Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest returns
Fifth annual event sells out in less than a minute
– After selling out in less than a minute last February, the fifth annual Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest on June 4 is set once again to make Paso Robles and the Central Coast an epicenter of the craft beer world, drawing more than 50 international breweries and more than 1,500 out-of-county guests to the region.
As always, net proceeds from the event will benefit Paso Robles Pioneer Day. The proceeds are utilized by Paso Robles Pioneer Day to help fund antique tractor restoration and other local initiatives, including the annual Pioneer Day parade.
The fest has also proven to provide a local tourism boost. “With the support of a local institution like Pioneer Day, the fest is an ideal event model – one that attracts and entertains visitors while serving the local community,” said Shonna Howenstine, tourism coordinator for the City of Paso Robles.
Attending breweries this year include Wicked Weed (Ashville, North Carolina), Dogfish Head (Milton, Delaware), Half Acre (Chicago, Illinois), 8 Wired (New Zealand) and Birrificio Italiano (Italy). More than 20 Central Coast restaurants and food purveyors will also be on hand.
“The Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest was born from a dream of creating a world-class festival featuring not only the best brewers in the world, but brewers whom we feel are leaders in the craft beer revolution,” Brewmaster Matt Brynildson said. “This is a day where we can all put down our sales and marketing pitches and simply commune and share our beers and stories with people who are truly interested in craft beer.”
Fest collaboration beer to be available locally
To commemorate the 2016 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest, Russian River Brewing Company owners Vinnie and Natalie Cilurzo and Firestone Walker’s Brewmaster Matt Brynildson created STiVO Keller Pils—a mashup of Russian River’s STS pilsner and Firestone Walker’s Pivo pilsner.
The brew will be released at the fest, and will thereafter be available locally for a limited time at the brewery and at select draft accounts across the Central Coast.
Both brewers say that the brew is as much a testament to personal friendship as professional collaboration. “This beer has been 10 years in the making,” Brynildson said. “Vinnie and I respect each other immensely as brewers, but more important, we’re good friends.”
In brewing the beer, Cilurzo and Brynildson ultimately split the hops down the middle between Pivo’s German Saphir hops and STS’s Alsatian Aramis hops, both of which belong to the new wave of European hop cultivars.
“These hops are more similar than they are different, and they blend really well together,” Brynildson said. “They don’t taste like fruity American hops, but they’re not like Old World Hallertau hops, either. They’re perfect for this idea of a new age hoppy pilsner.”