Firestone Walker’s Barrelworks is turning up the volume with Violet Underground—a cross-Atlantic wild beer made with California golden raspberries and French candied violet petals, all fermented with native yeast shared by England’s Wild Beer Company.
Violet Underground will begin rolling out this week to all Firestone Walker markets in limited draft and 375-ml bottle formats. It is the second of four bottled Barrelworks wild ale releases slated for 2019.
“Violet Underground is an intentional head trip,” said Barrelworks’ Master Blender Jim Crooks. “It’s golden in color yet smells like raspberries, offering a bunch of unexpected sensory notes that all come together in the glass.”
The story behind Violet Underground begins in Somerset County, England, where Crooks’ friend Brett Ellis—co-founder and brewer at The Wild Beer Co.—packaged up a stash of his native wild ale yeast and shipped it to Barrelworks.
“Somerset is renowned for its apple orchards and ciders, and this yeast gives you a sense of that with this distinct cidery quality,” Crooks said.
Violet Underground is ultimately a blend of two base beers—one fermented with the golden raspberries using native Barrelworks yeasts, and another fermented with the Wild Beer Co. yeast. Both batches were aged in French oak barrels from six to 12 months. The candied violet petals were added to six barrels, and finally all of the batches were merged to create the final blend.
“A little goes a long way with the violet petals,” Crooks said. “They add this interesting botanical note to the aroma.”
The result is an improbable wild ale with pronounced raspberry aromas, lively cidery flavors and a suggestion of botanical confection, all converging into a dry, mouthwatering finish.
Firestone Walker Brewing Company is a pioneering regional craft brewery founded in 1996 and located on the coast of California. Firestone Walker’s main brewery in Paso Robles produces a diverse portfolio ranging from iconic pale ales to vintage barrel-aged beers. The Barrelworks facility in Buellton makes eccentric wild ales, while the Propagator pilot brewhouse in Venice specializes in R&D beers and limited local offerings.