Firestone Walker Brewing Company makes some of Clayton’s favorite beers (DBA, Union Jack), so on our trip to the Central Coast, a visit was a must. We stopped in at Firestone Walker Brewing Company Barrelworks in Buellton, where we met up with Master Blender Jim Crooks who makes some of the most interesting beers we’ve had.
The beers crafted at Firestone’s Barrelworks are made in the style of Belgian sour beers and fermented with wild yeast. The beers are then barrel aged before being released.
Jim started as a quality control manager in the main Firestone Walker production facility in Paso Robles. He explained that basically everything they do at the Barrelworks would be considered a flaw in a traditional production facility.
He started experimenting with wild fermentation, then moved the sour beer to the Barrelworks facility to keep the wild fermented beers separate from the main Firestone Walker production.
Barrelworks works with local farms to use seasonal local fruit. We even saw some experiments in the works. Right now they are playing with cherries.
Beers from the Barrelworks project are very scarce and there are purchase limits. You can stop into the Barrelworks facility to pick up a few bottles. Each bottle is sealed with cork and is intended to be drank now or aged like any fine wine.
One of our favorites that we tried was the Bretta Rosé, a low-alcohol Berliner Weisse style ale that is aged in French oak, and then undergoes a secondary fermentation with 1000 pounds of fresh local raspberries from the Santa Maria Valley. We paired it with this cast-iron skillet roasted fennel with goat cheese. The rich, caramelized fennel and goat cheese did a good job of cutting the tartness of the berries and sour beer. This beer was so delicious. It had tartness and acidity that reminded us of Rosé wine.
These beers are really special and deserve to be served in proper barware. No drinking out of the bottle here. It’s served in proper tasting glasses at the brewery, and for at home, we’d suggest these, these, or these.
We also loved the Agrestic, which begins its journey as the wort for DBA. In fact, all of the Barrelworks beers are based on the wort from other Firestone beers you’ve tried and loved. It’s trucked down to Buellton from Paso Robles and fermented at the Barrelworks facility.
We also tried a stout brewed with Intelligentsia coffee, which as former Chicagoans, was very exciting.
Thanks to Firestone Walker Brewing Company for hosting us. If you are planning a trip to the Santa Ynez Valley, make time for a stop here.
Firestone Walker Brewing Company Taproom & Barrelworks
620 McMurray Rd. Buellton, CA 93427