For the longest time I would pass by Firestone Walker beers without giving them serious consideration. Much like my previous misconceptions about New Belgium Brewing, I pegged Firestone Walker in that faux-craft beer category unworthy of true beer geek appreciation, it looked a little too slick and seemed a little too available to really be craft, and therefore I remained blissfully unaware of just what I was missing out on.
To be fair Firestone Walker is not exactly a ‘mom and pop’ micro-brewery churning out two or three beer styles in the back room of some garage (though the brewery’s early days had some semblance to this picture).
Classed as a mid-size brewery, Firestone Walker Brewing Company heralds an impressive line-up of award winning pale ales, seasonal releases, barrel aged reserve beer and anniversary releases not to mention on-site exclusives.
In fact, their success with barrel-aging recently culminated in the opening of Barrelworks described on the Firestone website as a “7,000-square-foot facility now houses all of Firestone Walker’s barrel-aged wild beers while also showcasing the brewery’s classic barrel-aged strong ales.”
For a barrel-aged beer lover such as myself I am really not sure why I waited so long to start exploring this brewery’s offerings. To remedy the situation I brought home a Walker’s Reserve Porter and a Parabola Imperial Stout.
Here are my thoughts on Walker’s Reserve Porter:
Walker’s Reserve pours a deep black/brown colour with good clarity and a decent amount of carbonation. There is not much in the way of head on this beer and not much head retention but that is typical for a porter. Lots of cold coffee and roasted grain notes on the nose. First couple of sips, this is a porter with a lot of oakiness, cold coffee, chocolate and a burnt sweet flavour. It is fairly light bodied and not very alcoholy. The finish is very, very dry and the bitter/burnt notes linger long after you swallow. Personally, I find this one a bit too harsh for me as I like my porters fuller bodied with a touch of sweetness; you can chalk this up partially to me being a non-coffee drinker since my better half enjoyed what I term the cold coffee qualities a bit more than I did. Overall an interesting porter that is competitively priced.
A Couple of Other Brewery Tidbits
Firestone Walker beers are distributed widely throughout the US but sadly not in Canada (yet), and for inquiring minds, yes, one of the breweries co-founders is indeed part of that Firestone family and no, no tires were harmed in the brewing of their beer.