Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Firestone Walker Brewery

1400 Ramada Drive 
Paso Robles, CA 93446
(805) 238-2556

Meet the product of Mr. Walker and Mr. Firestone.   Mr. Lion and Mr. Bear.   Mr. British and Mr. Californian.   These two fellas are good at making beer.  Their style is as the Lion V. Bear things suggests: unique, but in your face.  In fact, let me revise my statement.  These two are goddamn great at making beer.   But what's strange to me is how they fly somewhat under the beer-radar here in San Diego, even though you can get their beer practically everywhere.  That doesn't mean they're underrated (consider their myriad awards at the World Beer Cup and GABF); no, they're just under-appreciated, or just plain overlooked.

The lady and I stopped in Paso Robles on the drive up the California coast.  We started first at some wineries, which kicked major ass thanks fully to Chris' recommendations, and by "chance" the brewery was on the way back to the hotel.  Hell. Yeah.

We didn't tour the brewing facilities because, frankly, it doesn't excite me all that much - so I don't know if they have a dedicated tasting room.  That's OK though because the taproom is pretty cool, and has all their available beers at the moment.  And there's old, or recycled, bottling line as a functional display, with filled bottles slowly making their way around, directly above your head. 

The taproom is tucked away in the corner of a spacious restaurant.  The food was pretty good, but I can see how it might be hit-or-miss.  The main point of the visit was to drink beer though, so I started off with a flight:
  1. Unfiltered Double Barrel Ale (UDBA):  Not really my style, but not bad.  The unfiltered version of DBA, which is probably better than most English ales, in general.
  2. Taproom IPA:  Quite different from Union Jack, their flagship IPA.  A little light on body, but still very pleasing in terms of an IPA.  I assume you can only get it in the taproom.
  3. Walkers Reserve (a porter):  Porters are a tough breed to enjoy, I find. This one's certainly complex, and certainly a porter but, again, they're tough to like.
  4. Wookey Jack (a black IPA):  MMMMM, delicious.  A solid dark-malt IPA.  Nuff said.

By the time I had finished the flight they had tapped a keg of their oatmeal stout Velvet Merlin (I always have to stop myself from calling it Merkin) on nitro, but as a followup pint I had to go with my newfound love: Pale 31

The whole night was enjoyable - from the Paso wineries, to the excellent food and craft beer at Firestone.  I wholeheartedly recommend exploring their catalog - you'll recognize why their so lauded outside the SD-IPA bubble.

And take a look at this badassery - a picture hanging on the wall:

I can't tell who that is, but I assume it's one of the brewmasters (or both!).  All I know is if given a chance to tap some Oktoberfest barrels, I wouldn't think twice.  Cheers!

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