Review: Firestone Walker Kentucky Mule and Gold Rider

Review: Firestone Walker Kentucky Mule and Gold Rider

The brewing brainiacs at Firestone Walker have gotten increasingly creative with their barrel-aged Proprietor’s Vintage Series in recent years. In addition to the tried-and-true classics like Parabola and Stickee Monkee, the brewery has launched several limited edition, cocktail-inspired brews. We covered one of the first of these, Old Man Hattan, back in 2019, as well as a pair of agave spirit-inspired ales just last fall. Today, we’re exploring two new editions; Kentucky Mule, which hit shelves in 2021, and a more recent release, Gold Rider.

First, some background from Firestone Walker on Kentucky Mule:

The journey of this beer began when we blended two equal lots of our signature Bravo brown ale and Helldorado blonde barley wine, both aged for 18 months in premium Kentucky bourbon barrels. We then infused this blend with hand-diced Fiji-grown ginger as well as fresh California lime zest and juice, perfectly accentuating the beer’s bourbon-inspired flavors of vanilla and maple syrup. The result is a true Moscow Mule-style sipping experience with a uniquely American twist.

And a bit about Gold Rider:

Inspired by the Sidecar Cocktail. The story of Gold Rider began when we brewed a base beer with an infusion of Central Coast white wine juice. After fermentation, we aged the beer in 500-liter French Cognac barrels for two years, with a separate portion matured in orange bitters barrels. Finally, we incorporated a touch of fresh-squeezed lemon juice to elevate the experience. The result is a distinctive barrel-aged beer whose ingredients and flavors faithfully mirror the experience of enjoying a classic Sidecar.

Let’s check them out!

Firestone Walker Kentucky Mule – This one pours a golden amber with a fluffy vanilla head that quickly dissipates. The aroma is mildly malty with more bright lime and sweet, candied ginger coming through. I detect a bit of green agave, as well, from the Helldorado base. On the palate, the blend of Bravo and barley wine has created a nice medium-bodied brew, with plenty of the residual sweetness from the barley wine and some of the darker caramel and toffee notes of the Bravo coming through. As with the aroma, the palate is dominated by those brighter elements. Notes of sweet lime juice and earthy ginger arrive from the get-go and linger into a finish accented by sweet malt and gingery spice. Refreshing stuff, if a bit heavy-handed with the zester. 13.5% abv. B+ / $11 per 12 oz bottle

Firestone Walker Gold Rider – Gold Rider pours a raw honey color with a minimal tan-hued head. Fruity from the outset, the aroma is bright and juicy with lemon zest, orange slices, and a raisiny sweetness. A bit of bitter herbs and subtle barrel notes, almost leathery at times, add a nice contrast. The palate is rich with a weight and texture not unlike a barleywine and a similarly intense flavor profile. Big, sweet notes of grape juice and fresh squeezed lemonade give way to a more mellow toffee sweetness, still accented by a bit of tart citrus. The finish is long with honeyed malt and lemon candies. Described as a “high-concept hybrid beer.” I’m not sure what that is. But this is pretty good. 11% abv. A- / $11 per 12 oz bottle

Firestone Walker Gold Rider




Drew Beard is assistant editor for Drinkhacker and winner of several booze-related merit badges, including Certified Specialist in Spirits and Executive Bourbon Steward. A former federal employee turned hotelier and spirits journalist, he looks forward to his next midlife crisis.

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