Those of you who follow the nascent exploits of the newly formed L.A. Beer Bloggers group via the social media interwebs by now know that Firestone Walker Brewing Company treated our group to a fabulous trip to visit their newly reconfigured brewery and their new Barrelworks facility as well.
Our trip north to Paso Robles was given the moniker “Journey to the Center of the Barrel” and it was an epic trip that ranged from the bio-dynamic farm of Windrose to the brewery, to a winery and then to the sour beer center. With barrels at almost every stop.
Our Journey started with as local and as fresh of a lunch as you can get at Windrose Farm. Four courses paired with beers, some as freshly bottled as a day before we had them, lettuce picked the day they were served, and a backdrop of Central Coast mountains on a blue sky afternoon. Vinaigrette made with Union Jack IPA and lamb braised with Walker’s Reserve porter were part of the menu.
We then toured the newly revamped brewery just off the 101 Freeway. It is much bigger with all the bells and whistles of a custom hot rod. Automated Hop Dosing software and a hi-tech lab to monitor the beer as well as many, many large tanks for the range of beers including their locals only 805 Blonde. Firestone Walker has grown by leaps and bounds, if only measured by the amount of barrels that are storing the beers that we enjoy.
We then had the opportunity to visit one of the winemakers who has helped create the Anniversary Ale that they blend every year. Herman Story Wines is nearby and creates wines with aromas that I have never encountered before. And if you are already in Paso Robles to visit the new restaurant and sample beers that we can’t get in Los Angeles, then it would be a pity to not try some wines from such a beloved wine region as well.
Our last stop was south in Buellton at the new Barrelworks, that Firestone Walker created to house the barrel-aged wild beer program that you may remember from Walker’s Wild Ride at last year’s L.A. Beer Week. There we had the opportunity to blend our own sour beer. We were given four different aged wild beers and the instructions to create what we want. We also got to sample their new take on the Berliner Weisse, Bretta Weisse that has Brett added to the mix.
Instead of waiting for the next installment of Firestone Walker at L.A. Beer Week, maybe you should head north to Paso Robles instead.
Your Beer of the Week is a new offering from Strand Brewing in Torrance, Second Sleep Russian Imperial Stout. You will see the Strand line-up in bottles soon. And you will be able to spot them easily because of the distinctive tower logo. But if you want to see for yourself you can head to their bottle release event at the taproom on March 16 from Noon to 8 pm. Anyway, back to the beer. Second Sleep pours an inky black with a big coffee head. For a big ABV beer it is very smooth with slight notes of chocolate and I think I detected cherries as well.
The Homework this week is to head to Buellton if you don’t want to head further north. First you can check out Barrelworks. They have a fantastic list of rare and weird beers. Helldorado. Yup. Reginald Brett. That too. Or you can head to the restaurant and get a simple Double Barrel Ale too. Then to round out your trip you can make a stop at Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co. and pick up a tasting room exclusive or seasonal beer. It is just on the other side of the 101.
Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.