BEERventures is a blog that follows my learning adventures with the greatest beverage known to man (and woman). As I learn about beers, how they are made, and all of the wonderful scientific facts about beer, so will you. I am no expert; far from it! I am simply a beer lover that wants to learn and explore the vast varieties of beer. All information will be from the perspective of the average consumer, and not that of a beer snob!
Firestone Walker Invitational Beerfest –
Paso Robles, CA
This post is a little overdue, but let me just start with
saying, oh Firestone……..you really do know how to impress a girl! With a
fabulous list of top microbreweries and great local restaurants serving samples
of heaven, an Invitational Beerfest like this really does sound like a dream.
Doesn’t it? Well this summer Firestone Walker Brewing Co. pulled it off, and
they did it quite well.
There was quite a bit of hype about this event; this was the
first time Firestone has ever put together a beerfest where only invited
breweries were able to participate. Tickets were very limited and sold out
quickly. Just as soon as I heard about it from an Industry friend, we purchased
tickets shortly after. Set in beautiful Paso Robles, near Firestone Walker’s
actual brewery, it was evident that this was going to turn into a mini-BEERcation for us. Indeed it did, with
the main attraction fulfilling every expectation it set out to achieve.
As soon as I walked into the gates of the fairgrounds, I
could tell this beer festival was going to be different than any of the local
ones I’ve attended in the past. Part of the welcome gift included a bamboo
plate, along with a napkin and utensils, telling me that the food at the
festival was more than just a background actor in the show. There was a notch
in the corner of the plate where the stem of the beautiful Firestone Walker Invitational Beerfest tasting glass was to reside
between sips.Everyone was also handed a
booklet with a list of each brewery and what they were sampling, and a pencil
to take notes if desired. Each brewery was required to have at least one
session beer and one “rare” beer, but there were many who had more available,
either rotating throughout the day or a third on tap.
There were a total of 40 breweries present, and all were
among the well known and respected names in Craft Beer. With each booth having
two or more beers on tap at any given time, it was impossible to be able to
taste every beer available (If there is a champion among us who has, please
make yourself known!). Planning a strategy was a must at this event, and I
found myself attempting to make beers I have never tried a top priority.
My favorites tended to be the lighter or seasonal beers, the
kind that was “easy drinking” while outside in 80 degree weather:
*Boneyard Brewing – Femme Fatale
*The Bruery – Hottenroth
*The Lost Abbey – Lost & Found
*Moylan’s Brewing Company – Pomegranate Wheat Ale
*Nebraska Brewing Company – Violet Tendencies
*Russian River Brewing Co. – Blonde Saison
*Three Floyds Brewing Company – Zombie Dust
There were a few other beers such as the Firestone Walker
Succubus, Golden Road Hudson Porter, Russian River Supplication, and the Sierra
Nevada Knock on Wood that were quite good, but to me, a bit heavy while you’re
drinking it in the sun. I don’t know…..maybe I’m just a wuss.
I won’t even get started on the amazing food samples the
featured restaurants provided. That would be a whole other blog post in itself
(maybe two). To put it simply, there was some amazing food to be had, not just
the typical crackers and pretzels you would see at other beerfests. If you
weren’t there, you missed out, sorry! To add to the beverage and food delight,
there was also live music throughout the day, as well as a stage area under
some shade where we were able to listen to some Q&A from the brewers.
For a first-time event Firestone and the sponsors did an
amazing job putting this together. It was a great experience and according to
Firestone’s website, the event will continue for 2013! If you see ticket
information on this event, seriously, don’t hesitate to purchase! You’ll be
SOL, while I’ll be having all of the fun.
Most of what made this event and weekend such a success was
the ability to enjoy it with some great company! I’d like to thank my wonderful
friend LeAnn Hubbard and her husband Brian, as well as Michael and Vanessa
Andrews for their awesome hospitality!
Go Team! From The Bruery Provisions' Collaboration Series. A Belgian-Style Mild Ale paired with a Camembert wheel, candied walnuts, frozen grapes and crackers. Perfect for a hot Summer afternoon snack!
Although I took a hiatus from blogging this spring, I still
continued to enjoy beer exploration when I could. In the fall and early spring,
I spend many weekends in the various deserts of Southern California. My
boyfriend and I love to go camping with friends and family and ride our dirt
toys (motorcycles and side-by-sides) to our hearts’ content. Yes, many of the
places we camp are remote, so our beer selection is limited to what we decide
to bring for that trip. In few spots, however, there are some hidden
word-of-mouth places where you can find some fantastic food and a cold brew
that will quench your desert thirst.
One such place of note is the White House Saloon in the
living ghost town of Randsburg, California. Randsburg is set off the west side
of Highway 395 near Ridgecrest. It’s a tiny little town in a popular camping
and OHV area with a rich mining history. Downtown Randsburg is comprised of a
small road with a few old buildings on each side. With the late 1800’s feel,
you’ll definitely feel like you’re in the old west!
The local spot is the White House Saloon, and yes it looks
and feels authentic, like a gun fight might break out at any moment! (Just
kidding……well, kinda) The “staff” as you would call them, are very much locals.
They have that small-town vibe, not too stand-offish, but not overly friendly.
Just the way a ghost town saloon should be!
Time-period and random decor is scattered along the walls.
We spent a lot of time observing all of the trinkets and sun stuff displayed on
the shelves. One shelf in particular was full of old beer cans, most of them
I’ve never even heard of. Still very cool, regardless!
There was only one beer that had to be tried during my
visit: the Mojave Red on tap at the bar. It’s the beer this tiny place is known
for, and it was a damn good red! To tell you the truth, I’m not exactly sure if
the locals brew it, or if they get it from an outside brewer. It’s really not
the kind of thing you ask when you’re a tourist in the Wild West, so I just
smiled and enjoyed my beer without pestering the bartender with questions.
The food was pretty standard for bar food, and it seemed
like they had limited ingredients and kitchen space. There was even a sign
above the bar that said “No Custom Orders.” It may as well have just said “Just
Eat it and Shut Up!” Not a problem for me, I’m far from a picky eater. The
cheese burger I ordered was very satisfying, nothing spectacular, but when
you’ve been riding all day in the heat everything tastes pretty good. I did
think that the hand-battered onion rings were excellent – we ended up getting
two orders J
There’s probably a one in a thousand chance that you’ll ever
end up in the tiny little town of Randsburg. If you do, you’d be doing yourself
a disservice of not stopping by the White House Saloon for some grub and a cold
Color poured is a very sparkly gold. The moment you see the
brightness and the bubbles in the glass, you start to smile with anticipation.
There is a very thin head that fades quickly. With the first smell, first you
can catch the centennial hops, followed by a light peach or apricot fruit
aroma. As you start to taste the beer, you realize how light and bubbly the
mouth-feel is. The fruit flavors are the star of the show; although, they are
not too overwhelming on your palate and fade away quickly enough for you to
capture a smooth, light malt finish.
If I had to sum this beer up in just a few words: Summer
crowd pleaser. This isn’t a complex or a rare beer that you would use to show
off your “beer smarts” to your friends. This is, however, a PERFECT beer you
that could buy for your first summer grilling sesh: a simple summer seasonal
that pretty much any guest could enjoy. It has the lightness that a summer beer
should have, with the fruity flavors enjoyable to most palates, with the slight
hoppiness that reminds you that you are drinking and American beer. Not to
mention the fun bottle label of an upside-down landscape that reminds you of
when you played outdoors as a kid. Gotta give props to New Belgium with their