Brewer: Firestone Walker Brewing
Style: American Strong Ale
Firestone Walker's Proprietor's Vintage series is stacked with outstanding barrel-aged beers that could fill its own best barrel-aged beer list. The Anniversary beers are worthy of special recognition, even amongst this group. The Anniversary Ale capitalizes on the brewery's location, in the heart of California's wine country. Each year Firestone Walker invites a team of local winemakers to collaborate on the formulation of the Anniversary blend. The winemakers are paired off and given access to the full range of the brewery's barrels (2014's version was a blend of nine beers). Each team of two presents a sample blend to the team for a blind tasting, and the beer with the most votes becomes the basis for that year's Anniversary Ale. The flavor of the finished beer is different each year, but it's invariably dark, strong, and rich with vanilla flavor from the barrels.