Tuesday, February 19, 2008

2008 Anchor Trip: Part 1: Firestone Walker

The Maltose Falcons won the coveted California Homebrew Club of the Year for the 7th time. That means that Anchor Brewing threw us a big, fat old party at the brewery. It also meant about 140 Los Angeles based Falcons would be on the loose in SF. Loud, brutish and very, very thirsty. The following few blog entires are going to attempt -- with the aid of photos -- to capture at least some of the beer-soaked madness that went down (click pics to make 'em big).

Jim Crooks and One Day Champ

Myself, my girlfriend Amy Judd and Drew "One Day Champ" Beechum hopped in my car and headed up the 101. However, we decided to make a pit stop at the Firestone Walker Brewery in Paso Robles for some lunch and libations. Only they don't serve lunch. So, I left the non-drivers to pound beer and I hit subway for some foot-longs. EDIT: Just realized why Drew looks like such a goon in the above picture -- he's drunk out of his gourd at 1:30 pm. Yup, he polished off a pint of Union Jack and a snifter full of Parabola, plus something else, I'm sure.

Beers Sampled:

Union Jack -- 8% British DIPA. Clean and well made. Drew bought a 6-pack.

Saucerful of Secrets -- Big, spiced Belgian monstrosity. Designed by a homebrewer and FW's first Belgain ale. Pretty good.

Red Nectar IPA -- That's right, FW bought Nectar Ales. Good, old school Cali pale ale. Though calling it an IPA (in the west coast sense of things) is a stretch.

Velvet Mirkin -- Some sort of Bourbon Oatmeal Stout on a nitro tap. I fucking hate nitro taps, so I didn't bother with it. Part of what goes into FW 11.

Winter Beer -- OK, this was a blend of the 9% Saucerful of Secrets and the 5% Velvet Mirkin to create a bizarre (yet good) 6% wassail. Very cool, actually. And no frigging nitro tap. EDIT: Turns out this beer is called, "Saucerful of Merkins"

Parabola -- Oh lordy. Yes, this is a 14% mega-stout that serves as the primary a beer in FW 11 (about 3.5% of the final product). Tasted pretty meh when served cold, but as it warmed up, truly special and delicious -- exactly how Dark Lord behaves... Hmmm... Also, Jim Cibak was there. No seriously. He was in the tasting room with us. As was Matt Bryndalison.

Pale 31 -- I was told by the barman that Pale 31 is the best pale ale in the world. When I balked, he showed me the GABF medal proving it. Not my kind of Pale Ale. I could see East Coasters getting all hot and bothered by Pale 31, but to us Golden Staters... not so much.

We also wound up wandering around the brewery (literally) and then running into another FW Brewer, Jim Crooks. He led us to the new giant-ass cold room where we saw cases and cases of Union Jack six-packs waiting to head out. We also saw the Double-Barrel fermenting process, where FW will be sticking a bunch of new 120 barrel fermenters and their grain mill 4-stories up off the ground.

Barrel O' Rufus

Mr. Crooks also gave us a bottle of Walker's Reserve aged in Bourbon Barrels. Check back here in a couple of days to find out how that tasted. (hint: good)

1 comment:

Peter said...

Nice photo tour. Thanks.

I also am not a fan of nitro taps, but I have trouble explaining why. Why do they ruin the beer for you?