Review: Firestone Walker Brewmaster’s Collective, Fall 2023 Releases

Review: Firestone Walker Brewmaster’s Collective, Fall 2023 Releases

Calling all Firestone Walker fans and barrel-aged beer lovers too busy to do their own shopping. Enrollment for Firestone Walker’s beer club, the Brewmaster’s Collective, is live until the end of the month (apologies for the late notice). The deets:

Open enrollment in the 2024 Brewmaster’s Collective begins now at and ends on December 31, 2023 or until capacity is reached.

“The focus of the 2024 season is diving deeper than ever into our mastery of barrel-aged beers that push the envelope of aroma and flavor,” said Brewmaster Matt Brynildson. “The club has become a powerful point of creativity, collaboration and connection with our most passionate fans. Bottom line, if you’re into barrel-aged beers, you’re going to love what we have in store for you.”

The 2024 Brewmaster’s Collective beers will land in quarterly curated collections that include custom merchandise and pairing experiences. The annual prepaid membership cost is just $399 plus tax and shipping (or $425 in installments) with optional pickup available at Firestone Walker’s locations in Paso Robles, Buellton and Venice.

Now entering its fourth year, the Brewmaster’s Collective has become a fixture of creativity, collaboration and innovation at Firestone Walker, providing members with access to the brewery’s most artisanal small-batch creations.

We received the fall shipment for the 2023 collection, which included three limited release beers and two more that are exclusive only to club members. To help wash it all down, there was also a selection of cookies from Brown Butter Cookie Co. We already reviewed one of the included limited releases, another rock-solid anniversary ale. Read on for thoughts on the rest.

Firestone Walker Apple Jack Flash – Made from freshly pressed apple juice combined with English barleywine before fermentation and matured in Applejack barrels for 12 months. The beer pours a hazy, raw honey hue with a light, tan head that dissolves quickly. The aroma isn’t as much applesauce as you might expect with plenty of barley sugar and buttery Chardonnay-esque notes balancing aromas of baked and candied apple. As it warms in the glass, more cinnamon toast and dark caramel notes emerge. The palate is clean and round, if a bit monotone, with gentle flavors of apple butter and vanilla cream. The finish is short and a bit thin with apple sauce notes and a lingering bit of pie spice. An easy fall sipper, but at this abv, I expected a bit more flavor. 12% abv. B+ / $13

Firestone Walker Balaton Bones – Part of Firestone’s “bones” series, this beer is a riff on the original Krieky Bones, a Flanders-style Kriek beer made with fresh cherries. This “bones” started life as an oak-aged Saison before a secondary fermentation with cherries from Michigan’s King Orchards and a final seven weeks of barrel aging. The beer pours a hue more cranberry juice than cherry with a healthy carbonation that quickly dissipates. The nose showcases a nice mix of fresh, effervescent stone fruit notes and bready, saison funk. The palate is more dominated by fruit, however, alternating between cherry juice and sour, wine-inspired dark berries. There’s still a bit of doughiness in the foundation and the tartness is well-balanced, allowing some of the sweeter, creamier barrel-aged notes to emerge on the finish before dissolving into a mix of sour cherry and SweetTarts. 6.3% abv. B+ / $10

Firestone Walker Rip This Joint – An imperial stout brewed in collaboration with Side Project Brewing and only available to Brewmaster’s Collective members. True to its name, this high octane brew was made with an unspecified variety of specialty malts and aged for a whopping 18 months in Henry McKenna bourbon barrels. And it might be the darkest stout I’ve ever seen, pouring like actual motor oil, color and texture, into the glass and leaving behind only a thin and equally dark, hot chocolate-colored head. The aroma is intense. Not exactly boozy, although there’s plenty of that here, but concentrated in a way I’ve seldom encountered in a bourbon barrel-aged stout. Deep notes of dark chocolate macaroons, gooey brownies, and warm fudge practically ooze out of the glass. As intense as it all is, the sweetness isn’t overpowering, with notes of ginger and molasses offering some nice contrast. On the palate, the intensity continues with a boldly sugary entry, almost extra sweet black tea, that transitions to cocoa nibs, baking chocolate, and raisin. The midpalate turns to cold brew coffee, well-sweetened of course, before a finish of sticky vanilla bean, grape jelly, and dark chocolate Raisinettes. Maybe the most in-your-face beer I’ve had yet from Firestone. Definitely a fun after-dinner sipper, but best to share the bottle with a friend or two. 13.9% abv. A- / $13

Firestone Walker Between Two Grahams – Another beer exclusive to the Brewmaster’s Collective, this imperial stout is made from a base of Parabola and Velvet Merkin that sees “recirculation” through cocoa nibs, vanilla beans, and cinnamon sticks. It pours an appropriately dark chocolate color with a light, cocoa head that lingers and leaves a healthy lacing in the glass. The nose is a dead ringer for s’mores made with fancy graham crackers showcasing lots of warm, baked cinnamon, vanilla and chocolate notes that are convincingly melted and toasted. On the palate, this dessert stout sings with a silky mix of marshmallow and gently bitter dark chocolate astride roasted malts and vanilla cream. Despite having a sugary campfire treat as its loadstar, the sweetness is all up front, dissolving slowly into drier cocoa and malt across the sip until an easy, lightly sweet finish of cinnamon toast, licorice, and vanilla shortbread. Join that club, folks. 11.5% abv. A / $11

Firestone Walker Apple Jack Flash




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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