Central Coast Okto Showdown

Today we compare / contrast two Central Coast Oktoberfest beers.

Firestone Walker Oaktoberfest, an oak aged lager, pours a pretty orange hue.  You can smell the malts from arms distance away. Crisp with malt taking center stage. Simple and straightforward.  A slight metallic note at the back but this is a lovely fall beer.

There Does Not Exist Oktoberfest Lager is another orange gem but this version is say more silky and missing some of the crispness.  I get an Navel orange citrus note as well that mingles with the malt notes.

Winner – This is a tough call. I would like to merge the crispness of the Oaktoberfest with the TDNE complexity.  But if asked which I would get seconds of, it would be the Firestone Walker.

Your Mind Will Be 3x Hazy

Though the labels are touch on the neon garish side for me, the beers in this new variety pack from Firestone Walker look intriguing. Hopical Crush would be the first one that I would crack open.

Mind Haze “Tiki Smash” IPA

Tiki Smash IPA delivers a tiki-inspired flavor combination born of pure hops and freshly toasted coconut. Original Mind Haze hops including Azacca are now joined by Motueka and Sabro hops. The Azacca portion has been increased to amplify the sense of pineapple tropical character, while Sabro delivers its complementary coconut qualities. “We use an elaborate system to introduce freshly toasted coconut for a smooth, subtle extraction,” Brynildson said. “The resulting beer showcases the special synergy of natural coconut with the tropical hop flavors of Mind Haze.”

Mind Haze “Hopical Crush” IPA

Hopical Crush IPA delivers a double-dry hopped explosion of tropical Mai Tai-inspired flavors, including pineapple and orange. This copiously hopped beer begins by accentuating the original Mind Haze hop blend with the Strata cultivar, which offers up bold pungent fruit and a touch of dank cannabis-like character. The beer is then double dry hopped with twice the amount of hops than usual—ultimately totaling more than five pounds of hops per barrel. The resulting beer exhibits massive flavors that will have you dreaming of Mai Tais on a faraway island.

Mind Haze “Citrus Cyclone” IPA

Citrus Cyclone IPA delivers a head-spinning taste of all the citrus flavors under the sun, finished with a kiss of real tangerine. The base beer is co-fermented with fresh California tangerines. This base is blended back with a separate lot of dry-hopped Mind Haze, then finished off with a final dash of tangerine to elevate the citrusy top note. Along the way, the Mandarina hop adds a distinctive orange character. The result is a remarkably refreshing Mind Haze experience.

Sazarac Style

Cognac barrels. Rye Whiskey barrels. Lemon peel and for a final touch some absinthe barrel action are part of the regimen for the upcoming cocktail beer from Firestone Walker.

You can also read about two tequila beers HERE.

Best Beers of June 2021 + IPA Standings

Time to unveil MY best beers of the month…

Honorable Mention goes to all of the New Zealand hopped beers that I tried from Firestone Walker’s Propagator. All were quite unique and showcased each different hop well.

Runner Up was High Water Brewing and their Break Apart Cream Ale which was just so different than most of the other beers tasted. That creamsicle orange flavor was great.

The Grand Winner came from Radiant Brewing in Anaheim. Mind Gardens Pilsner was made with Riwaja hops and it was both hoppy without taking anything away from the pilsner aspects of the beer.


The IPA standings remain unchanged for the second straight month.

Third – Crooked Stave Idaho 7 IPA

Second – Indie Brewing Quintette IPA

First – Offshoot Beer Co. DDH Visions

NZ Hopping + Firestone Reviews

Time to review New Zealand hopped beers via Paso Robles and Firestone Walker.

Let’s start with Nelson, a West Coast IPA. It pours a dark orange color. I get grape must and a slight tannic quality on the first sip. A little cat pee in the aroma. Further sips reveal a Concord grape note. There is a good hit of bitterness. Finishes with a combination of herbal and spicy.

Elenna is a hazy and a higher ABV than most FW beers which usually land in the 5.6% range. It pours a murky yellow color in keeping with the style. Aroma is forest like. Quite soft on the palate. Little bit of a cream texture. At the end I get a mixture of cherry and citrus.

Beer Before Glory Podcast

We can always use more beer podcasts before we reach peak hops. Now a new ear venture from The Brewing Network and Firestone Walker is here, Beer Before Glory.

I have downloaded the first two episodes. The first being on the origins of IPA and the second on the haze craze. FW knows hops and barrels in equal measure so I look forward to listening and learning.

NZ Hopping

Thanks to the generosity of NZ Hops and Firestone Walker, I learned some new information and got to rub some New Zealand grown hops yesterday.

The headliner being the new-ish Nectaron hop. Let’s backpedal a bit though. NZ Hops is a hop co-op that has bine roots stretching back 150 years. The group is comprised of 27 farms with 18 hop varietals sone of which are organic. They have connections with the Plant & Food Program Hop Division and their hop rock star Dr. Ron Beatson, which wraps us back to Nectaron which is slyly named after him.

We have been enjoying New Zealand hops in our beers for some time now but this latest innovation push and increased usage by notable brewers like Firestone Walker means, we will be seeing more of their hops. The photo above shows three of four current beers from FW that feature their hops.

In my one adjective findings Nectaron pellets – Pineapple, Nelson – lemon and Motueka – earthy. In the two beers that I tasted, the Nectaron came through as watermelon plus nectarine and the Nelson was white wine grape. It amazes me that brewers can take one aroma in pellet form and create something new in a beer. Gotta love bio-transformation.

I will review the Elenna and 18th (can you believe it) iteration of Luponic Distortion later this month to round out the NZ hop experience.