Brewery Special: Firestone Walker

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Welcome to the first ever Brewery Special at The No Seatbelt Blog! In lieu of simply reviewing one specially designated beer this week, I will present the details of my visit to Firestone Walker in Los Angeles. With my friends Chris and Jack, I went to the brewery, which also had a restaurant attached to it, for some pre-movie eats and brews.

There was no time for a tour of the facility, but that was not an upset. Frankly, brewery tours have begun to bore me these days – if you’ve seen one vat, grain miller, or bottling line, you’ve really seen them all. I prefer to just get to the tasting.

What’s obviously fantastic about drinking beer at a brewery is that it’s as close as you can possibly get to the source. Beer never tastes better than when it was just brewed in the next room over. We sat down in the restaurant, known as “The Propagator,” and started deciding on the brews. An order of sriracha jerk chicken wings was ordered to get us thirsty, and then the sweet nectar of life flowed.

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My first choice was the Bretta Weisse, a German-style wheat beer that had a great citrusy tartness. I’ve been thoroughly into sour, tart beers this summer, so this one jumped off the menu at me, and it did not disappoint. A refreshing beer for the warmer months (which is every month in Southern California), and with a low ABV of 4.9%, you can easily enjoy a few of these. The beer poured a dark amber color, like many other bretts and sours.

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My second choice was the Opal, a dry-hopped farmhouse saison that was well-balanced and satisfying. Between the wheat, Belgian yeast, spice, hoppiness, and citrus and tropical fruits, the flavor spectrum on this one was expansive. Brightly colored but opaque, the Opal had a significant head and considerable lacing left behind, and the look of it hints at its full and exciting character.

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My intake was limited to just two due to time constraints and my desire to be sober for the viewing of the first Predator movie at the Arclight, but the next time I’m in Los Angeles, I will undoubtedly return for more. Before this trip, I’d had very little experience with Firestone Walker, aside from a couple of their anniversary editions and the Union Jack, the IPA I had in a local New Jersey bar that horrified me and made me wonder why I ever liked IPAs in the first place. However, my choices at the brewery impressed me and restored my faith in the brand.

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The trip to Firestone Walker was one of the many highlights of my second vacation in Southern California. Great beer, great food (try the fish tacos!) and a quiet atmosphere in which you can actually have a conversation with your dinner mate. Get on your horse and go if you’re in the neighborhood.

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