Thanks to the Super Bowl, Olympics and Firestone Walker, Roman numerals are not forgotten. Also unforgettable is the clamor to get each year’s Firestone Walker Anniversary Ale. Each version is a crazy experiment of mixing the stable of beers into a memorable and sought after craft beer.
This year’s model, XIV, is a mixture of a wide variety of FW beers including Sticky Monkey, Parabola, Velvet Merkin, Black Xantus and a hoppy beer that I had never heard of called Good Foot. According to the brewery these five beers impart a crazy spectrum of flavors like brown sugar, molasses, cinnamon, ginger, figs, dark chocolate, cherry pit, bourbon, chocolate cake, coffee and hops! You get bonus points toward beer geek status if you can taste all of those on your tongue.
For the past two years, I have officially kicked off the Holiday ale season at Blue Palms Brewhouse with the Firestone Walker Anniversary tasting. This year I sampled XI, XII, XIII and XIV. XI had a definite brandy aroma that carried into the sharp flavors of the near reddish beer that, to me, is getting closer and closer to being more spirit than beer. XII was similar but with the brandy notes muted which made for a much smoother flavor profile. XIII was the most balanced which served it well when I tasted it last year. Now the taste is more muted and some of the punch is gone. It too has lost some of the essential beer-iness. XIV was my favorite of the night. I got a strong amount of caramel of this beer and a firm punch of alcohol. Very much a winter warmer, without too much of the bourbon or brandy presence of previous incarnations.
The best part is that you still have a chance to sample these strong and complex beers for yourself. In fact, you have two chances. On November 23, head to Beachwood BBQ to sample the XIV along with other Firestone brews. The XIV should pair very well with the BBQ treats in Seal Beach. Your second opportunity is to head to Tony’s Darts Away on November 24 where XIV will flow alongside many other great California beers.
Your beer homework is start looking for that special beer for Thanksgiving. Depending on how the turkey is being prepared, many different beer styles will work tremendously well. Because of the famed tryptophan effect, I prefer to find a sparkly selection. A saison or witbier to liven the palate. But if you want something to stand up to all the sides that invariably crowd the table, you might want a brown ale. Something like Mission Street Brown from Trader Joe’s.
Your beer of the week is Mana Wheat from Maui Brewing. It is the latest canned beer to reach us from Hawaii. I am a huge fan of their CoCoNut Porter and this new entry looks like another winner. It is a Belgian wheat beer with coriander. So it is in the wit style. But then they toss in Maui Gold pineapple! It is, to my knowledge, the only pineapple beer out in the market.
Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.