The Firestone Walker Tap Room Restaurant
I had the opportunity to visit the Firestone Walker taproom in Buellton recently. I am always impressed by the whole trip, the drive by the ocean, climbing into the foothills to find myself amongst oaks and grasses, and scenic vistas. I have been coming here for a few years now, and I love the escape from L.A.. It’s only a three hour drive from my house and it feels like a whole different state. The state of central coast. People actually make eye contact with me and speak to me, it’s refreshing. All that aside I come here for the libations. Long known as a secret wine spot, the Santa Ynez valley was the location for the film “Sideways”. Now the secret is out. For those willing to look, there’s beer in them thar hills too.
Firestone Walker first grabbed my attention because of the Double Barrel Ale. I thought it was a reference to a shotgun. So I thought…Wrong, its two barrels as in oak barrels. Firestone employs the patented Firestone-Union barrel fermenting system. Oak barrel beer making, might not sound revolutionary, the British were doing it long ago, but DBA as we’ll refer to it is different, it’s good. I dove in head first and was delighted to discover they made Nectar Ales as well. I was hooked and I feel like I should get paid for endorsements, because I tell everyone I can about how good all the beer is. I just want people to get the same thrill I got. I remember thinking to myself,” this is the kind of beer I want to drink”.
The taproom is such a nice place, visually pleasing, with a rustic charm and a modern flair all in one. The bar is beautiful, hand made stainless steel and finished with a nod to craftsmanship. The staff are some of the nicest people I’ve ever encountered. I wouldn’t drive three plus hours, sometimes in heavy traffic, just to get inferior service; well I might, if the beer is really good. It’s just great that the whole package is so worth the effort. The food is well above average, the fries are some of the best I’ve ever had and the taproom burger as well as the white shrimp and jalapeno pizza are worth mentioning. After numerous visits, I have yet to come across anything on the menu I wouldn’t order again.
Now we get down to brass tacks, the beer! Honestly some of the best beer out there, just see how many medals they’ve gotten. Of course the true test is trying it yourself. I like to start out with a Nectar IPA, hoppy, sweet, dry, and crisp, it’s not like a hop bomb, but it’s got it all in the right places, beautiful beer. Next stop is either a Walkers Reserve or an unfiltered Double Barrel Ale. Walkers reserve is a creamy, dark, chocolaty porter with a little coffee and toffee going on, it’s very drinkable. The unfiltered is hard to describe, some days are better than others, but it’s always good, a very different experience than bottled DBA, notes of brown sugar and spice, sweet and almost syrupy, smooth and refreshing. The FW pale ale is crisp, hoppy, a slight oak hint, and extremely potable. Let’s just say, if you like beer, Firestone Walker has you covered. A trip like this is a great way to spend a Saturday, or any other day that ends in “y”.
The Taproom at Firestone Walker Brewing Company is located at 620 McMurray Road Buellton, CA (805) 686-1557. Click Here for more info.