When David Walker, co-founder of Firestone Walker Brewing, has that opportunity to talk about his favorite beer that’s brewed by the brewery he co-founded with Adam Firestone, the one that comes out on top is its Double Barrel Ale, better known as DBA. Originally released as one of the brewery’s first beers back when the brewery opened in 1996, this is a beer that is brewed to the delight of former Englishman, Walker.
Twenty years later DBA continues to use its altered version of the legendary Burton Union system that was popularized in 19th century Britain. Today not very many breweries use this process and the Firestone is one of the select few. DBA is partially fermented in interconnected 60 gallon uncharred oak barrels that gives off a special element of oak. After fermenting in these barrels for about a week, the beer is then sent to stainless steel tanks for blending and finally packaging. This process takes more effort and time but it’s the final product that the brewery team seeks out.
To help celebrate Firestone Walker’s and DBA’s 20th anniversary the brewery has brewed two special versions of the legendary beer. Firestone is set to release both a Nitro DBA beginning this week and a more limited Unfiltered DBA in the coming weeks. “DBA is the beer that started it all for us in 1996, but this may be its truest form yet,” said David Walker.
DBA already offers a similarity to nitro beers in that DBA offers a unique smoothness that is created by its fermentation process. Now with the new year-round draft offering of Nitro DBA, this process of pushing the beer through nitrogen gas will give the beer even more smoothness and of course a creamy mouthfeel that is expected with nitro beers.
“I think this is the perfect presentation for DBA,” said Brewmaster Matt Brynildson. “DBA has all of these subtle toffee, caramel and oak nuances that really come to the forefront with nitro, and you get more of a cask ale feel that goes right to the heritage of the English bitter style.”
Then over the coming weeks Firestone will also release Unfiltered DBA (UDBA), a 100-percent oak fermented and unfiltered version of its iconic DBA. This beer has been brewed before but was only available at select times at the brewery in Paso Robles, California. UDBA will now be available on draft nationwide in limited quantities in celebration of Firestone Walker’s 20th anniversary. UDBA is fermented entirely in the patented Firestone Union oak barrel brewing system. It is then left unfiltered for enhanced oak expression with a hazy nod to the British pale ales of yesteryear.
“This beer goes back 20 years, but I think it still tastes current,” Brynildson said. “This nitro version is a great excuse for people to get reacquainted with DBA.”
“DBA is a beer I have drunk regularly for nearly 20 years,” Walker stated. “It still brings a smile to my face and will always represent so much more than the beer itself. It was our beginning.”
D.J. is a Portland, Oregon based writer that spent his formative years in the Midwest. With over 20 years under his belt of drinking beer at festivals across America and the world, he has developed a strong appreciation and understanding of craft beer and the industry that surrounds it. He can be found in any of the great breweries or beer bars that make Portland the best beer city in the world. His writing can also be found in Northwest Brewing News and can be followed on Twitter at @hopapalooza.