Sour Jim the Extraordinary

To understand the work of Firestone Walker's feral brewer, is to first delve into the mind of a culinary creative. 


Simple Shoes in cahoots with Firestone Walker's Master Blender

To understand the work of Firestone Walker's feral brewer, is to first delve into the mind of a culinary creative.

From his earliest memories, Jim was captivated by the processes of harvesting natures bounty to eventually please the palette, recalled even from his earliest memories of fishing with his father:

"The excitement of catching a fish was and still is captivating, but seeing the process of taking that fish from hook to table was truly magical in my eyes."

The fascination with food stayed with Jim as he elected to pursue a career as a chef. Entering into CalPoly San Luis Obispo's Food Science program, he intended to turn that fascination into profession. What he didn't expect, was that in the capacity of that program, he would learn that by combining water, malted barley, hops and yeast, you can make BEER!

In 2001, Jim became the Quality Control manager at Firestone Walker brewing company. He visited other breweries, becoming deeply involved in community surrounding quality enterprise beermaking. What he found there, however, was the makings of an underground movement. Known beer-spoiling bacteria was being intentionally introduced to beers in wood tanks, and what emerged was something so beautiful and delicate and thought provoking, it shook Jim to his core. The concept of wild, sour beers was taking hold and Jim's own experiments had new influences.

So while maintaining the strictest standards for beer production in highly controlled environments, Jim was also contributing to an experimental effort that was happening behind the scenes of the Firestone Walker brewery. In a dark corner of a back warehouse, in oak barrels traditionally used for aging bourbon, was what would would later become the center of the Barrelworks catalog. Beer such as Agrestic Ale, SLOambic, Bretta Weisse, Lil Opal and Sour Opal.

The creative outlet for Jim and his fellow alchemists of ale gained traction, and Barrelworks was born. Jim transitioned 100% of his time with Firestone Walker to the program and has since developed the splinter brewery.

Where Jim's influences and memories contributed to his work in wild beermaking, he also recalls wearing Simple Shoes from a young age. We like to think that by keeping Jim comfortable and casual, perhaps we helped him maintain focused and free to allow the wild spirit that took him from curiosity to expertise to blossom. Maybe that's a stretch, but in any case we're honored to be a part of this man's journey.

Wouldn't you look cute in a cap!