Craft Beer Week Special: Firestone Walker at Northdown

May 26 2012 - 11:59 AM

Chicago Craft Beer Week closes tomorrow but there are still a few highlights left, one being Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout at The Map Room Sunday afternoon.  It’s going to be great, but will also be an absolute zoo, so I’m probably sitting that one out.  Also, an event that I won’t miss will be Firestone Walker at Northdown Cafe & Taproom, starting today at 3:00 p.m.

If you are not familiar, Firestone Walker is a superb brewer out of Paso Robles, California, and they brew an array of excellent everyday and specialty brews across the spectrum of beer styles.  They are an undeniable contender for best U.S. brewer, easily top 5.   Among other things, Northdown will be tapping the Double Jack double IPA, Parabola stout, a rare bourbon Parabola called, ahem, Velvet Merkin, and the Reserve Porter.

I expect a light-to-moderate crowd today, at least early on, with many beer lovers out of town for the weekend, at the beach, at their Dewey Lake, Michigan, houses destroying themselves on wave runners, and lounging at the barbecues, drinking brews, around town.  Bet your bottom dollar I’ll be grillside by day’s end but a stop at Northdown for Firestone Walker is a certainty.  Parabola is spectacular and rare.  When it revists Chicago shelves this year it will stock out immediately.  The bourbon-barreled version, VM – for some reason, I can’t bring myself to type that name again – is needless to say, a rarity.  Double Jack is as silky as a Double IPA gets, sitting at 9.5%.  That’s the beer equivalent of a Justin Verlander fastball, which sits at 95 – sits – and the explosion cannot be smoother.  Sits at 95.  Think about that.  Of course, there will be other FW offerings, too, including the sturdy, excellent Reserve Porter.  At my beer blog, I had this to say about it:

[A] tan foamy head, and a brown, nearly black, body lay underneath.  I detected little discernible material on the nose, maybe a bit of bitter chocolate and some charcoal, and possibly a hint of smoke.  These odors appeared more prominently as flavors, but not so much the smoke.  I found it earthy and grainy with bitter chocolate and a hint of pine from the hops.  It didn’t have the sweetness of Smuttynose Porter or the chocolate of Founders Porter but its flavor combination nicely distinguished itself.  The mouthfeel was moderate with strong carbonation that makes quaffing it a bit challenging.  It’s definitely a sipper.  Like all great porters, it’s robust and a bit rugged due to the roast, hops, and carbonation, all of which easily capture your attention; and it maintains it, with just enough sweetness and chocolate to make for a highly enjoyable drinking experience.

And that’s, perhaps, the “worst” of the beers on tap today, being the least rare.  Please stop in and enjoy some of the greatness of Firestone Walker.

Northdown Cafe and Taproom
3244 N. Lincoln Avenue
Chicago, IL