Paso Robles, CA – Firestone Walker is rolling out two new barrel-aged cocktail beers from its storied Vintage Series program this month—Tequila Barrel Sunrise and Mezca-limón, both of which go to great lengths to evoke their namesake drinks.
“We chased down a bunch of rare barrels, got crazy with the ingredients and pulled out all of the stops to mimic the experience of drinking a Tequila Sunrise or a Mezcalita,” said Barrel Program Manager Eric Ponce. “It’s hard not to smile when drinking these two beers.”
The 2021 vintages of Tequila Barrel Sunrise and Mezca-limón are rolling out to all Firestone Walker markets this month in individually boxed 12-ounce bottles.
The seeds of Mezca-limón were planted many years ago, when a friend from Mexico introduced Ponce to the wonders of the Mezcalita cocktail. “Making a Mezcalita-inspired beer had been in the back of my mind ever since,” Ponce said.
And so it was a dream come true when Ponce managed to procure barrels from an array of Oaxaca-based mezcal producers. In total, he acquired 80 barrels from 10 different producers. “There was an array of flavors coming off these barrels, some more earthy, some sweeter, some with minerality,” Ponce said.
Echoing the traditional Mezcalita recipe, a specialty base beer was brewed with agave, chile peppers, flaked corn and sea salt. It was then mainly aged in the mezcal barrels with a portion matured in orange bitters barrels, all finished with a touch of freshly zested lime. The result is flavorful beer that offers an authentic Mezcalita sipping experience.
“While Mezcal can be made with many different agave varieties, the agave heart is always roasted and often buried underground on coals, producing a smokey, peaty, earthy character. The heat also caramelizes the agave syrup, providing so much aroma and flavor along with the maturation time in oak. I still consider us lucky to have gotten these barrels.”
Tequila Barrel Sunrise is a spirited riff on the classic Tequila Sunrise cocktail. The journey of this beer began when Ponce aged Firestone Walker’s signature Helldorado blonde barleywine in Extra Añejo tequila barrels, then blended it with small lots matured in hard-to-get cherry and orange bitters barrels.
Next, Ponce infused this blend with orange zest and hibiscus—all to deliver the color, flavors and vibe one would expect from a beer with this name.
Ponce, an avowed cocktail enthusiast, enjoys the experience of both creating and drinking these beers. “A lot goes into making them,” he said. “They’re serious beers, but they’re ultimately made to go down easy like your favorite cocktail.”
“This beer really showcases what the fruited bitters barrels can deliver – deep, wood-aged spirits meet flavors of grenadine and classic bitters,” Brewmaster Matt Brynildson says of this latest creation. “I even get the maraschino cherry and candied orange garnish dropped in the glass.”
About Firestone Walker
Founded by brothers-in-law Adam Firestone and David Walker in 1996, Firestone Walker Brewing Company is a California beer company with three innovative brewing facilities. Firestone Walker’s main brewery in Paso Robles produces a diverse portfolio ranging from iconic pale ales to vintage barrel-aged beers. The Barrelworks facility in Buellton makes eccentric wild ales, while the Propagator pilot brewhouse in Venice specializes in R&D beers and limited local offerings. Firestone Walker is also the brewery behind 805, one of the nation’s fastest-growing beers. Firestone Walker was recently named “Best American Brewery of the Decade” by Paste Magazine.
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