Saturday, April 20, 2013

Bell vs. Firestone Walker

The brewery: Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
Location: Paso Robles, California
The main men: Adam Firestone and David Walker
Products of theirs you might know: Union Jack, Double Jack, Wookey Jack
What's that on the label: A lion and a bear, each looking like they're ready to fight, along with a couple of barrels on their sides 

What I Like 

The class of the beer industry 
Firestone Walker's branding and packaging are elegant and portray a mark of distinction and class. Sure, you can't judge a book by its cover. Once you crack one of their beers open and taste, you'll realize that their look goes along with what they are offering. These beers, while quite drinkable, make you want to savor them, much like a fine wine. Makes sense, since the owners have roots in the wine industry and the brwery is situated right in California wine country. If you want to blow away your wine-loving friends who are open to trying beer, bring some Firestone Walker to the party. 

Double Jack and Wookey Jack, two of my favorites and world class offerings, are relatively easy to find 
Pretty much all of my local stores that offer a decent craft beer selection carry one or both of these beers. Shelf life is another issue, addressed below as a dislike, but as far as availability goes for these beers, I have no complaints. 

Nice pricing in my area 
Twenty-two ounce bottles of Double Jack and Wookey Jack can be had for $6.99 or $7.99, and Walker's Reserve Porter can be had for $5.99. This bottle format can generally be pricey, for some reason, relative to standard four and six packs. For these three beers, relative to what other breweries are offering in terms of product and price in this format, the price is right.

More positives: Every beer of theirs I've tried I've really enjoyed. Nice glassware. 

What I Dislike 
Not enough variety of their products in my area 
On a regular basis, it's pretty much Union Jack, Double Jack, Wookey Jack, and Walker's Reserve Porter, with some irregulars such as §ucaba, Double DBA, and 16th Anniversary showing up recently. With the four regulars, that's a pretty good lineup, sure, but I'd like to see regulars DBA and Pale 31 and seasonals Solace and Velvet Merlin on the shelves. 

Parabola, their highly regarded Russian Imperial Stout, is impossible to find where I live 
I can appreciate a well regarded beer that's a limited release and disappears quickly, but it drives me to distraction that all efforts to find this beer at retailers have come to naught. Local retailers will post on Facebook that they have some available on a first come first serve basis, and a short time later their supply will be gone

Bottles that have been sitting on the shelf way too long 
Ok, this is likely not their fault, but it seems to be a consistent problem with beers from this brewery so I thought I'd bring it up. I've found Double Jack that was three and four months old and Wookey Jack that was almost six months old. These are two of my favorite beers--unfortunately, in these instances, their shelf life had me looking for alternatives. Also, Double DBA recently popped up at a local store, but the date on the bottle made it close to nine months old (probably ok for this beer, since it's ABV is high and it's packaged in a cardboard, but I'm still reticent to purchase beer known to have been around that long).

More negatives: More on available variety--where's a regular stout?

No comments:

Post a Comment