A highlight for many beer enthusiasts each year is the release of Firestone Walker Brewing Co.’s anniversary ale. The beer, which was first created to commemorate their 10th anniversary, brings together over a dozen Central Coast vintners to blend a beer that, this year, consists of over 227 oak barrels and nine different beers.
“These winemakers are practicing experts in the art of blending, so it makes perfect sense to seek their counsel,” Firestone Walker’s brewmaster Matt Brynildson said. “It’s like bringing in the ninjas.”
The winemakers are paired off and given the gamut of barrel aged component beers that can be used for the blend, which are then presented to the group, blind tested, and voted on. The beer with the most votes becomes that year’s anniversary ale. The blend chosen to create Firestone Walker XVIII was created by Russell From and Philip Muzzy of Herman Story Wines.
The final blend was, according to Brynildson, a stout-dominated beer with Velvet Merkin and Parabola comprising over 40% of it, and weighs in at 13% ABV. The final blend is:
Parabola / Aged in Bourbon Barrels / 38% of Final Blend
-Russian Imperial Oatmeal Stout
Helldorado / Aged in Bourbon and Brandy Barrels / 16% of Final Blend
-Blonde Barleywine Brewed with Buckwheat Honey
Bravo / Aged in Bourbon and Brandy Barrels / 16% of Final Blend
-Imperial Brown Ale
Stickee Monkee / Aged in Bourbon and Whiskey Barrels / 14% of Final Blend
-Central Coast Quad Brewed with Belgian Candi and Mexican Turbinado (brown) Sugar
Velvet Merkin / Aged in Bourbon Barrels / 5% of Final Blend
-Traditional Oatmeal Stout
Hydra Cuvée / Aged in Bourbon Barrels; collaboration with Flying Dog / 4% of Final Blend
-Hoppy Hybrid Dark Ale
Wookey Jack / 100% Stainless Steel / 3% of Final Blend
-Black Rye India Pale Ale
Ol’ Leghorn / Aged in new American oak barrels; collaboration with 3 Floyds / 2% of Final Blend
Double Jack / 100% Stainless Steel / 2% of Final Blend
-Double India Pale Ale
XVIII will be available in select markets across the United States starting in November. The suggested retail price is $23.99 for an individually boxed 22-ounce bottle.