ale. I like the choice to lean into their dark side.

de l’Enfer

Unibroue Introduces 25th-Anniversary Blonde de l’Enfer.

Here is the description of what looks to be a perfect winter beer for when you are feeling a bit devilish…

“Blonde De L’Enfer (Blonde from Hell) is brewed to celebrate Unibroue’s 25th anniversary. Staying true to our tradition of Belgian style inspiration with a touch of Québécois culture, we crafted a nonconformist take on a classic style, the Belgian Golden Ale. These ales are traditionally named after hellish demons due to their lust for power and in reference to the beer’s deceitful drinkability. Our golden 25th anniversary ale is such a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Brewed with a unique Belgian yeast strain, this sinfully smooth refermented specialty ale is artfully crafted for a delicate balance of spice, malt, and hop flavors with a fine Champagne-like effervescence.”

Up from the Cellar – Perserverance from Alaskan Brewing


This beer was brewed to celebrate the 25th anniversary of brewing by Alaskan Brewing Company.  It was initially released into the wild in September of 2011

And this “limited edition Imperial Stout is brewed with glacier-fed water, birch syrup from the Alaska Birch Syrup Co., fireweed honey from BeeAlaskan Apiaries, brown sugar and an array of different malts including malted oats and a dash of our world famous alder-smoked malt”

Let’s see how the years have treated this rarity from up north…….The initial aroma is full of that alder-smoked malt almost to the point of bacon.  The aroma is, quite frankly, a bit off putting.  Some beers you just get sucked into and this one is doing the opposite.  The taste is considerably better.  The combo of the syrup and honey goes a long way to ameliorating the smoke notes.


The texture is quite smooth and for a Russian Imperial Stout surprisingly light.  The combination of the sweet and the alder almost make for a minty type aftertaste.  I double checked the BJCP Off Flavor Flash Cards to double check myself and see if the cellaring had gone sideways but from what I can tell, this probably hasn’t run into trouble.  It may just be that the sweetness has faded more quickly than the alder smoke, unbalancing the beer.

I let the beer warm up a bit and the flavors did drop a notch in intensity with some licorice notes adding in as well.  And my overall rating rose based on that fact. But it still is quite the Alaskan Rauch to it.  I just wish it had a bit more muscular malt body and an easier hand on the smoke to balance the competing flavors.  As it is, this is not one of my favorites.


Verdict? I have never had this beer before so I do not have a benchmark.  I was darned lucky to find this on sale a year or so later.  I would say that there wasn’t any issue with where I bought it nor with the aging but it would be interesting to see how this beer gets reviewed in years to come as others pull their bottles out of their cellar.



Celebrate the 25th of the Celebrator

Anyone who knows the history of craft beer in the U.S. understands the heralded place that the Celebrator beer magazine holds. It truly does celebrate beer all over the country. And now they get a special beer for a special anniversary.

Take it away Tomm Carroll (a good friend and the Celebrator L.A. beat writer)
“Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. invited all of us writers for The Celebrator up to its acclaimed Beer Camp in Chico, Califronia, last November to brew a beer to commemorate The Celebrator’s 25th anniversary this February.

That’s right, the country’s oldest “beeriodical” is a quarter century old, and is celebrating (as always) with an anniversary party on the closing day of San Francisco Beer Week (February 17, 2013), when our draught-only brew will make its debut. This year, the festivities will be held at the Oakland Convention Center Marriott Hotel.

Now, about the beer. Dubbed “Celebrator Beer News 25th Anniversary Double Pale Ale” (see tap handle art, attached), it’s basically an imperialization of Sierra’s classic flagship Pale Ale, the brew that not only launched the brewery over 30 years ago, but arguably kick-started California’s obsession with West Coast hop-forward beers.

Here’s a description of our anniversary beer from the forthcoming Celebrator article (February-March 2013 issue; out next week) on our adventures at Beer Camp #93:

“We landed on the idea of taking the original Sierra Pale recipe, doubling the malt bill and adding some newer hops for a beer that we thought of as an Imperial Pale Ale. The grains used were pale malt in copious amounts, Caramel 60 and Golden Promise for a little something extra. Bravo and Cascade hops went into the boil while the dry-hop addition was to include more Cascade, symbolizing Sierra Nevada’s past, Citra for the present, and Hop #366 — a new experimental hop — for the future. Dry hops were added to the tank with the help of a hop torpedo, a large cylindrical tube filled with hops and shot directly into the solution for full effect. Of course, we used Sierra’s house ale yeast for fermentation.”

The abv for 25th Anniversary Double Pale Ale should be around 8.6%.

If you can’t get to SFBW to try the beer, don’t worry. Like most Beer Camp brews, it will be available on tap at beer bars in the city of the campers, after the anniversary party. So that means you can expect to see it being poured at a couple of L.A.-area drinkeries..” Which as of now are T.H. Brewster’s at the Four Points Sheraton LAX, The Surly Goat and Beachwood BBQ (the Seal Beach location).

’88 like me

The collaboration craze shows no sign of abating and I, for one, am not surprised. If brewers can be creative with malt and hops then why would that end when more industry friends are invited in.

Now Deschutes will collaborate with breweries from the Class of ’88. North CoastRogueGoose IslandGreat Lakes Brewing who have all reached the 25 year mark. This will be a series of beers honoring that joyous mark.

According to schedule the first to appear will be a barleywine in March of this year.
Then a couple months later a Smoked Imperial Porter will be released and finally a Belgian Style Strong Golden will arrive late in the year.