Firestone Walker Nitro Merlin Milk Stout has been canned for the first time this month.
Two years ago, Nitro Merlin Milk Stout debuted on draft. Since then, Firestone Walker’s brewmaster Matt Brynildson has been researching options to make it work in cans. Ultimately, the brewery accomplishes this without a nitrogen widget.
“We looked at widgets, but couldn’t find a way to use them without exceeding our specs for total dissolved oxygen in the beer, which ultimately affects freshness and shelf life, so we had to look elsewhere.” -Matt Brynildson
The brewery retrofitted the brewery’s canning line with a liquid nitrogen drip machine. A drop of liquid nitrogen is dropped into the can, which immediately turns into nitrogen gas. The can is filled and sealed, mixing the gas in both the liquid and trapped in the headspace. For best effect, use what Firestone Walker calls the “surge pour” by inverting the can three times and pouring hard.
Flavor. Nitro Merlin has been an incredible beer since its inception. Brynildson and his team ported the beer over to cans beautifully. The beer is smooth and creamy, with just a touch of lactose sweetness and hints of milk chocolate. If you’re into beer pairings, drop a few dollars and order Brown Butter Cookie Company’s “Original” cookies . The pairing is as heavenly as it is addictive. They compliment each other so well, you actually want to dip the cookies in the beer. (And fight your friend/lover/spouse for the last bite and sip.)
Firestone Walker Nitro Merlin Milk Stout is the brewery’s first packaged nitro beer, hitting shelves nationally in January 2018.
Image: Beer Street Journal
Firestone Walker Mocha Merlin is on the can radar in Paso Robles, California.
In 2014, the brewery released a Velvet Mocha Merlin, an oatmeal stout is infused with coffee beans and cocoa nibs. That beer appeared as a part of The Winter Bundle that year. Assuming the beers are related, Mocha Merlin follows the same creamy, coffee path.
The brewery’s can lineup includes DBA, Pale 31, Union Jack IPA, Easy Jack IPA, Pivo Hoppy PIls, Luponic Distortion and new Leo v. Ursus.
Firestone Walker Mocha Merlin will be a available in 12 ounce cans/ 6 packs. Estimated release is early fall, 2017. The brewery has not yet announced this release.
Firestone Walker expands distribution to include Hawaii beginning early 2017. Through a new partnership with Young’s Market Company, draft will arrive in Hawaii starting mid January, and on shelves in March.
“It’s the right time for us to enter Hawaii. Craft beer is firmly established in Hawaii with great local brewers. These pioneers make tremendous beers and they have educated residents and visitors alike. We’re honored to come to Hawaii and work alongside them.” – David Macon, Vice President of Sales and Marketing.
Expect to see Firestone Walker beers on draft in Hawaii starting January 2017 and packaged product on shelves around March.
Firestone Walker Luponic Distortion 004 is the next revolution in the ongoing series from the Paso Robles, CA based brewery. Firestone Walker, releases a new beer in the Luponic Distortion series about every 90 days, each designed to highlight a new and complex experimental hop blend.
Luponic Distortion 004 features a unique origin of hops, South Africa. While it’s not the first place that comes to mind when you think “hop farm,” when brewmaster Matt Brynildson came across these varieties he couldn’t say no. Therefore, this next release in the series is a South African forward hop profile boasting strong tropical notes.
“South Africa is a bit outside the ideal growing belt, yet these hops presented these super explosive tropical qualities—every bit as interesting as what we’ve going on here. I was saying to myself, ‘Who’s the genius down there, I’ve got to find out.'” – Matt Brynildson
Within the 7 hop blend that makes Luponic Distortion 004, 4 distinct hops from South Africa take the lead. Boasting more tropical fruit notes are two experimental hops, which also bring a bit of floral and white grape properties. The third and fourth hops bring a passion fruit note and more classically noble profile respectively.
Firestone Walker Luponic Distortion 004 will be available throughout the next 3 months nationally in cans and on draft.
Style: American IPA
Availability: 12oz Cans, Draft.
Release: November, 2016
Firestone Walker XX, the brewery’s coveted anniversary release, debuts in November, 2016.
The anniversary series started in 2005. Firestone Walker’s brewmaster Matt Brynildson already making a special beer for the brewery’s 10th anniversary, aka X, when a barrel broker named Tom Griffin tracked down Brynildson. You know how the rest turned out.
Now, 10 years later, the Firestone Walker Anniversary Series has become an more than just a beer, but a session of friends creating a one of kind celebration blend.
The brewery’s home of Paso Robles, California known for Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel producers, so Bryndilson invites dozens of local winemakers to help blend the final release. The 2016 blend is thanks to 17 winemakers, blending 5 different component beers that have been aging in over 250 oak barrels.
“There is just so much going on in this beer. It’s big and complex, with all of these different facets from our barrel-aged program that are so seamlessly integrated. We wanted to produce something really special for our 20th anniversary, and I think we did it.” – Brynildson
The final blend:
Parabola – Russian imperial Stout, aged in new oak & bourbon barrels. 40% of Blend
Stickee Monkee – Belgian-style Quadrupel, aged in new oak & bourbon barrels. 20% of Blend
Velvet Merkin – Oatmeal Stout, aged in bourbon barrels. 17.5% of Blend
Bravo – Brown Ale aged in bourbon. 12.5% of Blend
Helldorado – Blonde barleywine aged in bourbon. 10% of blend
Firestone Walker XX Anniversary will be available in 22 ounce bottles across the brewery’s entire distribution network in November, 2016.
Style: American Strong Ale (Oak Aged. Barrel Aged. Bourbon.)
Availability: 22oz Bottles. Limited.
Debut: November, 2016
Ed note: The team for the final blend included these wineries
Scott Hawley – Torrin (Winning Blend)
Sherman Thacher and Daniel Callan – Thacher Winery
Matt Trevisan – Linne Calodo
Connor McMahon and Kyle Jury – Booker
Terry and Natalie Hoage –TH Estate Wines
Russell From and Philip Muzzy – Herman Story
Molly Lonborg and Kevin Sass– Halter Ranch
Brock Waterman – Brochelle Vineyards
Justin Smith – Saxum Vineyards
Mark Adams – Ledge Vineyards
Neil Collins and Chelsea Franchi – Tablas Creek Vineyard
Firestone Walker Luponic Distortion 003, the third edition in the brewery’s hop focused series, is now available.
Earlier this year, the Paso Robles, California bssed brewery debuted the Distortion Series, something brewer Matt Brynildson has always wanted. Something very hoppy. Experimental. No restraints. Plus, the beer changes every 90 days.
Firestone Walker Luponic Distortion 003 is a blend of nine different hops, with characteristics of the first two releases, plus something new.
Brynildson found a new German hop on a Hallertau trip to Germany. It’s so new, it doesn’t have a name yet. It boasts a juicy Mandarin orange flavor, while still being very distinctly German.
“It probably wasn’t supposed to be shared for brewing on a commercial scale, but they knew we were excited about it.”
Hailing from the Pacific Northwest is another hop – Comet. This hop rose out of the wave that brought Centennial and Cascade hops into use.
Firestone Walker Luponic Distortion 003 boasts a strong juicy and fruity flavor, 100% derived from hops. Available in 12 ounce cans for the next three months.
Style: American IPA
Availability: 12oz Cans, Draft.
Release: September, 2016
Firestone Walker Oaktoberfest returns again this year after taking a “light” year in 2015.
Last year the brewery only brewed a single batch destined for draft accounts. The beer wasn’t packaged.
Firestone Walker Oaktoberfest aka “Paso Marzen Beer” honors the classic style, but throws in a touch of west coast hoppiness. The ingredients all come from Germany. This year it returns in 16 ounces cans.
“Malty sweetness and subtle honey-like aromas take the lead on this beer, but there’s also a subtext of noble hop spiciness…It’s mellow and rounded, and has a beautiful autumn orange hue.” – Firestone Walker brewmaster, Matt Brynildson
The name “Oaktoberfest” is a nod to the brewery’s hometown of Paso Robles, California, which means “Pass of the Oaks.”
Four packs of Firestone Walker Oaktoberfest are now shipping to the brewery’s entire distribution network.
Hops: Hallertau Tradition
Availability: 16oz Cans, Draft. Seasonal release.
Latest Return: Mid-August, 2016
Image: Firestone Walker