In addition to tasting and making beer, I enjoy cooking and finding new and delicious recipes to try. When I purchased Extreme Brewing [Amazon] by Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head, I was very pleased to find several recipes that use beer as an ingredient. The first recipe that I decided to try was the Smoky Maple-Porter BBQ Sauce on p. 167.
After my tour of the Firestone-Walker brewery, I had the opportunity to try a few of their beers. The first that I tried was Lil Opal. Lil Opal is a a Belgian style Farmhouse Ale and is Firestone-Walker’s summer seasonal offering this year. One reason behind the name “Lil Opal” is that it is a small beer created from the second runnings of a wheat wine, called Big Opal. The wonderful beer was fermented with Belgian Saison yeast and then racked into neutral Viognier and Sauvignon Blanc oak barrels.
Back in April I arranged for a tour and visited the Firestone-Walker Brewery in Paso Robles, CA. During the tour of their facilities I took several photos and learned a few interesting facts about Firestone-Walker.
First off, the brewery was founded in 1996 by two brothers-in-law, Adam Firestone and David Walker, who also happen to be members of the Firestone family, known for making rubber and tires. The original location of the brewery (according to the ol label pictures below) was in Santa Maria, CA. In 2001, Firestone-Walker moved to their current facility in Paso Robles where the San Luis Obispo Brewery used to be.
Firestone-Walker distributes their beer only to locations that are within a 24 hour, or so, drive to make sure the beer stays cold and fresh. Their beer can currently be found in California, Nevada, and Oregon. They recently added Washington and Arizona to the list. Last year in 2008, they produced 60,000 barrels of beer and for 2009 they are planning for 75,000 barrels, that’s 1.86 M and 2.325 M gallons respectively. A barrel is 31 gallons and standard size kegs are considered half-barrels with 15.5 gallons of beer.
Firestone-Walker Brewery has created several award winning beers, including a Gold Medal at the 2008 GABF (Great American Beer Festival) for Union Jack IPA in the American Style IPA category. In 2007, Firestone-Walker was awarded with the Mid-sized Brewery of the Year at the GABF.