Firestone Walker Brewing Co. has been around since 1996 pumping out big brews and winning awards, however, none of those beers were in the sour category.

That all changed in 2012 when almost one hundred miles south of the main brewery in Buellton, Calif. a new dedicated wild ale only facility opened its doors. This glimmering space was christened Barrelworks and houses a dizzying array of stacked oak barrels, puncheons and foeders.

Feral One is described as “a blend of our best efforts, from hand-selected well-aged barrels.” This particular bottle is from batch number two and the exact blend consists of:

  • 43 percent Agrestic, a wild red ale
  • 43 percent Vintage Solace, a wild wheat ale
  • 14 percent Lil’ Opal, a brett’d saison.

All of the beers used were aged for between 16-48 months on oak. The ABV comes in at 6.7 percent, which, oddly, matches the value given for total acidity at 6.7g/L.

The pour shows a somewhat dark orange body with virtually no head save for a wisp of foam thin as hair round the edge. Clarity is somewhat lacking with a slight haze showing throughout the glass. Aroma is earthy barnyard upfront with a supporting cast of lemon zest and sweet vanilla. Sourness seems somewhat subdued in the nose focusing more on sweet malt and oak.

The taste smacks me out of the sweetness lull with a quick hit of lactic acid leading into a dry straw or hay-like malt character. It has a bit of vanilla and oak tannin on the finish, which combines with an astringency and dryness that ends up being a bit harsh. Despite not having any head the carbonation is at the upper end of the spectrum.

Firestone Walker Barrelworks Feral One (2015)
BREWERY: Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
LOCATION: Buellton, Calif.
STYLE: American Sour Ale
ABV: 6.7 percent
IBU: n/a
PRICE: $14.99
RELEASE DATE: Feb. 14, 2015
AVAILABLE IN: 375ml bottles
BEERS POURED: One
Overall, Feral One is a decent basic American sour ale; almost dark enough to be a sour red ale. It's got a good aroma and carbonation level, but some harshness in the finish detracts from the experience. Brettanomyces and oak are the prominent players.
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