Interview With Firestone Walker Brewmaster Matt Brynildson

When Adam and David moved their brewing operations to Paso Robles in 2001, they also landed “the perfect brewmaster at the perfect time.” Matt Brynildson has worked his magic at Firestone Walker ever since, earning the nickname “Merlin” on his way to becoming renowned as one of the world’s leading brewmasters. – Firestone Walker Website

In this interview, Brewmaster Matt Brynildson explains the difference between Firestone Mind Haze DIPA and other “Hazies” IPAs out there.

1. What sets Double Mind Haze apart from all of the other hazies available out there?

    • When we made the original Mind Haze, we called it “a hazy IPA done the Firestone way.” I think the same could be said for this beer. That’s not us saying it’s better or groundbreaking, or that we think we’re reinventing the category. What it means is that we’re taking everything we’ve learned as brewers—right up to my recent brewing sabbatical in Belgium—and putting our own signature on the style. We dry hop Double Mind Haze a bit differently. The hop selection is really special and born of some recent discoveries, and I think our malt profile is distinctive to us. So to borrow the phrase, it’s a double hazy IPA done the Firestone way.

2. Since Double Mind Haze is based on Mind Haze, which took a year to perfect, where there any versions created that while not what the target was, were documented for future creation and release?

    • The R&D process was similar, in that we took our time and brewed many small-batch iterations until we’d perfected what we were after. The higher gravity nature of this beer provides a platform for extreme flavor, which opened up new possibilities with our hop selection and our dry hopping approach. There’s this alchemy that can happen with higher-gravity hazies like this, where you can push aromas, flavors and the sense of juiciness to the limit in large part due to the increased alcohol which adds both sweetness and body. When it all comes together, it’s magical, and remarkably drinkable.

As for the R&D iterations that got us here, we always learn something along the way, and sometimes that gets applied forward to future beers. For example, a trial hop that didn’t quite fit what we were after with Double Mind Haze still might have revealed something special that we can tap into later.

3. What can fans of Mind Haze expect from Double Mind Haze? 

    • A creamy mouthfeel, explosive juiciness and saturated, mind-bending hop flavors—all of the hedonistic flavor and strength anyone could want in a Firestone Walker IPA.

4. For the hop nerds out there, what hops are used in Double Mind Haze and why?

    • Hops like Azacca, Cashmere and Mosaic are carried over from the original Mind Haze, and we’ve added Strata, Sabro, Idaho Gem, Idaho 7 and Motueka. Strata brings a bold, pungent fruit quality, and Sabro presents an intriguing coconut element. Some of these hops might overwhelm a lighter beer, but they find a perfect balancing point in a stronger hazy like this.

5. Is there anything else you want to share about Double Mind Haze?

    • Double Mind Haze is the next step in our long journey of IPA brewing and it reflects some of our favorite discoveries in the world of hops. It’s fun and fulfilling for us to brew this beer, and I hope that everyone enjoys it as much as we do.

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