Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Beer News: Firestone Beer in Cans


Firestone Beers Available in Cans for First Time

Paso Robles, CA—Even after 18 years of brewing, there’s a first time for everything…

Indeed, Firestone Walker Brewing Company is set to release its first-ever canned Firestone beers, with Union Jack (IPA), Easy Jack (session IPA) and Pivo (hoppy pilsner) all being introduced in six packs starting in mid February.

“We could have rushed into canning a few years ago, but we wanted the timing to be right,” said brewery co-proprietor David Walker. “The market for canned craft beer is now hitting its stride, and canning technology has come a long way in a short period. Also, cans are a perfect fit for life here on the Central Coast. All of these factors converged to finally reach a tipping point for us.”

The brewery’s new canning line was made by leading beer packaging company KHS based in Dortmund, Germany.

“It was the best—and most expensive—solution,” said Brewmaster Matt Brynildson. “You can make the best beer in the world, but if you run it through a substandard packaging line, you end up with a beer-wrecking machine. With this KHS line, there are no worries about beer integrity.”

The canning line was first fired up last year to produce cans for the brewery’s 805 brand. The cans are dry-rinsed with ionized air and purged with CO2, then filled. The cans next run through a bubble breaker to remove any air bubbles before being surface purged with CO2 to eliminate oxygen from the head space. They are then seamed with a Swiss-made Ferrum seamer and inverted for a short period to detect any leaks as they exit the seamer. After a final rinse, cardboard carriers are auto-assembled around the cans. At full speed, the canning line produces 400 cans (12-ounce) per minute.

“I think there are advantages to both cans and bottles,” Brynildson said. “Cans do a great job of blocking UV light and maintaining a great seal, but on top of that they’re just fun. They’re light and they carry anywhere. I get goosebumps just thinking about having these beers in cans.”

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Firestone Walker Brewing Company is a pioneering regional craft brewery founded in 1996 and located in the Paso Robles wine country on California’s Central Coast. The brewery specializes in iconic pale ales and vintage barrel-aged beers. See 

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Beer News: Firestone Walker's 2015 Sucaba


Brewmaster Spills Secrets on Barrel-Aged Tongue Twister

Paso Robles, CAFirestone Walker Brewing Company is set to release its first Proprietor’s Vintage Series beer of 2015 with the return of §ucaba—and Brewmaster Matt Brynildson is now spilling a few secrets on the tongue-twisting, barrel-aged barleywine that has been a brewery staple since 2006.

“We’ve never talked about it, but §ucaba is actually a blend of two separate beers,” Brynildson said. “The base beer is what you would call §ucaba, but each year the final blend also includes around 10 percent of another barrel-aged beer, which gives it this chocolaty, dark cherry dimension.”

Brynildson wouldn’t reveal the identity of the other component beer, but he did share some insights into the name §ucaba.

“Back in my early brewing days at Goose Island, I had this massive handheld calculator,” Brynildson said. “I would break it out when we were doing brewing calculations, and the guys would laugh at me and say, ‘Uh, oh, Brynildson’s firing up his abacus again.’ I always liked the word, and finally got to use it as a name for this beer.”

Alas, that original name was later undone by a legal challenge, and so the brewing team simply reversed it to §ucaba as a defiant yet virtually unpronounceable way to maintain the beer’s lineage.

So what’s the official pronunciation? “There is none,” Brynildson said. “SUC-a-buh, SOO-cah-ba, SOO-cab-uh, you hear it all, so it’s kind of fun. But in the brewhouse, we still call it by its original name.”

2015 §ucaba Lowdown

Release Date:  January 17, 2015

ABV: 13.5%   IBU: 42   Color: 36 (Dark Ruby)

Malts: Pale Ale Malt, Maris Otter, Munich, Dark & Light Crystal, Chocolate

Hops: Magnum (bittering), East Kent and Styrian Golding (late kettle)

Aging: Barrel-aged for one year on average in retired Bourbon barrels

Production: 3,500 cases (22-ounce bottles)

Retail: $16.99 (22-ounce bottle). Available while supplies last in select markets across the United States.

Tasting Notes
Big, boozy bourbon and American oak aromas combine with soft chocolate malty undertones. Complex malt flavors are framed in oak with hints of dark chocolate, vanilla, tobacco, coconut and just a touch of dark cherry. 

§ucaba is built to last and will reward careful cellaring (ideal aging temperature: 45F) for years to come. We recommend counting the years with an abacus.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

A Visit to Santa Fe Brewing Company

The best part about a road trip is having the option to take day trips that are a bit off of the planned route.  This was how my boyfriend and I ended up visiting Santa Fe Brewing Company last month.  Santa Fe Brewing Company is the oldest brewery in New Mexico, established in 1988.  Although they have been around for nearly 30 years, I had not sampled any of their beers until earlier this year when I traveled out of state.  I purchased one of their beers based simply upon the name, Happy Camper.  I immediately was a fan. Santa Fe Brewing Company's friendly Social Alchemist Max found us at the bar and introduced himself.  Max was very friendly and offered to take us on a tour after we finished our beers.  While we were finishing up the beers we had ordered, other brewery employees started to talk to us and were extremely friendly.  Having friendly employees definitely helps to make beers taste even better!
While I had the opportunity to sample most of the beers available in the tasting room, my favorite was Happy Camper.  It is a great every day drinking IPA.  Having the chance to tour the brewing facilities was great because it is always fun to see the variations in how breweries operate.  I look forward to when Santa Fe Brewing is available in more states, hopefully even California!

I highly recommend a visit to Santa Fe Brewing Company, the beers, atmosphere of the tasting room and location are all fantastic!  Currently there are two tasting rooms in Santa Fe, but plans are underway for an additional location in Albuquerque.

Brewery Tasting Room
35 Fire Place
Santa Fe, NM 87508
(505) 424-3333
Open Mon-Fri 11:00 AM-10:00 PM
Sat 11:00 AM-9:00 PM
Sun 2:00 PM-8:00 PM

Eldorado Taphouse
7 Caliente Road Unit A9
Santa Fe, NM 87508
(505) 466-6938
Open Mon-Fri 3:00 PM-10:00 PM
Sat 2:00 PM-10:00 PM
Sun 12:00 PM-9:00 PM

Saturday, January 3, 2015

A Visit to Marble Brewery

One of my favorite aspects of traveling is of course, visiting breweries.  Last month, I was able to visit three breweries while traveling through New Mexico.  At two of the three breweries, my boyfriend and I were also able to talk with some very friendly employees as well as go on impromptu tours!  The first brewery we visited was Marble Brewery located in Albuquerque.  With both a large outside patio with a stage and a more intimate sized seating area inside, there is ample room for both small and large groups.  While finishing up the first round of beers, my boyfriend and I struck up a conversation with one of the tasting room employees who ended up introducing us to one of the brewers who happened to still be there.  Brewer Dan was very friendly and offered to show us around the brew house.  It's always interesting to see how different breweries do basic operations.  One thing that we noticed that we hadn't seen before was that their tasting room beers are actually tapped into brite tanks.  What a great idea!  While at Marble, we were able to sample some of their signature beers.  My favorite beers that I sampled were their IPA and Barley Wine.  We had such a great time at Marble Brewery that we visited their Downtown location both at the beginning and end of our road trip.  Everyone who works there is very friendly and nice, this only helps to enhance the experience of drinking their delicious beers!


If you're ever in New Mexico, you should definitely visit Marble Brewery!  There are three tasting room locations which makes it easy to try their beers on draft.

The Marble Pub in Downtown
111 Marble Ave NW
Albuquerque, NM 87102
(505) 243-2739
Open Mon-Sat, 12:00 PM-12:00 AM
Sun 12:00 PM-10:30 PM

Westside Tap Room
5740 NightWhisper Rd NW
Albuquerque, NM 87114
(505) 508-4368
Open Mon-Thurs, 12:00 PM-11:00 PM
Fri & Sat, 12:00 PM-12:00 AM
Sun, 12:00 PM-10:00 PM

Santa Fe
505 Cerrillos Rd. Suite A105
Santa Fe, NM 87501
(505) 983-6259
Open Mon-Thurs, 2:00 PM-11:00 PM
Fri-Sun, 12:00 PM-11:00 PM