Collaboration No. 6 Barrel-Aged Blend Collaboration by Boulevard Brewing and Firestone Walker

15384523_10103789165219490_3032738358333533454_oRating: 7/7

Collaboration No. 6 Barrel-Aged Blend Collaboration by Boulevard Brewing and Firestone Walker is a 12.5% ABV American Strong Ale Cuvee of Barrel Aged Stouts and Belgian Quads.

Label:
Imperial Stout “X” Tart Cherry
Bourbon Barrel Quad
Stickee Monkee
and Velvet Merkin

For this sixth edition of our Collaboration Series, we invited Matt Brynildson, brew-master of our sister brewery Firestone Walker, to join Boulevard brewmaster Steven Pauwels in our barrel-aging cave. Armed only with their palates, some graduated cylinders, and a bunch of tulip glasses, they arrived at the perfect balance of two barrel aged beers from each brewery. The blend celebrates the individual characteristics of each of the four while creating something entirely new and unique.

COMMERCIAL DESCRIPTION
The Collaboration series is our way to bring shared beer ideas to life with some of our favorite brewery friends from around the world. This year, we bring you a specially blended, barrel-aged beer with the help of our sister brewery in California, Firestone Walker. With Collaboration No. 6, Brewmasters Steven Pauwels and Matt Brynildson have created a big, bold flavor combination by blending two Boulevard beers and two Firestone Walker Beers in the following percentages:

Boulevard Bourbon Barrel Quad – 45%
Based loosely on the Smokestack Series’ The Sixth Glass, this abbey-style quadrupel is separated into a number of oak bourbon barrels where it ages for varying lengths of time, some for up to three years. Cherries are added to make up for the “angel’s share” of beer lost during barrel aging. Selected barrels are then blended for optimum flavor. The resulting beer retains only very subtle cherry characteristics, with toffee and vanilla notes coming to the fore.
ABV – 11.8, IBU – 19

Firestone Walker Stickee Monkee – 35%
Brewed with Belgian candi sugar and aged in a selection of fine bourbon barrels, Stickee Monkee trailblazes its own category as a “Central Coast Quad.” The name Stickee Monkee is a nod to the Central Coast’s native Sticky Monkey flower, as well as a shout¬‐out to the Belgian monks who pioneered the Quad style. The Belgian candi sugar imparts a signature molasses sweetness to the beer. Meanwhile, maturation in bourbon casks brings ample barrel expression with notes of toasted oak, coconut, leather and cigar tobacco.
ABV – 13, IBU – 45

Imperial Stout X – Tart Cherry (Whiskey Barrel-aged) – 10%
Our special treat for lovers of big, complex stouts, the Imperial Stout “X” series offers a year-long roster of limited releases, each with a significant variation. This riff spotlights the addition of tart cherries to fermentation as well as a lactic souring on the brewhouse. The result is a perfect marriage of robust, smoky maltiness and bracing tartness. Unlike the release version of Imperial Stout X – Tart Cherry, this portion was briefly aged in previously used whiskey barrels.
ABV – 11, IBU – 64

Firestone Walker Velvet Merkin – 10% Velvet Merkin is the beer that almost wasn’t…Indeed, this vintage oatmeal stout’s comical (or is it scandalous?) name went off the grid for several years, but now it’s back due to popular demand. Velvet Merkin is aged for a full year in retired spirits barrels from Heaven Hill, Woodford Reserve and others, yet manages to offer mind-¬boggling balance and restraint. You will wig out when you taste Velvet Merkin’s rich milk chocolate, bourbon and espresso flavors, preceded by aromas of vanilla, coconut, toasted oak and mocha. ABV – 8.5, IBU – 33

==Introduction==

Just when I thought I’d never see something like this, I was really amazed. At first I saw it as a Boulevard and Firestone Walker collab but when I realized that it was a Cuvee of some of both breweries best beers, I realized that this was a must get. I have reviewed each of these beers in the past, except for the Tart Cherry Stout X but the other ones were definitely at that World Class tier beers. So being that Firestone Walker was involved, I knew this would of came up to possibly be one of the best and unique Cuvees. Now, we can only hope that this is the case, let’s have a sip, cheers!

Aromas:
Grilled Bananas, Banana Sunday, clove spice, fruit cake, wine grapes, cinnamon, pecan pie, hazelnut nectar, Rich Dark Cherries, Dark fruit, prunes, plums, figs, raspberries, currants, Dark chocolate, Milk Chocolate, Ferrero Rocher Chocolate, German Chocolate, Belgian Chocolate, Chocolate mousse, tobacco hints, molasses, stone fruits, Oatmeal Cookies, Oreo Cookies and Cream, graham cracker, Marshmallow smores and mocha.

Flavors:
Rich Dark Cherries, Dark fruit, prunes, plums, figs, raspberries, currants, bourbon, whiskey, brandy, oak, Belgian Candi sugar, rock candy, piloncillo sugar cone, maple syrup, waffle cones, vanilla, dulce de leche caramel, Grilled Bananas, Banana Sunday, clove spice, fruit cake, wine grapes, cinnamon, pecan pie, hazelnut nectar, rye bread with mixed berry preserves, Oatmeal Cookies, Oreo Cookies and Cream, graham cracker, Marshmallow smores, mocha, Flan, Sweetened condensed milk, tres leches cake, Dark chocolate, Milk Chocolate, Ferrero Rocher Chocolate, Belgian Chocolate cake, German Chocolate, Belgian Chocolate, Chocolate mousse, Cherry Chocolate cake, walnut pie, toasted coconut, Stone fruit peaches, leather and tobacco hints.

Aftertaste:
Finishes dark cherries, vanilla, dulce de leche, oatmeal cookies, dark fruits, stone fruits, dark chocolate, Belgian candi sugar, marshmallows, tobacco hints and rye. No alcohol in the taste. Dark Crimson Amber full body, smooth, creamy, velvety, chewy and syrupy mouthfeel and sipping drinkability.

Overall:
The Quad aspect takes over more than the stout blend but even that being the case, it does not change this from being a definite bucket lister in my mind. Having Firestone Walker who are experts at barrel aging and cuvee blending, this is no surprise that this came out the way it did. The complexity of the 2 Belgian Quads and the 2 Stouts collide into a super decadent dessert that really has taken things to another level. I highly recommend this one for those that are fans of these breweries, beers and styles! This is one for the masses!

Anime Corner:
Ryuko Matoi from Kill La Kill, Kos-mos from Xenosaga, Yoruichi Shihouin from Bleach and Temari Sabakuno from Naruto were chosen as I wanted to represent the 4 awesome beers blended in this special cuvee to 4 awesome characters. What a better way to pair than to pair with the most epic forms for my favorite 4 girls from anime. In this instance I used Ryuko as the Tart Cherry X Stout as the colors of cherry pair, KOS-MOS is the BBQuad since quads are holy ambrosia of gods and she is angelic, Yoruichi is the Velvet Merkin as she is deep, magical and mysterious and finally, Temari is the Stickee Monkee as she represents the colors of the actual flower that grows along the central coast.

 

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Firestone XX Twentieth Anniversary Ale by Firestone Walker

15384465_10103789156182600_7001657447950250330_oRating: 7/7

Firestone XX Twentieth Anniversary Ale by Firestone Walker is a 13.80% ABV World Class Strong Multi-liquor Barrel Aged Style Hybrid Blend Ale.

Description: (Please Click On The Strategy Guide/Letter From Firestone Walker and the Box)
15403827_10103789155943080_7901667826832349357_o 15385525_10103789155953060_5303814540254649810_o 15304091_10103789155978010_2519804774880756425_o
==Introduction==

The time has finally come for another review of some of the best World Class beers out there. Each year, I wait in anticipation for these releases. Many know Firestone Walker for being one of the best breweries when it comes to their barrel program and have maintained that status for many years. Their ability to brew barrel aged beers and create delicious Cuvees has been outstanding from release to release. They celebrate 20 years in business bringing many awesome beers like Double Barrel Ale, Double Jack, Parabola and Velvet Merlin just to name a few. Today I bring their anniversary beer to the site and it is with damn pleasure to see what this 20th year brings. Cheers to many more years!

Aromas:
Rocky road ice cream, almonds, walnuts, hazelnut nectar, rich marshmallows, chocolate smores, oatmeal cookies, oreo cookies and cream, flan, chocolate chip cookies, whiskey, brandy hints, dark fruit raisins, plums, figs, dark cherries, currants, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, prunes, dark chocolate, milk chocolate, Belgian Chocolate, German Chocolate, Chocolate milk shake, bananas, clove spice, honey comb, waffle cone, vanilla, dulce de leche caramel, bourbon, rich oak, toasted coconut, almond joy chocolate, Irish Cream coffee, Danish Cream cookies, capirotada raisin bread pudding and Chocolate Banana Sundae.

Flavors:
Dark fruit raisins, plums, figs, dark cherries, currants, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, prunes, dark chocolate, milk chocolate, Belgian Chocolate, German Chocolate, Chocolate milk shake, bananas, clove spice, honey comb, waffle cone, vanilla, dulce de leche caramel, bourbon, rich oak, toasted coconut, almond joy chocolate, rocky road ice cream, almonds, walnuts, hazelnut nectar, rich marshmallows, chocolate smores, oatmeal cookies, oreo cookies and cream, flan, chocolate chip cookies, whiskey, brandy hints, molasses, anise, leather, tobacco, sweetened condensed milk, port wine, Irish Cream coffee, Danish Cream cookies, capirotada raisin bread pudding, Chocolate Banana Sundae, cinnamon, coriander hints, stone fruit peaches, dragon fruit, passion fruit, pecan pie, hazelnut nectar and earthy hop notes.

Aftertaste:
Finishing with a grand variety of complex flavors ranging from dark chocolate, dark fruits, oak, marshmallow smores, rocky road ice cream, flan, fruit cake, bourbon, banana split, maple syrup, earthy hop notes and wine notes. No alcohol in the taste, crimson pitch black body, silky smooth, creamy, velvety, chewy and slightly syrupy mouthfeel with and easy to moderate drinkability despite the ABV.

Overall:
For being in the business 20 years, they got their stuff down and hands down, this is ridiculously delicious! They have Cuvee experts for years and even getting winemakers to assist with their creations to make something that is nothing but legendary. The best part about this beer and any of their other anniversary beers is that they have sold them to the public in many quantities for many to enjoy. Now it is your turn, seek this one as it is a must experience!
15384580_10103789156122720_2986642552389449490_o
Anime Corner:
Gainax and Trigger Studios Crossover characters were all used to represent all the flavors and all the beers used in this beer but in general all the years of blending awesome beers. Moreover, really for celebration in general. Some of the best characters in Anime are in this pairing.

Sources:
http://cdn30.us1.fansshare.com/image/mahoromatic/ogza-fanservice-1437649123.jpg
http://i.imgur.com/ywcJbAA.jpg

Firestone XVIII Anniversary Ale by Firestone Walker

10373717_10102208031509120_4150461538555173658_n 10802030_10102208031973190_4909364885338193070_nRating: 6/5

Firestone XVIII Anniversary Ale by Firestone Walker is a 13% ABV World Class Strong Multi-liquor Barrel Aged Style Hybrid Blend Ale.

Description: (Please Click On The Strategy Guide/Letter From Firestone Walker)
IMAG7335
38% Parabola (bourbon barrel aged Russiant imperial stout),
16% Helldorado (bourbon and brandy barrel aged blond barleywine),
16% Bravo (bourbon and brandy barrel aged brown ale),
14% Stickee Monkey (bourbon and brandy barrel aged quad),
5% Velvet Merkin (bourbon barrel aged oatmeal stout),
4% Hydra Cuvée (a blend too much of a mouthful to describe here),
3% Wookey Jack (black IPA),
2% Ol’ Leghorn (English barleywine, collaboration with Three Floyds, aged in fresh barrels),
2% Double Jack (Double IPA)

==Introduction==

It has been an awesome year for Firestone Walker beers and with the release of their 18th one, they add some new beers into their final blend. As with every year, this one comes with the strategy guide to basically see if you can figure out what’s what. While this is a difficult task, I try to write down as much as I can and see what new flavors this one is composed of versus the previous releases. It really does not matter sometimes as they have all beer exceptionally world class beers. Yes, don’t take my word for it, try it for yourself. Cheers!

Aromas:
Rich oak, vanilla, flan, bourbon, maple syrup, dark chocolate, milk chocolate, bakers chocolate, Belgium chocolate, German chocolate, ferrero rocher chocolate, toasted coconut, almond joy, dulce de leche caramel, rocky road ice cream, marshmallow smores, oreo cookies, cookies and cream, oatmeal cookies, cookie dough, cocada coconut candy, pilloncillo sugar cone, choco flan, dark fruits like currants, raisins, prunes, raspberry, cherries, currants, blackberries, capirotada raisin bread pudding, anise, molasses, brownies, brown sugar, bananas, clove spice hints, mocha, tres leches/three milks cake, dragon fruit, tangerine, pineapple hints and more!

Flavors:
Very strong oak barrel forward character, rich vanilla, bourbon, toasted coconut, almond joy, dulce de leche caramel, rocky road ice cream, marshmallow smores, dark chocolate, milk chocolate, bakers chocolate, Belgium chocolate, German chocolate, ferrero rocher chocolate, pralines, cookies and cream, oreo cookies, oatmeal cookies, cookie dough, flan, cinnamon hints, brown sugar, hazelnut, macademia nuts, cocada coconut candy, piloncillo sugar cone, dragon fruit, mango hints, pineapple hints, sweetened condensed milk, port wine, maple syrup, dark fruit currants, raisins, prunes, raspberry, cherries, currants, blackberries, capirotada raisin bread pudding, anise, molasses, brownies, brown sugar, bananas, clove spice hints, leather, tobacco, waffle cone, peaches and cream, pecan pie, candi sugars, rock candy, choco flan, espresso, mocha, toffee, tres leches/three milks cake, tangerine and more!

Aftertaste:
Port wine, dark chocolate, maple syrup, dark fruits, rocky road ice cream, oatmeal and oreo cookies, oak, vanilla, coconut, mango, chocolate chips and marshmallow smores with earthy hop notes finish at the end. No alcohol in the taste, Smooth and silky mouthfeel, dangerously easy to drink but should be handled as a sipper and crimson yet pitch black body.

Overall:
Exceptionally great. Each release more awesome than the last. I really think this one is the best one by far. If aged, it will will definitely do wonders I am sure. This one seems to have richer flavors which I am sure were due to the addition of the Three Floyds collab and the Hydra Cuvee as well as the Stickee Monkee, Velvet Merkin and Parabola. This beer is insane and it will only get more insane as time goes on. If you can still find this goodie, definitely get it. It is one of the best!

Anime Corner:
Asuka Langley/Shikinami Sohrty, Rei Ayanami, Haruko Haruhara, and many others from Neon Genesis Evangelion and Fooly Cooly (FLCL) were used in this pairing to represent some of the blends represented by this beer. It is something I have done in the past with this series of Anniversary beers. This was a great pic because not only does it show case the colors of potential ingredients used but also how each flavor tries to out do the other. Also, Haruko was used in a previous Three Floyds collaboration this year (Rue D’Floyd) which represented her wacky aspect as “Not Normal”. The addition of Firestone and Three Floyd’s collab beer into this one made it so she can be in this pairing as well. What a bad ass!. Also, Asuka and Rei have been seen in pairings like Firestone’s Double Jack so they are definitely in the right pairing here too.

Sources:
http://articleimage.nicoblomaga.jp/image/64/2013/f/f/ffd9f7487115ef5bb2d6b22dedcca9f69c75e5641373178280.jpg
http://www.zerochan.net/full/39691

Firestone XVII Anniversary Ale by Firestone Walker

1477982_10101531821254890_1963810206_n 1472989_10101531821145110_108429905_n 1470280_10101531821185030_808038373_n 579314_10101531821195010_287334108_nRating: 5.79/5* (Just like last years version, more difficult to explain. Strategy guide included)

Firestone XVII Anniversary Ale by Firestone Walker is a 13.3% ABV Strong Multi-liquor Barrel Aged Style Hybrid Blend Ale

Description: 
“We blended together 220 oak barrels and seven different beers creating something truly complex and exceptional.” – Brewmaster Matt Brynildson
Bravo / Aged in Bourbon and Brandy Barrels / 30% of Final Blend
-Imperial Brown Ale

Sticky Monkey / Aged in Bourbon and Whiskey Barrels / 25% of Final Blend
-English Barley Wine Brewed with Mexican Turbinado (brown) Sugar

Velvet Merkin / Aged in Bourbon Barrels / 15% of Final Blend
-Traditional Oatmeal Stout

Parabola / Aged in Bourbon Barrels / 15% of Final Blend
-Russian Imperial Oatmeal Stout

Double DBA / Aged in retired Firestone Union Barrels / 8% of Final Blend
-Double strength English Pale Ale

Helldorado / Aged in Bourbon and Brandy Barrels / 4% of Final Blend
-Blonde Barley Wine Brewed with Buckwheat Honey

Wookey Jack / 100% Stainless Steel / 3% of Final Blend
-Black Rye India Pale Ale

XVII ABV: 13.3%
___

This year’s batch is very special using. The strategy guide is even longer since they had winemakers assist with the project to get the right types of blends in constructing this beer. Holy shit is all I can say about the information of how much work and effort it took to make this. 

Aromas:
Chocolate, bourbon, vanilla, brandy, port wine notes, dark cherry, raspberry, coconut, oak, caramel, toffee, oatmeal raisin chocolate chip cookies, banana notes, marshmallow, rocky road ice cream, Mexican piloncillo, pecans, hazelnut, raisin bread chocolate pudding, flan, bourbon, rich brandy, candied apples, smoked wood, hint of tropics but very small and other complex fragrances. Crazy part is that it kept changing as the beer got warmer. 

Flavors:
Big Vanilla, toasted coconut, almond joy, toffee, caramel, dark chocolate, espresso, Barley wine, rye bread, flan, hazelnut, pecan pie whiskey, brandy, bourbon, chocolate, rich chocolate chip cookies on rocky road ice cream with cherries, strawberries, hazelnut, ferro rocher chocolate, pecan pie, special oak wood, oatmeal, maple, peach notes, pear, anise, mint, rich rye bread, butterscotch, brown sugar, marshmallows, tropical notes as it got warmer, and lots of other complex flavors. Damn, I ran out of lives, gonna have to start at the last save point.

Aftertaste:
Finishing off with like nice chocolate, port wine, maple syrupy notes, dark fruit oatmeal chocolate chips, marshmallows and oaky vanilla. Boozy notes here an there but everything plays well with the flavors

Overall:
Every year much more complex, much more exceptional. Does it beat out it’s predecessor XVI? Well, yes and no. By that I mean, let is age for a while. You see, the early XVI did not but damn, XVI 1 year later was doing complex virtuoso rock solos around my palette. Do not let that fool you though finding the complexities is difficult even if you have Tequila added like when XVI had PNC, “holy shit nice” is what I was tasting. Parabola by itself wins over all of them only because of the extra chocolate push into into the 6/5 range for extra credit for me. XVII was able to get super close to XVI 1 year later and actually beat the younger age one especially because of the Velvet Merkin complexities to have a hug back up. Magic maybe the bloodstream of the universe like Merkin is the bloodstream of this powerhouse beer. Longer strategy guide and all, this beer still kicking your ass .

Anime Corner:
Yui Takamura from the series Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipe is used in this pairing to show the hard work and dedication that was used to make this beer. Also, the colors of her armor are close to the colors of the beer label and box. Along with her companions, they represent the selections of individual beers that were selected in order to bring this beer blend into fruition. The colors may also be used to represent the dark fruit flavors, brandy, bourbon, chocolate and others. The Strength of the alcohol and the hard work are also represented by the Bushido code she follows as a samurai.

Proprietor’s Reserve Series No. 001 Velvet Merkin by Firestone Walker

994600_10101439809452280_289346014_n 1383987_10101439809497190_924111021_nRating: 5.2/5

Proprietor’s Reserve Series No. 001 Velvet Merkin by Firestone Walker is a 8.6% ABV World Class Oatmeal Stout aged in Bourbon Barrels

Label: 
Velvet Merkin is the beer that almost wasn’t; at least in name… After all, it’s not your style to conceive monikers that are confounding scandalous or comical. But in this instance, we inadvertently achieved all three of these things with “Velvet Merkin.” And so the name went off the grid for several years, but now it’s back due to popular demand. If we get asked we’ll say it’s all your fault.

Once in the glass, however, Velvet Merkin is dead serious – The 2013 vintage outpaces its predecessors. Aged for a gull year in seasoned Bourbon Barrels, this decadent oatmeal stout holds your nose hostage with chocolate and vanilla-bourbon aromas. Rich flavors of dark chocolate truffle, Bourbon and espresso ultimately yield a beer that is dangerously smooth and increadibly drinkable. 

Velvet Merkin is one-of-a-kind sipping stout that is built to last, and that will reward careful aging for years to come. Hoarding tendencies may occur. 
___

One of the last bottles I was able to get at Ramirez Liquor stores in Boyle Heights California near down town Los Angeles, this is a coveted beer and a first time bottle release for Firestone Walker. There many stores online that are still carrying this and will ship it to you. Get this one before it is gone for good. While you wait, read this review and let me know what you think of the beer once you get a chance to try it.

Aromas are of oatmeal cookies, oreo cookies, dark chocolate, bakers chocolate, milk chocolate, marshmallows, vanilla, bourbon, graham crackers, caramel, mocha, espresso, roasted barley, oak, hazelnut and ferrero rocher chocolates

The flavors are awesome! Dark chocolate, bakers chocolate, milk chocolate, mocha, oreo and oatmeal cookies, vanilla, caramel, bourbon, marshmallows, rocher chocolate notes, espresso coffee, oak, hazelnut, pecans, cookies and cream and coconut.

The aftertaste leaves with some flavors of vanilla, bourbon, oak, oatmeal, chocolate and. Hidden alcohol and the drinkability is easy to moderate but it goes down very smooth

Overall, this is an awesome beer exceeding a few points of expectation and note. If you love cookies and cream and oatmeal, you will like this one. Not to mention the fact that it is very smooth and close to easy drinking for an 8.5. An outstanding example that a beer need to be over the 10% ABV range to bring about some of the best flavors out there. Simply put, a must get and extraordinarily delicious. Release the Merkin unto thy palate for its magic, the bloodstream of the universe, will take you to some really sweet places.