Firestone Walker Brewing Co. Blends Their XVIth Anniversary Ale

Firestone Walker Brewing Company got it’s start back in 1996, when they brewed their very first beer in a small  facility rented from the Firestone Vineyard estate in Santa Barbara County, California.  Five years later, in 2001, Adam Firestone and David Walker purchased the SLO Brewing Company in Paso Robles, California.  They’ve been going strong ever since, creating one World class beer after another.  Many of their beers are fermented using their unique Firestone Union system (inspired by the Burton Union systems invented by English brewers back in the 1830’s-40’s).  This is a unique method of fermentation and, to Firestone Walker’s knowledge, is not currently being utilizied by any other brewery in the U.S.

The Firestone Union System

Firestone Walker is also known for their skill at the art of blending beers.  Many of their offerings, such as Parabola, Velvet Merlin, §ucaba and many more are blends of several different beers.  Some of these beers are special ones Firestone Walker brews just for blending purposes and are not packaged or generally available to the public (though you may be able to try a few at the brewery).

Starting with their 10th Anniversary back in 2006, Firestone Walker has created a new Anniversary beer every year.  Each of these Anniversary offerings are blends of several different Firestone Walker beers.  The past offerings have been comprised of the following blends:

Firestone Walker 10th Anniversary Ale:

10th Anniversary Ale

The following brews were aged in six different barrel formats creating 10 distinctive component lots (pieces) that were blended together. Portions of these beers were also fermented in the Firestone Union oak barrel brewing system. Following are descriptions of key components with their original code name

Abacus-5 barrel varieties

Strong English Style Barley Wine (brewed 1-24-06 Racked to barrels on 2-7-06)

OG=26P  FG=5.1P  IBU=50  Color=15 /  Hopped with Amarillo and East Kent Goldings

Parabola –2 barrel varieties

Imperial Oatmeal Stout (brewed 2-09-06 Racked to Barrels on 2-20-06)

OG=28P FG=7.5P  IBU=80  Color=Black / Hopped with Summit, Styrian Golding and East Kent Golding

Ruby 2 barrel varieties

American Style Barley Wine / Imperial IPA Formulated by Jim Cibak while still working for Three Floyds Brewing

OG=26P  FG=8.15  IBU=60 Color=20 / 100% Maris Otter Malt & Hopped with Simcoe and Summit

Bravo –2 barrel varieties

Imperial Brown Ale (Brewed 8-2-06 Racked to Barrels on 8-11-06)

OG= 22P  FG= 4.8P  IBU=45 Color=32/ Hopped 100% with an experimental hop variety providedby S.S. Steiner Inc.

Other Component Brews Included in The 10 Blend: Walker’s Reserve, Humboldt Hemp Ale,

100% oak barrel fermented Double Barrel Ale.

Firestone Walker 11th Anniversary Ale:

Following are descriptions of key components with their original code names:

Parabola (13% ABV) – (4%) of final blend

-Aged in bourbon barrels

-Russian Imperial Oatmeal Stout (brewed 2-09-06 Racked to Barrels on 2-20-06)

OG=28P FG=7.5P  IBU=80  Color=Black / Hopped with Summit, Styrian Golding and East Kent Golding

Bravo (11% ABV) – (82%) of final blend

-3 barrel varieties- Bourbon (57%), Brandy (18%) and New American Oak (7%)

Imperial Brown Ale (Brewed 8-2-06 Racked to Barrels on 8-11-06)

OG= 22P  FG= 4.8P  IBU=35 Color=32/ Hopped 100% with an experimental hop variety providedby S.S. Steiner Inc.

Rufus (11% ABV) (7%) of final blend

-2 barrels- Bourbon (3.5%) and Rye (3.5%)

-Continental Imperial Amber Ale (brewed 8-17-07 Racked to Barrels 8-28-07)

OG=22.5 FG=4.5 IBU=40 Color=15 / Brewed utilizing Belgian Dark Candi Syrup / Hopped with Styrian Goldings and Saaz

Velvet Merkin (5.5% ABV)  – (7%) of final blend

-Aged in Bourbon barrels

-Traditional Oatmeal Stout

OG= 15P FG=5.5 IBU=32.5 Color= Black / 15% Oats / Hopped with 100% U.S. – grown Fuggles

Firestone Walker XIIth Anniversary Ale:

Following are descriptions of key components with their original code names:

Parabola (13% ABV) – (44%) of final blend

-Aged in New American oak, bourbon and rye barrels

-Russian Imperial Oatmeal Stout (brewed02-09-06 and 01-18-08)

OG=28P FG=7.5P  IBU=80  Color=Black / Hopped with Simcoe, Bravo, Styrian Golding and East Kent Golding

Opal (11% ABV) – (28%) of final blend

-Aged in rye barrels                                                                                                                                               

-Wheat Wine (brewed 2-25-08)

OG=22.4P FG=6.2P IBU=45 Color=17 / Brewed with torrified and malted wheat, lightly hopped with Saaz

Rufus (11% ABV) (18%) of final blend

-Aged in rye and bourbon barrels

-Continental Imperial Amber Ale (brewed 8-17-07)

OG=22.5 FG=4.5 IBU=40 Color=15 / Brewed with Belgian Dark Candi Syrup / Hopped with Styrian Goldings and Saaz

Saucerful of Secrets (9% ABV) – (9%) of final blend

-Aged in Brandy Barrels                                                                                                

-Belgian Strong Ale (brewed 10-30-07)

OG=23.4 FG=6.1 IBU 25 Color=39 / Brewed with Belgian Dark Candi sugar and everything else but the kitchen sink

Union Jack IPA (7% ABV) – (1%) of final blend

-Aged in stainless steel

-American Style IPA (brewed 10-28-08)

OG=17 FG=3.5 IBU=75 Color=12 / Brewed with massive amounts of hops and a very kind attitude

Firestone Walker 13th Anniversary Ale:

Following are descriptions of key components with their original code names:

Parabola (13% ABV) – (39%) of final blend

-Aged in bourbon barrels

-Russian Imperial Oatmeal Stout (brewed 04-30-09 and 09-17-09)

OG = 28P  FG = 7.5P  IBU = 80  Color = Black / Hopped with Simcoe, Bravo, Styrian Golding and East Kent Golding

Bravo (11% ABV) – (24%) of final blend

-2 barrel varieties- bourbon (50%), brandy (50%)

-Imperial Brown Ale (brewed 2-10-09)

OG = 22P  FG = 4.8P  IBU = 35  Color = 32 / Hopped 100% with U.S. grown Fuggles

Velvet Merkin (6% ABV) – (15%) of final blend

-Aged in bourbon barrels

-Traditional Oatmeal Stout (brewed 10-02-08)

OG = 15P  FG = 5.5P  IBU = 32.5  Color = Black / 15% Oats

Hopped with 100% U.S. grown Fuggles

Opal (11% ABV) – (6%) of final blend

-Aged in rye barrels

-Wheat Wine (brewed 2-25-08)

OG = 22.4P  FG = 6.2P  IBU = 45  Color = 17

Brewed with torrified and malted wheat, lightly hopped with Saaz

Rufus (11% ABV) – (6%) of final blend

-Aged in rye barrels

-Continental Imperial Amber Ale (brewed 8-17-07)

OG = 22.5P FG = 4.5P IBU = 40 Color = 15

Brewed with Belgian dark candi syrup, hopped with Styrian Goldings and Saaz

Double Double Barrel Ale (10.9% ABV) – (6%) of final blend

-Aged 100% in retired FW union barrels

-Double English Pale Ale (brewed 12-03-08)

OG = 24.0P FG = 5.8P IBU = 30 Color = 16

A double version of our flagship created by Cellar Master, Ali Razi

Saucerful of Secrets (9% ABV) – (4%) of final blend

-Aged in bourbon barrels

-Belgian Strong Ale (brewed 10-30-07)

OG = 23.4P FG = 6.1P IBU = 25 Color = 39

Brewed with Belgian dark candi sugar and everything else but the kitchen sink

Firestone Walker 14th Anniversary Ale:

Following are descriptions of key components with their original code names:

Double Double Barrel Ale (10.9% ABV)(31%) of final blend

-Aged 100% in retired Firestone Union Barrels

-Double strength English Pale Ale

OG= 24.0P FG=5.8P IBU=30 Color = 16 / A Double version of our flagship created by Ali Razi

Sticky Monkey (12% ABV) – (29%) of final blend

-Aged in Bourbon and Brandy Barrels

-English Barley Wine

OG = 24P  FG = 4.5P  IBU = 45  Color = 28 / Brewed with Mexican Turbinado (Brown) suger

Parabola (13% ABV) – (27%) of final blend

-Aged in Bourbon Barrels

RussianImperial Oatmeal Stout

OG=30P FG=7.5P  IBU=80  Color=Black / Hopped with Simcoe, Bravo, Styrian Golding and East Kent Golding

Velvet Merkin (6% ABV) – (7%) of final blend

-100% Aged in Bourbon barrels

-Traditional Oatmeal Stout

OG= 15P FG=5.5 IBU=32.5 Color= Black / 15% Oats / Hopped with 100% US grown Fuggles

Good Foot (13% ABV) – (3%) of final blend

-Aged in Bourbon Barrels

-American Barley Wine

OG = 23P FG = 5.5P IBU = 80  Color = 26 / Brewed with copious amounts of American grown hops

Black Xantus(11% ABV)(3%) of final blend

-Aged in Bourbon Barrels

-Coffee Infused Imperial Stout

OG= 27P FG = 6.8P  IBU = 55 Color Black / Rich Stout made with Mexican Coffee roasted locally by Joebella Coffee Company

Firestone Walker XVth Anniversary Ale:

Following are descriptions of key components with their original code names:

Helldorado – (11.7% abv) 

-Aged in Bourbon Barrels and Brandy Barrels.  (18% of Blend)

-Barleywine

Sticky Monkey – (12.5% abv)

-Aged in Bourbon and Brandy Barrels.  (17% of Blend)

-English Barleywine

OG = 24P  FG = 4.5P  IBU = 45  Color = 28 / Brewed with Mexican Turbinado (Brown) suger

Bravo – (13.5% abv) 

-Aged in Bourbon and Brandy Barrels.  (17% of Blend)

-Brown Ale

OG = 22P  FG = 4.8P  IBU = 35  Color = 32 / Hopped 100% with U.S. grown Fuggles

Double Double Barrel Ale (11.5% abv)

-Aged 100% in retired Firestone Union Barrels. (13% of Blend)

-English Pale Ale

OG= 24.0P FG=5.8P IBU=30 Color = 16 / A Double version of our flagship created by Ali Razi

Good Foot (14.3% abv)

-Aged in Bourbon Barrels.    (11% of Blend) 

-American Barley Wine

OG = 23P FG = 5.5P IBU = 80  Color = 26 / Brewed with copious amounts of American grown hops

Velvet Merkin (8.6% abv)

-Aged in Bourbon Barrels.    (10% of Blend) 

-Oatmeal Stout

OG= 15P FG=5.5 IBU=32.5 Color= Black / 15% Oats / Hopped with 100% US grown Fuggles

Parabola (13% abv)

-Aged in Bourbon Barrels  (9% of Blend) 

-Russian Imperial Oatmeal Stout

OG=30P FG=7.5P  IBU=80  Color=Black / Hopped with Simcoe, Bravo, Styrian Golding and East Kent Golding

Double Jack (9.5% abv)

-100% Fresh-n-Hoppy 100% Stainless Steel.    (5% of Blend)

-IPA

As Firestone Walker’s sixteenth anniversary approaches, they’ve started working on Firestone Walker XVIth Anniversary Ale.  This will be their 7th Anniversary Ale since starting the series.  So, how do they go about building these beers?  Each one is a custom blend that they come up with during an annual ‘Blending Session’.  Some photos were recently posted to Firestone Walker’s Facebook page from their blending session on 8/29, showing them hard at work on the XVIth Anniversary blend.  Here are some of those photos.  I’ve zoomed in a bit on one, showing some of the components that will make up the blend.

Blending Components For Firestone Walker XVIth Anniversary Ale

It’s a bit fuzzy so zoomed in, but if you look closely on the photo above you can make out:

  • Bravo
  • Helldorado
  • Velvet Merkin
  • Double DBA
  • Parabola
  • Sticky Monkey
  • and that bottom one looks like PNC, though I’m not sure what that refers to.  Perhaps they’ve come up with something new, as Firestone Walker is prone to do from time to time.

This appears to be confirmed in this next photo, if you look closely at the labels on each pitcher:

Blending Components of Firestone Walker XVIth Anniversary Ale

Firestone Walker holds their blending session along with local Paso Robles area winemakers and friends.  Here are a few more photos:

Firestone Walker Head Brewer, Matthew Brynildson, Discussing The Blending Process

The XVIth Anniversary Ale Blending Crew Hard At Work

If you’re fortunate to live near the Firestone Walker brewery, or if you can get there this November, you can join Firestone Walker at the release party for XVIth Anniversary Ale on November 3rd, 2012.  Click HERE for details on how you can attend.

I’ve really enjoyned each of Firestone Walker’s previous Anniversary offerings, so I’ll be eager to wrap my lips around XVIth Anniversary when it arrives here in Seattle.  I’ll keep you posted on when it should be arriving and where you can find it in the Puget Sound.

Drink responsibly and stay safe out there.

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