@firestonewalker Feral One, a mad decent foray into wild ale standardized testing

Since David Walker no doubt printed out yesterday’s review and distributed it as a company memo to all FW employees, I figured it would be fitting to ramp up the hype for the upcoming Firestone Invitational with some more central coast reviews.

Feral one, firestone Walker, Paso Robles, where beer is a second class citizen to viticulture

American wild ale, 6.7% abv

Feral One was the first bottled releases to roll out of Barrelworks and it was received with a not insubstantial degree of fanfare when batch 1 was released, but is it worthy of your precious Fedex dollars and mouth contemplation? The response is decidedly ambivalent because there is much to love, but also an index of forgettability to it.

The pour cascades out with beautiful carb and a ruddy amber and deep orange hue that leaves little lacing or webbing on the glass. At the outset it appears nonstandard in the darker SRM than the typical “phoned-in sour blonde” that we have seen ad infinitum from less inspired brewers.


The nose is cut tangerines, clementines, construction paper, orange zest, and touch of musky yearbook. It has a panache akin to sour in the rye and Brettanomite, not deficient, but leans heavily on the Brett L profile. If you have ever made a wild ale with the standard Brett trois strain you know this through and through, but that’s world’s better than retreading the lacto bombs that so many lazy breweries are embracing to push Ph levels downward.

The taste isn’t exceedingly acrimonious and has a gentle degree of gravity to the mouthfeel, never over drying but also leaving things in the 1.00000xxx FG realm. There are notes of pluot, nectarines, kumquat and touch of bready grist to the swallow akin to challah almost. It is intensely drinkable and never asks you to pull over at the next offramp because it needs to pee, like seriously again Feral One with the restroom breaks, what the fuck feral one. 

 Take the word wild ale out of your vocabulary 
The whole experience is pleasant albeit a touch uninspired. I am not saying they should have been indolent mash paddlers and tossed predicable ass peaches into this, but it leaves one without remark, which is ultimately a softer hue of unremarkable. It is hard to fault them because their barrel program is top notch and this fails to exhibit any real shortcomings, but it also fails to demonstrate anything earth-shattering either. Three years ago this would have compelled heads to turn, but the market is saturated with pretty good wild ales on the shelf and this shoulders ranks with the other very good offerings.

Maybe it didn’t set out to be the next Mimosa or Cable Car Kriek, and that is fine, it is in the end a very tasty wild ale without noteworthy flaws. That should be enough for most consumers if they don’t have sand dollar nipples and a pension for perpetual grumbling about fermented water.

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