# 26

Now that the Firestone Walker Invitational for 2022 is in the books along with my jealousy of all who got to go and experience that excellent festival, it is time to move onto what this years anniversary beer will look like…

XXVI will be in the 12oz bottles with the special box packaging and are not to be missed. I did an anniversary flight last November (a great time to visit I might add) and it was fun to see how four different years tasted.


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

24 – The Blend

Place your bets as to who won the blending challenge for this year’s Anniversary Ale from Firestone Walker. Paso Robles wineries: Denner, Halter Ranch, Herman Story, Ledge, Linne Calodo, Lone Madrone, Tablas Creek, Thacher, TH Estate Wines and Saxum competed.

The winning blend—the basis for XXIV—was ultimately created by Winemaker Kevin Sass at Halter Ranch.

XXIV: The Final Blend

Velvet Merkin – Milk Stout – Aged in Bourbon Barrels (27%)

Stickee Monkee – Central Coast Quad – Aged in Bourbon Barrels (26%)

Parabola – Russian Imperial Stout – Aged in Bourbon Barrels (16%)                                                             

Smoked Imperial Walkers Reserve – Robust Porter brewed with beechwood smoked malt- Aged in Bourbon Barrels (16%)

Bravo – Imperial Brown Ale – Aged in Bourbon Barrels (11%)

Tequila Barrel Helldorado Blonde Barley Wine – Aged in Tequila Barrels (4%)


Looks like the Anniversary Blend for 2019 is the start of a blending dynasty.  According to a recent press release from Firestone Walker, “for the second year in a row, the winning team included Sherman Thacher and Daniel Callan of Thacher Winery, as well as Will Freeman and Phil LaMontagne of TH Estate Wines. They all walked away with the coveted “cardboard crowns” that are accorded to the winners each year.”

And in the e-mail were the details of the blend…..

 XXIII: The Final Blend

 Stickee Monkee aged in Bourbon Barrels (28%) – Central Coastal Quad

Parabola aged in Bourbon Barrels (28%) – Russian Imperial Stout                                                        

 Bravo aged in Bourbon Barrels (20%) – Imperial Brown Ale

Bourbon Barrel Helldoradoaged in Bourbon Barrels (15%) – Blonde Barley Wine

Velvet Merkin Aged in Bourbon Barrels (5%)  – Milk Stout

Tequila Barrel Helldoradoaged in Tequila Barrels (4%) – Blonde Barley Wine

It is cool that there is a double dose of Helldorado in this years mix, maybe they have other Helldorado barrels to make a single Blonde Barley Wine blend?  As is custom on BSP, I will review the new beer as well as the beer from six years ago.

Featured Review – Firestone Walker Anniversary XXII

I sipped on 17 first, but now let’s try the latest modelFirestone Walker Anniversary blend.

The White box is a color departure for the Anniversary packaging. I tasted this beer on draft at The Propagator in the wise amount of 6oz. This blend seems lighter than the others by a large amount. Not boozy in either aroma or in the flavor. Little is the operative word 22 is a little smooth. There is a little alcohol burn at the edges. During the same sitting, I tasted the new Old Nan Hattan beer which shined with a holiday spice profile that made me buy a bottle in the store. Maybe it was too cold, maybe a warmer and aged bottle will show of hidden (now) complexities.

Featured Review – Firestone Walker XVII

I am running out of the 22oz bombers! I only keep 5 years running of the Firestone Walker Anniversary blend and with XVII done, I am down to only three.

Here is my review of this five year old beer:
This has really mellowed perhaps due to the brandy barrel or to using imperial brown ale as blend leaders. There is bourbon on the nose but not overly harsh. Initial part of the sip has a little spirit but not the alcohol bite. It is a little thin with a slight silky texture that is sticky on the tongue but there is still a little carbonated zip to this one. It almost reminds me of good English toffee.

And as a reminder, here are the blend details for the beer designed by Neil Collins and Chelsea Franchi of Tablas Creek Winery.

Bravo / Aged in Bourbon and Brandy Barrels / 30% of Final Blend
-Imperial Brown Ale

Sticky Monkey / Aged in Bourbon and Whiskey Barrels / 25% of Final Blend
-English Barley Wine Brewed with Mexican Turbinado (brown) Sugar

Velvet Merkin / Aged in Bourbon Barrels / 15% of Final Blend
-Traditional Oatmeal Stout

Parabola / Aged in Bourbon Barrels / 15% of Final Blend
-Russian Imperial Oatmeal Stout

Double DBA / Aged in retired Firestone Union Barrels / 8% of Final Blend
-Double strength English Pale Ale

Helldorado / Aged in Bourbon and Brandy Barrels / 4% of Final Blend
-Blonde Barley Wine Brewed with Buckwheat Honey

Wookey Jack / 100% Stainless Steel / 3% of Final Blend
-Black Rye India Pale Ale

This has really mellowed perhaps due to the brandy barrel or to using imperial brown ale as leaders bourbon on the nose but not harsh. Initial part of the sip has a little harshness but not the alcohol bite little thin with a slight silky texture sticky on the tongue reminds me of good English toffee little carbonated zip to this one still

Review – XVI Anniversary from Firestone Walker

My goal is not to have more than five years worth of the Anniversary beers from Firestone Walker. So each year, I open the oldest bottle and do a review. Here are my thoughts on XVI….

16 is so smooth. There is quite a lot of sugar which feeds into the Christmas theme for sure. Silky in texture with lots of mellow bourbon notes to it. I am getting chocolate covered caramel. Maybe Creme Brulee. Way too easy to drink. I have to pace the sips to make sure that I try some warmed up. Not very sharp or carbonated. Actually pairs quite well with some Kahlua infused cookies from the neighbors.

As a bonus, here is a mini-review of the 2017 blend…
It pours a pitch black and really smells sugary. I would say more bourbon glaze than spirited ABV. It is almost rum-like in character. It is pretty one dimensional but it is a really tasty dimension to be sure. The 11.8% alcohol is well masked here.


Fun Fact: This year’s Firestone Walker Anniversary XX barrel-aged beer is really only the 10 version of the beer. The tradition started with their 10th anniversary beer and has only grown in esteem and blending talent and barrels. So many, many barrels.

It took the competitive wine juices of 17 winemakers who gathered back in August to create this years blend. Scott Hawley of Torrin Vineyard was declared the winner and his blend serves as the base for XX which is broken down from (5) beers and 250 oak barrels!

ParabolaRussian Imperial Oatmeal Stout / Aged in New Oak and Bourbon Barrels / 40% of Final Blend
Stickee MonkeeCentral Coast Quad Brewed with Belgian Candi and Mexican Turbinado (brown) Sugar/ Aged in Bourbon and Brandy Barrels / 20% of Final Blend
Velvet MerkinTraditional Oatmeal Stout / Aged in Bourbon Barrels / 17.5% of Final Blend
BravoImperial Brown Ale/ Aged in Bourbon Barrels / 12.5% of Final Blend
HelldoradoBlonde Barleywine / Aged in Bourbon Barrels / 10% of Final Blend

Another Fun Fact:
X was sold for $9.99 per 22-ounce bottle and it was considered a really high price, this year bottles will start at $23.99 and be more than worth it.


Anniversary beers tend to be big and the cumulative vision of the previous years. Ninkasi certainly follows that blueprint with the release N10, a “commemorative Imperial Blended Ale”.

N10 is crafted of 50% Imperial Stout, 10% Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout, 12.5% Imperial Total Domination IPA, 12.5% Imperial Maiden the Shade IPA, and 15% Critical Hit Barleywine.

But then again, having two IPA’s in the mix isn’t the usual template and since IPA is 25% of the mix, this may be a rare beer that you don’t cellar that long.