Lions & Bears & Brewing, Oh My!

Firestone Walker

I was off to the Growler & Gill for a weekly tasting, in happy anticipation of one of my favorite breweries. I was not disappointed!

fire_DDBA_2014Double DBA 2014 Vintage Imperial Special Bitter

Very special and even more so since it has been discontinued. Quite dark and rich. The nose gives caramel and malt, vanilla and coconut. On the palette, very distinct coconut and a sense of bourbon, then hops in balance. Vintaged, aged before release. Cellerable. Strong stuff at 12% ABV, and moderately hopped at 29 IBU.


There’s no oak involved, but the brewery is in Paso Robles, “Pass of the oaks.” This is a very clean marzen with a little something extra. German malts and noble hops, very true to the original style, with a little sweetness coming through. 5% ABV, 24 IBU

fire_2014OPAL_22oz_bottleOpal Saison

Richer and more fruity and much more hoppy than most saisons. There’s a hint of sour citrus on the palette immediately balanced by malt, but then an herbal quality comes in and a flavor I can’t quite place…maybe sourdough cracker. The yeasty nose falls between a Dubbel and a Hefeweizen, and it’s well hopped. Might be my favorite saison but so hoppy it’s almost a different style. 7.5% ABU, 35 IBU

fire_UJglassUnion Jack IPA

This is piney on nose and palette, with some citrus coming in. Fills the glass with amber and and a frothy off-white head. The resiny hops rush in on the nose with a toffee tone and a faint earthiness. It gives a creamy mouthfeel, almost foamy, with a surge of hops followed by mellow malt with even more intense piney, citrusy hops on the long finish. It beautifully laces the glass on the way down.

fire_2014DJ_22oz_bottleDouble Jack Double IPA

Yields a nice sand-colored head, 3/4″, over a pale red-gold. Nose starts moderately hopped, citrusy, and builds in power, some floral, some pine, and more citrus. Palette very hopped, but surprisingly smooth and balanced. There’s something almost chewy about it. The triple dry hopping shows throughout, I think. The finish is quite bitter but the various hops flash by and mingle. This has been one of my favorites for a long time.

After the tasting, I hit the taps for . . .

fire_Sucaba-bottle-box-2014§ucaba Barrel Aged Barley Wine

Similar profile to the Double DBA, in fact a very similar profile, with more dark fruit and more bourbon. It gives strong bourbon and oak up front with dark malt underneath. Strong coconut arrives on the palette, along with chocolate and oaky vanilla, and that dark fruit I mentioned. Lovely long caramel coconut finish. Be wary, though, it can knock you on your ass at 13.5% ABV and 42 IBU.

Pivo Pils

Back at home, I had a pint of Pivo Pils. It pours clear gold and builds nice foamy lace. As I’ve noticed before, it’s very dry with a nice malt nose and a hint of yeast. There’s a slight grassiness. It shows more hops than most pilsners and even a little pine. It’s a quiet finish but a long one centered on hops but slightly sweet.

Images courtesy of Firestone Walker Brewing
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One thought on “Lions & Bears & Brewing, Oh My!

  1. John E.

    The Double DBA sounds really interesting; too bad it was discontinued.

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