Buellton, CA: Firestone Walker’s Barrelworks is releasing another wild child today with the 2021 edition of Nec Bones—a barrel-aged elixir co-fermented with 3,000 pounds of Honey Fire nectarines grown in the brewery’s backyard of California’s Central Coast.
“These locally grown Honey Fire nectarines are bright red, sweet, flavorful and juicy with a relatively low acidity—a perfect variety for showcasing pure nectarine flavor in a wild beer,” said Barrelworks Master Blender Jim Crooks.
The 2021 edition of Nec Bones is now rolling out to all Firestone Walker markets in corked 375-milliliter bottles.
The journey of the 2021 Nec Bones began when Crooks secured 3,000 pounds of Honey Fire nectarines grown at Fair Hill Farms in Paso Robles, where Firestone Walker’s main brewery is located. Owned by the Rydell family, Fair Hill Farms is treasured locally for its sustainably grown, small-batch fruits, including apples, peaches, apricots and nectarines. Crooks also sourced an additional 3,000 pounds of nectarines from Olson Family Farms in California’s Central Valley.
After being harvested, the whole nectarines were delivered to Barrelworks. Next, a knife-wielding team hand quartered and pitted the fruit for two weeks.
“There’s always a question of ‘why’ we ask ourselves while cutting fruit for days on end, but it’s because the aromas and flavors from the fresh fruit will be unparalleled in the finished beer,” Crooks said.
The quartered fruit was added to a French oak foeder and topped off with a barrel-aged base beer composed primarily of Lil’ Opal, Barrelworks’ proprietary “brett’d” saison. This fruited blend was matured for another full year, after which 2,000 pounds of fresh nectarine purée from Central California’s Wawona Farms was added to make the beer even bolder in flavor.
The result is the most heavily fruited batch from Barrelworks to date, with 4.5 pounds of fruit used for every gallon produced.
The 2021 Nec Bones delivers bold stone fruit aromas combined with deep, juicy nectarine flavors and balanced acidity. “It’s like biting into the flesh of a fresh nectarine,” Crooks said. “We have turned up the fruit intensity several notches to make an undeniable wild beer.”