Paso Robles, California – Firestone Walker today unveiled “XXVI”—the latest edition of its storied Anniversary Ale, blended once again with the help of local winemakers.
“We’re talking about a ‘who’s who’ of Paso Robles winemakers,” said Brewmaster Matt Brynildson. “We’re fortunate to call them our neighbors and friends, and they never disappoint when it comes to our annual blending session.”
The result this year is XXVI—a masterwork of flavor and complexity, blended from six distinct ales aged in bourbon and brandy barrels, marking the brewery’s 26th anniversary.
“This latest Anniversary Ale is just super delicious and refined,” Brynildson said. “It’s driven by two barrel-aged stouts, but it’s much more than that. It has this perfect balancing point with a lot of spirits barrel character, and there’s an underlying freshness that elevates the mouthfeel.”
XXVI is rolling out now in limited quantities to all Firestone Walker markets, and is available at each brewery location and online at FirestoneBeer.com for a limited time.
An Annual Rite
Firestone Walker’s collaboration with local winemakers dates back to 2006, when Brynildson was tasked with creating the inaugural Anniversary Ale to mark the brewery’s 10th anniversary year.
“It’s a tall order to blend all of these distinct beers into a harmonious whole,” Brynildson said. “That’s why we bring in the winemakers—they are practicing experts in the art of blending.”
This year’s blending session marked the 17th occasion of this annual summer rite. As always, the winemakers broke into teams to create their own candidate blends from a variety of barrel-aged components. “We offered up a perfect spectrum of beers to choose from: a light and a heavy stout, an imperial brown ale, a golden ale and two styles of barley wines,” Brynildson said.
Next, the winemakers and brewers blind tasted all of the candidate blends, then voted as a group to crown the winner that would become XXVI.
XXVI: The Final Blend
“It was nice to have our classic Bravo brown ale back in the mix as a complement to our Parabola and Velvet Merkin stouts,” Brynildson said. “Heavy Things contributed a subtle dimension of brandy barrel character. Finally, Helldorado and Wheat Wine added a splash of freshness to the beer.”
Parabola – Aged in Bourbon Barrels (32%)
Russian Imperial Stout
Velvet Merkin – Aged in Bourbon Barrels (32%)
Bravo – Aged in Bourbon Barrels (24%)
Imperial Brown Ale
Heavy Things – Aged in Brandy Barrels (6%)
Barley Wine Made in Collaboration with The Bruery
Helldorado – Aged in Bourbon Barrels (4%)
Blonde Barley Wine
Wheat Wine – Aged in Bourbon Barrels (2%)
Strong Golden Barley Wine Co-Fermented with White Wine Grape Juice
Valia From and Emily Miller – Desparada Wines
Russell From – Herman Story Wines
Along with Danny “Fullpint” Becker – Editor-in-Chief, TheFullpint.com
This team created the winning blend that became “XXVI”
Jordan Fiorentini and Kyle Gingras – Epoch Estate Wines
Matt Trevisan and Ryan Merryweather – Linne Calodo
Sherman Thacher – Thacher Winery
Steve Martell – Kaleidos
Bastien Leduc – Seven Oxen
Scott Hawley – Torrin Wine
Phil LaMontagne – TH Estate Wines
Pete Turrone and Cameron Silzer – Booker Wines
From outside the wine world
Brad Clark – Private Press Brewing
Greg and Jarrett Koran – Brewmaster’s Collective Club Members
Anthony and Patrick Patterson – Brewmaster’s Collective Club Members
Family joining the fun