Firestone Walker – Barrelworks
2015 La Piccola Virtuosa Dark Wild Saison
Color – Deep ruby with brown highlights.
Aroma – Fruity sweet with some cherry, orange, oak, and funk.
Flavor – Tart with some stonefruit & cherry, lots of oak and as it warmed a bit of orange started to come in.
More Random Thoughts – Had this beer upon completion of my final homebrew for 2016. First off, the head dissipated really quite fast, but there was still a good amount of carbonation. I started drinking it right out of the fridge, which I liked the best. Very refreshing at that temp. I also let the last few ounces come to room temperature. When warmed a bit, the fruit character was gone, the flavors were a bit muddled and it was not as enjoyable for me. The bottle description states cinnamon, clove, tangerine, and vanilla on the aroma. I got none of those, but the bottle is almost two years old.
All in all, this beer was very good. I think I should have drunk it a little sooner to enjoy more of the aromas, but no complaints.
Side Note – This beer was a collaboration with Agostino Arioli, owner/brewer of Birrificio Italiano and was released at the Firestone Walker Invitational in 2015.
I love homebrewing, but it can also be a pain in the ass. Planning, cleaning, cleaning and more cleaning. As enjoyable as that sounds, I sometimes need a little motivation and inspiration to get things going.
I normally don’t brew clones, so It’s rare when another beer gets me inspired. So I was surprised when my newest inspiration hit me, it was a beer….Well a photo of a beer.
While cruising my instagram feed, I found this post from my friend @_eima of this lavender, purplish beer from Tired Hands Brewing called Prismatic Sea. I made a note of the post so I could come back to do a little investigation. The beer is described as an IPA brewed with oats and Butterfly Pea flowers, using Hull Melon and Simcoe hops.
I looked on-line and even emailed the brewery to find out more about using the Pea Flower. Mostly tea recipes came up in my on line searches and the brewery never responded to my email. So I was basically on my own.
Original Gravity: 1.054
Final Gravity: 1.012
ABV (standard): 5.5%
IBU (tinseth): 11.28
SRM (morey): 3.76
pH 5.28 Post Boil
pH 4.07 Post Fermentation
3.5 lb – American – White Wheat (50%)
3.5 lb – German – Pilsner (50%)
0.25 oz – Simcoe, Type: Pellet, AA: 13, Use: First Wort, IBU: 10.48
0.25 oz – Denali, Type: Pellet, AA: 13.9, Use: Boil for 1 min, IBU: 0.8
0.7 oz – Denali, Type: Pellet, AA: 13.9, Use: Dry Hop on day 7 for 5 days
2.0 oz – El Dorado, Type: Whole Leaf, AA: 15.2, Use: Dry Hop in keg
50 g – Whole Butterfly Pea flowers (dried)
1) Temperature, Temp: 122 F, Hold for 20 min
2) Temperature, Temp: 154 F, Hold for 40 min
3) Fly Sparge, Temp: 168 F, for 60 min
Mash Thickness: 1.25 qt/lb
Glacier Vending Reverse Osmosis
Gypsum 13.5 g
Calcium Chloride 5 g
Lactic Acid 7 mL
All added in the mash
Fermentis / Safale – American Ale Yeast US-05
Yeast Pitch Rate 1.15M cells / mL / °P
Fermentation Temp: 68 F
After 3 days, allowed the temperature to rise, and topped out at 72 F
10/2/16 – Brew day
10/9/16 – Cold Crashed
10/14/26 – Kegged
10/14/16 – Added 50 g whole Butterfly Pea flower in the keg
10/14/16 – Added 2 oz whole leaf Galaxy hops in keg
Color – Purple to lavender to blue, it really depends on lighting. The head has the slightest purple tinge.
Aroma – Fruity citrus with hints of candy.
Taste – Soft bitterness up front. An easy drinking malt sweetness, but finishes dry with a slight lingering bitterness in back of your mouth.
Overall Impression – This drinks like a dry blonde ale. Some of the dryness might be due to the Butterfly Pea Flower, but it’s not enough to really worry about.
This might be more of a gimmick beer than a style. That being said, the color really throws you out of whack. The beer looks sweet, like candy. The El Dorado hops also gives off that “candy like” hop aroma. The beer has some sweetness, but not worthy of the color. Would I brew it again? Not any time soon. If I did, I would bump the IBUs to the mid 40’s. It will be interesting to see how this beer ages in the keg. I will post updates if there are any significant changes.
Southern California is a hot bed for new breweries, and the IE is no exception. No brewery I have found of late is doing as much with IPAs and hop forward beers as Kings Brewing in Rancho Cucamonga.
Kings Brewing is located in a generic business park, like so many new breweries. They brew on a 6 bbl system and had an impressive 24 beers on tap on my last visit, with a promise of 2 more in the coming days. From of the 24 beers, 10 were either IPAs or DIPAs. The 6 beers I sampled this day covered the IPA style guidelines. From the P-Town Prince IPA, a West Coast IPA true to form. Major bitterness, crisp and finished extremely dry. A great example of what defines the West Coast IPA. To Juice Bomb a 6.7 ABV Vermont style IPA that was both juicy (by name) and cloudy. From my experience, Kings Juice Bomb was just a tad more bitter than it’s North/Eastern US counterparts.
Whatever your go-to IPA style is, Kings brews it; hop forward – malt forward – big bitterness – heavy dry hopping. They even have a green tinged IPA named Game Changer, they choose not to share their secret ingredient.
With the heavy IPA tap list you might think these guys were a one beer style brewery, but this is far from correct. One of the of the best beers I sampled was their Kings Brunch Stout. A 6% ABV Oatmeal Stout that had a massive chocolate milk in both flavor and aroma, but not overly sweet, very well done.
Over the past few months I’ve visited Kings Brewing 3 times, and each time impressed with the selection and quality of the beer. The staff behind the bar is also great, friendly and provides quick service.
While Kings tap list is impressive right now, they got barrels. I don’t know the details, but from what I understand Kings will be rolling out barrel aged beers, both sour and bourbon. Something to look forward to for sure.
Kings Brewing 8560 Vineyard Ave. #301 Rancho Cucamonga, CA
Color – Ruby/Brown
Aroma – Big chocolate with bourbon sweetness
Flavor – Bourbon infused chocolate. Vanilla and caramel.
More random thoughts – Yes, I’m a Firestone Walker fanboy, but for good reason. This beer was phenomenal. One of the best examples of a beer that ages perfectly, with flavors staying in proportion. I didn’t check the drinking temperature, but I shared it with two other people over about 30-minutes. When cooler the chocolate was huge. The bourbon and vanilla came in as the beer warmed.
2013 Pilot Series Barley Wine Ale
Color – Ruby red with a hint of brown
Aroma – Sweet, malty and a bit raisiny. Very traditional barley wine aroma.
Flavor – Toffee, brown sugar with a significant level of hop bitterness. Still has some alcohol heat to it.
More random thoughts – Smooths out a bit with the rise in temperature. Has a lingering bitterness on the backend that stays with you a little too long after you drink. Not as much body as I would expect in the style of beer. Definitely a beer to share, I don’t think I can finish this in one sitting. Preferred drinking temperature 50-55 degrees.
I may spend more time arranging and rearranging my refrigerators (yes, I have more than one) than I do drinking…ok, probably not. But, I’m always in search of just a little more space to store the next beer.
Problem #1 Most of the beers that I’ve actually “cellared” are either 22s or 750s
Problem #2 Most of the above mentioned beers are in the double digits when it comes to ABV.
Granted, these are not devastating problems, but I really do need to start diving into my collection, and maybe slow down on my future purchases (a bit).
My solution is pretty easy. Open the fridge, grab a beer and drink. That sounds easy, but there are some sentimental feelings towards a few beers, and others demand sharing…Black Tuesday. So with the exception of a few hold outs, I’m going to randomly pick a beer each week and drink. Maybe just a taster or maybe the whole damn thing…Random Openings!
Random Openings 001
2014 Eclipse Imperial Stout, w/olive green wax; 30-year old Rum Barrel Aged
Color – Deep brown/black with a mocha head
Aroma – Brown sugar, vanilla and toffee. A mild amount of alcohol heat.
Flavor – Rich chocolate taste, with a mild and smooth rum flavor. It has a good amount of roast qualities and a surprising amount of hop bitterness. Very (too) easy drinking for such a high ABV.
More random thoughts – Once in the glass the alcohol heat dissipates quickly. The warmer the beer got the smoother and more drinkable it got. Preferred drinking temperature 55-60 degrees. Dessert in a glass!
The 3-day event had tickets that range from just the festival @ $60 to a full VIP ticket that gets you all access (just about) @ $289 with a total of 5 ticketing options.
3 days might sound like a lot of beer (it is, pacing people, pacing), but it’s not all about drinking. There was 9-hours of trade show, broken up over 2-days. This incuded vendors that supply homebrewers all the way to lawyers to help keep the breweries in line. During the tradeshow you get a chance to try beers being poured from the various brewers guilds located around the state. Also pouring: Firestone Walker, Stone, Sierra Nevada and Laugunitas.
One of my favorite parts of the event are the educational sessions, they make my inner beer geek a bit giddy. There are mulitible tracks going, so picking one is often the hardest decision.
Yeast: The key to great beer. Karen Fortmann, Ph.D of White Labs gave a great talk on yeast. The session ended with a tasting of wheat beers, fermented with different yeast strains.
Alesmith: Charting growth over 21 years with Peter Zien the owner and CEO. Speedway Stout!!!
Dr. Charlie Bamforth, UC Davis gave a great presentation on the only thing that really matters, QUALITY.
Past, Present & Future: A talk with David Walker. Starting a brewery 20 years ago, not that easy. A trail blazing brewery for certain.
Master Pairings with “Dr.” Bill Sysak – Chocolate and Beer. Bill is a wealth of knowledge and humor. Always fun to hear him talk.
Sip & Judge with Michael Moore “Big Mike” Fun to judge and discuss classic beer styles and flavor interpretation.
Closing Session: with Vinnie & Natalie Cilurzo and Tomme Arthur. What a way to end the summit. Honest, upfront and informative. Anyone thinking about opening a new brewery in California should have been there. In short, saturation! It’s a big issue and depending on your goals, it can be a tough go in California for a new brewery. They also agreed, they might not be brewers if they were starting out today.
And if none of those thrill you, they had sessions that included careers, hospitality, homebrewing, beer trends, building a brand, malting, barrels, advanced tasting and additional food pairings.
Ok, so the educational sessions might not be for everyone. I get that. But the opportunity to sit in on a conference where some of the biggest names in California beer are both presenting and listening is pretty damn special.
If you want an audio taste of the happenings at the 2016 California Beer Summit, check out my friends at Four Brewers, they put together a fantastic group of interviews from the floor.
This the 2nd annual summit, and I have been lucky to attended both. No joke, if you love beer and brewing, you need to attend. This is really one of the best beer events I’ve attended…Ever!