Breakfast at 8: “Are there any egg bagels?” says I, Greg Nagels. I’ve been waiting my entire life to unleash that line of hilarity on a water/sleep deprived crowd. “You should start a youtube channel called ‘Egg Bagels with Greg Nagels like ‘Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis'” says Kip Barnes . Ten minutes later I find myself next to David Walker as I chomp down on a lightly toasted blueberry bagel with moderate schmear. “So, you like bagels?” I ask awkwardly. “Not really”, he says walking away, arms folded. Best first episode ever. I slurp my hot coffee and act cool.
10:30 A.M. we arrive at Firestone Walker’s production brewery in Paso Robles. It’s bright and sunny as birds chirp near the bus. Hop steam bellows out of the brewery tower sending all the hoppy grape nutty smells to my nose. Despite the early morning beer sweats, I feel revived.
“Welcome to sensory analysis” says Norm Stokes from their quality team. Analyzing my beer senses after a heavy night? I’d say my blistered tongue and histamines from debauchery twelve hours prior will have their way with any real analysis. My palate is shot to the point I can’t make out what the first beer is. “Is this DBA? It’s either got a woody note from barrels or repeatedly smacking my tongue with a barrel stave last night” I moan to my table. I’ve done blind tasting before but never with a blindfold on my tongue (well, maybe there was that one time in UCI’s dorms).
A flight of five beers and a flavor wheel before me. Beer one opens up like a lid of Parkay margarine and says “butter”. You’ve probably heard a neckbearded beer geek say the word “diacetyl” while snapping their fingers and head from side to side; but until you’ve had a beer spiked with it, you haven’t lived. It reminds me of making out in a movie theatre with a drunk chick in the worst way possible. Subsequent samples are just as gross; DMS being the worst. Dimethyl sulfide in this beer tastes somewhat like sour milk aged in a urine-soaked diaper, in a black car, in a parking lot, without trees, on a hot day, in Bakersfield, outside Wal-Mart. Fuck.
The second panel of oxidized Union Jack is not much better. Beer served at 3, 30 and 300 days at room temp and refrigerated. The oldest/warmest sample tastes like cardboard that once carried asparagus, then a gene-positive asparagus pee odor vagrant ate some asparagus and then peed on the remaining box. All of the essential hop aromas and flavors drop out like a teenage pregnancy. The old one even has a haze like a pregnancy test; two lines of fog = abort down drain, pronto.
Although we all should know by now IPA’s are best served fresh, Firestone Walker’s beers are date stamped and good for 120 days, and best by 30 in my sampling. Moral of the story: Don’t hate, Check the date…Refrigerate, sucka.
This is part two of four from a recent beer-junket up to visit Firestone Walker Brewing Co. with the @LABeerBloggers group. Bus/Food and some beer was provided courtesy FW.