Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Firestone Walker Brewing Co

Firestone Union System
Firestone Walker, located in Paso Robles, CA was definitely one of the highlites of my trip to Northern California. We stopped in first at the Brewery Tasting Room, had a few tasters then went on a brewery tour. We were impressed how knowledgeable all the staff were in about beer. Each time they handed us a taster, they would tell us a description of the beer, such as how it was brewed and what characteristics were in the beer. Our tour guide was probably the most knowledgeable about beer and of course the brewing process. Firestone clearly has an excellent training program which includes ongoing training for their servers. The employees are given triangle tests at least weekly to see if they can pick out the one different beer, to help ensure quality of the product and improve their tasting repertoire.

Firestone uses their version of the Burton Union system for fermenting, which they call the Firestone Union. The Burton Union system is described as follows by Brew Your Own (original article located here):
Me - with the Firestone Union System
Traditionally, a union system (later referred to as a Burton Union after becoming linked to its use in the Burton area) is a network of several wooden casks and troughs interconnected via copper plumbing. All of the casks work in union during fermentation, commingling their beer and yeast. As the beer ferments, pressure pushes some liquid up into long troughs above the casks (like blowoff in a homebrew setup), where the yeast settles out of suspension and the remaining volume of beer trickles back into the casks. This allows for easy harvesting of yeast — essentially a form of top cropping — for immediate reuse. It also minimizes the loss of beer through blowoff.
The Firestone Union system is different, in that it is simply a stack of oak barrels that are not interconnected and are used only for secondary fermentation (conditioning), not primary fermentation (except for one beer - Double Barrel Ale - DBA, which goes through primary and secondary fermentation). This system still creates a unique beer to Firestone which is some of the best beer in the world.

Looking down into the brewery from the brewhouse platform.


Mash Tun - raking the mash.

Boil kettle - wort is being recirculated through the top and sprayed out the top under the pan.

Kegging Line

My wife with the kegging line
Kegging Line


The brew house

Bottling Line


More Fermentors!

Firestone Walker Tap Room

Enjoying a Porter at the adjoining Firestone Walker Restaurant.

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