When one of the most prominent breweries in the business started a bottle society during the pandemic, we put our feelers on high alert. Excited by the promise that Firestone Walker’s Brewmaster’s Collective beer club gave to churn out incredibly innovative, small-batch offerings, we kept our eyes on this brewery membership.

Two years later, we’ve seen Firestone Walker go above and beyond to curate experimental creations and a VIP-level experience for its members.

“It took us 25 years to launch our first beer club, and now we can’t imagine life without it,” says Brewmaster Matt Brynildson. “It is not only enabling us to create some really interesting beers—it’s also fostering a deeper personal connection with our most passionate fans.”

Now entering its third year, Firestone Walker’s Brewmaster’s Collective has an incredible lineup ready to roll out.

And we got an exclusive inside look.

What Exactly Is the Firestone Walker Brewmaster’s Collective?

firestone walker brewmaster collective matt brynildson and eric ponce
Firestone Walker Brewmaster, Matt Brynildson (left), and Barrel-Aging Production Manager, Eric Ponce (right) develop the recipes for the Brewmaster’s Collective | Photography courtesy of Firestone Walker Brewing Company

This bottle society is kind of exactly what it sounds like.

Over the course of twelve months, members receive a collection of beers developed from the ingenious minds of both Brewmaster Brynildson and Barrel-Aging Production Manager Eric Ponce.

“It’s a platform for us to give them these extra creative beers we can’t do on a larger scale because of the ingredients, accessibility to specialty barrels, or other limitations,” says Micaela Yeo, Firestone Walker’s Club & Speciality Brands Manager.

Ponce continues, “Everything we make…draws off our history, personal experiences, flavors I’ve tasted in food and cocktails and incorporating all that in these small-batch fun releases for the club.”

In other words: In this beer club, you’re getting little gifts from the brewmasters’ diabolically creative minds.

What Beers Are Included in the 2023 Brewmaster’s Collective?

firestone walker brewmasters collective collective choice #2
Everyone who signs up for the Brewmaster’s Collective gets a welcome kit with Collective Choice Batch #2, a blended ale with maple syrup, Tahitian vanilla, and hazelnut aged in bourbon and chocolate bitters barrels | Photography courtesy of Firestone Walker Brewing Company

Look, we can spew all the hyperbole we want about these beers, but it’s probably easier for us to just give you a sneak peek.

In 2023, the Brewmaster’s Collective starts with a welcome kit that includes one Collective Choice Batch #2 blended ale with maple syrup and Tahitian vanilla and hazelnut aged in bourbon barrels and chocolate bitters barrels.

Quite a doozy to kick things off.

From there, over the course of the year, folks can expect four full collections with five beers a piece, sixteen of which are club exclusives.

Plus, new to the club this year: You’ll also get four drops from Firestone Walker’s Propagator R&D Brewhouse.

“The biggest change from last year is we’re adding in some small-batch Propagator releases for club members only,” says Yeo. “It’s the first time we’re releasing something that’s not barrel-aged, so that’s a fun new edition.”

Beers like Pale 31, the iconic California pale ale that Firestone Walker will be bringing back into circulation just for the Brewmaster’s Collective. “It’s one of those beers people are always screaming for,” says Yeo.

Plus, Firestone Walker is throwing in a few more collabs including ones with WeldWerks and Side Project.

“Bringing in our friends from other breweries, feeding off one another’s energy, and getting us out of our comfort zone has been a blast,” says Yeo. “We have some big things on the list.”

Because of course, Firestone Walker started as an all-barrel-fermented brewery, the barrel-aged beauties are where this bottle society truly shines.

The Brewmaster’s Collective Four Collections: Barrel Aging at Its Very Best

firestone walker brewmasters collective side project collab bruery collab sucaba parabajava becahwood collab
Photography courtesy of Firestone Walker Brewing Company

This wouldn’t be an incredible collection of barrel-aged beers without someone behind the scenes doing an incredible job of sourcing.

“Eric is known for finding the most expensive ingredients,” laughs Micaela.

For example, Ponce shared with us that a double DBA dubbed D(DB)2A will take a nap in second-treatment twenty-nine-year-old Evan Williams Blue bourbon barrels. “You see these barrels come in and at twenty-nine years old they way they look on the outside, it’s a beautiful thing to see the age on them,” says Ponce. “When they arrive at the brewery, we open them up and they’re still glistening wet inside with some very unique put-goosebumps-on-my-arms spirits that will make this beer stand out.”

And Parabaloid, a version of the brewery’s famous Russian imperial stout Parabola will get to rest in a combination of twenty-year-old Elijah Craig Barrels and what’s called finishing barrels, when American oak barrels get toasted to different levels and then injected with six- or eight- or ten-year-old spirits and finished with those aged spirits inside for anywhere between three to nine months.

Actually, the day we spoke to Ponce, he said after our call he was heading over to do some benchtop blending trials, experimenting to see how much new toasted Parabola aged in those finishing barrels he would blend with the Parabola aged in the regular twenty-year-old Elijah Craig Barrels.

All in all, I think it’s safe to say, “We’ve been able to source some of the rarest and most unique spirit barrels,” says Ponce with a little smile.

Like for Firestone Walker’s Apple Jack, an apple hybrid aged in apple, cherry, and peach brandy barrels.

One day, Ponce got a call from an apple spirit producer emptying a unique barrel of twelve- to fourteen-year-old Apple Jack, a type of apple brandy.

The opportunity was too good to pass up.

“What can we put in them?” Ponce thought.

Residing in the Central Coast of California, within a two-hour radius of citrus groves and apple orchards, Ponce thought a recipe based on local fruit would be the way to go. “I took the company box truck, drove up to a third-generation apple grower, pressed apples all day long, got 500 gallons of freshly pressed apple juice, and drove back down here,” says Ponce.

Here actually being The Propagator, in Venice, CA.

Together he and Sam Tierney, brewer at The Propagator, brewed a beverage with a 60/40 blend of grain to apple juice. Then added it to the apple brandy spirit barrels. 🤯

“It’s so fun, so unique, so different,” says Ponce. “Not a big stout, it just has the flavor profile of a cider/beer hybrid in pretty unique spirit barrels.”

It’s experiments like this one that pepper the Brewmaster’s Collective.

And we’ve only just scratched the surface.

You can also expect a XXVII Anniversary blended barrel-aged ale, Stickee Something Central Coast Quad, and countless more.

To view all four collections in full, head here.

What Else Do I Get Besides Beer?

firestone walker brewmasters collective matt brynildson
Firestone Walker Brewmaster’s Collective | Photography courtesy of Firestone Walker Brewing Company

So glad you asked, because it’s a lot. In addition to the beer, Brewermaster’s Collective members get some pretty nifty benefits.

The welcome kit includes not only the Collective Choice Batch #2, but also a membership card, Brewmaster’s glass, and dice set.

With each collection released, Firestone Walker will pair it with a merch item, whether that’s a specialty glass of Brynildson’s choosing or something that goes well with the curation.

For example, Yeo says, last year they added a chocolate pairing with each beer in their anniversary collection. And they’ve even done cheese and jerky in the past, too. “This isn’t your normal beer giveaway,” she says. “We’re very intentional with these items.”

Additionally, before the release of every collection, Firestone Walker will host an on-site tasting for club members. This is an “opportunity to dive deeper into the beers in that collection,” says Yeo. “With the membership we are trying to get a deeper personal connection with our club members.”

And the brewery will roll the red carpet out even further, offering tickets to private members-only events. Last year, that included a Lions Den dinner, where about seventy people joined Firestone Walker in their exclusive barrel room for a tasting and dinner. “It was such a joy to get all those people in there and excited to listen to all of David Walker & Eric’s stories,” says Yeo.

To that end, club members will also have the chance to actually vote on the adjuncts Firestone Walker uses in one of the Brewmaster Collective beers.

Beyond that, perks include:

  • Fifteen percent off all Firestone Walker purchases (including beer, merchandise, and dining)
  • VIP taproom access, including waitlist priority
  • Access to earlier Brewmaster’s Collective releases
  • Free tours of the main brewery in Paso Robles for up to four guests
  • Complimentary shipping on online orders over $40 for California members
  • Lottery for a chance to purchase tickets to the 2023 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest

How Can I Join Right Now!?

firestone walker brewmasters collective eric ponce
Photography courtesy of Firestone Walker

If all these beers (and exclusive events and perks) sound like something you want to get your hands on, then this is the part where you really need to pay attention.

The Firestone Walker Brewmaster’s Collective will open for enrollment today at Firestonebeer.com and run through December 31, 2022, or until capacity is reached.

Don’t miss out on the Firestone Walker Brewmaster’s Collective this year.

Or you might regret it for the next 365 days.