Review: Firestone Walker XXII Anniversary Ale
We’ve been fans of Firestone Walker’s Proprietor’s Vintage Series for a while now, but only recently did we get the chance to sample their Anniversary Ale. We’re clearly late to this party because they’ve already released thirteen of them! In 2006, on the occasion of their 10th anniversary, they started the tradition with the appropriately named Ten, and now here we are with Twenty-Two (XXII). To celebrate more than two decades of barrel aging beer, Firestone Walker once again brought together a unique group of their winemaker friends to create the perfect blend from a collection of Proprietor’s Vintage releases.
For Twenty-Two, winemakers worked in collaborative teams to create their blends which were then blind tasted by everyone to select the winner. The victorious blend was almost half Stickee Monkee quad (44%), equal parts Parabola imperial stout and Bravo brown ale (22%), with a dash of Rum Barrel Helldorado (7%) and Gin Barrel Helldorado (5%) barleywines. Sounds like a tough day at the office. Let’s dig in!
Twenty-Two pours a honey brown, almost dark amber color, with minimal carbonation. Before I can even reach for the glass, I’m smelling the Stickee Monkee. The aroma is big and rich with that beer’s familiar chocolate notes and Belgian candi sugar, but there’s also dark fruit here and a dusting of herbs and pine that make it far more complex than the standard Central Coast quad.
The palate is rich and layered but fairly lightweight to pack such a punch. Things kick off with sweet malt, espresso, and toasted coconut. There’s plenty of vanilla and wood sugars from the various bourbon barrels kicking around in the blend, but the alcohol is expertly restrained. Despite being the smallest piece of this puzzle, the rum and gin barrel-aged barleywines take over on the mid-palate, briefly brightening the experience with juniper, coriander, lemon zest, and a bit of sugary hogo. The lengthy finish sees something of a blend of both flavor camps: Mexican chocolate, caramel sauce, and split vanilla bean with citrus and cigar box.
Like so many Proprietor’s Vintage releases, this one is dangerously easy drinking. It’s a fun and unique brew, and a fine way to celebrate another year of barrel-aged brews from Firestone Walker!
A / $20 (per 12 oz. bottle) / firestonebeer.com