Category Archives: Brewery Tours

Firestone Walker Brewing Company

Firestone

While In Paso Robles decided to take a brewery tour at Firestone Walker Brewing Company. In 2001 owners Adam Firestone and David Walker purchased the SLO Brewing Company in Paso Robles, California.

Firestone is truly Craft Beer and they ferment their ales in the Firestone Union oak barrel brewing system, which incorporates 65-gallon, medium and heavy toast American oak barrels.


Firestone Brewing Company (Photo by RSheridan)

Craft Beers

Tasting Room

Tasting Room is open 7 days a week from 12 pm to 7 pm and usually have about 14 beers on tap.


Firestone Brews Menu (Photo by RSheridan)


Firestone’s Solace (Photo by RSheridan)

I am a fan of the Solace at Firestone. The Solace is a Summertime Fusion Wheat Beer with hints of citrus – refreshing, aromatic, great tasting.


High Gravity Snifter of Parabola – Limited Release (Photo by RSheridan)

Let me tell you that you could stand a knife up in the Parabola – thick and creamy! Aromatic with bold bourbon and tobacco with flavors of dark chocolate and charred oak flavor – tasted like a chocolate liquer. We needed a chocolate souffle while tasting the Parabola.

The style of the Parabola is a Barrel Aged Russian Imperial Stout with 13% abv.

Brewery Tour

Tours of the brew house and cellar are complimentary and first come first serve on Saturdays and Sundays. Arrive 15 minutes before tour time to secure your spot and will need to wear flat, closed toe shoes for the tour.

Tour Hours

Saturday at 12:30pm, 1:30pm, 2:30pm, and 3:30pm

Sundays at 1:30pm and 3:30pm


Brew Deck (Photo by RSheridan)

In a nutshell the brewhouse converts dry malt into a fermentable liquid – a very complex process. Firestone does not pasteurized so cleaniness is important in producing quality craft beers.


Cellar (Photo by RSheridan)

The Cellar is about fermentation and refinement. The Cellar contains multiple stainless steel fermentaters in various sizes.

The Firestone Union is a unique process. Their DBA, Pale 31 & Walker’s Reserve are partially fermented in oak barrels. Basically a portion of the wort is racked to 1 of 42 American oak barrels in the Firestone Union. If I understand it correctly the Firestone Union is taken from the Burton Union sytem, staple in British beer making. Firestone may be the only brewery in the U.S. using this method. This method adds character and complexity to Firestone’s beers – handcrafted quality.

Firestone produces barrel aged limited release beers – “strong beers” due to a higher alcohol content and complexity. These beers spend a certain amount of time in oak barrels – these barrels add the flavors and complexities to the beers. This includes the Parabola as well as Barley Wine, Saucerful of Secrets, Bravo Brown, Velvet Merkin and Sticky Monkey. These beers may become part of the blend that is released each year, their Anniversary series. Our tour guide stated that some of the Paso Robles Winemarkers are invited in to help with the blending of the Anniversary series.


Keg Processing Area (Photo by RSheridan)

The brewery’s keg packaging process is pretty amazing – this baby can sanitize as well as capable of filling 70 kegs per hour – can you say Kegger man!


The Bottling Process (Photo by RSheridan)


The Bottling Process (Photo by RSheridan)


The Bottling Process (Photo by RSheridan)


The Bottling Process (Photo by RSheridan)


The Bottling Process (Photo by RSheridan)

I enjoyed learning about the bottling and packaging process. I started thinking about Laverne & Shirley while the tour guide was talking about this process. Since they do not pasteurize their beers the bottling and packaging process is important to the quality of their beers. Firestone has invested in the best equipment and procedures, especially sanitation and cleaning processes. The brewery uses a Krones bottling line – this baby can produce 300+ 12 oz. bottles per minute – do you hear beer heaven calling?


Firestone Brewery (Photo by RSheridan)

Stop for a Taste and Take in a Tour of the Brewery – A Fun Experience!

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Sierra Nevada Brewing Company

Sierra Nevada Brewing Company is located in Chico, California.


(Photo by RSheridan)

Brewery Tour

Had the BEST Tour Guide, Ryan!!!

Highly Recommend – Make Reservations in Advance! FREE! Tour Desk:  (530) 899-4776

Tour Days and Times

Monday – Thursday:  12:00 pm, 1:00 pm, 2:00 pm and 4:00 pm

Friday and Saturday:  12:00 pm, 1:00 pm, 2:00 pm, 3:00 pm, 4:00 pm and 5:00 pm

Sunday:  12:00 pm, 1:00 pm, 2:00 pm, 3:00 pm and 4:00 pm

Solar Power


The parking lot is covered with solar panels.


More solar panels on the roof. (Photos by RSheridan)

The Basics of Beer Making

The Ingredients:

Barley Malt + Hops + Yeast + Water = Great Brews

Tried Crystal, Caramel and Chocolate Malts! The roasting process of the malt brings out the character, flavor and body of the beer.

Along with a brief history of Sierra Nevada Brewing Company and then the tour began.

Hydrating Malt Mill

This is where the brewing process starts. The malted barley grains are cracked and then sprayed with hot water. This softens the grains before the grains are crushed. This results in a grist that is mixed in the mash tun, which turns the barley’s starches into fermentable sugars.


(Photos by RSheridan)

The Brew House

The Brew House was AMAZING!


(Photo by RSheridan)

Then the process continues in the lauter tun where hot water is run through the mash. This is where the wort comes into play. This process extracts the sugars, color and flavor components into wort. The wort is then boiled with hops in the brew kettles. Actually tried wort for the 1st time!


(Photos by RSheridan)

The Chilled Hop House

You get to check out the hops and get hands on! Sierra Nevada hand selects the finest hop cones from growers around the world (every year). Sierra Nevada also grows their own hops (out by the solar paneled parking lot).


(Photos by RSheridan)

The Yeast Room – The Magic

Did you know that the Yeast in the Kellerweis is what brings out the Banana flavor in the brew! The yeast works its magic on the malt and hops to make flavor packed brews.

Chico Water that is Filtered is used to make the Brews! The brewery’s waste water is treated with their state of the art recycling plant.

Fermentation & Filtration

Basically in fermentation the living yeasts convert the malt sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide. The Magic is Happening Now! Basically I think in terms of appearance, aroma, mouth feel, and flavor profile of the brews. Get Your 5 Senses into the process of beer tasting!

This is Where the Brew is Born!


(Photos by RSheridan)

Hops Everywhere


(Photos by RSheridan)

A Touch of the Unique


Be on the lookout for the unique tiles on the walls! (Photo by RSheridan)

The Hall of Brew Labels


(Photos by RSheridan)

Bottling 


Heading to the Packaging Area

The Bottling Area is Massive!


(Photos by RSheridan)

Tasting

I was amazed to learn that the tasting consisted of 8 brews – WOW! Let the FUN begin!

My Top 3:  Kellerweis, Ovila:  Dubbel & Narwahl

  • Pale Ale
  • Kellerweis
  • Celebration
  • Northern Harvest
  • Torpedo
  • Ovila:  Dubbel
  • Ovila:  Barrel-Aged Quad
  • Narwahl


The Pale Ale


The Kellerweis


The Celebration


The Ovila:  Barrel-Aged Quad (Photos by RSheridan)

These Brews are Meant to Be Sipped and Savored; No CHUGGING Allowed!!!


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