The West coast is a wonderful place to be a craft beer fan. Within Washington, Oregon and California you’ll find what I believe are some of the very best breweries in the entire World. I don’t really have a single favorite brewery, but if I were forced to choose I’m betting my selection would be from one of these three states. Don’t get me wrong; there are excellent craft breweries all across the U.S. that do an amazing job and put out some incredible and highly sought after beers that I thoroughly enjoy, but the West coast is somehow special to me. In part, of course, because I live here, but I love the passion and dedication evident in nearly every brewery I’ve visited out here in the West.
As I said, I don’t have a single favorite brewery but one that’s always near the top of my list is Firestone Walker Brewing Company out of Paso Robles California. The quality and consistency of their beers is absolutely top notch and they’re on my list of breweries that don’t put out a single beer I don’t like. Each year, Firestone Walker has several special releases, including Parabola Barrel Aged Russian Imperial Stout and their annual and extremely popular Anniversary release which arrived just this past November. Next up for Firestone Walker is their annual release of §ucaba Barleywine.
Here is some more information about this release from Firestone Walker Brewing Company:
Paso Robles, CA—Firestone Walker Brewing Company is set to release its first Proprietor’s Vintage Series beer of 2015 with the return of §ucaba—and Brewmaster Matt Brynildson is now spilling a few secrets on the tongue-twisting, barrel-aged barleywine that has been a brewery staple since 2006.
“We’ve never talked about it, but §ucaba is actually a blend of two separate beers,” Brynildson said. “The base beer is what you would call §ucaba, but each year the final blend also includes around 10 percent of another barrel-aged beer, which gives it this chocolaty, dark cherry dimension.”
Brynildson wouldn’t reveal the identity of the other component beer, but he did share some insights into the name §ucaba.
“Back in my early brewing days at Goose Island, I had this massive handheld calculator,” Brynildson said. “I would break it out when we were doing brewing calculations, and the guys would laugh at me and say, ‘Uh, oh, Brynildson’s firing up his abacus again.’ I always liked the word, and finally got to use it as a name for this beer.”
Alas, that original name was later undone by a legal challenge, and so the brewing team simply reversed it to §ucaba as a defiant yet virtually unpronounceable way to maintain the beer’s lineage.
So what’s the official pronunciation? “There is none,” Brynildson said. “SUC-a-buh, SOO-cah-ba, SOO-cab-uh, you hear it all, so it’s kind of fun. But in the brewhouse, we still call it by its original name.”
2015 §ucaba Lowdown
Release Date: January 17, 2015
ABV: 13.5% IBU: 42 Color: 36 (Dark Ruby)
Malts: Pale Ale Malt, Maris Otter, Munich, Dark & Light Crystal, Chocolate
Hops: Magnum (bittering), East Kent and Styrian Golding (late kettle)
Aging: Barrel-aged for one year on average in retired Bourbon barrels
Production: 3,500 cases (22-ounce bottles)
Retail: $16.99 (22-ounce bottle). Available while supplies last in select markets across the United States.
Big, boozy bourbon and American oak aromas combine with soft chocolate malty undertones. Complex malt flavors are framed in oak with hints of dark chocolate, vanilla, tobacco, coconut and just a touch of dark cherry.
§ucaba is built to last and will reward careful cellaring (ideal aging temperature: 45F) for years to come. We recommend counting the years with an abacus.
Please note that the release date listed above (January 17), is the release date for Paso Robles, CA. I would expect to start seeing §ucaba in local bottle shops (and perhaps a few places on tap – keep your eyes and ears open!), by the end of January.
I look forward to the release of §ucaba each year. I can’t wait to taste this year’s blend. Perhaps I’ll crack open a 2014 §ucaba when it arrives and do a small vertical tasting. Of course, I’ll have to also hold on to a few 2015 bottles and age them a while. I still have space in my cellar.
Drink responsibly and stay safe out there.