Monday, October 27, 2014


 14 Vintners Help Create Firestone Walkers New Release XVIII Anniversary Ale

Paso Robles, CA: As the summer turns toward fall, you can count on two things in the Paso Robles wine country—the seasonal grape harvest and the annual blending of Firestone Walker Brewing Company’s next Anniversary Ale with guiding input from local winemakers.

The result this year is XVIII—a barrel-aged blend composed of nine distinct component beers, as determined by a friendly yet fiercely competitive blending session attended by 14 winemakers (see full list below). XVIII will be available in select markets across the United States starting in November.

The Anniversary Ale blending session has become an annual rite, with Brewmaster Matt Brynildson enlisting his closest friends in the local winemaking community to help create a beer that is greater than the sum of its parts.

“These winemakers are practicing experts in the art of blending, so it makes perfect sense to seek their counsel,” Brynildson said. “It’s like bringing in the ninjas.”

The winemakers are paired off and presented with numerous different component beers spanning an array of styles. The pairs are tasked with creating their own preferred blends from among the components. The preferred blends are then presented to the entire group and blind tasted. Individual votes are cast, and the blend with the most votes becomes the basis for the next Anniversary Ale. Russell From and Philip Muzzy of Herman Story Wines are credited with creating the winning blend that became XVIII, granting them possession of the coveted cardboard crown that is awarded to the winning team each year.

“It got pretty competitive this year,” Brynildson said. “There was a lot of smack talk leading up to the session. A few of the winemaker teams were caught stuffing the ballot by creating more than one blend, and there were accusations of performance enhancers leveled against the winners, but it didn’t result in any arrests or suspensions.”

Most of the component beers spent an average of a year maturing in retired bourbon, brandy and whiskey barrels, including two collaboration beers that Brynildson said “we probably won’t see again,” specifically: Ol’ Leghorn, a blonde barleywine brewed with 3 Floyds and aged in new American oak barrels; and Hydra Cuvée, a hoppy hybrid dark ale brewed with Flying Dog and aged in bourbon barrels.

In the end, Brynildson noted that “we got back to a stout-dominated blend this year,” with Parabola and Velvet Merkin constituting more than 40 percent of the final blend. At the same time, several other components layer in a subtle hoppy quality that Brynildson described as “really integrated and balanced.”


“We blended together 227 oak barrels and nine different beers creating something truly complex and exceptional.” – Brewmaster Matt Brynildson                                                                                                                                                                                                      
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
-Blonde Barleywine

Double Jack / 100% Stainless Steel / 2% of Final Blend
-Double India Pale Ale



XVIII is the ninth release in Firestone Walker’s anniversary series, dating back to the release of the inaugural anniversary release called “Ten”in 2006. Over the ensuing years, Firestone Walker has developed one of the craft beer industry’s most extensive barrel aging programs, spanning upwards of 1,500 barrels. Brewing beer with oak barrels has been a pioneering focal point for the brewery since its founding in 1996.

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.


“As a finished beer, XVIII is a dark and complex brew full of malt and barrel derived flavors, with Parabola leading the brew into the rich darkness. The beer is unfiltered and unfined, so there will be a small amount of sediment in the bottom of the bottle. XVIII is best enjoyed poured carefully into a half filled brandy snifter or wine glass. Allow it to warm to 55F to fully enjoy the pleasing and complex aromas. As the beer sits and breathes in the glass, rich dark chocolate, toasted oak and dark fruit qualities are revealed, so take your time. If you wait to open your bottle later, store it in a cool dark place. I suspect that this beer will age well and change favorably for years to come.”


“These are my friends and brothers in fermentation science, and practicing experts in the art of blending.” Brewmaster Matt Brynildson

·         Neil Collins – Tablas Creek, Lone Madrone
·         Chelsea Franchi – Tablas Creek
·         Justin Smith– Saxum
·         Mark Adams – Ledge
·         Kevin Sass – Halter Ranch
·         Molly Longborg - Halter Ranch
·         Russell From - Herman Story
·         Philip Muzzy – Herman Story
·         Matt Trevisan – Linne Calodo
·         Sherman Thacher - Thacher
·         Terry Hoage – Terry Hoage Vineyards
·         Steve Martell – Kaleidos
·         Eric Jensen – Booker
·         Brock Waterman - Brochelle

Also thanks to friends Arie Litman and Bobby Fox for lending their expertise to the blending session.

Cheers to XVIII, it's an amazing beer!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Rhythm and Brews, Packinghouse Brewing Company's Fourth Anniversary Celebration!

Team Packinghouse
This past Saturday, Riverside's Packinghouse Brewing Company celebrated their fourth anniversary!  Of course, there were amazing beers.  But, there was also fantastic live music, food trucks, a cigar booth, free massages, and keg throwing!  Along with regular favorites, they also had some yummy small batch beers available.  My favorites from the day included the Sorachi Aces High Saision and Ol' Smudgepot.  Packinghouse Brewing Company really knows how to put on fun events and I had an awesome time celebrating with some of my favorite friends!  If you haven't visited Packinghouse yet, you really need to do so! 

The High Life Trio

Brick Top Blaggers 

Cheers to four years Packinghouse!  

Keg throwing is fun!

Crystal Cove and Disneyland are great places for fall fun!!!

Sometimes, the best adventures happen in my own backyard.  Even though I've lived near the ocean nearly my entire life, there are still many nearby beaches that I have never visited.  This past week, I ventured to Crystal Cove to have breakfast at The Beachcomber Cafe.  Walking through the tunnel under the Pacific Coast Highway is like traveling back in time.  If you've never been to Crystal Cove, I highly recommend it!  Of course, I also visited my favorite neighbor, Disneyland.  This time of year is one of my favorite times to visit because of all of the decorations for Halloween.  Although the crowds seem to be more dense than during the summer, it's still a great time of year to take photos.

Crystal Cove
Clouds and waves at Crystal Cove

3, 2, 1, blast-off!!!
Matterhorn Mountain
Submarine Lagoon
Balloons and Sleeping Beauty Castle

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Casual Fridays with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Golden Road Brewing

For the 2014/2015 concert season, the Los Angeles Philharmonic has teamed up with Golden Road Brewing to offer complimentary beer tastings during their Casual Friday events.

At the conclusion of each performance, guests will be able to participate in a Q & A with the performers on stage.  Afterwards, guests will be able to interact with both members of the orchestra as well as fellow attendees in BP Hall along with sampling several delicious Golden Road beers!  

There are three dates scheduled for Casual Fridays, Friday October 17th, Friday January 23rd, and Friday May 22nd.  Click on any of the event dates to purchase tickets.  This is a fantastic opportunity to enjoy live music along with craft beer in a unique setting at the Walt Disney Concert Hall.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Packinghouse Brewing Company's Fourth Anniversary Celebration, Rhythm and Brews!

Packinghouse Brewing Company is turning four this Saturday and they are going to be celebrating with live music and special beers!  The event begins at 4:00 p.m. this Saturday, October 18th.  
An impressive list of special small batch beers will be available for guests including:

  • Omega DIPA
  • Sorachi Aces High Saison
  • Honey Nut Beer-e-os Brown
  • Pumpkin Spice Red
  • Misty Mountain Hops IPA
  • Sour Agent Peel
  • Heritage Pale Ale
  • Double Dry Hopped Pale Ale
  • Riley's Irish Red
  • Cream Stout
  • Coffe/Chocolate/Vanilla Cream Stout
  • Agent Peel

Live music from local bands; The High Life, Brick Top Blaggers, and Superbad will all be performing along with a pin-up girl contest.
Admission for the event is free with a portion of the proceeds going to the Moreno Valley Rotary.
I can't wait to help one of my favorite local breweries celebrate, hope to see you there too!
Packinghouse Brewery
6421 Central Avenue Suite 101-A
Riverside, CA  92504

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Fall Fun!!! 9/29-10/13

With a post-season baseball game, visits to Disneyland, and hanging out at some of my favorite breweries, these past two weeks have been filled with lots of fun!  

Live music at Disneyland always puts a smile on my face!

The sun always seems to shine more brightly above Sleeping Beauty's Castle.

Cheers to the last game at the Big A until next year!

Lunch at Beachwood BBQ in Seal Beach is always a great way to kick off a Saturday!

Cheers to Bottle Logic Brewing's GABF Gold Medal beer, Lagerithm!

Disneyland Fire Department

Cheers to Bootlegger's Brewery and their two GABF medals!

The Halloween Tree at Disneyland

Beach City Brewery's Dat :Lupe Doe DIPA is fantastic!

Oswald the Lucky Rabbit!

Perfect way to end a weekend!