Are you a fan of rich, lush, complex, barrel-aged beers? If you are, then you’re probably already a fan of Firestone Walker Brewing Company. Many of their beers, particularly those in their Proprietor’s Vintage Series, are some of my favorites in this particular category.
Firestone’s Proprietor’s Vintage Series includes beers like: §ucaba Barleywine, Parabola Russian Imperial Stout (one of my all time favorite beers), Stickee Monkee Central Coast Quad (which Firestone released recently for only the 2nd time in bottles – find some if you still can), Velvet Merkin, Double DBA and more. Plus, of course, their entire Anniversary lineup (X through XVIII). Now, for the first time in bottles, joining the Proprietor’s Reserve Series, is Firestone Walker’s Helldorado Blonde Barleywine.
I’ve had this beer a few times on tap before and it’s quite decadent. It’s complex and rich, It’s hoppy, but not too much. It’s got a honey like sweetness, but not too much. It’s a barleywine, but it’s blonde. Now, it’s coming in bottles for the first time ever.
Here is a bit more information about this special release from Firestone Walker Brewing Company:
An Imperial Blonde Ale or Blonde Barley Wine; Helldorado has the lightest color of any of the beers in our barrel program but carries a great deal of interesting barrel character: vanilla, light char and amazing lavender-honey notes. Rich boozy honey liqueur character and loads of smooth sweet toasted malt to finish. The El Dorado hops dance in the background without playing a dominant role in the flavor profile. This beer gets better and better the longer it is in barrel.
This is an extremely limited release, due to arrive sometime in mid July. Of course, it will take an extra week or so before bottles of Helldorado start hitting any shelves in Washington. Keep your eyes and ears open, because I would expect this beer to sell out quickly. I’ll try to keep track of when and were it’s arriving and keep you posted. Be sure to follow me on Facebook and/or Twitter so you don’t miss any announcements.
Here is the full press release from Firestone Walker Brewing Company:
Paso Robles, CA: You’ve been warned: Helldorado may be blonde in color, but if you take it lightly, you’ll get gunned downed by a blast of barrel-aged flavor at an ABV of 12 percent.
Indeed, after years as an occasional draft rarity, Firestone Walker Brewing Company’s iconoclastic Helldorado—a blonde barley wine aged in retired spirits barrels—is set to make its bottled debut on July 18.
“The idea behind Helldorado was to create a super blonde barley wine that could still carry the strong barrel character imparted by these intense spirits barrels,” said Brewmaster Matt Brynildson, “You’ll want to expect the unexpected with this beer.”
Naked & Unafraid
Helldorado was originally brewed to fill a stylistic gap in Firestone Walker’s barrel-aged Anniversary Ale blending program, which is composed of eclectic component ales.
“A few years into the program, we noted that all of our barrel-aged components were really dark and thick,” Brynildson said. “We needed some differentiation in color and style. It got us thinking about how cool it would be to brew this really pale blonde ale, and then age it in spirits barrels to create this naked beer with tons of pure barrel expression.”
He added, “Helldorado is made with just one malt, El Dorado hops and the barrels. I’ve resisted the temptation to blend a little something else into it. It’s just this really interesting expression of barrels beyond anything else we’ve done, and I decided that there was no need to mess with it.”
The name Helldorado comes from a fortuitous road trip that Brynildson took with his grandfather to Tombstone, Arizona—home of the infamous gunfight at the OK Corral.
“We were walking around this old-timey desert town and grandpa suggested that we go have a beer,” Brynildson said. “We went to the local saloon and there was this poster on the wall advertising a local event called Helldorado Days, depicting this evil bull scaring the crap out of some cartoon guy—Hellll-dorado!”
At the time of the Tombstone excursion, Brynildson had just begun brewing this blonde barley wine with El Dorado hops. He also knew that the German word for “pale” is hell. “It was just too perfect, so I knew right then, sitting in that saloon, that I’d found the name for the beer,” he said.
The 2015 Helldorado is limited to 3,500 cases of 22-ounce bottles as part of Firestone Walker’s Proprietor’s Vintage Series. It will be available in select markets across the United States. The suggested retail is $16.99.
When Parabola arrived earlier this year, I wasn’t on the ball and actually missed out on getting any bottles (though a friend did help me out with this dilemma). I’m determined to not let the same happen with Helldorado. With all the great beers I’ve been collecting over the past couple of years though, I might just have to organize some type of tasting party later this year. That’ll give me a good excuse to pop a few choice bottles I’ve been saving, including a few special Firestone Walker Bottles.
Drink responsibly and stay safe out there.