I have had the great fortune to attend the Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Festival a few times now. And as a keen watcher of people, I have gleaned some tips for those attending for the first time or who want to up their experience.
- Pore over the brewery list. Each year new breweries are welcomed to the Event Center and you should get to know those that you may not be familiar with whose beers you might not see again.
- I will not tell you to avoid the hype beers but I will tell you that you can drink really well without standing in a line more than five deep. I remember picking a random fest goer who was at the back end of a hype line and recording what I did before that person got a beer. I had two beers, a nosh on ice cream and plotted out my next booths to visit before this person had a sip.
- Food it up. Take advantage of it all. Not just because you will be having lots of beer but because it is really good stuff. No food truck lines and then more waiting for your name to be called.
- Be on the lookout for special pours. They will be at certain posted times at booths and also over at the seminar stages. Many a time did beer get brought right to me while I sat in the shade learning about beer, brewers and the brewing process.
- Do not sleep on the Firestone Walker beers. You may have already had the official festival beer, No Vacancy IPA but they bring a lot of other gems and who doesn’t like DBA.
- Fred Eckhardt famously said “listen to your beer”. Addendum to that is to listen the the other fest goers. Don’t be creepy about it but overhear when people say out loud that something is great. And if you hear about a beer twice, start looking for it.
- Be kind and an ally. It is 2023 and I should not have to write this but men act shitty and they need to stop. Right now, before you arrive in Paso Robles. Bring your best behavior and police others you know so that everyone can enjoy the fest.