Tickets for Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest to go on sale Friday

jrobillard@thetribunenews.comJanuary 28, 2013 

Japan's Yo-Ho Brewing Co. was among the approximately 40 breweries from around the world that poured at last year's Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest in June in Paso Robles. Yo-Ho will also have a booth at the 2013 event on June 1.

JENNIFER ROBILLARD — jrobillard@thetribunenews.com

Firestone Walker Brewing Co. will again bring more than 40 craft breweries from around the world to Paso Robles for its Invitational Beer Fest, and organizers expect tickets to sell out fast.

The second annual festival, to be held June 1, is expected to draw 4,000 people. The event sold out in two months last year, but Firestone Walker predicts this year’s tickets, which go on sale at midnight Friday, will be gone in a few days.

Last year, just 30 percent of tickets were purchased by San Luis Obispo County residents, according to Jamie Smith, Firestone Walker’s vice president of marketing.

Because most of the attendees were from out of the area, Shonna Howenstine, tourism coordinator for the city of Paso Robles, believes the festival had an effect on tourism revenue.

“Since we only have a little over 1,200 hotel rooms, I’m guessing the impact was significant,” Howenstine said. “I have no doubt that (Firestone) could grow their beer festival as large as they could manage and it would sell out, which would bring fantastic notoriety to Paso Robles year-round and, of course, stimulate the local economy.”

All proceeds from the beer festival go to Paso Robles’ annual Pioneer Day celebration, but neither Smith nor the Pioneer Day Committee would reveal a figure for 2012’s event.

Pioneer Day director Brenda Clouston said the amount was “enough to offset the cost of our festivities and maintain our historic tractor and wagon collection, and fund community outreach programs.”

Clouston noted “the travel expenses for bringing the breweries from around the world is quite high.”

In addition to being a beneficiary, the Pioneer Day Committee co-promotes, co-sponsors and provides volunteers to the event, Clouston said.

June’s five-hour festival at Paso Robles Event Center’s Pioneer Town will feature three bands, Q&A sessions with brewers and booths for about 20 Central Coast restaurants.

While the full lineup is being finalized, confirmed breweries range from California favorites such as Chico’s Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., to those far away, such as Japan’s Yo-Ho Brewing Co. Breweries closer to home include Hollister Brewing Co. of Goleta and Figueroa Mountain Brewing of Buellton. Others scheduled to pour are Dogfish Head of Milton, Del., New Belgium of Fort Collins, Colo., and Cigar City of Tampa, Fla.

Each brewery is asked to bring a rare, specialty beer.

“The brewers really go all out at this event,” said Firestone Walker brewmaster Matt Brynildson in a news release. “You will recognize some of the beers, but you can also expect the unexpected.”

Tickets are $75 each and will go on sale at www.firestonebeerfest.com.

Firestone Walker was established in 1996 in Santa Barbara County and expanded to Paso Robles in 2001.

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