Firestone Walker celebrating 20 years with new release “XX” Anniversary Ale

Inside Barrelworks tasting room at the Buellton Firestone Walker. Photo contributed

Star Report

Twenty years ago, brothers-in-law Adam Firestone and David Walker launched a tiny brewery on the back-forty of the family vineyard in the Santa Ynez Valley. Their first beer was Double Barrel Ale (DBA), and it was available only on the Central Coast under the rallying cry “It’s what we drink around here”.

While much has changed over the past two decades, much has also remained the same, including the fact that DBA is still brewed right here on the Central Coast.

“Although we have grown over the last 20 years and now welcome visitors from all over the world, we are still stubbornly tied to the Central Coast and California,” David Walker said. “The majority of our beers are still enjoyed within 200 miles of the brewery, and that makes us smile because  the sweetest beer to drink is the one closest to the brewhouse.”

And that brewhouse isn’t going anywhere—in fact, it is currently undergoing a major expansion in Paso Robles. The Buellton location has expanded in the last several years with the Taproom and then the tasting room Barrelworks.

“The expanded brewhouse will solve our current capacity constraints and set the table for our next 20 years and beyond here in Paso Robles and on the Central Coast,” Adam Firestone said. “We are committed the community that raised and supported us faithfully all these years.”

To mark the brewery’s 20th anniversary, Firestone Walker is set to release XX—a barrel-aged strong ale blended from five component beers with input from local winemakers. Individually boxed bottles of XX ($23.99) will be available at the main brewery in Paso Robles and Firestone Walker’s Barrelworks in Buellton starting on October 29, and will find its way to local shelves shortly thereafter.

A total of 17 local winemakers attended the XX blending session last August. The anniversary ale blending session has become an annual late-summer rite, revolving around a reliable team of friendly vintners who come for the challenge and the camaraderie.

“Our winemaker friends are practicing experts in the art of blending,” said Brewmaster Matt Brynildson. “Their input is invaluable when it comes to blending a seamless beer from widely varied components.”

Meantime, Firestone Walker’s brewhouse expansion is taking shape, with still beams now going up after the recent completion of the foundation along with pipefitting and related underground work. Brewing vessels are complete and shipping from Germany, with a target arrival of late November. 

The expanded brewhouse will feature state-of-the-art brewing technologies as well as new energy and water recovery systems.

Numerous local contractors are helming the brewhouse expansion architecture and construction, including Harris & Associates (architecture and design), GTC Construction (concrete), Rarig Construction (structural), Tyson Heer and Hank’s Welding Services (pipefitting and assembly) among others. The goal is for the expanded brewhouse to be operational in the spring of 2017.

The contributing winemakers were Sherman Thacher and Daniel Callan – Thacher Winery; Matt Trevisan – Linne Calodo; Connor McMahon and Kyle Jury  – Booker; Terry and Natalie Hoage –TH Estate Wines; Russell From and Philip Muzzy – Herman Story; Molly Lonborg and Kevin Sass– Halter Ranch; Brock Waterman – Brochelle Vineyards; Justin Smith – Saxum Vineyards; Mark Adams – Ledge Vineyards; Neil Collins and Chelsea Franchi – Tablas Creek Vineyard and Scott Hawley – Torrin (Winning Blend).

For more information on Firestone Walker log onto www.firestonebeer.com.