Firestone Walker reached a milestone for their Barrelworks wild beer endeavor, their first bottled sour. Feral One represents a cuvée of their efforts over the last few years and the beginning of more great things to come.
Since its beginnings, several of Firestone Walker’s brewers have been playing around with wild beers, at times hiding barrels under blankets in the back of the Paso Robles brewery. In January 2013, Firestone Walker legitimized their wild beer efforts by establishing the Barrelworks at their secondary facility in Buellton, CA. Since then, they have been serving up their sour and funky brews in there Barrelworks taproom as well as bringing out kegs for some special events, like Walker’s Wild Ride.
The blend of Feral One is pretty much a list of Barrelworks greatest hits: Lil’ Mikkel (40%) bretted saison brewed in collaboration with Mikkeller aged for 18 months in American oak barrels, Sour Opal (30%) American sour aged for 32 months in French and American oak barrels, Agrestic (16%) American wild red aged for 19 months in American oak barrels, SLOAmbic (14%) fruited sour aged for 32 months in French and American oak barrels. Due to the limited quantities of some of these beers, only 500 cases were produced for this release.
The beer pours a hazy golden orange with a good amount of frothy white head. The aroma has a tart citrus bite with subtler notes of earthy grains, tropical fruit, and oak. The body is on the lighter side with an average amount of carbonation. The flavor starts with a hint of pale grains that jumps to a sour bite that mellows out to citrusy lemon and tangerine and wraps up on a mild wheatiness. As the beer warms, some oak and vanilla notes become more evident. The finish is pretty dry, but has a puckering tart flavor that is balanced by the malt.
|Style||American Wild Ale|
|Availability||One time bottle release|
|Rating||4.5 out of 5|
This blend works really well and has a great mix of tart, citrus and mellow oak. The beer has just enough distinct elements to keep it interesting but not overwhelming and represents a great first showing for Firestone Walker. Unlike a lot of super rare beers I write about, if you are reading this before March 14th 2014 you may still have a chance to buy this beer. The Barrelworks was hoping to get an additional 30 to 50 cases for sale when they open for the weekend of Friday March 14th. If you’re still not sold on driving to Buellton, Blue Palms Brewhouse got six cases that they will surely sell at some point in the future. And if you’re more the serendipitous type, this beer is sure to start popping up at local bottle shares, like the monthly one at 38 Degrees in Alhambra.
And if you like your wild ales a bit more on the funky side don’t worry, Firestone Walker will be releasing their second Barrelworks bottle Lil’ Opal, a farmhouse saison aged in French and American oak, sometime in April.