Did you say beer scene in Paso Robles?
I sure did and I’m happy to report that we certainly do have a growing beer community on the Central Coast of California. The anchor of that community would be Firestone Walker Brewery which started back in 1996 and is located a few minutes south of downtown Paso Robles by car.
I’m not going to do the typical article in which I give you all the general facts about them because those are easily found on their website (which is awesome, btw). Instead, I will come at you from a local’s point of view.
Simply put they take their beer very seriously but have a lot of fun doing it. It shows in their tasting room and in the brewery which I got to tour. The brewery operates 24 hours a day, six days a week and the tour is a must if you stop in the tasting room (you also get a taste of the unfiltered DBA on the tour).
Other notable things when visiting the brewery is the tasting room itself - it’s has a fun and funky vibe which makes it a great place to just hang out. There’s Firestone Walker merchandise to look through, a couple of televisions to watch a game, an amazing staff of people which we all know makes or breaks a place, AND…
…THE BEER! They have a great selection and it’s always changing. During our visit they were pouring Honey Blonde, California Pale Ale, Hefeweizen, Double Barrel Ale (DBA), the unfiltered DBA, Hemp Ale, Walker’s Reserve (Robust Porter), Nectar IPA, Double Jack IPA, Velvet Merkin (Oatmeal Stout), and Velvet Merlin (Oatmeal Stout) as well.
In addition to all that liquid gold, they have a few different small pizzas or a warm pretzel to buy. A cool thing we learned is that they will be opening a restaurant right across the street from their Paso Robles tasting room, which will be a must visit!
So put the wine down for a moment, get online and check them out and then make your way to their tasting room. You won’t be disappointed!
Things you should know:
1. It’s the only brewery in the U.S. that does initial fermentation in American oak barrels.
2. It’s in the mid-size category for breweries.
3. They’ve won numerous awards over the years, most recently the 2011 GABF (Great American Beer Festival) Brewery of the Year.
4. California state alcohol laws do not allow them to fill growlers that are not from Firestone.
5. You have to wear closed toed shoes to take the brewery tour (my wife Annie couldn’t do the tour because she had flip flops on, lesson learned) and the tour lasts roughly 20 to 25 minutes.
6. The new restaurant across the street from the Paso Robles location is set to open in spring 2012
Matt is a 10-year Paso Robles area resident. He and his wife Annie love exploring the Central Coast looking for food, drinks, and adventure. You can follow their adventures on their blog at HootnAnnie.