Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Festival 2013 – Recap W/ Pics
Over the past 6 years of doing the lords work, The Full Pint have become veterans of beer festivals. Whether it be something local here in Southern California, or whether we had to hop on a plane to check out Dark Lord Day, we have never heard hype quite like last year’s Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Festival.
Leading up to the event, we got wind of not only the tentative tap list lineup, but also the weather. As of about two weeks ago, reports went from a 95· F day to a 105· day in Paso Robles, CA. So between the amount of people, and half the beer list being over 7% abv., we were truly concerned for not only people’s enjoyment, but also for everyone’s safety.
Fast forward to 1PM on Saturday, and most of my worries were gone. We honestly didn’t look at the map ahead of time, as we wanted to be surprised. Firestone Walker and their event team took into consideration that it was going to be a beast of a day, and took precautionary measures. Many, but not all beer and food stations had misters spraying water. Some spots had what I refer to as the “NFL Cool Zone”, which were industrial sized coolers for people to stand in front of. Even in spots that didn’t have either, there was shade near by.
Enough about the weather already, the layout of the event was very ideal. With the exception of a few hyped beers, long lines were non existant. If you wanted to taste something, or taste it multiple times, it was yours to have. Meeting the brewers or brewery representatives was easy whether you were part of the press or not. Not every brewery was represented, but I’d say over 90% were and it made for memorable moments.
Another key to this events success was access to food. Upon entry, we were given a taster glass, and a classy looking cardboard plate that you can slide your taster glass into. Spread across all the beers stations were some pretty tasty food offerings. Cheeses, bbq, salads had caught our eye, and while I was still full from my pre-game lumberjack breakfast, we thought it would be best to “lay down some more foundation.”
As far as the crowd goes, it was one of the most mellow festival crowds I’ve been to. It surprised me for many reasons, mainly due to the unlimited pours. I finally realized that this wasn’t a fest full of n00bs, and that likely attributed to the chill buzz across the fest grounds. There were some very beautiful women walking around, I can’t complete a writeup without mentioning that. By the last hour, a few people dropped their glass, but there was never a moment where I thought the heat and alcohol would turn the place nuts like other festivals I’ve been to.
As far as personal beer highlights of the day, I would say first and foremost, Italiano Tipopils by Birrificio Italiano. This was a hoppy pilsner that was the inspiration for Firestone’s Pivo Hoppy Pils. While I can’t get enough West Coast IPA in my life, there was something about this beer that had me hooked. AleSmith made a Cream Ale that was out of this world, and it should go without saying that Kern River Citra was on fire. We wound up stomping around with our soul brother Big Jay from Dudes Brewing, and even took a moment to shotgun a can of Sculpin in the Ballast Point tent. While I thought that would be the nail in my coffin, it actually woke me up like a cup of Espresso. I highly recommend it.
It’s going to be awfully tough for Firestone Walker to top this year after year, but it’s my opinion that if you enjoy beer festivals, and appreciate the hand picked diverse lineup of brewers and beer, that you should do everything in your power to make the journey next year.