Firestone Walker continues to churn out creative barrel-aged brews from its venerable Vintage Series with two particularly unique releases dropping earlier this summer: Mezca-Limón and Tequila Barrel Sunrise. These “cocktail beers” are designed for warm weather sipping and meant to evoke classic flavors of Mezcalita and Tequila Sunrise, respectively. As of this writing, we’re still in the dog days of summer, and these both sound pretty refreshing. Let’s check them out!
Firestone Walker Mezca-Limón – For Mezca-Limón, Firestone brewed a specialty base beer with agave, chili peppers, flaked corn, and sea salt and then aged it in a variety of different mezcal barrels, along with a smaller portion in orange bitters barrels, all of which was blended together and finished with freshly zested lime. The beer pours a ruddy copper color with minimal head. There’s ample citrus in the aroma with lime peel and a bit of spiced orange. The agave is noticeable, more sweet like the syrup than earthy or smoky like Mezcal, although there are subtle, salty smoke notes hiding underneath. The palate shows a lot of complexity with plenty of cocktail elements: honeyed, agave sweetness, salt rim, squeeze of lime, and some bitters for good measure, all in perfect balance. The corn comes through roasted and sweet, while the Mezcal barrel-aging offers a diverse set of secondary notes, ranging from floral to savory. The ale base gives it more body than your average cocktail, amplifying the flavors and somehow tying them all together. Refreshing, unique, and dangerously drinkable. Proof that Firestone Walker has mastered more than just whiskey barrel-aged beers. 13.5% abv. A / $11 per 12 oz bottle
Firestone Walker Tequila Barrel Sunrise – The foundation for this beer is a tequila barrel-aged Helldorado blonde barleywine. Firestone has applied this kind of aging to Helldorado before (a small amount went into the XXIII Anniversary blend), but for this particular release, the barrels were from rarer Extra Anejo expressions. Added to this was beer aged in a mix of cherry and orange bitters barrels, all of which was infused with orange zest and hibiscus. Tequila Barrel Sunrise pours a rich gold color with a reddish, coppery tint. It’s slightly hazy at first pour with a generous head that dissipates slowly. Aside from a slight, vegetal sweetness, the aroma doesn’t show much agave. It’s crisp, dominated by flowery hibiscus and dried and heavily spiced orange peel. The palate shows a considerably malty foundation from the barleywine, accented by pulpy citrus that is a dead ringer for the OJ in a Tequila Sunrise. The tropical flower component makes for a bit of an odd contrast, however, leaving a peculiar, but still refreshing, oolong tea note lingering into the finish, which otherwise showcases a bit of tequila-tinged salinity and bright, green hints of lime zest. 11% abv. B+ / $11 per 12 oz bottle