Founded in 1996, Firestone Walker Brewing Co. has been brewing Double Barrel Ale (DBA) for 22 years now. Take that, 805, not to mention Union Jack IPA and the Luponic Distortion IPA series.
But DBA is akin to Chuck Cunningham, Richie’s older brother on Happy Days — only instead of being written off the show after the first season, Chuck, er, DBA, has been enjoying its off-screen time in its own backyard: Central California.
In late May, brewery founders and brothers-in-law Adam Firestone and David Walker hoisted pints of the unfiltered version of DBA (ostensibly livelier and more flavorful) with Hitching Post II owner Frank Ostini. The wine-centric Buellton restaurant is a tiny distance from Firestone Walker’s original production facility. So Ostini gracefully gave the upstart beer maker the resto’s first tap, which remains his solitary draft beer.
The British-style ale exemplifies balance between a kiss of earthy, herbal hops and toffee maltiness. In other words, it is completely not a beer for these times. It proffers neither de rigueur Southern Hemisphere hops nor experimental designer varietals. And most alarming: It is completely transparent, devoid of the opacity that marks today’s hyped IPAs. Having said that, I would wager that no more than one percent of such sought-after releases will even be in production 22 years hence.
This beer is a survivor, and a near-perfect tasty one.