Release Firestone Walker's Vintage Barrel-Aged "XVII" Anniversary Ale Set for Release on November 2

Discussion in 'Beer News & Releases' started by Todd, Oct 25, 2013.

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  1. Todd

    Todd Founder (5,552) Aug 23, 1996 California
    Staff Subscriber


    Paso Robles, CA—During the dog days of the autumn grape harvest, thirsty overworked winemakers are fond of saying, “It takes a lot of beer to make great wine.”

    But at Firestone Walker Brewing Company, the opposite is also true, as 14 local winemakers recently convened to help the brewing team blend the next Firestone Walker Anniversary Ale.

    The result is “XVII”—a vintage blend of seven eclectic component ales aged in retired bourbon, brandy and whiskey barrels. XVII will be officially released starting at the brewery on November 2.

    The blending session has become an annual rite at the brewery, with Brewmaster Matt Brynildson enlisting his winemaker friends from the surrounding Paso Robles wine country.

    “I’m not aware of any other beer that is blended like this, from so many distinct components,” Brynildson said. “That’s why we bring in the winemakers.”

    During the blending session, the friendly chatter turns to smack talk as the winemakers are divided into competing pairs. Each pair is tasked with assembling their best blend. The different proposed blends are then blind tasted by the entire group, and votes are cast for the winning blend.

    This year, Neil Collins and Chelsea Franchi of Tablas Creek Winery unseated repeat winners (for 2011 and 2012) Justin Smith and Mark Adams of Saxum Winery for the coveted cardboard crown awarded each year to the winning pair.

    “All of our participating winemakers are practicing experts in the art of blending,” Brynildson said. “Their input is invaluable, as this project is all about creating cohesion and complexity from an array of diverse beers. The result is a masterful blend, the sum being greater than the parts.”


    XVII is the eighth 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.

    XVII will be officially released at the XVII Anniversary Party at the brewery in Paso Robles onNovember 2 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The festivities will include samples and live music. Space is limited; guests are encouraged to arrive early. For more information:

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


    “We blended together 220 oak barrels and seven different beers creating something truly complex and exceptional.” – Brewmaster Matt Brynildson
    • Bravo / Aged in Bourbon and Brandy Barrels / 30% of Final Blend - Imperial Brown Ale
    • Sticky Monkey / Aged in Bourbon and Whiskey Barrels / 25% of Final Blend - English Barley Wine Brewed with Mexican Turbinado (brown) Sugar
    • Velvet Merkin / Aged in Bourbon Barrels / 15% of Final Blend - Traditional Oatmeal Stout
    • Parabola / Aged in Bourbon Barrels / 15% of Final Blend - Russian Imperial Oatmeal Stout
    • Double DBA / Aged in retired Firestone Union Barrels / 8% of Final Blend - Double strength English Pale Ale
    • Helldorado / Aged in Bourbon and Brandy Barrels / 4% of Final Blend - Blonde Barley Wine Brewed with Buckwheat Honey
    • Wookey Jack / 100% Stainless Steel / 3% of Final Blend - Black Rye India Pale Ale
    XVII ABV: 13.3%


    “The lead beers of the blend are Bravo, an oak-forward imperial brown ale and Sticky Monkey, a huge brown sugar-infused barley wine. These beers are beautiful on their own but together they bring rich molasses drenched oak flavors and cinnamon glazed almond aromas lifted by high alcohol. In the middle of the blend are our two favorite stouts, Parabola and Velvet Merkin, working in concert to provide a dusty cocoa mocha aroma and bitter dark chocolate flavors. Somehow together in this blend I am reminded of Bourbon-soaked chocolate chip cookie dough!Double DBA makes the blend again this year, bringing its signature vanilla-infused crème brulée flavor. Helldorado, our blonde barley wine, helps to bring balance with its honey notes and light leather nuances. Like last year, a dash of Wookey Jack made the cut bringing with it some fresh hop notes derived from bold Citra and Amarillo creating even more interesting complexity. Altogetherl I find XVII to be full of soft chocolate and warm spice perfectly balanced by toasted coconut bourbon barrel notes and smooth creamy malt mellowness.”


    “These are my friends and brothers in fermentation science, and practicing experts in the art of blending.” – Brewmaster Matt Brynildson
    • Neil Collins – Tablas Creek
    • Chelsea Franchi – Tablas Creek
    • Justin Smith– Saxum
    • Mark Adams – Saxum and Ledge
    • Kevin Sass – Halter Ranch
    • Russell From - Herman Story
    • Giovanni Grandinetti – Herman Story
    • Matt Trevisan – Linne Calodo
    • Sherman Thacher - Thacher
    • Terry Hoage – Terry Hoage Vineyards
    • Steve Martell – Kaleidos & Sextant
    • Ted Osborne – Olabisi
    • Eric Jensen – Booker
    • Connor McMahon - Booker
    Also thanks to friends Arie Litman, Pete Slosberg and John Verive for lending their expertise to the blending session.

  2. MetalMountainMastiff

    MetalMountainMastiff Initiate (0) Oct 1, 2012 California
    Beer Trader

    I'm excited about the high barleywine %. I'm really into porter/stouts mixed with barleywne though, I would have liked some velvet merlin as one of the higher %.

    either way, I can't wait.
    luwak and 2beerdogs like this.
  3. PlayaPlaya

    PlayaPlaya Aspirant (202) Sep 19, 2012 Illinois

    Sounds tasty, I wonder if the Wookey addition is really necessary though?

    $23.99 msrp...ouchey.

    lol didn't I just see someone say another breweries limited releases at $20 a bomber were outrageous? I do not think even $25 for a limited, barrel aged beer is outrageous by any means, but I think others may feel different?
    2beerdogs likes this.
  4. eatabagofbooger

    eatabagofbooger Initiate (60) Mar 27, 2009 Oregon
    Beer Trader

    I agree. I think it's the mixture of roasty/coffee bitterness from the stouts with the caramel and brown sugar notes from the BWs that I love in their anniversary beers (esp 14 and 16). Can't wait!
    JayPeso likes this.
  5. gillagorilla

    gillagorilla Meyvn (1,250) Feb 27, 2013 Maryland
    Beer Trader

    Wow, I think I might actually be right, when I said that Velvet Merkin would hit MD as XVII was hitting shelves elsewhere. So, Merkin will be a birthday present and XVII will be a Christmas present, if it makes it here this year.
  6. Infinite1

    Infinite1 Aspirant (273) Jul 2, 2010 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    16 Was awesome... I can't wait for this one
  7. ImChrisBrown

    ImChrisBrown Initiate (0) Aug 6, 2011 California

    So will it be available for purchase on the 2nd in SoCal/San Diego? Brothers bday is the 2nd and he's coming down to SD for the brewers guild fest. Would like to start or finish with this.
  8. YogiBeer

    YogiBeer Initiate (0) May 10, 2012 Illinois

    Whewwwwwww $24, get out of my face. More for everyone else. Love FW, too. :slight_frown:
    2beerdogs likes this.
  9. gillagorilla

    gillagorilla Meyvn (1,250) Feb 27, 2013 Maryland
    Beer Trader

    That is at responsible stores. I know a place in MD where it will be at least $35 when it comes out.
  10. opwog

    opwog Defender (663) Jun 16, 2008 Minnesota

    I think that all breweries that are trying to charge $20 or more for their beers, really need to look at the details of this beer and ask themselves if this is the level of ingredients, aging and blending that is taking place in their own beers. These FW anniversaries started off way under $20, but have crept up to this point, but at least I feel that these FW Anniversary releases are the types of beers that are worth $20+.
    corby112 and SGToliver like this.
  11. BeerMeInStl

    BeerMeInStl Aspirant (203) Jan 26, 2013 Missouri

    Wow, that's pricey. I paid a little over half that for Parabola. Might have to skip this one just on principal alone.

    Still waiting on Velvet Merkin to get to MO...
  12. zefarrett

    zefarrett Initiate (0) Oct 19, 2013 Maryland
    Beer Trader

    So this won't be hitting MD until mid 2014.
  13. fehrminator

    fehrminator Disciple (349) Jan 26, 2008 North Carolina
    Beer Trader

    "Bourbon-soaked chocolate chip cookie dough"? YES PLEASE!
  14. kona14

    kona14 Initiate (0) Aug 22, 2010 Pennsylvania

    I'd "take the hit" and buy one. And drink it with someone very special...and if I couldn't find that person...myself!:wink:
    JISurfer likes this.
  15. SLOCruzin

    SLOCruzin Aspirant (224) Sep 30, 2013 California
    Beer Trader

    Considering its strength and the amount of time and work put into making this beer, I think $24 is fair.
    albertq17 and swolepeer like this.
  16. RBassSFHOPit2ME

    RBassSFHOPit2ME Meyvn (1,126) Mar 1, 2009 California

    My God. Daddy like.
  17. grilledsquid

    grilledsquid Devotee (485) Jul 10, 2009 California
    Beer Trader

    That's a legit blend. I hate expensive beers but this will most likely be worth it.
    Rizalini likes this.
  18. gshak

    gshak Zealot (512) Feb 20, 2011 Texas

    The Firestone Anniversary edition beers are something I look forward to buying every year, but the price has been steadily creeping up. It used to be 21.99 up until the 14th, possibly 15th as well. Then the 16th was 22.99, and now it is 23.99. It is beginning to reach the Bruery pricing territory which I pass up on, purely as a matter of principle. Guess it is more for everyone else, as one poster already noted.
  19. gshak

    gshak Zealot (512) Feb 20, 2011 Texas

    Just because something is barrel-aged, shouldn't automatically entitle it to 2x or 3x price increase. After all, every wine you see in the superstore, has been barrel-aged, and you do get some good quality wines (750ml) for less than $10. You'd be hard-pressed to find a good barrel-aged beer in that price range, and that too for a 660ml bottle. For me, the economics behind the pricing structure makes no sense sometimes, but FWIW, it comes down to supply and demand. If they can demand 24 and people are willing to pay it, I suppose everyone's a winner.
    1fJef likes this.
  20. PlayaPlaya

    PlayaPlaya Aspirant (202) Sep 19, 2012 Illinois

    I agree, there is no reason we should be paying what we do for any beer that gets put in a barrel. I could go on and on about this...

    However, I can not presently get past the fact that you just posted an absurdly wrong point. All wines are NOT barrel aged, in fact a good percentage of wine sold today is not aged in barrels. Stainless steel to even concrete is used to aged wine these days, barrels are expensive these days thanks to craft beer and although stainless steel and concrete aging vessels are expensive to start off with, they pay off quickly and do not require regular replacing like wooden barrels.
  21. JayPeso

    JayPeso Aspirant (286) Oct 25, 2013 California
    Beer Trader

    FW is having a release party as part of Stone's Beer Week on November 5th in Escondido. Stone is saying "We’ll be the first in California to pour the much-anticipated Firestone Walker XVII outside of their brewery". Not sure if bottles will be available for purchase.
  22. bnelson997

    bnelson997 Aspirant (238) Jun 4, 2013 California
    Beer Trader

    Way I figure it, if you don't like the price don't pay it and letvthe rest of us who ARE willing to pay the price get those bottles. They are a business and have every right to set their prices based on costs they incur to brew and age all the component beers as well as turn a profit.
  23. elchicodelgado

    elchicodelgado Initiate (0) Mar 3, 2008 Texas

    The reality is that the price to produce the beer matters little for what it should cost. You should be paying more than what you are for most whales because demand>supply. Any beer that is hard to find and leaves people that want to buy it but can't because it is sold out is underpriced. It sucks but if a beer is in short supply that means they aren't charging enough. I know this isn't a popular opinion but it's economically sound. I love a cheap beer as much as the next guy so I'm happy we are under paying but make no mistake, most whales are under priced and brewers are leaving money on the table. Flame away.
    Charlie_Hoss and mechamifune like this.
  24. mechamifune

    mechamifune Devotee (431) Jan 26, 2008 North Carolina
    Beer Trader

    Really liked XVI and will try to get ahold of this one assuming I make one of my trips to chicago in the right time frame. I don't mind dropping $24 for a once a year type purchase like this.
  25. lowbit

    lowbit Initiate (0) Jul 24, 2013 Wisconsin

    Don't forget that almost everyone's beer budget is finite -- if you have to shell out $$$ for a release like this, that means fewer $ for other beers, which translates to decreased sales which eventually means decreased production and availability. The only one who really comes out better in the end with this high price point is Firestone Walker.
  26. OrionsHunt

    OrionsHunt Aspirant (217) Jul 17, 2011 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    You are spot on and there are quite a few of us with this opinion. I just paid $20 a bottle for Surly Darkness and that is not barrel aged. Surly sold out at the brewery yesterday and there were people in line that didn't get bottles. Clearly Surly left money on the table and that was with a $2 increase in bottle price from last year.
  27. YogiBeer

    YogiBeer Initiate (0) May 10, 2012 Illinois

    Nobody has argued against that point in this thread, don quijote.
  28. gshak

    gshak Zealot (512) Feb 20, 2011 Texas

    Absurdly wrong? Care to point me to a link where you find that "a good percentage of wine sold today is not aged in barrels"? The oak/barrel is what gives the wine its characteristics (aside from the grapes, terroir). If you're buying stainless steel/concrete aged wines then full force to you, but to state that, that is what wine makers are using these days is what is patently absurd.

    Wine makers use stainless steel fermenters for the initial fermenting for the yeast to act upon the sugars from the grapes. Once the yeast has done its job, the fermented liquid is transferred to age in oak barrels. To cut costs, wine makers may sometimes use oak chips instead of barrels, but the point remains that it is the oak-aging that makes wine what it is. At any rate, to reiterate my point - I can find a very good oak barrel-aged wine at my nearest costco for <$10, but its beer equivalent will be much more expensive.
  29. 2beerdogs

    2beerdogs Poo-Bah (1,883) Jan 31, 2005 California
    Supporter Subscriber Beer Trader

    Damn it...ANOTHER WANT!!!
  30. patkorn

    patkorn Initiate (0) Aug 30, 2007 California

    That is a serious list of winemakers.
    Charlie_Hoss likes this.
  31. Zorro

    Zorro Poo-Bah (4,311) Dec 25, 2003 California

    Will be waiting at the door on November 2nd for this beer.
  32. LumpkinBrews

    LumpkinBrews Aspirant (286) Aug 30, 2013 California
    Beer Trader

    Wine not aged in barrels is like saying Whisky/ey is not aged in barrels....
  33. pmarlowe

    pmarlowe Meyvn (1,219) Nov 27, 2010 Virginia
    Beer Trader

    I haven't liked the past few vintages as much as just straight Parabola or Sucaba. I guess I just don't quite get the appeal.
    j47paco likes this.
  34. BryanK

    BryanK Initiate (0) Nov 27, 2010 New York

    Arguing the fact the price of beer is increasing is like arguing the price of tomatoes is increasing. Thats life.
  35. NYRfan4ever

    NYRfan4ever Initiate (0) Oct 30, 2009 New Jersey

    whatever the price, this beer sounds great!
    OneBeertoRTA likes this.
  36. Brewcycler

    Brewcycler Initiate (0) Aug 25, 2012 California

    Does anyone know if the ticket price includes the 3 or 6 bottles? Seems like it, or else the price for 6 wouldn't be twice the cost of the 3 bottle ticket. Just wanted to make sure my $75 will get me 3 bottles.

    As for pricing, it is what it is. And keep in mind these aren't just any barrel, they're aged in mostly bourbon barrels so I would tend to guess perhaps the price for those are a tad higher than some random, unused barrel.
  37. mquartuccio87

    mquartuccio87 Initiate (0) Jun 10, 2013 New York
    Beer Trader

    hope this comes to ny really want some
  38. Grabbin2nd

    Grabbin2nd Initiate (0) Jul 30, 2005 California
    Beer Trader

    It's pretty clear on the site you can either buy the 3 or 6 bottle ticket for the event.
  39. Brewcycler

    Brewcycler Initiate (0) Aug 25, 2012 California

  40. brywhite

    brywhite Meyvn (1,227) Aug 27, 2009 California

    I did a XIV, XV and XVI tasting for a couple friends the other day and it was awesome. The FW Anniversary Ales do really well with some age on them... looking forward to the XIV, XV, XVI, XVII tasting!
    LumpkinBrews likes this.
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