Firestone Walker

May 17, 2019
In 1996, two very serious California wine guys, who happen to be brothers-in-law, decided to open a brewery in the state’s mid-coast wine country. 
 
From Firestone Walker’s first release, the 12-time gold medal winner Double Barrel Ale (DBA), to their most recent innovations, a beer rosé called Rosalie and a hazy IPA called Mind Haze, this brewery’s unique approach to their craft is something beyond original.
 
Heady Times caught up with co-founder David Walker to learn more about Firestone Walker’s innovative releases. 
 
1. It all started with a brewery born in a vineyard. “Adam Firestone’s family has been making wine in Paso Robles for three generations and I married a California girl and followed her here, where I began growing grapes as a profession. Adam dabbled in homebrewing and convinced me to join the endeavor. He said that great things can happen when brewers and vintners collaborate.” 
 
2. Firestone Walker’s new beer rosé, called Rosalie, took years to create. “We started with a number of test brews, using a select blend of white wine grapes from a local vineyard. Then we used hibiscus to create a consistent rosé hue. Most importantly, we used locally grown fruit harvested and pressed in our backyard, creating a beer that was inspired and born here at home.”
 
3. Firestone has been collaborating with local winemakers to blend their anniversary releases for years. Rosalie continues that tradition.
 
4. Rosalie boasts bright fruit flavors and luscious acidity, which makes for a great pairing with seafood, as well as goat cheese.
 
5. The name Rosalie was inspired by one of Walker’s favorite bands. “There’s a Grateful Dead song my wife and I love called ‘Rosalie McFall’. I’ve always loved the melodic tone of the song, so we decided it would be a good fit.”
 
6. The artwork for Rosalie was done in-house. “We wanted the image of Rosalie to represent that easy California lifestyle. It’s fun, but sophisticated. My wife, Polly was instrumental in the design.” 
 
7. Walker envisions adding to the Rosalie line, featuring other grape varietals or even other locally-grown fruits. “Our intention was to create a cool and interesting alternative to wine, cider and malternatives.” 
 
8. Their new Mind Haze IPA is “meant to elevate your perceptions. It’s juicy yet balanced, hazy yet lasting and loaded with an imaginative array of tropical hop flavors. Our Brewmaster Matt [Brynildson] likes to say, ‘We were finally ready to do a hazy IPA the Firestone way.’” 
 
9. Their light and refreshing blonde ale, 805, has a subtle malt sweetness, balanced by a touch of hops. Created for the laid-back California vibe, it’s a runaway hit on the West Coast. “While you won’t see it on the East Coast this year, we’ve been expanding its distribution slowly but surely. So maybe one day!” 
 
10. Walker and his team see themselves as artisans who strive to innovate. “It’s very important for our brewery to evolve, and for us to learn and apply new techniques as we grow. In a lot of ways, it’s what Adam [Firestone] and I have been doing from the very start, and it’s worked out pretty well so far!”
 
 
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