Held under the sweltering skies in Paso Robles, the 2017 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Festival was another rousing success.
FWIBF is one of the few festivals that is probably too underpriced at $85 and one of the few festivals where I am upset more when I miss food booths as opposed to beers. I have raved about it for years and I could talk about the international contingent of brewers, or which breweries had the longest lines or the heat. [It was hot.] Instead, here are my unfiltered random thoughts that I typed while enjoying my beers.
1. Fonta Flora Brewing will break big. – They had a great line-up of beers and the people were on top of it.
2. Don’t Expect Wicked Weed in 2018 – The latest “high end” brewery was pouring, but Firestone Walker was trying to stay above the fray. Expect their usual non-invite.
3. West Side Beavo was better than last year’s STiVO. – The 2017 Invitational collaboration between FW and Beavertown Brewing was excellent. A lovely IPL.
4. Scratching Post from Russian River was better than last year’s STiVO – …and better, by a nose, than West Side Beavo.
5. Trillium with the Fake – Those expecting hazy NE IPA from the sought out brewery instead found a stout and a Raspberry Wheat ale. That stout was also really good.
6. Kicked-itis – More booths seemed to close early this year. Side Project sustained a heavy line all day, but others shut quicker than I thought they should have.
7. Beer Fans seem to not mind lines. – Either when waiting to get into the festival or for a beer from a sought after brewery, attendees showed patience.
8. If you can’t find at least (5) really great beers, then you are either too picky or not trying hard enough.
The BEER OF THE WEEK is from Silva Brewing. Chuck Silva left Green Flash behind to start his own eponymous brewery in Paso Robles, a short Lyft from where the FWIBF takes place. I checked out the tap room that adjoins the Pour House and my favorite beer was his Nut Farm on nitro. I don’t even like walnuts, but this sweet, dessert-like beer had a great nut taste.
Might as well stay in Paso Robles to complete HOMEWORK. Next time you are in Paso Robles, check out Tin City. It is the industrial area (but better decorated and landscaped) that houses quite a few wine tasting rooms as well as Barrelhouse Brewing and Tin City Cider and WineShine spirits. Once you have made the turn off of Ramada Avenue, you will find a fun adventure of walking door to door to see what is being served next door. [An actual restaurant is coming to the area.]
Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.