My beer blogging efforts have been pretty slim over the past month or so but that does not mean I haven’t thought about, dreamed about, consumed or made any beer. I have been traveling, primarily to Bakersfield California, home of Lengthwise Brewing. I am a big fan of their Centennial IPA. It is not crazy hoppy, just a great balance of the bitter and the aromas. I have visited the pub out in the Rosedale area three times during this past month. Besides their offerings they always have a few guest beers from the western US. One of the guest beers was the Hop Notch form Uinita Brewing in Salt Lake City, Utah. Good but not as good as the home town offering!
This past week I was in Paso Robles for two nights. My occasional workmate, Alan would have been right in his element. Paso is becoming one of the best red wine districts in the country. For Alan, the Paso area would be reminiscent of our experience in the Margret River area in Western Australia….great wines, no crowds and a great tasting room experience – The Paso winery for fun, great wine and great service is Tobin James. Isn’t this supposed to be about beer? Oh yes, Paso, home to Firestone Walker and that is the real story.
I have enjoyed the Firestone offerings for many years now but have never made the stop. This trip my partner was Murray and he does love his beer. We went to the Taproom Restaurant adjacent to the brewery. It was a great casual place, brewery themed and staffed by some great people. Tiffani was assigned to us and she was delightful, knowledgeable and provided outstanding service. I started off with the Taproom IPA. How would my kids text it?….OMG!!!! ….. That sums it up. The first thing that I noticed was the heavenly hop aroma before it even touched my lips, I paused, savored the aroma and then let my tongue enjoy the beverage. I then tried the Velvet Merlin, an Oatmeal Stout, recommended by Erica at the Courtyard Marriott hotel. It was pretty darned good.
Tiffani recommended the seared Ahi Tuna which Murray ordered and I chose the salmon. Both were excellent. The only question that went unanswered for the evening was which hops were used in the Taproom IPA. Tiffani didn’t know, the brewmaster had headed home 30 minutes before our arrival, Rob the manager also didn’t know and last but not least, Milt (capacity unknown) swung by and although very chatty, he didn’t know either! Tiffani brought by two small brandy snifters of a barrel aged DBA – oh my – it was superb. Now our interest was piqued and I asked about the Walker Reserve, Parabola, a barrel aged Imperial Stout – the 2011 was $ 55.00 for a 22 oz bottle and the 2012 was $ 35.00. We decide to go big! Before I could ask where I could buy it on the outside I was informed that I couldn’t…it has to be sold and consumed on site.
Parabola – Barrel aged Imperial Stout from Firestone Walker in Paso Robles, CA – iPhone photo
It was absolutely outstanding. Murray noted that was akin to indulging in a very good Port after dinner. It felt so good in the mouth and the complexity of flavors was heavenly. All we needed was some good dark chocolate and it would have been complete. Note: Alan, the only non-beer drinking Australian I know, you would enjoy this “beer” – it really goes well beyond beer, We shared a glass with Tiffani, I hope the management won’t frown on her sharing a bit of this fantastic bottle!
A quick google search for the best barrel aged Imperial Stouts showed the Firestone Walker’s Parabola in first place amongst the voters and Goose Island from Chicago holding down the second place spot. I need to contact my nephew in Chicago to see if he can score a bottle or two for me!
I am drinking a test bottle of the Imperial Stout I brewed about 4 months ago. It is pretty tasty but will benefit from a few more months in the bottle. I will rack my Cinderella Pumpkin Ale to the secondary tomorrow. I have high expectations of this brew. Reading beer mags during the past week I discovered a brewing technique that I want to explore….. SmaSh brewing……single malt, single hop with a variation of maybe a single specialty grain…..could be an interesting experiment!
My young Imperial Stout – yum but has some time to go!
Drink Local and Drink Responsibly!