Farewell, Santa Barbara

Word has begun to spread already, so for many of Santa Barbara Beer’s readers this may be old news, but this will be likely the last post for this blog. It’s been a fun couple of years, but I’m moving out of the area and it wouldn’t make much sense to write about Santa Barbara beer and brewing when I live and work elsewhere.

There are plenty of projects ahead in the future, and those details when come out when they do, but for the moment let’s take a look to reflect on the past and current state of beer in Santa Barbara.

When this blog began in March of 2013, beer in the American Riviera was just beginning to take roots. Telegraph Brewing Company was in the process of expanding into its new and current location, Pure Order Brewing Company was still trying to get up and running and Island Brewing Company was the only option for beer in Carpinteria. Oh yeah, and no portion of Firestone Walker was owned by Duvel.

Two years later and not only was Pure Order up and brewing, but it is doing quite well. Telegraph continued its expansion and joined the contemporary beer scene with an IPA that stands along the best examples of the style in town. Not only does Island Brewing have some company in Carpinteria now, but it brewLAB and Rincon have proved to be impressive in their own right. As far as Island goes, the competition has seemingly only made the product coming out of the local area’s oldest production brewery that much better. Goleta’s Captain Fatty’s has become a family-friendly option in the area while Hollister Brewing Company continues to churn out Eric Rose’s typically impressive beer.

But not all developments have been unicorns and rainbows. Santa Barbara Brewing Company’s reviver, Kevin Pratt, said farewell to pursue other avenues. So too did Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company’s AJ Stoll, who is now back in the United States and plying his trade in Florida’s up-and-coming Funky Buddha. Oh yeah, and Firestone Walker “combined forces” with Duvel-Moortgat.

To be honest, I’m not sure exactly what that last sentence even means. A quick text conversation with David Walker, Jeffers Richardson and Jim Crooks confirmed that Duvel didn’t “buy out” Firestone Walker, but is definitely involved. To me, this sounds as though Duvel only bought a portion of the company — and not a controlling portion. All indications point to complete autonomy for Firestone Walker, but I’m sure as a major shareholder Duvel will want to ensure that the company remains profitable. Still, Ommegang and Boulevard have thrived under Duvel ownership, and I can’t imagine that Firestone Walker will be negatively impacted from its new partnership with the Devil.

If anything, I’m curious to see what Firestone Walker does with its new influx of cash. Along with the possibility of tapping into a larger distribution network, a deal of this type will likely provide the Paso Robles-based brewery with funds to take on new projects. The canning facility at the Paso campus is already a thing of beauty, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see more beer come out in cans. Or perhaps some of the funding will go toward speeding up progress at the upcoming Venice location. This is all pure speculation, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Firestone Walker increase its national footprint the same way we have seen Sierra Nevada, Oskar Blues, Lagunitas, New Belgium and a handful of others open new plants in other regions of the country. Or perhaps Firestone may take a similar route as Figueroa Mountain and open up smaller tasting or tap rooms in various locations. Maybe Barrelworks will get its own wort production equipment as well. Who knows? The point is that this new partnership should only bring positives for Firestone Walker and beer fans across the country — perhaps across the world. Duvel has proven it has the ability to invest in craft brands without tainting the product or the spirit of the company with its efforts with Ommegang and Boulevard, and it seems likely that Firestone Walker and its customers will only benefit from this new partnership.

I’m sad to leave Santa Barbara with its perfect weather and its rapidly expanding beer scene. I wish that I would have the opportunity to report on the openings of M Special in Goleta and Third Window in Santa Barbara. My departure from the community won’t slow down the growth that we’ve already seen, and I imagine the small void I leave will be filled soon by someone else.

It’s been a fun journey. Thanks for coming along for the ride.


Firestone Walker announces XVIII Anniversary beer

Note: The following is a press release from Firestone Walker. I’ve tasted the beer at Barrelworks on the release date, and it’s the same big, bold boozy goodness we’ve come to expect from Firestone’s anniversary series. Definitely another winner from the winemakers and brewers here.



14 Vintners Help Create Firestone Walker’s New Release XVIII Anniversary Ale


Paso Robles, CA: As the summer turns toward fall, you can count on two things in the Paso Robles wine country—the seasonal grape harvest and the annual blending of Firestone Walker Brewing Company’s next Anniversary Ale with guiding input from local winemakers.


The result this year is XVIII—a barrel-aged blend composed of nine distinct component beers, as determined by a friendly yet fiercely competitive blending session attended by 14 winemakers (see full list below). XVIII will be available in select markets across the United States starting in November.


The Anniversary Ale blending session has become an annual rite, with Brewmaster Matt Brynildson enlisting his closest friends in the local winemaking community to help create a beer that is greater than the sum of its parts.


“These winemakers are practicing experts in the art of blending, so it makes perfect sense to seek their counsel,” Brynildson said. “It’s like bringing in the ninjas.”


The winemakers are paired off and presented with numerous different component beers spanning an array of styles. The pairs are tasked with creating their own preferred blends from among the components. The preferred blends are then presented to the entire group and blind tasted. Individual votes are cast, and the blend with the most votes becomes the basis for the next Anniversary Ale. Russell From and Philip Muzzy of Herman Story Wines are credited with creating the winning blend that became XVIII, granting them possession of the coveted cardboard crown that is awarded to the winning team each year.


“It got pretty competitive this year,” Brynildson said. “There was a lot of smack talk leading up to the session. A few of the winemaker teams were caught stuffing the ballot by creating more than one blend, and there were accusations of performance enhancers leveled against the winners, but it didn’t result in any arrests or suspensions.”


Most of the component beers spent an average of a year maturing in retired bourbon, brandy and whiskey barrels, including two collaboration beers that Brynildson said “we probably won’t see again,” specifically: Ol’ Leghorn, a blonde barleywine brewed with 3 Floyds and aged in new American oak barrels; and Hydra Cuvée, a hoppy hybrid dark ale brewed with Flying Dog and aged in bourbon barrels.


In the end, Brynildson noted that “we got back to a stout-dominated blend this year,” with Parabola and Velvet Merkin constituting more than 40 percent of the final blend. At the same time, several other components layer in a subtle hoppy quality that Brynildson described as “really integrated and balanced.”




“We blended together 227 oak barrels and nine different beers creating something truly complex and exceptional.” Brewmaster Matt Brynildson                                                                                                                                                                                                      

Parabola / Aged in Bourbon Barrels / 38% of Final Blend

-Russian Imperial Oatmeal Stout


Helldorado / Aged in Bourbon and Brandy Barrels / 16% of Final Blend

-Blonde Barleywine Brewed with Buckwheat Honey


Bravo / Aged in Bourbon and Brandy Barrels / 16% of Final Blend

-Imperial Brown Ale


Stickee Monkee / Aged in Bourbon and Whiskey Barrels / 14% of Final Blend

-Central Coast Quad Brewed with Belgian Candi and Mexican Turbinado (brown) Sugar


Velvet Merkin / Aged in Bourbon Barrels / 5% of Final Blend

-Traditional Oatmeal Stout


Hydra Cuvée / Aged in Bourbon Barrels; collaboration with Flying Dog / 4% of Final Blend

-Hoppy Hybrid Dark Ale

Wookey Jack / 100% Stainless Steel / 3% of Final Blend

-Black Rye India Pale Ale

OlLeghorn / Aged in new American oak barrels; collaboration with 3 Floyds / 2% of Final Blend

-Blonde Barleywine


Double Jack / 100% Stainless Steel / 2% of Final Blend

-Double India Pale Ale






XVIII is the ninth release in Firestone Walker’s anniversary series, dating back to the release of the inaugural anniversary release called “Ten” in 2006. Over the ensuing years, Firestone Walker has developed one of the craft beer industry’s most extensive barrel aging programs, spanning upwards of 1,500 barrels. Brewing beer with oak barrels has been a pioneering focal point for the brewery since its founding in 1996.


XVIII will be available in select markets across the United States starting in November. The suggested retail price is $23.99 for an individually boxed 22-ounce bottle.




“As a finished beer, XVIII is a dark and complex brew full of malt and barrel derived flavors, with Parabola leading the brew into the rich darkness. The beer is unfiltered and unfined, so there will be a small amount of sediment in the bottom of the bottle. XVIII is best enjoyed poured carefully into a half filled brandy snifter or wine glass. Allow it to warm to 55F to fully enjoy the pleasing and complex aromas. As the beer sits and breathes in the glass, rich dark chocolate, toasted oak and dark fruit qualities are revealed, so take your time. If you wait to open your bottle later, store it in a cool dark place. I suspect that this beer will age well and change favorably for years to come.”




“These are my friends and brothers in fermentation science, and practicing experts in the art of blending.” Brewmaster Matt Brynildson


·         Neil Collins – Tablas Creek, Lone Madrone

·         Chelsea Franchi – Tablas Creek

·         Justin Smith– Saxum

·         Mark Adams – Ledge

·         Kevin Sass – Halter Ranch

·         Molly Longborg – Halter Ranch

·         Russell From – Herman Story

·         Philip Muzzy – Herman Story

·         Matt Trevisan – Linne Calodo

·         Sherman Thacher – Thacher

·         Terry Hoage – Terry Hoage Vineyards

·         Steve Martell – Kaleidos

·         Eric Jensen – Booker

·         Brock Waterman – Brochelle


Also thanks to friends Arie Litman and Bobby Fox for lending their expertise to the blending session.

Firestone Walker to release XVIII on Saturday

Note: the following is a press release from Firestone-Walker. I believe the Paso Robles event is all sold out, but I plan on stopping by Barrelworks after the Real Ale Invitational to get my bottles and taste the previous versions. See you there, everyone.

XVIII, the ninth blend in our Anniversary series, will be released October 25, 2014. 


Join us for the release of our XVIII Anniversary Ale! Purchase 3 or more bottles and get access to our XVIII Anniversary Party from 11am – 2pm.  Access includes beer tasting, food samples, live music, tours, games and more. As always, it will be a three bottle minimum per person to join us and we will be selling bottle tickets starting Monday, August 25th. 

Due to space limitations because of construction, we are hosting this year’s party in our new canning hall. This area is still under construction, so appropriate footwear is recommended.

Tickets on sale now!

For more information see our FAQ page or visit our Eventbrite page.

Fig Mountain’s Real Ale Invitational is Saturday

Note: the following is a press release from Fig Mountain Brewing Company. Please note I’ll be there signing copies of We make Beer – so I won’t be providing any feedback or coverage of the event to avoid conflicts of interest. I will say I’m really looking forward to this though.

Cask Beer Tasting Event Features 20 Craft Breweries
Buellton, California—   Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company is celebrating the increased presence of cask ale on the West Coast by hosting a festival dedicated to this type of beer on Saturday, October 25, 2014 from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM.  Twenty California craft breweries will be showcasing their own styles of real ale at Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company’s flagship brewery and taproom in Buellton, California located at 45 Industrial Way.

Hosted by Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company and sponsored by Montecito Bank & Trust, the Real Ale Invitational will donate a portion of the proceeds as well as a funds raised from a silent auction to the Los Padres Forest Watch.  The Invitational features the following twenty breweries:

Ballast Point Brewing Co. | Beachwood Brewing Co. | Belching Beaver Brewing Co. | Bottle Logic Brewing | Central Coast Brewing | Coronado Brewing Company | Eagle Rock Brewery | El Segundo Brewing Co. |Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co. | Golden Road Brewing | Ironfire Brewing Company | The Libertine Pub | MacLeod Ale Brewing Company | Monkish Brewing | Noble Ale Works | Pizza Port Brewing Co. | Poseidon Brewing Company | Santa Barbara Brewing Co. | Smog City Brewing Company | Stone Brewing Company

Admission in advance is $40—or $45 at the door­—and includes a souvenir glass along with unlimited cask ale tastings.  Live music will include DJ Selecta Shaggy during the invitational followed by The Caverns and Figueroa Jones inside the taproom from 5:00 to 9:00 PM.  Food trucks, Al Fresco Picnic and The Pairing Knife, will have food for sale during the event.  Sean Lewis, author of We Make Beer, will be signing and selling books during the tasting.  Vendors include art from the Will Rise Project, a new Santa Barbara-based company dedicated to highlighting the work of local artists in whatever form that takes.

A limited number of tickets are available for a 4-course pairing lunch prior to the Invitational from 11:30 AM until 1:00 PM.  Meet the cask masters who have perfected the skill of brewing real ale while enjoying a 4-course meal prepared by Beto Huizar, Executive Chef of Beto’s Place, a new restaurant slated to open in Fig Mtn Brew’s Buellton taproom later this year. The family-style meal offers paired with cask ales from Pizza Port Brewing Co., Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co., El Segundo Brewing Co. and Noble Ale Works.  The menu includes dishes such as citrus-cured Alaskan Halibut, Roasted Squash with bacon and pecans, Duck Confit, and beer-braised Short Ribs; just to name a few.  Tickets to the lunch cost $75 and include admission to the Invitational.

Shuttle tickets are available from Santa Barbara to Buellton via Jump on the School Bus which will pick up passengers at the Santa Barbara taproom before noon and then return from Buellton at 4:30 PM.  Shuttle reservations can be placed at the Santa Barbara taproom located at 137 Anacapa Street, Suite F.  Tickets cost $15 and include round-trip transportation and a complimentary beer.

For more information about Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company’s Real Ale Invitational or to purchase tickets, visit http://RealAle.NightOut.com or pick up tickets at any FigMtnBrew taproom.

High Resolution Photos and Interviews Available Upon Request.   
Hashtag: #RealAle   Tag: @FigMtnBrew

About Real Ale: 
Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company has embraced cask ale via their cask program run by Head Brewer of Santa Barbara, Kevin C. Ashford.  Each taproom boasts a cask engine for new releases every “Firkin Friday” featuring many of their standard ales. These casks contain high quality ingredients such as hops, spices, coffee, cacao, and even locally grown fruits. Real Ale, or cask beer, is “beer that is unfiltered which undergoes a secondary fermentation and conditioning process. This process naturally carbonates the beer to a softer texture.  It is poured directly from the cask—essentially a 10.8 gallon stainless steel barrel—without additional Nitrogen or Carbon Dioxide assistance,” Ashford explains.

About Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company:
Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co. was founded by father and son team, Jim and Jaime Dietenhofer, in 2010.  With a passion for craft beer, they set out to pay homage to the beautiful Santa Ynez Valley with handcrafted beer and hand-drawn artwork depicting the local landscape on their labels. They brought on Brewmaster AJ Stoll who now oversees a team of brewers in their Buellton, California brewery.  With three locations in Santa Barbara County, Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co. beer can be found in their taprooms or at select retailers and restaurants throughout California.  Learn more about #FigMtnBrew or where to find their beer at www.figmtnbrew.com.

Last Call on Double DBA


2014 Vintage Makes Way for Beers to Come

Paso Robles, CA: The third and final bottled release of Firestone Walker Brewing Company’s barrel-aged Double DBA begins on July 12, setting the stage for an as-yet-unchosen replacement next year.

“The 2014 Double DBA is a big and complex beer that still offers the balance and drinkability that are the hallmarks of DBA,” said Brewmaster Matt Brynildson. “This vintage is outstanding, so Double DBA is leaving us on a high note.”

He added, “This beer has served us well, but there’s a finite amount of space and brewing capacity dedicated to our barrel-aged beers. In order to brew and share new barrel-aged beers, we need to rotate some out, starting with Double DBA. So get it while you can.”

Other beers in the brewery’s barrel-aged program include Bravo, Helldorado, Parabajava, PNC, Saucerful of Secrets and Brownie Wine—but it remains to be seen which will replace Double DBA in 2015.

As with previous vintages, the 2014 Double DBA imperial special bitter is Firestone Walker’s flagship DBA brewed at double strength, using twice the amount of malts and hops. As with the regular DBA, the 2014 Double DBA was partially fermented in a union of new American oak barrels. After fermentation, the beer was racked and returned to the union barrels as well as bourbon barrels, where it aged for one year. The barrel mix for the 2014 Double DBA included vessels from Woodford Reserve, Elijah Craig and Four Roses.

The 2014 Double DBA is limited to 3,500 cases of 22-ounce bottles. It will be available in select markets across the United States starting this month. The suggested retail is $16.99.

While Double DBA may not see the bottle again, it lives on in mysterious ways. Double DBA is the base beer for Reginald Brett, a bretted barrel-aged ale to be released later this year from Barrelworks, Firestone Walker’s dedicated wild (a.k.a. sour) yeast facility.

And in a new collaborative twist, the bourbon barrels used to mature the 2014 Double DBA are being shipped to Scotland, where Tullibardine distillery will use them for aging single malt scotch whisky.


Santa Barbara Deserves a Beer Week

Note: This column originally appeared in the April 3 edition of the Santa Barbara News-Press. Stay tuned to this space for more information about Santa Barbara Beer Week in July.

There have been few beers that I’ve looked forward to this year as much as Telegraph Brewing’s Obscura Peche. The peach sour ale has all the potential of being yet another great hit from brewer Paul Rey, and is due to be released soon.

The sad thing is, if we lived in Sacramento, we might have already tasted it.

Telegraph debuted the beer in early March for Sacramento Beer Week — a weeklong celebration of beer in the California capitol.

This is not to accuse Telegraph of abandoning its local market, as the Santa Barbara brewery is working to ensure a smooth release of the sour ale in bottles and on tap in its tasting room for the local community. Rather, this is an example of what Santa Barbara is missing without its own beer week.

The concept is simple — one calendar week dedicated to the promotion and celebration of beer. Breweries, bars and restaurants work together to host tap-takeovers, beer dinners and other sorts of beer-centric events.

I’m proud to say that we will soon have its own beer week, as fellow Santa Barbara beer columnist Zach Rosen (SB Sentinel) and myself are working together to organize the local beer community. The project is still a fledgling, but as it grows its wings Zach and I will fill in the details here in this space as well as others.

But this project, still in the conceptual phase, is not without its detractors.

I was chatting with a well-respected brewer friend of mine, and he told me that Santa Barbara’s beer wasn’t good enough for a beer week. He said that the consumers weren’t ready for one either.

Frankly, I had to disagree with him on both counts.

I look at the crisp and brilliant lagers brewed by Kevin Pratt Santa Barbara Brewing Company, and I see excellence. I see the same high-quality brewing at Hollister Brewing Company, where brewer Eric Rose showcases hops in a masterful way. I look at Telegraph, and I see truly fascinating and unique wild ales rivaled only by those being produced at Firestone Walker Barrelworks in Buellton, where it must be said the production budget is much larger than Telegraph’s.

I see the popularity of the Figueroa Mountain tasting room in the Funk Zone, and I know that crowds of locals and tourists are there for the wide variety and often extremely interesting beer produced by A.J. Stoll and his team of brewers. I look at the laid-back Island Brewing Company in Carpinteria, and I find great joy in pints of Jubilee Ale and Starry Night Stout.

It is still too early to assign any sort of judgment on the newest entry to Santa Barbara, Pure Order Brewing Company, but the early product has been impressive.

Add in local beer bars like Eureka!, American Ale and Brat Haus, as well as restaurants that showcase great beer like Pace Food + Drink, Olio E Limone and the Wine Cask (among many others), and Santa Barbara is rife with great options for beer.

As for the consumer, it’s likely true that wine has long been king in Santa Barbara.

But beer has always been a more plebian drink than wine, and Santa Barbarans are quickly recognizing its appeal. When I see crowds of people lined up outside of Figueroa Mountain’s tasting room, or even more crowding Barrelworks for a release of special beer I can’t help but assume that the Santa Barbara consumer is quickly learning to appreciate the value of beer.

The same is true at places like Santa Barbara Brewing Co., where baseball fans pack the lounge for games and choose locally-produced beer over the cheaper bottles of Bud Light.

And if the consumer truly doesn’t appreciate beer yet in Santa Barbara, then what better way to introduce them to everything the area has to offer than with a full week dedicated to the brew.

The brewing and beer community in Santa Barbara is young and relatively immature compared to places like San Diego, San Francisco and Portland. We are only now starting to realize the kinds of treasures we have in the local fermentors around the county.

But what we do recognize is that beer is good — and Santa Barbara beer is constantly getting better and more innovative.

I think it’s time to celebrate what we have.

Barrelworks comes full circle with release of Lil Opal

Note: The following is a press release from Firestone Walker Brewing Company and Barrelworks. I tried a version of this beer as it was aging while tasting Feral One. Back then, they were calling it “Lil Hopeful,” but it’s all ready now and I’m looking forward to the flight of the Opals on Saturday.


Brett’d Barrel-Aged Saison Set for Limited Bottle Release on April 19

Buellton, CA—In the beginning, there was Lil Opal, an illicit “brett’d saison” that spawned a rogue family of barrel-aged wild yeast beers. As the family grew large and unruly, Firestone Walker Brewing Company was ultimately compelled to build them a home called Barrelworks.

Now, Barrelworks comes full circle with the upcoming limited release of 2014 Lil Opal in 375ml bottles—the first time the beer has been captured in bottles since it was first created eight years ago.

The 2014 Lil Opal bottles will be released at the “Flight of The Opals” open house at Barrelworks on April 19 (see below for event details). The 2014 Lil Opal bottles will thereafter be available for a limited time at Barrelworks and the brewery in Paso Robles. Only 750 cases were produced.

Lil Opal was originally created when master blender, then quality control manager, Jim “Sour Jim” Crooks peeled away from his regular brewery duties and began aging wild yeast (a.k.a. sour) beers in Viognier barrels acquired from local wineries. He squirreled away four barrels of a one-off saison in a back warehouse and covered them with a tarp, where they sat for two years.

“Over time, the beer picked up all of these amazing oaky vanilla flavors, but it was still light and snappy.” Crooks said. “The brettanomyces yeast had preserved the beer, so it was still quite alive, with no oxidation. I was blown away.”

Thus Lil Opal was born, and Firestone Walker’s wild yeast beer program began to take off. Today, the program has grown to more than 700 barrels stacked to the ceiling of Barrelworks. Lil Opal is also the inspiration behind Opal, a stainless-brewed farmhouse saison that became a year-round release starting in March.

Said Barrelworks Director Jeffers Richardson, “Lil Opal, our second bottled offering of 2014, is a brett’d saison released in the spring to celebrate the vernal season. This vintage release was aged for 14 months in French and American oak barrels. The maturation time expresses Lil Opal’s oak signature; refines both the spicy and fruity yeast notes; and refreshes the palate with a soft, light acidity.”

2014 Lil Opal – Blended by Barrelworks Director Jeffers Richardson and Master Blender Jim Crooks

Maturation:    14 months in French (75%) and American oak (25%) barrels

ABV:               5.9%

IBU:                11

Color:             4.8 SRM

pH:                  3.9

T.A.:                4.1 g/L

Flora:              Brettanomyces Lambicus, Lactobacillus Brevis

Price:              $13.99 / 375ml Bottle
Availability:    Only at Barrelworks and the Paso Robles brewery

Flight of The Opals on April 19 @ Firestone Walker’s Barrelworks

Come out to Barrelworks anytime between noon and 7 p.m. to enjoy a “Flight of The Opals,” which includes tastes of 2014 Lil Opal, 2013 Lil Opal and Sour Opal. No tickets necessary, just come on out. Limited purchases of 2014 Lil Opal will be available. Lil Opal will also be available for purchase at the Paso Robles brewery starting on April 21.

Fig Mountain, Firestone win at WBC

From left to right, AJ Stoll (Brewmaster), Luke Barrett (Brewer), Awards Presenter: Charlie Papzian, Juan Zepeda (Cellarman) and Jaime Dietenhofer (CEO/President). - Photo courtesy of Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company

From left to right, AJ Stoll (Brewmaster), Luke Barrett (Brewer), Awards Presenter: Charlie Papzian, Juan Zepeda (Cellarman) and Jaime Dietenhofer (CEO/President).
– Photo courtesy of Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company

I was told recently that Santa Barbara beer and breweries simply weren’t that good. Naturally, I disagreed. Over the weekend, the breweries — at least a couple in nearby Buellton and Paso Robles — did their part to support me by winning medals at the World Beer Cup.

First up, Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company added to its trophy hall under the guidance of brewmaster A.J. Stoll with a silver medal for Davy Brown Ale and a bronze for the Danish Red Lager. The wins complement a big, 5-medal performance at last year’s GABF, and helps cement the brewery’s reputation as one of the finest in the area.

In my opinion, which means less than a medal I’m sure, the Danish Red Lager is a fine beer that is well-made, but Davy Brown Ale is a true shining star in the brown ale category. It’s a highly versatile beer that is well-deserving of its accolades. Congrats to A.J. and his team for their success.


And for anybody who enjoys black IPAs, or American Black Ales as the current trend seems to be calling them, it’s likely no surprise that Firestone Walker’s Wookey Jack took bronze in the category. The combination of the dark malt playing with the rye and the hops make Wookey Jack one of my favorite beers when I need my face punched in with flavor, and seeing Firestone Walker take home another award is a no-brainer here.