What makes each Anniversary Ale from Firestone Walker Brewing so special is the process in which this beer comes to fruition. Each summer Firestone Walker summons some the area’s winemakers to swing by the brewery to assist in determining the final blend of the annual barrel aged beer.
This year marks the brewery’s 23rd anniversary and the making XXIII Anniversary Ale is no different as the brewery welcomed winemakers the Paso Robles wine country. This group of winemakers assembled at the brewery on September 10th and once again had a great time putting together this year’s XXIII Anniversary Ale that begins to arrive throughout Firestone Walker markets this week. And since they’re winemakers, they all excel at blending.
“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,” said Brewmaster Matt Brynildson, in a statement. “XXIII is super elegant and seamless. The component beers just flow together in a way which no single beer could have accomplished.”
XXIII Anniversary Ale resulted from a blend of six distinct beers aged in spirits barrels that includes both bourbon and tequila barrels. The result is described as a smooth, bold and remarkably complex drinking experience.
To create XXIII, the winemakers were divided into teams for a friendly but spirited contest. Each team was presented with numerous different component beers and tasked with creating the ultimate blend. Hard work and smack talk ensued.
When the session concluded, all of the individual team blends were blind tasted by the group to determine the favorite. The winning blend became the basis for XXIII, commemorating Firestone Walker’s 23rd year on California’s Central Coast.
For the second year in a row, the winning team included Sherman Thacher and Daniel Callan of Thacher Winery, as well as Will Freeman and Phil LaMontagne of TH Estate Wines. They all walked away with the coveted “cardboard crowns” that are accorded to the winners each year.
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.