The biggest news in the beer world over the last few months has been the partnership agreements between some of the world’s large brewing conglomerates and a couple of the highest volume independent brewers in the US. These agreements are always met with mixed emotions by vocal beer lovers. While the idea of expanded production and distribution are great, there are always a few people who accuse the smaller brewer of selling out and vow to stop buying their product. Fortunately these people are a very small minority, I don’t think breweries like Boulevard, Goose Island and Blue Point are hurting for business because they no longer fit into the established definition of “craft beer”. One very interesting deal is the agreement between Duvel and Firestone Walker that was announced in July. Duvel purchased a portion of Firestone Walker as an investment partner, Firestone Walker is still free to run their business and brew their beers as they see fit. I am guessing that Duvel will use some of their distribution power to help expand the Firestone Walker blueprint (probably in Europe), and Firestone Walker will use some of the cash to help expand production. I am all for this deal, especially if it means expanded production/distribution of some of Firestone Walker’s rare/barrel aged beers. One of the beers that you’ll probably start to see everywhere is Wookey Jack, Firestone Walker’s black rye IPA. Wookey Jack is brewed with a diverse malt profile including rye, wheat and de-bittered black malts and then hopped with Magnum, Citra and Amarillo hops. It is available year-round on draft and in 12 oz. and 22 oz. bottles.
Firestone Walker Wookey Jack pours a deep brown with a solid tan head. The scent is mostly fruity New World hops along with a little roasted barley. The hops lead the flavor, notes of lemon, grapefruit, mango and pine along with a soft but noticeable bitterness. The dark malts are also well represented, touches of milk chocolate, coffee and toffee along with just a little spicy rye. The beer is medium bodied and goes down smooth, but packs a surprising punch at 8.3% ABV. The finish is crisp with a bit of lingering hop and roasted malt flavors. I usually don’t care for the use of fruity hops in black IPAs, I think the pine/grass/earthy hop flavors are usually a better complement to the dark malts, but this beer is really good. Regardless of who is involved in their finances, Firestone Walker knows how to make great beer and this is a stellar example. Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5.
Previous Firestone Walker Reviews: