Wednesday, 05 June 2013 17:04

Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest - 2013

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Revered as one of the best beer festivals ever and sold out months prior to the festivities, Firestone Invitational Beer Fest was born from a dream of creating a world class festival featuring not only the best brewers in the world, but brewers whom they feel are leading the craft.

And having now experienced the beer festival among festivals in Paso Robles, I wholeheartedly agree.

The guest breweries brought at least two beers, a sessionable beer and a special beer, accompanied by the artisan who created it. I marked the order (well, most) in which I tasted them.  While Barrel Aged Dark Lord probably isn't what you would normally want to drink first, I just wanted to drink it before a) it ran out and while b) there were no lines.

First, the beers:

AleSmith Brewing
Barrel Aged Speedway Stout – Imperial Stout – 12% abv.
Cream Ale – Cream Ale

Alpine Beer Co.
Hoppy Birthday – American Pale Ale – 5% abv.
Keene Idea aka Alpine Toronado 25th Anniversary Aka Alpine Double Nelson – Double IPA – 8.88% abv

Avery Brewing
IPA – IPA – 6.5% abv.
White Rascal – Belgian Witbier – 5.6% abv.
Twenty/XX – Imperial IPA – 9.7% abv.
Hand of Buddha – Belgian Ale – 5.3% abv.

Ballast Point Brewing
Even Keel – American Pale Ale – 3.8% abv.
Habanero Sculpin IPA – IPA – 7% abv. (#17)
Barrel Aged Indra Kunindra - Foreign Stout – 9% abv.
Barrel Aged Three Sheets Barleywine – Barleywine – 10% abv.

Beachwood BBQ & Brewing
Amalgamator - IPA – 7.1%
Hop Ninja – Double IPA – 8.9% abv.
System of a Stout – Imperial Stout – 11.3% abv.

Bear Republic Brewing
Cher Ami – Belgian Ale – 4.5% abv.
Cuvee de Bubba – Sour Ale 6% abv.

Bell’s Brewery
Raspberry Wild One – 6.1% abv.
Roundhouse IRA- IPA – 7.7% abv.

Birrificio Italiano
Italiano Tipopils – Pilsner – 5.2% abv. (#2) - This was Firestone's inspiration for a collaboration beer.
Negra 3.0 – Schwarzbier – 6.5% abv. (#3)

Bonyard Brewery
Bone-A-Fide Pale Ale – American Pale Ale – 5.5% abv

Boulevard Brewing
Test Nelson Grape Ale – Golden Ale – 4% abv.
Saison Brett – Wild Saison – 8.5% abv.

Brasserie de la Senne
De la Senne Taras Boulba – Belgian Ale – 4.5% abv. (#19)
Zwarte Piet – Belgian Ale

Roog – Smoked – 6.6% abv.

The Bruery

Trade Winds Tripel - Tripel - 8.10% abv.
Loakal Red - American Amber - 6.9% abv.
White Oak
Sour in the Rye - American Wild Ale - 7.8% abv.
Sour in the Rye with Kumquats
Beauregarde - American Wild Ale - 5.3% abv.
Black Tuesday - Barrel Aged Imperial Stout - 19.2% abv.
Grey Monday
The Wanderer

Cigar City Brewing
Brandy Barrel Aged Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout – 11% abv. (#5) – made 30k barrels this year. This is a bold, roasty imperial stout that was aged on cacao nibs, guajillo chiles, ancho chiles, pasilla chiles, vanilla beans and cinnamon. Its then aged in California brandy barrels.
Invasion Pale Ale – American Pale Ale – 5% abv.

Dogfish Head
Sixty-One Minute IPA – IPA – 6.5% abv.
Wood Aged Noble Rot – Fruit Beer – 9% abv.

FiftyFifty Brewing
CA PA – American Pale Ale – 7% abv. (#18)
Eclipse Imperial Stout – 10% abv.

Figueroa Mountain Brewing
Figueroa Mountain Paradise Road Pilsner – Pilsner – 5.5% abv.

2nd Anniversary Ale – Belgian Strong Ale released in November of 2012 to celebrate their 2nd anniversary. – 11% abv.

Firestone Walker Brewing

A variety of amazing beers


In 2007 Gordon Schuck’s Saison recipe resulted in a gold medal-winning Saison at the National Homebrew Competition. Funkwerks is a Saison-focused brewery.

Solenna – Saison (#9) – 6.3% abv. The fruitiness of a traditional Belgian yeast and the subtle spicy character of Brettanomyces with the floral notes of German hops. Notes of candy apple, cinnamon and fresh cut grass give way to a dry finish and lingering bitterness.

Golden Road Brewing
Heal The Bay IPA – Strong IPA (#16)
Cabrillo Kolsch – Kolsch

Green Flash Brewing
Citra Session IPA – American Pale Ale – 4.5% abv.
Silva Stout – Imperial Stout 10% abv.

Saison – 6.8% abv.
Solenna – Belgian Ale 6.3 (#9)

Hollister Brewing
6th Anniversary Ale – Belgian Ale – 6.1% abv.

Lagunitas Brewing
IPA – IPA – 6.2% abv
TBD Fresh Ale by  Jeremy Marchall

Kern River
Citra DIPA – Double IPA – 8% abv. (#4) – Wonderful smell!
Just Outstanding IPA – IPA – 6.8% abv

Lost Abbey
Carnevale – Saison 6.5% abv.
Framboise de Amorosa – Sour Ale – 7% abv.

Mahrs Bräu
Mahrs Bräu Kellerbier Ungespundet Hefetrüb – Kellerbier – 5.2% abv.
Weisse Bock – Weizen Bock – 7.2% abv.

Mikkeller - Mikkel Borg Bjergsø and Tore Gynther from Mikkeller were there pouring their amazing rougue beers...for a little while. Apparently, their Visa wouldn't allow them to continue to pour them.  They laughed it off and quickly turned the tapped cooler around for the festival goers to pour the beer ourselves. This was a blessing - not really disguised - for some of the attendees (including yours truely), as we were able to talk to them for a little longer.

Lil’ Mikkel – Collaboration with Firestone Walker – (#10) Farmhouse Saison aged in 17 month old French oak barrels used in the production of the 2010 Opus One vintage. Sauvignon Blanc and Chennin Blanc, grown at the Curtis Winery, were added to the barrels along with Brettanomyces labicus and other cultures. The final product is a blend of the barrels that have been aged for eight months.
Spontancherry – Fruit Lambic (#11) – 8.2% abv – This was brewed in collaboration with Frederiksdal Cherry Winery in Denmark. This is a blend of 1-2 year old spontaneously fermented ‘Lambic’ from Frederiksdal. It’s dark, rich and fruity, with notes of cherry and stone-fruit.

Moonlight Brewing has been in existence since 1992, making a diverse style of beers. Located in Santa Rosa, Ca, they don’t currently can or bottle their beers. Keep on the look out for a tasting room with one year.
Death & Taxes Black Beer – Schwarzbier – 5% abv.
Uncle Ollie – Saison – 5.5% abv.

Nebraska Brewing
Apricot au Poivre – Saison – 6.5% abv. (#15) This barrel-aged apricot beauty is culinary art in a glass. Created with apricot puree and lightly spiced with black pepper, it was aged for six months in thir-use French oak Chardonnay barrels.
Cardinal Pale Ale – American Pale Ale – 6.1% abv.

New Belgium Brewing
Peach Whiskey Barrel Aged Prickly Passion Saison- prickly passion in a Leopold Bros peach whiskey barrel (aged for 6 mo). As Firestone described it in the festival handout, “The combination of passion fruit and prickly pear juices with the tropical esters of traditionally earthy Saison yeast create a wonderfully broad mango-like character, with deep barrel character.” I couldn’t have described it better. – 8.5% abv.
Shift Lager – Pale Lager – 5% abv.

Odell Brewing
Tree Shaker – Imperial Peach IPA – Imperial IPA – 9.7% abv.
Loose Leaf – American Pale Ale – 4.5% abv.

Rare Vos – Belgian Ale – 6.5% abv. – (#16) Styled after the smooth, drinkable beers popular in Belgian cafes. Pouring a gorgeous copper hue, it smells of arrange blossoms with spicy accents.
Characterized by a mellow tartness, this one has an amazing flavor profile.
Fleur De Houblon Belgian Ale – 6.8% abv.

Pizza Port Brewing
Beer Hunter – Belgian Golden Ale (Pub location: Ocean Beach) – Collaboration with Ocean Beach, Solana Beach and Automatic Brewing.
Carlsbad Raceway – IPA – 7% abv.
Claudie’s IPL – Strong Pale Lager- 7% abv.
El Toronado IPA – Imperial IPA – 9.8% abv. (Pub location: Carlsbad) (#12)
In Bloom (Pub location: Ocean Beach) – 8.2% abv. Saison with rosemary, orange peel, coriander, sage and honey.
Dusk Til Dawn – Imperial Porter – 10.5% abv.
Whales Tales (Pub location: Solana Beach)

Rahr & Sons Brewing
Barrel-Aged Tenderfoot – Barleywine

Ugly Pic – Schwarzbier/Black Lager – 5% abv.

Revolution Brewing
3rd Year Beer – Barleywine – 11.2% abv. – This brewery crafted a wheat barleywine brewed with Piloncillo, unrefined Mexican cane sugar. The ale then matured for four months in Jamaican rum barrels, resulting in a rich, delicious malt-forward beer. It would be interesting to see how this boozy, sweet barleywine settles down in a year.
Dos Osos West Coast IPA Collaboration with Firestone Walker

Russian River Brewing
Pliny The Elder – Imperial IPA – 8% abv.
Temptation – Sour Ale – 7.25% abv. (#8)

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Foam Pilsner – Pilsner – 5.2% abv.

Hoptimum – IPA – 10.4% abv., 100 IBU, 2 SRM

Barrel-aged Maple Stout with Coffee – 13% ABV, 84 SRM

Southern Tier Brewing
Live Pale Ale – American Pale Ale (#6)
Schizophrenia – Imperial Chocolate Stout – 14.2% abv. (#7) – Fresh raspberries and blackberries wild fermented in Bourbon barrels for nine months. This was amazingly smooth and flavorful, with hints of chocolate and coffee, and noticeable aromas of berries and bourbon with a slight sour finish.

Stone Brewing Co.
Levitation Ale – Amber Ale 4.4% abv. (#14)
Ruination IPA Tropical Heat Edition – IPA – 7.7% abv. (#13) – Brewed with habanero peppers, there is fruity, mango flavors up front with a dose of green and red peppercorn flavors to finish. The mango seems to slightly temper the heat of the peppers. This was tasty.

Sierra Nevada
Barrel Aged Maple Stout w/Coffee
Hoptimum – Imperial IPA – 10.4% abv.
Foam Pilsner – Pilsner – 4.6% abv.

Sun King Brewing
Osiris Pale Ale – American Pale Ale – 5.6% abv.
Batch 777 – Touched By An Angel Tripel – 10% abv.

Surly Brewing
Bitter Brewer – ESB – 4.1% abv.
Schandenfreude – Dunkel Lager

The Bruery
Hottenroth – Berliner – 3.1% abv.
Humulus Lager – IPL/Strong Lager – 7.2% abv.
Assortment of Specialty Bottles

Three Floyds
Dreadnaught IPA – Imperial IPA – 10% abv.

Barrel Aged Dark Lord – Russian Imperial Stout – 15% ABV (#1) – brewed with Intelligensia coffee Mexican vanilla and Indian sugar. Sweet molasses, bourbon, oak, lots of vanilla, caramel and a hint of dark chocolate almost overwhelm the palate – in a really good way. It’s dangerously smooth. This beer is so amazing, there’s a day in April dedicated to it, Dark Lord Day.

Triple Rock Brewing
Small Talk – American Pale Ale – 3.1% abv.
Nor Cali Bitter

Trumer Pils – Pilsner – 4.9% abv.

Yo-Ho Brewing Company
Tokyo Black Porter – Porter – 5% abv.
Yona Yona Ale – American Pale Ale – 5.5% abv.

String band, Hot Buttered Rum and gritty White Buffalo, played in the Paso sun for ~ 4,000 beer fans. Attention to details like water availability, ice tubs for kegs and large fans were appreciated in the triple digit heat. “Behind the Beer Sessions” occurred each hour at the California Mid-State Fairground and featured beer tastings and Q & A sessions with the brewmasters themselves.

I’m thankful for being a Southern California (born & raised) girl and the beaches and mountains aren’t the only reasons I stay here. It’s the world class beer and memorable events thrown to relish in the culinary tastes and celebrate the artisans that create them. In only its second year, Firestone Walker has managed to create an event that is already an industry tradition and coveted among craft beer drinkers and foodies alike. I’m already looking forward to next year.

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