Monday, August 31, 2015

Rambling Reviews 8.31.2015: The Fireman's Brews

These two firemen started Fireman's Brew
(photo from Fireman's Brew)
Fireman's Brew certainly has the feel good story. Back in 2000, two firemen stood exhausted on the Glendale Mountains in Southern California at midnight after putting out a brush fire looking into the night, wanting a cool beer to quench their thirst. They go on to create Fireman's Brew, a self described "craft brewery" with a portion of their profits going to the Fallen Firefighters Foundation, which support families of firefighters lost in the line of duty.

But look deeper and you'll find more corporate slant to the folksy tale. While the company is headquartered down in Los Angeles, the bottles read "Ukiah, CA" as the city where the beer was actually brewed.  So it figures the beer is brewed under contract at Mendocino Brewing's facility. Two years ago Fireman's hired industry veteran Don Lake, who's had stints at corporate brewing giants Anheuser-Busch, Coors, Labatt USA, and to run their North American Sales Force. Fireman's recently announced a private offering of up to 4 million shares of Common Stock, along with the declaration on their website of an "aggressive growth plans...focused on building Firemans Brew into a National Brand".

Apparently part of that "aggressive growth plan" is to provide beer samples to bloggers like me in hopes I'll write nice things about it. On that score, their investors should be happy as I'm here to say the beer of Firman's Brew tastes pretty good for the most part. The three bottle line-up of a Blonde (Pilsner), Redhead (Amber) and Brunette (Double Bock) is not wildly creative and nothing about any of these beers breaks new ground. None the less, Fireman's Brew has recently won awards with these beers and I can see why.
(Fireman's Brew product shot)

I enjoyed the Pilsner Blonde with its clean, sturdy, and slightly caramelized malt with a nice little spicy finish. Nothing fancy here, just a good Pilsner which is a highly underrated thing. It won Gold at the 2014 Los Angeles International Beer Competition.  Even better was the Redhead Amber, an unlikely malliard bomb with plenty of depth, running the roasty spectrum from light caramel to a barely noticeable ash. It's my favorite of the bunch and took Silver at the 2014 San Diego International Beer Festival.  Least successful of the three was the Brunette Double Bock.  It's got the malty and smooth thing down, but consisted of a bunch muddled roasty flavors without much depth and vibrance, resulting in a rather flabby beer. Someone must have liked it more than I did since it took Silver at the 2014 Los Angeles International Beer Competition.

With brewing's continual renaissance, some interesting animals can be found within our country's zoo of breweries.  Fireman's Brew is an interesting and often tasty animal.

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