Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest to brew up funds for a good cause

The Firestone Walker brewery sits off Highway 101 in Paso Robles.
The Firestone Walker brewery sits off Highway 101 in Paso Robles.

Forty microbreweries are slated to pour at the first Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest in Paso Robles on June 9.

The daylong festival was created by several local residents to raise money for Pioneer Day, Paso Robles’ annual celebration of its western heritage.

But the new showcase is also touted as a way to draw attention to craft beer, artisan brews produced in limited quantities, amid San Luis Obispo County’s ever-expanding wine country.

“The wineries take such a front seat, which is great, but we want to become more of a part of the fabric of the community,” said Jamie Smith, Firestone Walker Brewing Co.’s vice president of marketing.

Booths will be set up at Frontier Town in the Paso Robles Event Center to showcase the beers along with live music and samples from 20 to 30 local restaurants for food pairings.

Firestone Walker’s brewmaster, Matt Brynildson, handpicked which companies to invite with one request — teach the public about the creation process.

“We asked them to bring one brewer so they can come talk about their beers,” Smith said. “Make it about what the beers are over the distribution aspects.”

A few names of those onboard are Three Floyds Brewing in Indiana, Cigar City Brewing in Florida and Founders Brewing Co. in Michigan.

“They make some really excellent beer that is highly sought after and has a fantastic reputation in the brewing world and amongst beer geeks everywhere,” Firestone event manager Tim Miller said.

Denmark’s Mikkeller brewery and Yoho Brewing Co. in Japan will also be among those participating.

Tickets are $60 and are now available at

Firestone Walker, a Paso Robles-based company, the Pioneer Day Committee and several sponsors are putting on the roughly $50,000 event. The net proceeds will benefit Pioneer Day, although organizers say that share may be small this year as the event becomes established.

Plans call for making the showcase an annual festival.