Firestone Walker Brewing Company Barrelworks

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.

Firestone walker barrelworks sign

Barrels of beer at firestone walker barrel works

Barrels at the Firestone Walker Barrelworks beer facility

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.

Master Blender Jim Crooks at Firestone Walker Barrelworks pouring sour beers

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.

Tanks at Firestone Walker Barrelworks

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.

Cherry experiment at firestone walker barrelworks

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.

Behind the scenes at Firestone Walker Barrelworks

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.

Bottles of sour beers from Firestone Walker Barrelworks

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.

Master Blender Jim Crooks pouring sour beer at firestone walker barrel works

Beers at Firestone Walker's BarrelworksThese 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 thesethese, or these.

Menu of beers at Firestone Walker Barrelworks

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.

Stout Beers at Barrelworks

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.

GET RECIPE: Cast-Iron Skillet Roasted Fennel with Goat Cheese

Firestone Walker Brewing Company Taproom & Barrelworks
620 McMurray Rd. Buellton, CA 93427

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