Firestone Walker’s Anniversary Ales are unique in that they tap the region’s available winegrowing and blending experts to be part of the process.
But late grape harvest in the Paso Robles wine country this year paved the way for an extra large and boisterous group of winemakers to help blend Firestone Walker’s latest barrel-aged anniversary ale.
And Freestone Walker’s Brewmaster Matt Brynildson was excited to have them…
“Usually by late summer the stress of the impending harvest starts bearing down on our winemaker friends, and some of them can’t make it to our blending session. But not this year and the result was one hell of a blend created by one of our largest groups ever.”
“Winemakers are practicing experts in the art of blending, which is why we have sought their involvement ever since making our first Anniversary Ale in 2006.”
The Anniversary Ale blending session has become an annual late-summer rite at the brewery, and the 2018 session took place on September 4th with 30 participants in attendance.
The outcome was Firestone Walker’s XXII Anniversary Ale, the XXII, signifying the Firestone Walker’s 22nd year in the brewing biz…
This year’s Anniversary Ale is a blend of four distinct beers aged in spirits barrels: Stickee Monkee (a Central Coast Quad, 44%), Parabola (Russian imperial oatmeal stout, 22%), Bravo (imperial brown ale, 22%) and Helldorado (a Blonde Barleywine, 12%). And the big twist this year is the inclusion of Helldorado aged in rum barrels and gin barrels.
And creating this beer was just part of the fun…
Visiting winemakers were divided into teams.
Each team created their own preferred blend from numerous components, and then all of the blends were blind tasted by the group to determine the favorite—which became the basis for XXII.
This year, the winning team was helmed by Terry Hoage and Phil Lamontagne of TH Estate Wines; Sherman Thacher and Daniel Callan of Thacher Winery; and longtime brewery friend and master bread baker Arie Litman.
This team walked away with the coveted “cardboard crowns” that are passed out each year.