Friday, January 26, 2007


There are folks that will tell you that Paso Robles, CA's FIRESTONE WALKER FINE ALES are one of the top brewers in the country. Beer point-of-reference #1 Men's Journal, for one. Me, I don't know - I had a very mediocre one from them last year & that's it, but when I heard the buzz on their anniversary ale, this crazy combination of ten different "lots" of beer with several different styles mixed together called FIRESTONE WALKER "10", I figured I'd need to do some ingestive research on it. This thing was packed in its own special commerative box, with some "liner notes" if you can believe it that explain the whole process behind it - which are reprinted by beer columnist William Brand here. I found it on a featured shelf at Whole Foods, sitting by itself like a rare commerative boxed set of Electric Eels demos, and if I'm not mistaken it was priced like wine, something around $8.99 (believe me, I'm not complainin') .

Knowing that this one packed a 12% (!!) alcohol-by-volume punch, I had to invite a pal over to revel in it with me - and we were half-expecting it to be a dimwit "extreme" beer like Stone's Oaked Arrogant Bastard or something lame-o like that. No way. This one's fantastic. A super-dark, obviously barrel-aged beer, steeped in alcohol and yet not in any defined by it. Which is great, because I was beginning to wonder if I was a high-ABV wimp & if I'd end up drinking pale ales the rest of my drinking career; nope, turns out a 12% monster can be just fine by me if it's got the right fine tuning. I felt like I was drinking a malty, robust bowl of stewed fruit that just happened to have been fermenting in barrels of barleywine for the past half-century. I guess it's not that far from the truth, right? This beer is one where you can just taste the craft that went into it. The chefs behind this one truly deserve a hearty slap on the back, because this is pure Chez Panisse in a bottle, baby. 9/10, and please get yours before they're totally gone.

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