Monday is here, and it’s time to start another week. Pick of the Weekend is our weekly post where we recap our favorite brews of the weekend past.
We were recently invited to Paso Robles for a visit to the newly expanded Firestone Walker brewery, and we were treated to an in-depth tour of the facility and samples of many of the brewery’s offerings. We’ve been a fan of Firestone Walker for a long time, and our behind-the-scenes look at their production, and the people behind it, has made us even bigger fans.
We’ll be going into more detail on our trip to the brewery this week, but here’s a quick preview of some of our favorite beers that we sampled:
Firestone Walker has been working on this hoppy pilsner recipe for years, and it sounds like they are getting close to having it dialed-in and ready for production in the new brewhouse! The lager is crisp and light, and it’s more hop-forward than some craft pilsners like Avery’s Average Joe or Oskar Blues LIttle Yellow Pils but not quite as hoppy as Victory’s Prima Pils.
One of the brewery’s core line-up of pale ales, the Pale 31 is often over-looked by craft beer fans, but we were reminded how balanced and tasty the dry-hopped pale ale is. This hoppy treat is one of the best candidates for a fresh from the brewery growler, and at under 5%ABV it makes for a great session beer.
We were finally able to try the barrel-aged version of Firestone Walker’s seasonal Oatmeal Stout, and the merkin exceeded our lofty expectations! Our sample was from a nitro-tap and the thick, marshmallow-like, head and creamy mouthfeel added to the vanilla and caramel notes of the beer to create a decadent and very approachable stout. This is a beer with a lot of hype that tends to get the beer-nerds excited and for good reason! Firestone Walker clearly knows what they’re doing when it comes to barrel-aging beers, and Velvet Merkin is worth seeking out.
Double Barrel Ale, or DBA, is Firestone Walker’s flagship beer, and the ubiquitous english bitter doesn’t get the respect that we think it deserves. The standard DBA is a masterful example of balance, and the pub-only unfiltered version, aka UDBA, turns the volume up on the craft-beer classic. The wood-character imparted by the unique union barrel brewing technique is amped up in the UBDA, and the fruity English yeast character is more pronounced but still balanced by the generous hopping. Many pints of UDBA met their demise during our time in Paso Robles, and this beer is not to be missed if you visit one of the Firestone Walker taprooms.
We did, of course, sample many other superlative brews while at the brewery, from the candy-like Stickee Monkee to the complex and nuanced 14th Anniversary, and it is pretty surprising that our favorite of the trip wasn’t one of the rare barrel-aged gems but rather a version of their most common flagship beer.
We’ll be going into more details on the trip to Firestone Walker this week, but suffice to say it was an awesome experience and we highly recommend a visit to the brewery and taproom if you’re in the area!