Name: Firestone Walker Brewing Company
Location: Paso Robles, CA
Type: Production brewery
Available in DC Market: Yes
What you need to know: Firestone Walker is the 2013 GABF mid-size brewery of the year, which is a well deserved honor given the quality of the beers they've been producing since 1996. Their Double Barrel Ale is a faithful recreation of a British ESB while FW's pales and IPAs are some of the finest nationwide. Notable about the brewery is that it incorporates a "union" system of barrels that every beer goes through for some aging before finishing in stainless steel tanks. This is something you don't see often, if at all elsewhere, in the United States, and adds a great story about process and tradition to the great outputs from this brewery.
Beer #1: Opal (Saison / 7.5%)
In Their Own Words: "Bringing down the Farmhouse! Our interpretation of the rustic Wallonian Saison style is a harmonious blend of rustic grains, spicy yeast and unique sauvignon blanc tones. Inviting lemon grass and gooseberry meet peppery spice and fresh grain aromas. Spicy Belgian yeast create a complex yet dry and refreshing canvas with splashes of citrus and stone fruit with a bright tropical white wine finish. Hop bitterness is assertive yet harmonious rounding out slightly tart and refreshing."
Food Pairing: Smoked mackerel and caviar (Thin slices of smoked mackerel served on hearts of palm with lemon, dill and caviar crème fraiche.)
Our Thoughts: I've never had the pleasure of drinking Opal, but if it lives up to the rest of the Firestone Walker portfolio, I'm sure it'll be tasty and reminiscent of Boulevard's Tank 7. This food pairing works really well. Mackerel is a pretty oily fish, and a saison will help to cut through that. The tang of the creme fraiche will pair nicely with the crispness of Opal. Really nice work on this pairing.
Beer #2: Velvet Merkin (Barrel-aged oatmeal stout / 8.5%)
In Their Own Words: "Our decadent Oatmeal Stout lovingly aged in Bourbon barrels. Beautiful chocolate, espresso and vanilla-bourbon aromas hold your nose hostage. Rich dark chocolate truffle, bourbon and espresso create a dangerously smooth and incredibly drinkable barrel aged Oatmeal Stout. Hoarding tendencies may occur."
Food Pairing: Espresso-crusted bison on black bread (Bison loin crusted in espresso and seared. Served on a very thin black bread crisp with plum chutney.)
Our Thoughts: This is a multiple GABF gold medal winning oatmeal stout. Enough said? Probably enough said, yep. I can't wait to experience the mouthfeel on this between the barrel aging and the oatmeal.
This profile is a part of the DCBeer.com SAVOR Brewery Profile series. For more information, follow the link to see profiles of all 2014 SAVOR participants.