I grew up in a restaurant family in Minnesota and began working in the brewing industry while I was an undergraduate student pursuing medicine at Kalamazoo College in Michigan. I took a part-time position working for Kalamazoo Spice Extraction Company (KALSEC) and was fortuitously placed in their hops laboratory working under some amazing hop scientists, German Brewmaster Rudy Held and owner Paul Todd. Around that time, I began homebrewing, a hobby that soon became an absolute obsession. I ended up permanently delaying my plan to attend medical school and stayed on working full-time for KASEC after graduation.
At that same time, a very progressive brewer by the name of Larry Bell was growing his small artisanal Bell’s Brewing Company in Kalamazoo. Being exposed to Larry’s inventive beers, working in a brewing lab, and homebrewing in the early 1990s turned out to be a perfect recipe for entering the craft brewing industry. I attended the Siebel Institute of Brewing Technology in 1995 and soon after, accepted a position as an entry-level brewer for John and Greg Hall at Goose Island Beer Company in Chicago. I rose through the ranks and became the head brewer under Greg who mentored me in the art and science of brewing at a professional level. It was truly an amazing time and place to get into the craft brewing business. I stayed on with Goose Island until early 2000 when I was offered the opportunity to move to the central coast of California where I am currently Brewmaster for Firestone Walker Brewing Company.
Hear about Firestone Walker from their brewing staff.
Our brewery’s founders, Adam Firestone and David Walker, have been in the wine growing business for over 35 years. Drawing upon their roots in winemaking, they started Firestone Walker in 1996 with the idea of brewing barrel-fermented ales for a regional audience. The brewery also draws heavily from English brewing tradition and is the only brewery in the country to utilize an oak barrel fermentation union. We ferment our beer in 65-gallon, medium toast American oak barrels. This allows us to infuse a unique oak flavor into our beers. The results are especially apparent in our flagship Double Barrel Ale, an English Pale Ale with an American oak twist.
I feel our brewery is a great example of Old World tradition fused with New World creativity and technology. We’ve built an amazing team of skilled and passionate brewers who create our magic every day. We work diligently on perfecting our craft and try to bring as much flavor and character as we can to our beers while still focusing on drinkability and balance. Our brewery and its beers have become a distinctive part of the fabric of our local community and we are honored to have gained such a following for our wares in a relatively short amount of time. We have been honored with a number of awards both at the national and international level confirming that we are brewing at a world-class level. We are a regional brewery with an intense commitment to our craft and our local community.
You can learn more about Firestone Walker Brewing Company.