Firestone Walker Co-Founders David Walker and Adam Firestone started this now-venerable brewery in a shed on a family vineyard in the middle of California wine country in 1996.
Originally only focusing on barrel-fermented beers, Firestone Walker over the last twenty-six years has morphed into one of the most revered breweries in America.
Because they've constantly blazed their own trail.
For instance, in 2000 the brewery released Firestone Lager, a craft lager way ahead of its time. Or in 2012, Firestone Walker Brewmaster Matt Brynildson basically brought the Italian pilsner to America with Pivo Pils. And of course, who can forget when Firestone Walker launched one of the most iconic American IPAs—Union Jack. Followed by the brewery's first foray into hazies—Mind Haze—that in just a few short years has become the brewery's number-two best-selling beer.
Oh, and we haven't even mentioned DBA, where "the hopes and dreams of our brewery lives in this beer," says Walker in the episode. And Hopnosis, the brewery's revolutionary beer featuring Cryo Hops, or the entire Luponic Distortion series, which is a masterclass in hops.
All in all, Firestone Walker has earned its place in the American craft beer hall of fame. And one of the architects behind it all, David Walker, joins Drinking Socially podcast hosts Harrison Hickok and Kyle Roderick to chat about Firestone Walker's new innovations, their growing focus on sustainability, and the constant pursuit of the perfect beer.
We're about to make some of you IPA drinkers very hoppy.
Created with you in mind, the "Super Style: IPA-Imperial" badge is our newest Untappd badge available only to Untappd Insiders.
Celebrated for its robust, powerful hop profile, double/imperial IPAs are like the big boozy brothers of the ever-popular IPA.
The Brewer's Association defines an imperial IPA as an IPA with color that is straw to medium amber, with a fresh hop aroma and flavors ranging from ﬂoral and piney to citrus-y and fruity. With a high, but not aggressive bitterness, double IPAs have become one of the most popular beer styles around the world.
Released at various points throughout the year, these special edition badges are only available to Untappd Insiders! Based on Untappd's most checked-in beer styles of 2021, we created badges to reflect our findings—giving you the chance to earn some "Super Style" flair.
As an Untappd Insider, you'll have the opportunity to earn these exclusive "Super Style" badges by checking in that style of beer during the time it's live. Plus, you'll also get access to a secret Untappd merch store, enjoy better statistics on the app, and more.
Want to unlock the newest "Super Style: IPA-Imperial" badge?
You're So Close!
You can only unlock this exclusive badge if you're an Untappd Insider!
To earn this badge: 1) BECOME AN UNTAPPD INSIDER, 2) Check in any one (1) beer categorized as IPA-Imperial beginning on September 22nd.
This past Saturday, Sept. 17th, 2022, marked the official start of the 187th Oktoberfest celebration. It's the first time since the global pandemic that the annual festival that attracts millions of visitors to Munich, Germany, to imbibe a very specific style of beer, returns in person.
And you can bet that there are toasts, aka prosts, and beer steins clinking aplenty.
But just because you might not be able to make it across the pond this year doesn't mean that you can't find a way to celebrate.
For our part, we wanted to recognize the holiday by releasing a new badge.
To earn the "Celebrate Oktoberfest (2022)" badge simply check-in any (1) beer with the style of märzen or festbier between September 17th until October 3.
What is a märzen or festbier? And what is the difference between the two styles you ask?
Well, that's a great question!
What Is the Difference between Märzens, Festbiers, and Even Oktoberfests?
The answer is a little complicated. In Germany, Oktoberfest means beers that are brewed specifically for the Oktoberfest event in Munich.
According to European Union regulations, only beers brewed by the big six Munich breweries can use the label "Oktoberfest" (much like real champagne can only technically come from the Champagne region of France). All other breweries must call their seasonal lagers Oktoberfest-style beer. But that hasn't stopped American brewers from using terms like Oktoberfest, märzen, and festbier pretty much interchangeably. To further confuse things, American breweries will often sell beers with punny variations such as Oaktoberfest, Octoberfest, etc.
Historically, the beers served at Oktoberfest can only come from the large breweries inside Munich's city limits including Augustinerbräu Münche (Augustiner), Hacker-Pschorr, Hofbräu, Löwenbräu, Paulaner, and Spaten-Franziskaner-Bräu (Spaten).
"Paulaner brewery is a real traditional Munich brewery and has always played a big part in the history of the city's culture," says Christian Dahncke, head brewmaster at Paulaner. "[So Oktoberfest] is an event dear to Paulaner's heart."
Since 1818, Paulaner has brewed its Oktoberfest Bier, but it actually didn't gain popularity at the annual celebration until much later.
Actually, during the first sixty or so years the darker Bavarian dunkel dominated. But by 1872 Spaten brewery introduced the more amber-hued märzen, which became the official beer of the fest. And in the mid 1960s Paulaner's golden-colored Oktoberfest Bier, considered a festbier, began to take over.
Today, Paulaner's Oktoberest Bier is the most-served beer at Oktoberfest in Munich. Although still slightly malty, these lighter-bodied festbiers are super drinkable and perfect for the two-week-long celebration.
But in the States, Oktoberfest is often used as a catchall encompassing märzens and festbiers. The märzens here in America typically feature Munich and Caramel malts for beers that tend to be redder, maltier, and slightly sweeter.
Basically, the Oktoberfest-style beers brewed in America are actually nothing like those made for the real Oktoberfest in Germany. Instead, they align more closely with the original styles served in the 1870s.
Here's how it breaks down:
Oktoberfest (Oktoberfestbier) – Any beer formally brewed by one of the six big Munich brewers and served on the Oktoberfest grounds. Over the years these beers have evolved from dunkels to märzens to festbiers. Today, they're light gold in color and easy bodied.
Märzen – German amber lagers typically anywhere from chestnut to russet in color. Smooth, toasty, bready, slightly spiced with a bit of a Noble hop bite. Märzens hit around 5-6% ABV with a dry finish. First brewed by Spaten in Germany, in America this is the most common style of what we've come to call Oktoberfest or Oktoberfest-style beers.
Festbier – A strong golden German lager similar to a helles, just maltier. The floralness and spiciness of Noble hops are more prevalent in this style. And they're slightly meatier at 6-6.5% ABV. First pioneered by Paulaner, today in Germany festbiers are THE official beer of Oktoberfest.
Oktoberfest-style – Normally falling under the style of märzen, these beers are brewed outside the city limits of Munich. Again, if you buy an Oktoberfest-style beer in America, it will most likely be an amber märzen. Technically only beers brewed by one of the six original breweries in Munich can officially use the term Oktoberfest (Oktoberfestbier).
With all this in mind, whether you're camping out with a classic Hacker-Pschorr Oktoberfest Amber Märzen from the original Munich brewery or enjoying a modern 3 Floyds Brewing Company Munsterfest from the premier Midwestern brewery, we've found the best märzens and festbiers to help you ring in the season and earn that "Celebrate Oktoberfest (2022)" badge!
Here are Untappd's 20 Top-Rated Märzens/Festbiers of 2022
A bit of a perplexing style, India pale lager (IPL) starts with the distinct features of an American IPA, mainly a copious amount of Pacific Northwest hops. But here is where IPLs deviate: Instead of using a top-fermenting ale yeast, this style leverages a bottom-fermenting lager yeast.
The result is a beer that's crisper and cleaner than traditional American IPAs.
But that's not the only difference.
The Differences Between IPAs and IPLs
First and foremost, as we mentioned, the biggest difference between these two styles is the type of yeast.
Considered ales, IPAs use a top-fermenting ale yeast. IPLs, on the other hand, are lagers, getting a dose of bottom-fermenting yeast that makes these beers lighter in body.
The other considerable difference is bitterness. Whereas with a traditional American IPA you might find a bitterness anywhere from 40-60+ International Bittering Units (IBUs), with IPLs you'll find a tamer hopping, landing at 20-40 IBUs.
All in all, despite outlining the main differences here, this style has caused some confusion and controversy. For that reason, you won't find any official guidelines listed by organizations like the Beer Judge Certification Program (BCJP).
But that doesn't mean brewers aren't trying their hand at IPLs
Untappd's 7 Highest-Rated India Pale Lagers of 2022
Gould starts the season in Baltimore with the guidance of our friends at City Brew Tours, North America's best and oldest brewery tour company.
In Baltimore, City Brew Tours guide Isaac Bell joins Gould to show him the hidden gem barbecue spots and breweries putting the "char" and "charm" in Charm City.
"Isaac is like that bouncer who slips you in behind the scenes at your favorite shows," says Gould.
Accordingly, Bell gave Gould the backstage tour at Heavy Seas with a well-made lager in hand. And unlocked the secrets of barbecue and beer pairings courtesy of a pit stop at Chaps Pit Beef and Mobtown Brewing Company, the first brewery to produce beer in the Brewers Hill neighborhood of Baltimore in forty-one years.
"Not only do we teach you the grain to glass experience [at City Brew Tours], but we also teach you how beer and food pair together," says Bell. "And there is no better pairing than barbecue and beer!"
Plus, Gould checked out Checkerspot Brewing and discovered what all the buzz is about at Sagamore Spirit Distillery, a spring-fed distillery making Maryland rye whiskey.
Sierra Nevada's new nationwide release, Liquid Hoppiness Juicy IPA, is a tasty shapeshifter in a tricky season. "The tropical flavors make you think of late summer," says Sierra Nevada innovation brewer James Conery, while its medium body and 7% ABV are sturdy come chilly nights. In the brewhouse, Centennial and Cascade hops impart a baseline of grapefruit and orange. But James touts the dry-hopping, which features lesser-known varieties.
Brewker is like a milkman delivery service, but with beer. Each week, choose your beer from a variety of your favorite local breweries. This includes beers you can only get at the brewery itself as well as your everyday favorites. Your brew selection will be hand delivered directly to your doorstep. You have full control and can set the time and date of delivery so you know exactly when to expect its arrival. Brewker is like a subscription service, but without the ongoing commitment. In fact, there are no monthly fees, no contracts, and no hidden anything. It's like a brewery with special access to limited-run beers, discounts, and cool swag, but enjoyed from the comfort of your couch. You get all the benefits of being part of a beer lovers community through Brewkerhosted special events, but also the convenience of enjoying your favorites and exploring new beers at home.
To earn this badge: Check-in any beer from the following breweries between September 7 through December 7, 2022:
Land Grant Brewing (https://untappd.com/LandGrantBrewingCompany)
Seventh Son (https://untappd.com/SeventhSonBrewingCo)
Antiques on High (https://untappd.com/AntiquesOnHigh)
Don't miss the chance to earn our *limited-edition* "National Beer Lovers Day" badge by simply enjoying the real nectar of the gods.
How to Earn the "National Beer Lovers Day" Badge
Earning this limited-edition "National Beer Lovers Day" badge is easy. Just check in any one beer to collect our badge before it disappears.
To earn this badge: Check-in any one (1) beer from September 6th, 2022, through September 8th, 2022.
Our Favorite Beers to Drink on National Beer Lovers Day
Every week on the blog, we bring you the highest-rated beers in a given style on the app. And since you can check in any beer you want to earn the "National Beer Lovers Day" badge, we thought there was no better opportunity to give you a list of our favorites as a good place to start.
Looking to earn the "National Beer Lovers Day" badge? Consider drinking a beer from one of these top-rated lists:
Get the party started with BeerCamp! To celebrate all the great brewers behind those fantastic Dutch beers, BeerCamp created a full camp weekend for them and with them. And thats not all, they created an out of this world collab brew so you can dive in and enjoy the party as well. This IPA features Simcoe, Loral, Citra and Idaho 7 to bring all the fresh thirstquencing flavours that you love. Available for all beer lovers to keep the party going!
This beer is a collab between:
Two Chefs Brewing
To celebrate the new release, BeerCamp has a new badge to unlock when you have the party brought to you by checking in this beer.
The idea to organize BeerCamp started with Ronald from Van de Streek and Casper Pennings from de Bierbrigadier who are constantly in contact with these great people who love beer, but never outside of their work. So why not create a weekend for them and with them to relax, enjoy great food, live music and many more.
Sounds great, but what's in it for me? It is greater than great and we don't want you to miss out which is why we want you to celebrate the new beer release with us. We created the very exclusive BeerCamp Badgeto unlock when you have the party brought to you by checking in this beer. And that's not all, we will organize BeerCamp next year for all the beer lovers out there. This will be a festival like no other so make sure to be there and enjoy the party in 2023.
To earn this badge: Check-in one (1) BEERCAMP - GLAMPING IPA by Brouwerij Eleven between September 1, 2022 and September 1, 2023.
Funky Buddha's Void Shaker Barrel-Aged Stout is mysteriously dark, perfectly balanced, and beyond tasty. Emerging from the boundless depths of High West Distillery whiskey barrels, this imperial stout combines explosive notes of roasted malt, dark chocolate, black cherry, and charred oak with a rich, creamy body and subtle booze finish.
Enter the void and celebrate the return of this far-out stout with a custom badge. You can also find the funk near you by visiting: orderfunky.com
It takes a whole lot of giddy-up, gumption, and get-to-it hard work to revolutionize an industry. That attitude has always stoked our kettle at Oskar Blues.
So to celebrate Labor Day we'll take some time to recognize all the work that gets our beer into your hand and all the work it does once it's there. Drinkin' an Oskar Blues beer in the month of September will get you the BEER THAT WORKS badge as a reminder of all the folks who are workin' behind the scenes and all the work you did to earn yourself a beer. It makes no difference if "work" means your day job, your side hustle, your creative hustle, or whatever the hell you do to blow off steam between Friday at 5 o' clock and Monday morning. As long as you work hard at making a life worth living, we'll have a beer for you that's up to the task.
This month, and every month, we salute the spirit of working hard and playing harder.
How to earn this badge: Check-in any one (1) beer by Oskar Blues between September 1 and 31, 2022
Pucker up! We're launching our newest Untappd badge available only to Untappd Insiders: the "Super Style: Sour - Fruited" badge.
The Brewers Association characterizes an American-style sour ale as having a more moderate to intense, yet balanced, fruit profile, like passionfruit or peaches. To give the beer its zingy, sour flavor, brewers either add a bacteria strain like Brettanomyces, Lactobacillus, or Pediococcus into the kettle (called kettle souring) or rely on natural bacteria and yeast in the air to organically sour a beer (called spontaneous fermentation).
Because of their tart nature, sour ales are ripe for adding fruit (get it?). Fruited sour ales feature an addition of a cornucopia of fruits, covering everything from the tropical—guava, mango, and passionfruit, to name a few—to the typical—strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries—and the eccentric—marionberries, lingonberries, and lychee.
People love these beers so much that last year on the Untappd app, the category "Sour - Fruited" ranked fourth on the "The Top 10 Styles of 2021" list, clocking in with a littler over 3 million check-ins.
If your mouth has already started to water thinking about that first sip of juicy, tart fruited sour, then crack open one of our 10 Best Fruited Sours of 2022. While you do that, we'll explain how that beer will earn you a "Super Style: Sour - Fruited" badge.
Hang On, What Are the "Super Style" Badges?
Based on Untappd's most checked-in beer styles, we created badges to reflect our findings—giving you the chance to earn some "Super Style" flair. Released at various points throughout the year, these special edition badges are only available to Untappd Insiders!
As an Untappd Insider, you'll have the opportunity to earn these exclusive "Super Style" badges by checking in that style of beer during the time it's live.
And now we're releasing the newest "Super Style: Sour - Fruited" badge.
Here's the catch:
You can only unlock this exclusive badge if you're an Untappd Insider!
This weekend we celebrate Labor Day, a holiday honoring the contributions and achievements of the American worker.
In the United States, union leader Peter J. McGuire generally receives credit for suggesting the idea of a day honoring American workers in 1881. The next year, 10,000 workers held a parade in New York City to unofficially recognize the day. But it wasn't until 1894 that President Grover Cleveland made Labor Day an official federal holiday.
Culturally, Labor Day signifies the end of summer, giving Americans a final three-day weekend to enjoy the season.
Accordingly, it seems fitting that an American lager makes a perfect beer style to drink one, two, three, or more of this Labor Day holiday.
With a light body, little to no bitterness, and low ABV, American lagers are the easy-drinking beers you want at your picnic, pool party, or barbecue to give summer one last hurrah!
Plus, it's one of only a handful of styles American's can claim as their own (read: California common, Kentucky common, cream ale, American amber, American IPA, American pale ale, American brown ale, and American barleywine).
A Short History of the American Lager
We're greatly simplifying things here, but the general origin of the American lager comes from German immigrants, who brought recipes for European lagers over when they immigrated in the eighteenth century.
European lagers used a combination of corn and barley malt. But during World War II, the government rationed both of those grains, so American brewers started using rice instead.
Today, American lagers are characterized as being crisp, clean, light, and effervescent. Typically pouring out a straw to gold color, this beer style has little to no hop character and a fairly high carbonation.
American lagers are your beach crushers, party pounders, and crowd pleasers.
In other words, they're perfect for Labor Day.
Untappd's 12 Highest-Rated American Lagers of 2022
Summer is almost over. There, we said it; it's out in the open. But before we put August in the rearview we're soaking up the last few rays of the season. And in many ways there is no better way to do that than by putting on our SPF 30 sunscreen and sipping on the ultimate summer beer.
One that is more than just a beer.
Uber refreshing and zippy, shandies and radlers are actually a mixture of beer and juice or soda. They're fun fizzes that scream summer in a glass.
While the two names are often used interchangeably, typically a shandy consists of blond lager (such as a pilsner or helles) mixed with lemonade or lemon-lime soda. Similarly, a radler combines equal parts lager and citrus soda.
Shandy seems to be a bit of a more encompassing term, with these drinks sometimes featuring ginger ale, ginger beer, orange juice, or other fruit juices. On the other hand, radler pretty much exclusively refers to a citrus-based soda, most likely grapefruit
You're probably most familiar with stalwarts such as Leinenkugel Summer Shandy and Stiegl Radler, but you'd be surprised to find many breweries crafting their own interpretations.
First popping up in the 1850s, shandy actually comes from the name of a British drink called "shandy gaff," which featured beer mixed with ginger ale.
The invention of the radler includes a bit more lore. According to the story, German innkeeper Franz Xaver Kulger created a bike trail from Munich to his tavern. On a hot, sunny day in June 1922, 13,000 cyclists found their way to his inn. All thirsty and looking for something to drink. Pretty soon Kugler began to get low on beer. In a eureka moment, Kugler decided to cut his pilsner with his overstocked lemon soda.
Voila: the radler.
While this version of events hasn't been proved or refuted, it's certainly a romantic origin story.
Regardless of how the shandy and radler got here, they're still simple drinks that crush it in the warmer months. And with a low alcohol content, usually around 4.0% ABV, shandies and radlers are great for those summer activities too—whether that's cycling around the country, playing volleyball on the beach, or swimming in the pool.
Of course, you could always make your own version at home, but why do that when you have these ten excellent versions to tip back and enjoy during the last few weeks of summer.
Untappd's 10 Highest-Rated Shandies and Radlers of 2022