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Firestone Walker opens Barrelworks in Buellton, CA

Discussion in 'Beer News' started by Todd, Jan 16, 2013.

  1. Todd

    Todd Founder (1,685) Colorado Aug 23, 1996 Staff Member


    7,000-Square-Foot Cellar and Tasting Room Dedicated to Barrel-Aged Wild Beers and High-Gravity Strong Ales

    Buellton, CA—The wildest ales of all have come to the town of Buellton in California’s Santa Barbara County with the opening of Barrelworks by Firestone Walker Brewing Company, a new cellar and visitor experience dedicated to barrel-aged beers, including Firestone Walker’s growing wild beer program.

    The origins of Barrelworks began eight years ago with a few renegade barrels stashed into the voids between pallets of packaged beer in Firestone Walker’s cold storage warehouse at the brewery in Paso Robles. Officially, the program didn’t exist, but it grew quickly and became unruly, and today it numbers upwards of 1,500 barrels that have outgrown the available space at the main brewery.

    Barrelworks is the next stop on this uncharted journey. This 7,000-square-foot cathedral of barrels now houses all of Firestone Walker’s barrel-aged wild beers while also showcasing the brewery’s classic barrel-aged strong ales. Barrelworks also features a tasting room and self-guided tours that delve into the history, purpose and methods of making wild ales and other barrel-aged beers.

    “This place is truly a ‘padded room’ for brewers and rare beer enthusiasts,” said Barrelworks Director Jeffers Richardson.

    Barrelworks is now the mothership of the brewery’s growing “live barrel” wild beer program, which includes revolving creations such as Lil’ Opal, Sour Opal, Rufus, Reginald Brett and others—all created by secondary microflora fermentation in the barrel. These beers are Firestone Walker’s twist on the Belgian “sour beer” tradition. They are aged in a variety of American, French and Hungarian oak barrels, many of them inherited from wineries such as Opus One, Halter Ranch and Chamisal. All of Firestone Walker’s wild ales are now inoculated and aged at Barrelworks.

    In addition to the wild ales program, Barrelworks also showcases Firestone Walker’s high-gravity strong ales that originate from the brewery’s Anniversary Ale program, such as Parabola and Double DBA, as well as occasional one-off beers. These beers are aged for a year or more in retired bourbon, brandy and Firestone Union barrels, as well as the occasional tequila barrel.

    “The beer geeks were the first to ‘get’ wild beers and barrel-aged strong ales like ours,” said co-proprietor David Walker. “They beat the drum and spread the word. These beers are still more of a cult item, but the cult is growing fast.”

    Oak barrels have been a central part of the Firestone Walker experience, dating back to the brewery’s founding in 1996 and the establishment of the Firestone Union oak barrel fermentation system. The barrel-aged strong ale program took flight with the development of the inaugural Firestone Walker Anniversary Ale by Brewmaster Matt Brynildson eight years ago, while the wild ales program has rapidly grown in recent years under the direction of Master Blender Jim Crooks.

    Barrelworks is adjacent to the Firestone Walker Taproom restaurant at 620 McMurray Road in Buellton in Santa Barbara County. It is now open to the public every Friday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visitors enter Barrelworks through a rustic antique church door, where they are immediately greeted by a cathedral of barrel stacks as they continue toward the dedicated tasting room. The tasting room features 18 taps with a rotating selection of wild beers, strong ales and occasional one-off beers.

    Click here for the full story of Barrelworks.

    Click here for a fact sheet on Barrelworks.

    Click here for the current tasting list at Barrelworks.

    Click here for more information wild ales.


    Firestone Walker Brewing Company is a pioneering regional craft brewery founded in 1996 and located in the Paso Robles wine country on California’s Central Coast. The brewery specializes in iconic pale ales and vintage barrel-aged beers. Firestone Walker Brewing Company was awarded Mid-Sized Brewery of The Year honors at the 2003, 2007 and 2011 Great American Beer Festivals® as well as Champion Mid-Sized Brewery honors at the 2004, 2006, 2010 and 2012 World Beer Cup® competitions.



    ROBSTARR Savant (425) Michigan Aug 31, 2009 Beer Trader

    Good god this sounds awesome !! Wouldn't mind making a vacation out that way and stopping there for a night !
  3. I think a road trip is in order. Probably going to have to wait until after SF Beer Week though.
  4. Sweeeet.
  5. SeaOfShells

    SeaOfShells Savant (350) California Feb 22, 2011

    I live 2 hours from Buellton. I think it's time I visit. No one does barrel aging quite like FW.
  6. FosterJM

    FosterJM Champion (880) California Nov 16, 2009 Beer Trader

    I just peed a little. :eek:

    Jnorton00 likes this.
  7. Catchy_Name

    Catchy_Name Advocate (520) California Dec 21, 2011 Beer Trader

    So if this years batch of Parabola tastes off or infected we know why.
  8. FosterJM

    FosterJM Champion (880) California Nov 16, 2009 Beer Trader

    You always the glass 1/2 full guy? I am sure they took every concievable precaution to prevent a wild yeast bug to get into one of their flagship beers

    How did the party go? I wasnt able to make it.

  9. Damn it, three years to late for me.
  10. Catchy_Name

    Catchy_Name Advocate (520) California Dec 21, 2011 Beer Trader

    I know man I know. If there's any brewery I would trust with both quality and barrel aging it would be them. My satire can sometimes be lost on some. Yeah the party went great. We had a pretty good turn out and the beers were delicious. Everyone seemed to dig our First Anniversary Ale too which is awesome to hear.
    FosterJM likes this.
  11. FosterJM

    FosterJM Champion (880) California Nov 16, 2009 Beer Trader

    I was talking to your dad the other, seems like things are going well with the show. I'd love to sit in on a session with you guys. Let me know when you have some time.

  12. Catchy_Name

    Catchy_Name Advocate (520) California Dec 21, 2011 Beer Trader

    Show is going awesome at present. We've got one sponsorship and were working on another right now, and believe it or not were already working on plans for our second anniversary Ale and celebration. And yeah most definitely, we would be thrilled to have you on as a guest. I'll shoot you a PM with some stuff we have coming up and we can definitely arrange something.
  13. FosterJM

    FosterJM Champion (880) California Nov 16, 2009 Beer Trader

    Sounds good all around brad. Congrats on the party and the plans for year 2. I would be honored. Would be a good time for sure. let me know what works for you and ill make it.

  14. PlayaPlaya

    PlayaPlaya Savant (295) Illinois Sep 19, 2012

    ^Say hi to your dad for me, would ya, please?

    ......O yea, Barrelworks.......SOUNDS AWESOME! I was wondering why FW's taproom list was so0o0o0o0o WEAK last time I was out there(nothing but shelf beers).

    This will for sure make up for their tap room and I cant wait to make the trek to here in the spring!!
  15. UCLABrewN84

    UCLABrewN84 Poobah (1,440) California Mar 18, 2010 Verified

    Good times. Road trip time.
  16. KevSal

    KevSal Advocate (710) California Oct 17, 2010 Beer Trader

    I talked a bit with head brewer Matt about this last year, and he insisted and keeping these guys as far away from pasorobles as possible. I'm pretty sure he's going above and beyond to keep any infection and cross contamination happening.

    I don't know who is in charge of the sour program tho, let's hope they are high calibur
  17. Sam_Frank

    Sam_Frank Initiate (0) California Nov 29, 2012

    i think i'm going to try and check this out this weekend
  18. UCLABrewN84

    UCLABrewN84 Poobah (1,440) California Mar 18, 2010 Verified

    An hour away? That seems like it's cutting it close. :rolleyes:
  19. Skunkdrool

    Skunkdrool Advocate (550) California Jul 31, 2010 Beer Trader

    The "non-sours" are housed down the road from the Barrelworks. This is according to Jeffers, original DBA designer.
  20. Skunkdrool

    Skunkdrool Advocate (550) California Jul 31, 2010 Beer Trader

    Checked Barrelworks out last Saturday. Its, AMAZING. I plan on going every weekend. $1.50 low gravity samplers, $2 mid-gravity samplers, and $3 high gravity samplers. Right now they have Barrel 66 of DDBA, and looks like they will continue to sample single barrel DDBA. The sours are incredible. Actually, after spending 3 hours there and trying everything, theres nothing not to like. Being 15 minutes away, I really will be here every weekend. No growlers. No pints or full glasses of anything but the Berliner and Opals. Also, sounds like some sours will be bottled this year.
    Jnorton00, PlayaPlaya and KevSal like this.
  21. Rau71

    Rau71 Initiate (0) California Dec 12, 2011

    The man running the sour program is Jim Crooks, aka Sour Jim. The originator of the Firestone walker Barrel union, Jeffers, is over the entire barrel program. So I am pretty sure both programs are in great hands.
    KevSal likes this.
  23. JohnBender

    JohnBender Savant (475) Texas Apr 20, 2012

    Good time for them to come to Texas.
  24. mychalg9

    mychalg9 Champion (760) Illinois Apr 8, 2010 Beer Trader

    I've always wanted a reason to go to Buellton
  25. Sam_Frank

    Sam_Frank Initiate (0) California Nov 29, 2012

    Jim Crooks. good name.
  26. QuakeAttack

    QuakeAttack Savant (430) California Mar 19, 2012

    Hitching Post wasn't good enough? They have always had great steak houses in the area...

    I have a friend who lives in Solvang. Sounds like it's time to pay a visit...
  27. JBogan

    JBogan Savant (465) Nevada Jul 15, 2007

    That was my first thought as well. I've been going to the Hitching Post in Buellton for about 20 years (long before Sideways made it a tourist stop) and it's never let me down. The steaks there are killer.

    Can't wait to check out the Barrelworks!
  28. luwak

    luwak Savant (395) Arizona Mar 2, 2010 Beer Trader

    Heart pounding...airline website too slow....
    afrokaze likes this.
  29. 2GOOFY

    2GOOFY Savant (435) California Aug 19, 2012 Beer Trader

    And yet another reason I'm glad I live in Buellton :)
  30. JBogan

    JBogan Savant (465) Nevada Jul 15, 2007

    Has anyone else here paid a visit to Barrelworks since it opened? I'm going to try making the drive from Vegas next month if possible.

    Kind of bummed out there's no growlers available, I was hoping to take some goodies home with me. Are there any bottled offerings available of any sort other than the usual suspects ? Whatever the case, I can't wait to go there to try the gems on tap.
  31. Earlycsquid

    Earlycsquid Advocate (520) California Jan 7, 2013 Beer Trader

    Yeah, i want a growler of DDBA or Parabola....
  32. Miruguy

    Miruguy Savant (275) California Nov 22, 2010 Beer Trader

    I was there this past weekend and highly recommend a visit. About 15 different barrel aged beers, including a few wild ales and lots of information on the walls about barrel aging in general. They had at least the past few years of Anniversary beers available in bottles, as well as Parabola and Sucuba.
    JBogan likes this.
  33. JBogan

    JBogan Savant (465) Nevada Jul 15, 2007

    Thanks Miruguy, I appreciate your comments. Growlers or not, it sounds like a vist to Barrelworks is worth the trip from Vegas and back.
  34. 2GOOFY

    2GOOFY Savant (435) California Aug 19, 2012 Beer Trader

    My first visit today...like Disneyland, but with beer. The older anniversary beers are pricey but, oh well. Picked up a Sucaba 2012 and an XV. Stacy the server is great, well versed in what they're making. Highly recommend the Rufus Brett.
  35. Earlycsquid

    Earlycsquid Advocate (520) California Jan 7, 2013 Beer Trader

    When you say pricey - break it down for us....
  36. 2GOOFY

    2GOOFY Savant (435) California Aug 19, 2012 Beer Trader


    I can handle the last two...pushing my luck with the missus on the first two. I bought a 15 and a Sucaba ($45)

    They told me the new Sucaba (coming out on 2/1) will be $16.99...As a beer newbie I'm seeing a pattern...buy early and a few :)
  37. Sam_Frank

    Sam_Frank Initiate (0) California Nov 29, 2012

    is she hot?
    Beerandraiderfan likes this.
  38. 2GOOFY

    2GOOFY Savant (435) California Aug 19, 2012 Beer Trader

    I would say yes, but I'm old and off the market. See for yourself, you're close.
  39. semibaked

    semibaked Champion (820) Kentucky Mar 27, 2007 Verified

    I wonder if they are going to do a Pea Soup beer as tribute to Buelton's most famous landmark? :)
  40. 2GOOFY

    2GOOFY Savant (435) California Aug 19, 2012 Beer Trader

    One can only hope :rolleyes: