Since founding our brewery in 1996, we have specialized in the rare art of brewing beer in oak barrels. In the fall of 2006, we released a limited edition oak-aged strong ale called 10 to commemorate our 10th anniversary. The experience was greater than any one of us could have ever imagined. We now present XXI, our 12th release in what has become an annual Anniversary Ale. At 21 years old, our brewery is finally drinking age!
The Vision Behind Our Barrel Aging and Blending Program Is Still the Same!
The Goal: To create complexity centering on oak, in a multitude of forms, by brewing high gravity beers in complementary styles, aging them in different barrel formats and then blending them together to achieve harmonious new flavors.
The Barrels: The individual lots were aged in oak barrels that once contained Bourbon or Rum. The barrels are selected from only the best spirit producers. Each barrel lends its own unique influence on the final blend.
The Puzzle: To blend these various components to create a synergistic whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. This is done with the help of a few of our neighboring Paso Robles winemakers who are practicing experts in the art of blending.
The Blending Session: The Anniversary Ale blending session is an annual rite at the brewery. As always, our winemaker friends broke into teams, and a spirited competition ensued to create the winning blend, which you know hold in your hands.
42% of final blend
Velvet Merkin (8.5% ABV) Aged in Bourbon barrels
Traditional Oatmeal Stout
OG=15+P FG=5.5 IBU=32.5 Color=Black / 15% Oats / Hopped with 100% US grown Willamette
18% of final blend
Parabola (13.1% ABV) Aged in New Oak and Bourbon Barrels
Russian Imperial Oatmeal Stout
OG=30P FG=7.5P IBU=80 Color=Black / Hopped with Magnum, Styrian Golding and Hallertau Tradition
17% of final blend
Stickee Monkee (12.5% ABV) Aged in Bourbon and Brandy Barrels
Central Coast Quad
OG=27P FG=6.5P IBU=45 Color=Deep Brown / Brewed with Belgian Candi Sugar and Mexican Turbinado (Brown) sugar
14% of final blend
Bravo (13.5% ABV) Aged in Bourbon Barrels
Imperial Brown Ale
OG=26.5 FG=3.0 IBU=35 Color=Deep Brown / Hopped with Columbus and Tettnanger
9% of final blend
Helldorado (13.5% ABV) Aged in Rum Barrels
Blonde Barley Wine
OG=15P FG=5.5 IBU=32.5 Color=Deep Gold / Hopped with CTZ and East Kent Goldings
Distinguished winemakers who came together for the 2017 blend:
Anthony Yount – Denner Vineyards (Winning Blend)
Jordan Fiorentini & Kyle Gingras – Epoch Estate Wines (Winning Blend)
Fintan Du Fresne & Mike Callahan – Chamisal Vineyards
Vailia Esh & Riley Hubbard – Desparada Wines
Molly Lonborg & Kevin Sass – Halter Ranch
Russell From and Gio Grandinetti – Herman Story
Steve Martell – Kaleidos Wine
Mark Adams – Ledge Vineyards
Matt Trevisan & Meghan Ball – Linne Calodo
Justin Smith – Saxum Vineyards
Bastien Leduc – Seven Oxen Estate Wines
Neil Collins and Chelsea Franchi – Tablas Creek Vineyard
Terry and Natalie Hoage –TH Estate Wines
Sherman Thacher & Daniel Callan – Thacher Winery
Scott Hawley & Quinn Hubbard – Torrin Wine
Jordan Collins & Chris Cherry – Villa Creek
Arie Litman –Bread maker and friend
Bobby Fox – Friend
Jamie Bogner – Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine
A Note from Brewmaster Matt Brynildson
XXI marks the first year that our Anniversary beer will be packaged in small format bottles. We chose to move our entire Vintage Reserve series of beers into smaller bottles for two very good reasons. The first is that it allows us to share a precious small volume of beer with more people. The second is that you can open this bottle and not worry about collecting a group of folks in order to properly enjoy the contents. It always seemed counter-intuitive to put our biggest, most flavorful and rarest beers in the largest bottle. 2017 will also go down as a year that many of our coworkers welcomed new members into their families at home. We had a bumper crop of babies arrive to the FW Clan this year! The craft beer community is alive, well and multiplying, my friends. Please come, bring your family and visit us so that you can experience our growing brewery first-hand and meet the folks who make the magic happen. Beer always tastes best at the source!
The XXI blending session was the very best yet, with more winemakers participating than any previous year. There were a lot of great blends put together, but when the final votes were counted it was Epoch Estate winemakers Jordan Fiorentini and Kyle Gingras, along with Denner Vineyard’s talented Anthony Yount, who walked away with the crowns. It was a true honor to have so many accomplished winemakers gather at the brewery to continue this great tradition!
This year’s Anniversary beer is a magical blend of five components. Chocolatey, mild Velvet Merkin takes the lead setting the stage full of lush malt and barrel driven texture, yet tempered alcohol strength. The rest of the components fall perfectly in line, backing Velvet Merkin up with luscious caramel complexity and a creamy malt symphony. The final component adds a new twist – the rum barrel-soaked and lean Helldorado makes its Anniversary debut, bringing a fresh splash of island-spice to a ridiculously balanced barrel-aged brew. This is one of those times that the whole truly equals more than the sum of its parts. I couldn’t be happier with the result.
This beer is unfiltered and unfined, so there will be a small amount of sediment in the bottom of the bottle. XXI is best enjoyed poured carefully into a half-filled brandy snifter or wine glass. Allow it to warm to 55F to fully enjoy the pleasing and complex aromas. As the beer sits and breathes in the glass the true complexity of this blend is revealed, so take your time. If you wait to open your bottle later, store it in a cool dark place. Like our other Anniversary offerings, this beer will age well and change favorably for years to come. It was an absolute pleasure in the making and I truly hope you enjoy our 12th oak-aged blend! The journey continues.
This beer is dedicated to all of the new mothers and fathers within the FW Family and to their little ones who are our future.