Our final stop before the Firestone Walker Invitational is in San Luis Obispo and Liquid Gravity. Let’s fill up a taster tray…
Killer Stratagy West Coast IPA – “100% STRATA WEST COAST IPA WITH BIG, STICKY NOTES OF DANK AND TROPICAL FRUIT.”
IPA – “LIQUID GRAVITY IPA IS A MODERN WEST COAST IPA WITH A BRIGHT, TROPICAL HOP CHARACTER, REFRESHING BITTERNESS AND CRISP FINISH. BURSTING WITH AN INTENSE BOUQUET OF PASSIONFRUIT, GUAVA AND TANGERINES, THIS 100% MOSAIC DRY-HOPPED BEER IS THE CORNERSTONE OF OUR LINEUP.”
Miami Heist Hazy DIPA – “MIAMI HEIST IS A HAZY DOUBLE IPA BREWED WITH CENTENNIAL AND CITRA HOPS. AT FIRST APPROACH YOU’LL FIND BRIGHT AROMAS OF CITRUS, MELON, AND TROPICAL FRUITS EXPLODING FROM THE GLASS. THE USE OF OATS AND WHEAT HELP TO BALANCE THE BEER WITH A GENTLE SWEETNESS AND LUSCIOUS TEXTURE THAT SOFTEN THE HOPS AS THEY LAND ON THE PALATE.”
Coffee Porter – “THIS BEER IS A TRADITIONAL ROBUST PORTER BREWED WITH PREMIUM LIGHTLY ROASTED ETHIOPIAN COFFEE BEANS FROM HONEY CO. COFFEE. THE RESULTING BEER HAS A MEDIUM BODY, GENTLE CARAMEL-LIKE SWEETNESS AND SOFT, CHOCOLATEY ESPRESSO FINISH.”
We head to Washington State for Chuckanut Brewery. They do traditional styled ales and do them very well and I hope that their booth gets mobbed with people drinking beers like…
Export Dortmunder Lager – “Honey colored, bready, moderate bitterness.”
Grodziskie Lager – “Pale straw colored, fresh grain, gentle smoke, effervescent.”
Mosaic Leaf Pilsner – “Golden, dry, bitter, fruity noble hops, refreshing.”
Yellow Card Ale – “golden colored, spicy, crisp.”
Alt Bier Ale – “Deep bronze, zesty hop flavor, snappy, full malt flavor.”
We start with a German brewery FrauGruber who certainly focus on hops and pastry stouts so will probably get a lot of love from the Invitational crowd.
GRÜNHOPFEN PILS – Wet hopped Pilsner
IPA LUPOMAX – Citra LupoMax, Mosaic LupoMax, Hüll Melon LupoMax
GRANDMA’S APFELSTRUDEL – Imperial Pastry Stout
BANANA SPLIT – Imperial Pastry Stout
Yesterday, the good news we have been waiting for dropped…
Yup, The Firestone Walker Invitational is BACK. And yes the all caps is very much needed.
Here is the list of breweries and the collaboration beer will be a done with Green Cheek of Anaheim., “Parrotphrase,” a dry-hopped grisette ale.
So many breweries that I can’t choose which excite me more. Bale Breaker, both Clouds, Thornbridge and Pinthouse would be my starting points.
And there is more…
“Firestone Walker today also unveiled the “Ultimate Firestone Walker Experience” sweepstakes, which includes two tickets to the 2022 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest.
The full prize also includes private tours and behind-the-scenes experiences at Firestone Walker’s Venice and Paso Robles breweries, and three nights at local hotels plus lunch and dinner at the brewery taprooms.
The sweepstakes is open from now through April 3 at 11:59 p.m. PST. Interested craft beer fans may submit their entry via the Ultimate Firestone Walker Experience sweepstakes page. The winner will be randomly drawn after the close of the sweepstakes period.”
Tickets on sale: Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020 at 9am PST
Main event: Saturday, May 30, 2020 | 12pm-5pm (beer stops at 4pm) in lovely Paso Robles, CA
Play nice on ticket day please! Additional details can be found right HERE.
The trip to Bountiful was a little different this year as I had a co-pilot, my wife and a new place to spend the weekend out in the vineyard. Here is the Day 1 report from Paso Robles the Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest…
The initial media meet-up at the main brewery off the 101 was cool. Got to meet Takeout beer writer Kate Bernot which was a check mark on my list of people to network with followed with cans of lager and the new Luponic which was straight up coconut that former Propagator brewer Evan Partridge said was from the Sabro hops.
The Friday BBQ was great as usual. Simple sandwich, salad and beans. I had two Propagator beers. Three Thumbs Up the Highland Park, Green Cheek Firestone threesome IPA. Welcome to LA hoppy lager was really good too. The highlight was that Re:Find distillery was pouring samples. Got to try their Rye and a cocktail as well.
Outside the fest, I made stops at Silva Brewing which was packed and hopping. Also had a tasting at Field Recordings wines. Great space design in Their Tin City digs.
Time to leakage for the Fest
Unfortunately, this post is targeted towards those who will be attending the best beer fest of the year. But you might learn some things that you can use at the next festival you have tickets to.
It is easy to be overwhelmed when the beer list for The Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest drops. It is akin to seeing a mound of presents on Christmas Day. Here are my (4) rules to follow when deciding which beers to add to your wish list.
- Use the FWIBF app – This is the easiest way to see beer styles and ABVs for the beers that we don’t know about. You can create a quick wish list and then add/subtract from it once you see that you are hitting up primarily DDH DIPAs. Make a couple passes on the list at least. But do not leave any beers off due to your list being achingly long.
- 25% – 25% – 25% – 25% – You cannot survive on hops alone! Besides, there are fantastic Saisons and pilsners and Helles to try. So, stick to my ratio. IPAs take one quarter, stout barrel-aged a second, Sours and Saisons the third and light stuff the fourth. You can have an all day personal hop field but your tongue will be so bitter battered that you will not taste anything for weeks.
- Avoid the Long Lines – You will see right away which tents get swarmed. Monkish, WeldWerks and the Projects (Garage and Side) will be mobbed. You can have a line buddy system and get beers to drink while waiting but seriously, I cannot emphasize it enough, there is so much good beer that you can spend all day picking booths with no lines and drink as well, if not better (and certainly more) then anyone waiting.
- Don’t Sleep on the Foreign beers – The beers from around the world are there for a reason. It was not a dart board type of selection. Plus these will have shorter lines and you can talk to the brewers and representatives and learn something you may not know.
I have a few suggestions of beers not to miss. My Wish List is largeenough for three drinkers but in the spirit of 4. Here are the ones that I will probably have first:
Brewery Ommegang BWX|OMG! Collaboration with Firestone Walker Barrelworks
Hair of the Dog Opia (another Firestone Walker collab)
Oxbow Farmhouse Pale Ale
Russian River Intinction – Merlot
Our first Firestone Walker Invitational brewery featured is Australian, Balter Brewing Company. There origin story is summed up as ” 6 Aussies and a Yank walk into a bar and never come out… “
The little smiley face on the logo will be on display for the beers that I might see at their booth, such as….
XPA – ” It might be pale but there’s nothing weak about this bad boy. This XPA’s tropical and floral aromatics set off a fruity palette that will punch your taste buds in the pleasure zone. Tailored for those who enjoy a fully-hopped beer that’s still easy to drink.”
Strong Pale Ale – ” Wrestle your thirst to the mat, with this Strong Pale Ale. Its smooth malt profile drips with juicy hop notes, and a snappy bitterness that finishes with a firm hand. Flex your flavour muscles and crack open the door to a little bit more.”
Captain Sensible – ” This ale balances refined malt undertones against vivacious hop notes to round out a full taste and mouthfeel that defies its mid-strength nature. Perfect for those who like to keep a lid on it, but still want to crack the top off a couple.”
IIPA – ” A noble beer for a noble thirst, this Imperial IPA is like a tangy fruit salad with extra punch. Clean, hefty hop notes provide substantial palate weight with hints of pineapple, pine and citrus, while the higher alcohol content delivers a delightfully dry, spicy finish. In a tall tin so you can share it with a mate celebrating a royal achievement, or simply soaking up the last shadows of a classic day. “
Now that a couple of days have passed since the Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Festival, it is time to recap the weekend….
There were changes this year. First off there was a concert with a small selection of beers available (which included America’s Preference from our own Highland Park Brewery) the night before the fest . The pre-Fest Kleen Kanteen cup was matte black instead of silver. And at the main event, the foreign breweries were mingled with everyone else. No special section just for them.
But other than that dabbling about the edges, there is not much to truly say except for favorite beers. This festival is pretty drama free. Snafu’s apparently aren’t allowed in the Mid-State Fairground.
So what did I enjoy? In no particular order…
1. Firestone Walker’s Propagator Patrick Hayze v2 was quite good soft and fruity without losing hop bite.
2. Rare Barrel Raging Waters a touch Sour lovely watermelon note. Simple
3. Fonta Flora Urban Monk Carrot Cake So good. Like a spice cake dessert
4. Thornbridge Lukas Helles crisp clear and delicious
5. BarrelWorks Pixie Dusted don’t get tangerine at first but then it doesn’t leave
6. Rare Barrel Alchemy and Magic damn good. Cucumber centric
7. Monkish Space Cookie way weird. Good balance of hops and vanilla
8. Half Acre Pony Pilsner perfect for any festival
9. Firestone Walker Lager straight from the Lager logo emblazoned golf cart/fridge
I did notice that there were more breweries that were tapped out. The speed and number seems to increase so either these breweries need to bring more beer or back-ups need to be in place. Maybe wineries or cocktails can take over? Or perhaps a staggering of start times for those breweries known to be extra popular.
In the end, all to be said is that this is an impressive gathering of beer and if you get a chance, you should grab a ticket immediately.