Attention all busy beer enthusiasts and Firestone Walker admirers: we have something special in store for you. The Brewmaster’s Collective, a beer club put together by Firestone Walker, is accepting new members until the month ends (sorry for the delayed announcement). All the details:
Brewmaster Matt Brynildson explained that the 2024 season would be all on perfecting barrel-aged beers that are known for their exceptional fragrance and flavour. The club has evolved into a hub for innovation, teamwork, and communication with our die-hard supporters. We promise you will adore our offerings if you enjoy beers that have been matured in barrels.
Each quarter in 2024, the beers from the Brewmaster’s Collective will make an appearance in carefully selected collections that will also feature exclusive products and matching opportunities. Prepaid memberships are available for as little as $399 per year plus tax and shipping (or $425 spread out over 12 months), with pickup at any of Firestone Walker’s three Paso Robles, Buellton, or Venice sites being an option.
With members having access to the brewery’s most artisanal small-batch products, the Brewmaster’s Collective has become a pillar of creativity, cooperation, and invention at Firestone Walker, now entering its fourth year.
Three limited release beers and two more that are restricted to club members were included in the 2023 collection’s autumn shipment, which we received. There was also a variety of Brown Butter Cookie Co. cookies to aid with digestion. Another one of the included limited releases is another great anniversary ale, which we have already reviewed. For more on the other parts, keep reading.
Flash Firestones by Firestone, Apple, and Jack
The recipe calls for freshly squeezed apple juice and English barleywine, which are mixed before fermentation and then aged for twelve months in Applejack barrels. A little, rapidly dissolving tan foam tops the beer as it pours, giving it a murky, raw honey appearance. While there are hints of baked and candied apples in the nose, the predominant notes are buttery Chardonnay-esque notes and lots of barley sugar, so it’s not quite applesauce as you might think. Additional hints of cinnamon toast and chocolate caramel develop as it heats in the glass. The flavour profile is mild and pleasant, with hints of apple butter and vanilla cream; yet, it lacks variety. With hints of apple sauce and pie spice, the finish is brief and quite thin. A pleasant autumn drink, however I was hoping for more flavour at this alcohol by volume level. 12.0% alcohol by volume.
Balaton Bones by Firestone Walker
This beer is a spin on Firestone’s original Krieky Bones, a Kriek type beer produced with fresh cherries in the Flanders manner. It’s part of the “bones” series. This “bones” underwent a secondary fermentation with cherries sourced from King Orchards in Michigan and then spent seven weeks aged in barrels. It had previously been an oak-aged Saison. The beer has a fair amount of carbonation that goes down the drain fast, and it looks more like cranberry juice than cherry. The aroma displays a delightful blend of crisp, acidic stone fruit and bready, saison funk. Cherry juice and tart, wine-inspired dark berries take turns dominating the taste. In spite of the balanced acidity, there is some residual doughiness in the base; this allows the sweeter, creamier barrel-aged aromas to show themselves on the finish, which then dissolves into a sour cherry and SweetTart combination. B+ / $10, 6.3% alcohol by volume
Walking on Firestone Rip This Coordination
The Brewmaster’s Collective is the only place to get this imperial stout, created in partnership with Side Project Brewing. This high-octane beer lived up to its moniker by being matured for an incredible 18 months in barrels that had previously held Henry McKenna whisky. The variety of speciality malts used to make it remains unknown. With a texture and colour similar to motor oil, it poured into the glass like true motor oil and left behind only a thin, similarly black, hot chocolate-colored head, making it maybe the darkest stout I’ve ever seen. The scent is strong. Although there is a fair amount of alcohol here, it is concentrated in a manner that I have seldom experienced in stouts aged in bourbon barrels. The glass is nearly see-through with the rich aromas of warm fudge, gooey brownies, and dark chocolate macaroons. Despite how powerful everything is, the sugar isn’t overwhelming thanks to the ginger and molasses undertones. When it comes to the taste buds, the intensity is maintained with a strong sugary beginning, reminiscent of black tea that is almost too sweet, followed by cocoa nibs, baking chocolate, and raisins. Cold brew coffee (obviously with added sugar) takes over the middle palate, and then sticky vanilla bean, grape jelly, and dark chocolate Raisinettes round off the flavour. Possibly Firestone’s most confrontational beer to date. Perfect for a nightcap, although you’ll want to split the bottle with a few of friends. 13.9% alcohol by volume.
The Grahams’ Firestone Walker
Our imperial stout is crafted with a base of Parabola and Velvet Merkin, which undergoes “recirculation” through cocoa nibs, vanilla beans, and cinnamon sticks. It is another brew that is special to the Brewmaster’s Collective. It has a light cocoa head that stays and makes a nice lacing in the glass, and it pours a dark chocolate colour that is just right. The aroma is eerily similar to s’mores, but with a more refined twist: toasted and melted chocolate, cinnamon, and vanilla all come together in a beautifully baked graham cracker base. A velvety blend of marshmallow and subtly bitter dark chocolate sit atop roasted malts and vanilla cream in this dessert stout, making it sing on the mouth. The sugary campfire treat serves as the loadstar, but the sweetness is front and centre. As you drink, the cocoa and malt get drier, and you’ll taste cinnamon toast, licorice, and vanilla shortbread. The finish is easy and somewhat sweet. Oh, come on! Join that group!