Tuesday, December 28, 2010
NEVER MIND THE 14, HERE'S FIRESTONE WALKER 13
There were rarities from all the San Diego brewing heavyweights; treats from Victory, Telegraph and even Russian River; and the one thing that made my eyes pop out and my wallet a little lighter: FIRESTONE WALKER 13, a beer that I'd long considered gone forever. See, their anniversary beers come out in limited batches in December, and if you're still seeing them in January, you're either lucky or, uh, living in a place like Isla Vista, where $23 for a single 22-ounce bottle of beer is one toke over the line. I had missed this one back at the tail end of 2009, and reckoned that now, ten months later, it had the benefit of a little "laying down" and would now be just about ready for drinking.
Naturally, I laid this boxed beauty down for two more months just to be sure, and right as the hype began gathering over FIRESTONE WALKER 14, which is now out and available if you can find it, I poured myself a couple of big glasses of 13. Drank 'em on Christmas Eve, in fact. Very happy I did. FIRESTONE WALKER 13 has been matured in wine barrels, and that's stupendously obvious in the taste - a more barrel-aged beer in taste you shall not find. Rich, roasty tastes of dark chocolate and grapes dominate. It is smoked and malty, with a real heft yet smoothness to it. It's quite a tribute to themselves, and these guys pull it off every year, dating back to the Firestone Walker 10 that blew me and everyone else away four years ago. I'll go with an enthusiastic 8/10 on this one.