Instead of simply selecting certain hops for the next Luponic Distortion releases, Firestone Walker went another way. Custom grown hops.
Three years ago, Firestone Walker’s brewmaster Matt Brynildson secured a deal with Hop Breeding Company’s breeders Jason Perrault and Michael Ferguson. Three acres of a special new hop cultivar was planted. According to Brynildson, it was all worth the wait.
“The tropical aspect of this hop is really crazy. It adds a distinctive dimension to the aroma profile of the beer.”
This new hop is supported by five additional hops, creating a beer that boasts “unique profile of piña colada, key lime, and nectarine.”
Firestone Walker Luponic Distortion 13 starts shipping to all of the brewery’s markets this week.
Availability: 12oz Cans, Draft. Rotating release.
Debut: Mid-June 2019
Image: Firestone Walker
Firestone Walker Violet Underground, a cross-Atlantic ocean collaboration, debuts this week. Part of the brewery’s Barrelworks Program.
Jim Crooks, Firestone’s medal-winning master blender is good friends with Brett Ellis, co-founder, and brewer at England’s Wild Beer Company.
Dissecting this beer yeast first – Ellis sent Crooks some Wild Beer’s native yeast. Crooks then fermented two base beers. One with Barrelworks yeast and California golden raspberries, and the other with Wild Beer’s English funk. Both bases were aged in French oak between 6 months and a year. French candied violet petals were added to a handful of barrels. The result? Something Crooks calls a “head trip”.
“Violet Underground is an intentional head trip. It’s golden in color yet smells like raspberries, offering a bunch of unexpected sensory notes that all come together in the glass.”
The beer name is presumably a play on the 60’s rock band Velvet Underground, that once had Lou Reed.
Firestone Walker Violet Underground is the second packaged release in 2019, available in 375-ml bottles and draft
Style: American Wild Ale (w/ Golden Raspberries. Violet Petals. French Oak Aged.)
Availability: 375ml Bottles. Draft. Limited Release.
Debut: Early June 2019
Firestone Walker Napa Parabola, a barrel-aged beer/wine cross over release, debuts this week.
Parabola, Firestone Walker’s barrel-aged Russian imperial stout, is quite well-known amongst beer drinkers, first released in 2006. The brewery is situated in Paso Robles, California deep in wine country. The wine culture has had a lot of influence on the brewery, especially in Firestone’s Anniversary blends, and in the recent year-round release, Rosalie.
Eric Ponce, Firestone’s barrel program manager, always thought Parabola would really mesh well with red wine barrels. “It was something that was always in the back of my mind, so when these rare wine barrels became available, I jumped at the opportunity. The winery didn’t want to be named—all I can say is that these barrels held some of the finest wines you’ll find in Napa Valley,” Ponce says.
According to the brewery, the result is a beer that marries the French oak flavors of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot barrels with the robust dark fruit, tobacco, and roasted malt flavors of Parabola.
Firestone Walker Napa Parabola starts shipping this week in 12-ounce bottles and draft.
There’s a new wild ale rolling out of Buellton, California – Firestone Walker Bretta Tangerine.
This new hybrid wild ale features 1,000 pounds of specially selected Murcott tangerines grown in Ojai, California. According to master blender Jim Crooks, the Murcott wasn’t just a geographical decision. “The aroma coming off the zest was so pungent, bright, and in your face. We knew that it was going to make this beer pop,” he said.
Bretta Weisse serves as the base for Bretta Tangerine, which has seen fruits like blackberries and black currants.
The Final Blend.
The Murcott tangerine concentrate as blended with 15 barrels for Bretta Weisse for fermentation and maturation. Additionally, Crooks took tangerine concentrate from Ventura Coastal and co-fermented it with another lot of Bretta Weisse. The two tangerine lots were blended together with a third lot of 18-month old Bretta Weisse.
Firestone Bretta Weisse is available in 375-milliliter bottles in all markets the Barrelworks line is sold starting the last week of February 2019.
Image: Firestone Walker
In the wild west of hazy India pale ales, one of the best breweries out there is about to release one of their own after a year of experimentation. Firestone Walker Mind Haze IPA debuts this month.
Firestone’s brewmaster Matt Brynildson recognizes this hazy IPA trend got its start on America’s East Coast, but according to him, he also sees it starting with Bavarian hefeweizens. This may help explain the flavor profile in Firestone Walker Mind Haze IPA.
This can of hop-haze boasts a creamy mouthfeel and tropical-banana aroma according to the brewery. (Where the Bavarian influence comes into play.) The brewing team amplified the esters from the yeast and paired it with fruity hops.
Firestone Walker killed it. In the world of hazy IPAs, Mind Haze is immediately one of the best we have ever had. This beer hits all the high notes of a hazy IPA; it’s a tropical juicy hop explosion, that finishes soft and almost creamy. No weird vegetal or underfermented flavors that some poorly made hazys possess. Brynildson and the brewing team took their time perfecting this beer before releasing it and you can truly taste it. This is a hazy slammer of a year-round release that raises the bar for the style.
“We’re not relying on residual yeasts or starches for turbidity. The haziness and mouthfeel of Mind Haze are cultivated by more stable means, namely using 40 percent wheat and oats in the grain bill while nailing the timing and interplay of our hop additions,” says Brynildson.
It’s this hazy IPA meets Bavaria flavor that Firestone Walker hopes really puts their own “stamp” on the style.
Firestone Walker Mind Haze IPA hits the brewery’s entire distribution footprint this week in 12-ounce cans and draft.
Style: Hazy IPA
Availability: 12oz Cans, Draft.
Debut: January 2019
Image: Beer Street Journal
Inspired by the wine country that surrounds the brewery, Firestone Walker Rosalie debuts year-round this month.
Paso Robles, California, the home of Firestone Walker Brewing Company is known to the rest of the world as a premier wine region. The brewery was even constructed on the Firestone family winery. If that influence isn’t enough, local winemakers are always asked to assist in creating Firestone’s annual Anniversary blend.
The path to Rosalie started in September of 2018 when Castoro Winery harvested 200 tons of wine grapes for Firestone Walker. Grape varieties included Chardonnay, Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Muscat Canelli, and Orange Muscat. Chardonnay grapes were tapped to take the flavor profile lead, but brewmaster Matt Brynildson wanted other varieties. “The Chardonnay provides these crowd-pleasing textures and flavors. But we also wanted to weave in the other grape varieties to lift the aromas and add complexity,” he says.
The goal with Firestone Walker Rosalie is to create a beer with the body of rosé wine. A cross-over creation, that blurs the line between beer and wine. The acid profile of a rosé can’t be achieved with normal yeast and malts, so the brewery used some souring techniques to achieve this.
A lightly hopped, pilsner malt heavy wort was created, and blended with pressed grape juice. By co-fermenting the wort with the grape juice, the brewery is essentially making beer and wine at the same time.
Where hops would have been added whirlpool step of the brewing process, Firestone Walker opted to use hibiscus petals. This gives Rosalie it’s pink, rosé wine style coloring, with an extra touch of citric acid which brightens up the palate beer. The result of this complicated brewing process? It would seem like one of the most cutting edge beer and wine hybrids created yet.
Look for Firestone Walker Rosalie in 12-ounce cans year-round this month. Draft will launch in April 2019.
Image: Firestone Walker
Firestone Walker Mocha Merlin is back in Paso Robles, California based brewery’s lineup again for fall.
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 Merlinis available for a second time 12-ounce cans and draft.
PIC: Beer Street Journal