Recapping the 5th Annual Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest

Firestone Walker Brewmaster Matt Brynildson giving thanks to the crowd during the 2016 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest.
Firestone Walker Brewmaster Matt Brynildson giving thanks to the crowd during the 2016 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest.

When it comes to the many various beer festivals across this land of ours, selecting which breweries and beers to seek out is always a fun, enlightening task. Decide which breweries are worthy of your coveted beer tokens and devise a game plan. But what happens when every single brewery at a festival are pouring highly regarded world-class beers?

When preparing for this past weekend’s fifth annual Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest (FWIBF), this task was quite daunting. A few weeks ago Firestone Walker Brewing announced the beer list for its FWIBF and as usual this list was quite amazing. Deciding which beers to drink in a festival that lasts five hours that includes all inclusive pours from breweries that include Cigar City, Side Project, Jester King, 3 Floyds, Russian River, Allagash, and ones from a few international breweries that includes Garage Project from New Zealand and Beavertown from England is a task that is as enjoyable as it is challenging. No matter which way you look at it every attendee is sure to have one great beer drinking experience. Check out the pre-festival draft list below.

2016 FWIBF Beer List

What’s astonishing is that this list does not include the amazing bottles that were also poured by many of these breweries including a few 6 liter bottles of Russian River 2009 Supplication, yes a few 7 year old Imperial cork and caged bottles. Watch Russian River’s Natalie Cilurzo uncork one of these 6 liter bottles to the delight of the fans waiting patiently in line for the 2:23pm pouring.

Held every year the weekend that follows Memorial Day in Paso Robles, California, the FWIBF has now just completed its fifth run. Tickets went on sale the first day of February and all 3,000 or so tickets sold out within minutes. As we have said here before this is one amazing beer festival that should be on every craft beer fan’s bucket list. No beer tickets to deal with all the while enjoying unlimited beer samples along with unlimited food bites from the region’s finest restaurants. And this year’s festival proved to be the best one yet. Tickets went on sale on February 1st and sold out in minutes just as all of the city’s hotel rooms. It’s best to plan ahead for this one as its in a small city that lies halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles on Highway 101 in California’s Central Coast that is more known for its numerous wineries.

The one thing that sets the FWIBF apart from all others is that it truly is an Invitational that Firestone Walker’s Brewmaster Matt Brynildson extends invites to his close brewing friends that includes Bend, Oregon’s Tony Lawrence and his Boneyard Beer. Years ago Lawrence spent time working at Firestone as did a handful of the other brewers that had their beer featured.

A taster of Cigar City Helsingborg Bomb at the 2016 Firestone Invitational Beer Fest.
A taster of Cigar City Helsingborg Bomb at the 2016 Firestone Invitational Beer Fest.

As with past years, a collaboration beer was brewed for the FWIBF. This year’s beer combined the exceptional talents of Firestone Walker and Russian River. Firestone has made a name for itself with its Pivo Pils that Bryndilson modeled after fellow FWIBF Italian brewery Birrificio Italiano and its Tipopils. Not to be outdone, Russian River though known for its sour ale program and its hoppy offerings also creates one phenomenal Pilsner, STS PIls. The two California breweries teamed up to create STiVO Keller Pils. Unlike all other beers pouring at the festival that includes unlimited 3 oz. samples, FWIBF attendees each receive one ticket for this collaboration beer. This collaboration truly lives up to the hype that surrounds these two brewers and breweries. Fortunately for the many did not attend the FWIB this draft only beer will be making the rounds throughout Firestone Walker’s distribution footprint in the coming weeks.

Brian Yaeger was supporting the upcoming film release from John Lovegrove, PDX Brew City, while looking at the all new International Tent at the 2016 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest.
Brian Yaeger was supporting the upcoming film release from John Lovegrove, PDX Brew City, while looking at the all new International Tent at the 2016 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest.

New this year was the International Tent that featured all of the various international breweries. In years past these breweries were intermingled with all of the US breweries. Now all set apart, theses well traveled breweries arrived to Paso Robles Event Center with some of its top beers. The brewery that seemed to have the longest line all day long was Garage Project for its Cherry Bomb Defused. If there was a prize awarded to the beer with the best presentation this one would have won hands down. Garage Project began the pour of Cherry Bomb Defused with sour cherry base beer that is then topped with a foamy, frothy chocolate top.

Paso Roble's FishGaucho was voted People's Choice Restaurant at the 2016 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest.
Paso Roble’s FishGaucho was voted People’s Choice Restaurant at the 2016 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest.

Attendees at FWIBF vote for the People’s Choice each year for brewery and restaurant. At the 2016 FWIBF went to FishGaucho for People’s Choice Restaurant as it served up its BBQ Chicken Tacos while St. Louis based Side Project Brewing was voted People’s Choice Brewery. With some of the longest lines throughout the day it’s no wonder that this 2-1/2 year old brewery earned top honors.

Side Project Brewing was awarded the 2016 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest People's Choice Brewery.
Side Project Brewing was awarded the 2016 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest People’s Choice Brewery.

Here’s our photo re-cap from the 2016 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest. Cheers to another successful year!

The early VIP crowd near the misting tent at the 2016 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest.
The early VIP crowd near the misting tent at the 2016 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest.
This prop from Heely's made you take a second look at the 2016 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest.
This prop from Heely’s made you take a second look at the 2016 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest.
This guy must be thirsty! Of course Don Scheidt was in Paso Robles all the way from Portland, Oregon to celebrate the 2016 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest.
This guy must be thirsty! Of course Don Scheidt was in Paso Robles all the way from Portland, Oregon to celebrate the 2016 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest.
Sugar Lips Mini Donuts was a favorite at this year's Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest. Last year the doughnut trailer won best the People's Choice Best Restaurant.
Sugar Lips Mini Donuts was a favorite at this year’s Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest. Last year the doughnut trailer won best the People’s Choice Restaurant.
Side Project Brewing's Punchdown, a Missouri Wild Ale aged in Oak Barrels with MIssouri Chambourcin Grapes. One of the more notable beers at the 2016 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest.
Side Project Brewing’s Punchdown, a Missouri Wild Ale aged in Oak Barrels with MIssouri Chambourcin Grapes. One of the more notable beers at the 2016 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest.
Cigar City pouring up some beers at the 2016 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest.
Cigar City pouring up some beers at the 2016 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest.
BAM, barrel aged Maibock from Sun King Brewery at the 2016 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest.
BAM, barrel aged Maibock from Sun King Brewery at the 2016 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest.
The dark, ritch Parabajava collaboration from Intelligentsia Coffee and Firestone Walker.
The dark, rich Parabajava collaboration from Intelligentsia Coffee and Firestone Walker.
Looking at the opening of the inner stage area at the Paso Robles Event Center during the 2016 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest.
Looking at the opening of the inner stage area at the Paso Robles Event Center during the 2016 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest.
Hanging under the misting tent during the VIP Hour at the 2016 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest.
Hanging under the misting tent during the VIP Hour at the 2016 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest.
It's almost high noon when the gates open for the general admission session of the 2016 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest.
It’s almost high noon when the gates open for the general admission session of the 2016 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest.
The line for Garage Project at the 2016 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest goes on forever. Its Cherry Bomb was what kept this line continually long.
The line for Garage Project at the 2016 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest goes on forever. Its Cherry Bomb Defused was what kept this line continually long.
Beavertown Brewery from England served up a nice Yuzilla Pantom during the 2016 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest.
Beavertown Brewery from England served up a nice Yuzilla Pantom during the 2016 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest.
Garage Project pouring its very popular Cherry Bomb Defused during the 2016 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest.
Garage Project pouring its very popular Cherry Bomb Defused during the 2016 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest.
Half Acre Beer Co. and Revolution Brewing, two Chicago breweries pouring at the 2016 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest.
Half Acre Beer Co. and Revolution Brewing, two Chicago breweries pouring at the 2016 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest.
Pabo Pilsner, a new pilsner from Boneyard Beer that made its debut at the 2016 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest. This beer will be pouring at Roscoe's on June 17 during the Brewery Owners Summit.
Pabo Pilsner, a new pilsner from Boneyard Beer that made its debut at the 2016 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest. This beer will be pouring at Roscoe’s on June 17 during the Brewery Owners Summit.
The anticipation builds for the two 6 liter bottles of 2009 Russian River Supplication during the 2016 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest.
The anticipation builds for the two 6 liter bottles of 2009 Russian River Supplication during the 2016 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest.
The line begins to form just prior to the uncorking of the 6 litter bottles of 2009 Russian River Supplication during the 2016 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest.
The line begins to form just prior to the uncorking of the 6 litter bottles of 2009 Russian River Supplication during the 2016 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest.
Russian River Brewing poses with a few 6 liter bottles of 2009 Russian River Supplication during the 2016 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest.
Russian River Brewing poses with a few 6 liter bottles of 2009 Russian River Supplication during the 2016 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest.
Vinnie Cilurzo pouring from one of the 6 liter bottles of 2009 Russian River Supplication during the 2016 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest.
Vinnie Cilurzo pouring from one of the 6 liter bottles of 2009 Russian River Supplication during the 2016 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest.
Receiving a pour of the 2009 Russian River Supplication during the 2016 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest.
Receiving a pour of the 2009 Russian River Supplication during the 2016 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest.
A pour of the Russian River 2009 Supplication at the 2016 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest.
A pour of the Russian River 2009 Supplication at the 2016 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest.
Brian Yaeger (left) giving Vinnie Cilurzo, founder of Russian River Brewing, his book Red, White, And Brew at the 2016 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest.
Brian Yaeger (left) giving Vinnie Cilurzo, founder of Russian River Brewing, his book Red, White, And Brew at the 2016 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest. The book features a great story from Cilurzo, definitely worth a read!
Beer brownie smores at the 2016 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest.
Beer brownie smores at the 2016 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest.
Firestone Walker's The Taproom served up some of our favorite food dishes during the 2016 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest.
Firestone Walker’s The Taproom served up some of our favorite food dishes during the 2016 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest. The watermelon gazpacho was amazing on a very warm afternoon.
Rare 3 liter bottles from Firestone Walker chilling for their 3pm uncorking during the 2016 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest.
Rare 3 liter bottles from Firestone Walker chilling for their 3pm uncorking during the 2016 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest.
FiftyFifty Brewing served up some barrel aged treats during the 2016 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest.
FiftyFifty Brewing served up some barrel aged treats during the 2016 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest.
A perfect beer on warmer days, Brewery Terreux and its Jurassic Gose during the 2016 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest.
A perfect beer on warmer days, Brewery Terreux and its Jurassic Gose during the 2016 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest.
Bottles of many rare offerings from The Bruery during the 2016 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest.
Bottles of many rare offerings from The Bruery during the 2016 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest.
Matt Brynildson holds up the award for the 2016 People's Choice Restaurant during the 2016 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest
Matt Brynildson holds up the award for the 2016 People’s Choice Restaurant during the 2016 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest
The 2016 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest crowd embraced The Stone Foxes during their headlining set.
The 2016 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest crowd embraced The Stone Foxes during their headlining set.
The Stone Foxes headline the music stage during the 2016 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest.
The Stone Foxes headline the music stage during the 2016 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest.
Brewers Supply Group provided Bloody Mary's during the brewers brunch on Saturday prior to the Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest.
Brewers Supply Group provided Bloody Mary’s during the brewers brunch on Saturday prior to the Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest.
A Bloody Mary prior to Saturday's Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest.
A Bloody Mary prior to Saturday’s Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest.
Beer writer Jay Brooks enjoys to "vacation in a can" when at the 2016 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest.
Beer writer Jay Brooks enjoys to “vacation in a can” when at the 2016 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest.
Lots of 805 gear inside the Firestone Walker Brewery Emporium.
Lots of Firestone Walker 805 gear inside the Firestone Walker Brewery Emporium.
Jeff Alworth's The Beer Bible was spotted for sale inside Firestone Walker's Brewery Emporium Gift Shop.
Jeff Alworth’s The Beer Bible was spotted for sale inside Firestone Walker’s Brewery Emporium Gift Shop.

 

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