A time when depending on where you live, its snowing, raining, or just plain miserable. General rule of thumb has been, that if life hands you gray, weeping, skies, you make the best of it through the comfort of a dark ale or lager. Despite the plethora of breweries featured in the region, sometimes its nice to have a change of pace, in the form of a Firestone Walker Anniversary Ale.
Firestone Walker as a way of celebrating 14 great years, of being in the business of making well regarded ales, released their Anniversary Ale, now in its fourth year, despite what the label will tell you. With the same emphasis on blending multiple beers, this beer cannot be classified, so for most of you that means, no history lesson. With that said we cracked open this one of a kind release with the intent on enjoying every sip and smell.
As FW 14 pours out of the bottle one can see strong elements of darkness without any light passing through it. Like a cap, snuffing out the light an initially strong whipped, frothy head of off-white, forms before receding leaving hardly any lace.
The aroma produced as we take our first inhale can only be compared to roasted caramel, brown sugar, oak, minor butterscotch, and a slight tart element (possibly from hints of raisins or figs).
Anxious to try we take our first sip which is rewarded by an initial greeting of dark fruits (raisins, dates, figs) along with a sweet bourbon, before elements of brown sugar, subtle vanilla, and minor oak character complete the experience. Overall this beer has a medium weight as it coarses across the tongue, and without any cloying.
The Finished Piece. As a finished beer, 14 is brimming with amazing flavors and textures. DDBA leads the blend lending American toasted oak, English caramel toffee and light leather nuances. Newcomer, Sticky Monkey, folds in the taste of brown sugar, molasses, cinnamon, ginger and ripe figs. Parabola brings the familiar flavors of bitter dark chocolate and cherry pit. Velvet Merkin carries silky bourbon soaked chocolate cake goodness to the party while a touch of Black Xantus teases coffee and tobacco. Last, but not least, Good Foot brings the hops… hints of citrus zest and tangerine, which adds a pop to the aroma and nice finish to this big, sexy brew. 14 is best enjoyed in a half filled brandy snifter or wine glass. Allow it to warm to 55F to fully enjoy the pleasing and complex aromas. If left in a cool dark place, I suspect this beer will age well. It was an absolute pleasure making it and I truly hope you enjoy our fifth oak–aged blend! The journey continues.
You Should Buy This. Although this beer arrived in the Northwest in extremely limited quantities, that should not stop you from picking up a few bottles, if you do spot it somewhere. Food pairings can go all over the table, from a slightly briny scallop, to Penn Cove oysters, to a savory filet with whole wheat rolls.
Thoughts by your Colleagues
About the photos’ author
Paul “Fruit Trees” Orchard, is an amateur craft beer enthusiast and amateur photographer. Throughout the many years in craft beer he is always carrying a camera (smartphone, digital, traditional) and is invites you to see that beer can also be exciting even if you can’t drink the photo.
In accordance with new FTC regulations regarding bloggers and endorsements, the aforementioned company has provided me a free sample that was used for research prior to writing this review.