Review – Trailing West – Firestone Walker Invitational Collaboration

This year the special Firestone Walker Invitational collaboration beer partner is Half Acre Beer. And the beer is Trailing West Pilsner.

First off, I am so glad any time a summer beer festival chooses a lighter beer style for their marquee beer. It is just smart. That being said, this is the first year of the FWIBF beers that I have been really m’eh on.

Maybe my expectations were too high. Maybe past beers have set a high bar. Either way this beer is not a favorite of mine. Firstly, it is labeled as a pilsner but it seems more a lager to me so right from the jump, I am on the back foot. It is also got a weird mix of corn and minerality that doesn’t mesh for me. If they called it a midwest lager, I would have rated it higher. But if pilsner was the target, they missed.

Ahead & East

Each year Firestone Walker finds a partner and concocts their own Festbier and the style has run the beer gamut. Now we know this years beer is….

“Trailing West is this year’s Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Festival signature, collaborative release. A limited-edition pilsner made with our friends at Half Acre Beer, the recipe pairs a decoction mash of an Austrian barley variety over 100 years old with old-world Hersbrucker and Hallertaur Mittelfruh hops.”

Review – Luponic Distortion 2024 from Firestone Walker

Seems like forever ago when Firestone Walker started their quarterly hop adventure, Luponic Distortion. I believe I collected them all and even reviewed quite a few as well.

LD was a rotating IPA with each version utilizing different hops on the same base beer. Now, it is back as part of a variety pack in cans or bottles.

The new blue canned Distortion is pretty close to pale ale strength and pours an orange-y / yellow color. Aroma is quite strong. I set the glass down and could smell it from over a foot away. I get a bit of sweet tart followed by a bready malt note in equal measure. Berry fruit in particular on the second sip and a bit of a rough hop bite which I like. But still quite light on the palate and the malt keeps this from tasting watery which is an issue I have encountered a bit lately.


Seeing as how a N/A Parabola would not be the best course of action, Firestone Walker has made the much more logical choice of creating a non-alcoholic version of 805, with the clever insertion of the word Zero for the number Zero.

Could be a popular beer this summer, up and down the Central Coast.

Cold and Short

The Short Lived Series from MadeWest Brewing has thankfully not been short lived and the latest has arrived with a gator on it and the latest partner, Firestone Walker.

It is a Cold IPA hopped with Mosaic, HBC 1019 and Nelson and the description is “bright hop character full of citrus and tropical fruit with notes of orange, honeydew and peach.”

Parabola Exploration

Yesterday, I joined Firestone Walker brewers Jordan Ziegler and Sam Tierney, to see the “many faces Parabola can take on through adjuncts..” There were over seven tastes of new experimental variants of the imperial stout, some only available for very short times.


This event at The Propgator brought together members of the Brewmasters Collective, an enthusiastic group of Firestone fans ready to taste Parabola in its newest incarnation as well as learn about the nuts and bolts of adjuncts in an imperial stout.

It starts with an inspiration. New Orleans offered Ziegler ideas as did the plane ride when the snack was a Stroop Waffle cookie. Then it goes to small bench tests where you try adding adjuncts and seeing what works and doesn’t. Fig was fine in tests but really called for an accompaniment so Ancho Chili was brought in to make a duet.

From there, it becomes how best to get a flavor punch. Thai bananas are good but lacked that Cavendish appeal. (sorry) The way you toast coconut and then deciding if circulating the beer through it or steeping it in the beer is a better preparation.

Mix in that Parabola is aged in differing bourbon barrels from super wet Elijah Craig to reliable Heaven Hill just adds another level of complexity. Then you have to make sure the resulting beer has a Firestone house taste to it as well.

For me, the plain 2014 Parabola was the best. You got a nice bourbon and oak note on top of a luxurious stout but the real action was deciding what of the flavored beers ranked highest. To me it was the Thai Bananas Foster. The interplay of fruit and stout just worked. Second was Coconut closely followed by the Peanut Butter (really peanut flour) with the Fig and Stroop Waffle in a lower tier of interesting and Mixed Berry bringing up the far back.

Oh and another plus, we got a taste of the newly reformulated XPA as well which I thought was a bright and hoppy addition to the line-up.

If you needed a temptation to join the Brewmasters Collective, this type of event would fit the bill.


Firestone Walker is adding a hoppy beer back into the mix that is neither a pilsner or hazy, rather an XPA.

Here are the specs, “Firestone XPA is built around New Zealand’s Nelson hop with its grapefruit and tropical Sauvignon Blanc qualities, all backed up with a dollop of classic Mosaic hops. The resulting beer offers a trifecta of drinkability: crisp, hoppy.”

All Who Wander

This very blog has monthly pairing posts of podcasts, books and sports. One that I do not do is music, but Firestone Walker has you covered the next time you reach for their hazy, Mind Haze.

Click HERE to read more.