|Hanging out with my favorite brewer Todd Haug of Surly
I've been to a bunch of beer related festivals over the years and my hands down favorite is the Firestone Walker Invitation Beer Festival held annually in Paso Robles. This is actually the first year I could use the word annually in the correct context as last weekend happened to be it's second annual. It really is a fantastic fest both in concept and in execution with one of the greatest selection of breweries I've ever seen at a fest. The basic concept is that Matt Brynildson, Firestone Walker's head brewer, reached out to brewers he knows and respects from across the country and invited them to participate by bringing a minimum of two beers, something rare and something session (low abv generally below 4%). Also included with the ticket is a great selection of food offerings
For this year I was joined by my stepfather Hugh Hamm and my good friend Daniel Fernandez. Once inside we headed straight to Surly were I had hoped to bump into Todd and Linda Haug however they we're out and about doing their own exploring. While I was enjoying my first beer, Schadenfreude (a dark lager and one of the few Surly beer's that I'd never had) the OC's premier beer blogger Greg Nagel of the OC Beer Blog found us. The four of us then set out to explore the tremendous offerings that had been selected.
|My beer of the day
Brandy Barrel Hunahpu
The first time I lost Hugh was when I stopped by to talk to Linda at the Surly booth. While I was catching up she asked if I had ever met Mikkel Borg Bjergsø (Mikkeller) and Tore Gynther (To Øl), when I said no she asked if I wanted to. I've had a lot of really cool experiences over the years but having Linda introduce me to Mikkel and Tore was pretty damn awesome. To it top off Mikkel himself grabbed me a glass of Lil' Mikkel and let me have my picture taken with him. He also took a picture of me with Linda.
After I found Hugh we headed over to listen to Todd's Behind The Beer Session hosted by the Brewing Network. Ok I'll admit it, with Surly being one of my favorite breweries Surly, while not the main focus, was a big part of this years fest for me. Also, I did get to ask Todd a brewing related "homebrewer nerd" question on the difference between mash hoping and first wort hoping which I had been interested in for some time. You can see the whole interview here with my question coming in at the 14:08 mark.
For the rest of the day we worked our way around the fest trying tons for great beers and food. I lost Hugh again when he took off to use the restroom while I manned the abandoned Dogfish Head booth which I used to serve up "barrel aged high fives". Once I found him we tracked down Greg and Daniel to finish the fest. We ended up hanging out in the back with Linda and Todd culminating with me talking to Gabe and Julian of Beachwood BBQ & Brewing. I'm trying to get Julian to be a part of QuadFest 2013 as his Jean-Quad Van Damme is a nice clean example of the style.
|Greg Nagel of the OC Beer Blog on assignment
It should come as no surprise by now that one of the highlights for me was getting to visit and hang out with my friends from Surly Brewing. I love that in true Surly fashion they brought two of the lower abv beers to the fest; Bitter Brewer (a great american style bitter) and Schadenfreude. Hopefully next year they'll pull out some Surly Mild and some Bender variants, who knows maybe even some Darkness? On the beer side, my favorite of the day was Brandy Barrel Hunahpu. There was some much wonderful stuff going on in it with tons of vanilla and cinnamon mixing in and out with the brandy and the wood aromas, truly a wonderful beer. The main highlight however was bumping into and hanging out with friends within the community some of which were in from out of state. There are two breweries I would love it see invited next year, Squatter's and Noble. I think they would be a prefect fit and I might even put up a post in the future outlining why.
I really can't wait for next year!
(not a complete list but close)
Highlights highlighted in Red
Amalgamator by Beachwood Brewing
Apricot au Poivre Saison (Reserve Series, Chardonnay Barrel Aged) by Nebraska Brewing Company
Barrel-Aged Maple Stout With Coffee by Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Bitter Brewer by Surly Brewing Company
Cuvee de Bubba by Bear Republic Brewing Co.
Der Weisse Bock by Mahr's Bräu
Even Keel by Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits
Grand Am by Bear Republic Brewing Co.
Hoppy Birthday by Alpine Beer Company (CA)
Hunahpu's Imperial Stout - Brandy Barrel Aged by Cigar City Brewing
In Bloom by Pizza Port
Indra Kunindra (Barrel Aged) byBallast Point Brewing & Spirits
Invasion Pale Ale by Cigar City Brewing
Lil' Mikkel by Firestone Walker / Mikkeller
Osiris Pale Ale by Sun King Brewing Co
Peach Whiskey Barrel-Aged Prickly Passion Saison Blended W/ Felix by New Belgium Brewing Company
Raspberry Wild One by Bell's Brewery, Inc.
Ruination Tropical Heat by Stone Brewing Co.
Schadenfreude by Surly Brewing Company
Schizophrenia by Southern Tier Brewing Company
Sixty-One by Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Speedway Stout (Barrel Aged) byAleSmith Brewing Company
SpontanCherry Frederiksdal byMikkeller
Temptation by Russian River Brewing Company
Twenty by Avery Brewing Company
Ungespundetes "U" by Mahr's Bräu
|First stop of the day
|Julian pouring his brews
|Barrel aged breakfast
|If it wasn't hot enough...
|One of the bands
|Picture with Mikkel
|Linda and I
|Daniel and his 100° rated hat - photo via Daniel
|Todd at the Brewing Session
|This was followed by barrel aged high fives
photo via Daniel
|Alpine boys steaming things up
|Hugh and I
|"Todd can I get a full pour of
|Hanging out with Julian and Gabe from Beachwood