I keep a rolling five years of the Firestone Walker Anniversary Vintages and this year marks the last of the 22oz bombers.
As a reminder, this anniversary blend was devised by Scott Hawley from the Paso Robles winery, Torrin. It is 40% Parabola aged in Bourbon barrels and new oak, 20% Stickee Monkee aged in Bourbon and Brandy barrels, 17.5% Velvet Merkin, 12.5% Bravo and 10% Helldorado, all Bourbon barrel aged.
It pours a dark brown with a bit of a reddish tint. As you would expect, Bourbon is on the nose. It is still a touch hot in the initial sips as well even after five years in the box. It is sweet as well with a fruit note that I can’t quite catch (maybe cherry). There is a bit of dark but not roasted malt character as this tastes like an amplified brown ale.
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.”
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.
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.“
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.