Thursday, April 14, 2011

Firestone Walker at Monk's

I'd been hearing a lot about the Firestone Walker brewery and so I was really excited that Origlio was going to start distributing them here in Philly.  It has been available in parts of New Jersey for a while but now I'll be able to find it on draft in the city which will be nice.  To celebrate the arrival, some brewery employees (including the owner) were making their way around the town and a lot of bars were having events.  I decided that Monk's Cafe would be the easiest place to check out some of the new beers and so headed there on Monday for their event.

I arrived a bit too early (partially so I'd get a seat although it turned out to be unnecessary) and so none of the Firestone Walker stuff was on draft yet.  To pass the time, I bought a bottle of Hitachino Commemorative Ale.  Plus, Monk's was donating all of their sales of Hitachino that day to the relief effort in Japan so it's like I was donating to charity.
This is labeled as an Eisbock and the base beer seemed to be some sort of spiced white ale.  Smelled of bananas, wheat, and some slight spice.  Started mild like a white ale but opened up after a while and caramel with a little vanilla and a bit of alcohol began to appear.  Even though it's an eisbock, its ABV was only 8% so the alcohol was never too apparent.  Sort of tasted like a very strong white ale really.  Decent enough.

After that, though, the Firestone Walker stuff was finally available.  I started with the Abacus, a bourbon barrel barleywine.
Oh man.  This smelled fantastic.  So fantastic.  Tons of vanilla and chocolate with some bourbon.  Really, it smelled so awesome.  First sip was super complex.  Some licorice, chocolate, vanilla and then a whole lot of really pleasant bourbon flavors without the bourbon heat.  As I drank more, the bourbon was the major flavor with some dark fruit, some vanilla and some chocolate appearing randomly.  Since there wasn't any heat from the bourbon, just flavor, it was so freaking delicious.  I don't even really like bourbon, this was just so well made that those flavors just added to everything else.  I liked Abacus so much I was still thinking about how awesome it was later that night.  Probably one of the top 5 beers I've ever had.

Finishing up I had a glass of their Walker's Reserve, a porter (that may or not be barrel aged, I'm not sure.)  The picture I took was terrible, so no picture.  Smelled of roast and not much else.  Tons of dark fruit followed by a bit of roast, some chocolate and some bitterness.  I don't know much about this one so not sure about the source of the flavors, but it was decent enough.  I'll admit it was hard to tell after the awesomeness of Abacus though.

Very excited to have Firestone Walker in the Philadelphia area.  Abacus was absolutely killer and I've heard their barrel aged Imperial Stout, Parabola, is even better.  Monk's was monk's, nothing much to say about it.  I'm probably hitting up Jose Pistola's for their Firestone Walker lunch on Friday so look for some comments on the Double Jack and maybe a better picture of Abacus.  Also, it's possible Abacus may not be called Abacus some time soon because of trademark issues, but I'm not sure if that will happen this year.  Just realize it's their barrel aged barleywine and you'll be able to find it.  And you should look for it.  So freaking good.

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