7:30 A.M. LA Union Station: “I’m pretty sure the guy next to me at the urinal was jacking off” claims Kip of Bierkast/LA Aleworks. I once wrote about this building’s romantic nature, but the thought of decorating a urinal cake in front of company is somewhat impressive yet depressing at the same time.
Seated in the center of a bus full of the absolute cream of LA beer media, I can’t help but smile. Batteries are fully charged, bagels are schmeered and bottles of craft beer are flowing wildly. We’re headed north to Paso Robles on a ‘Journey to the Center of a Barrel’ hosted by Firestone Walker. Anders, the LA area Firestone rep (looking strikingly like Mike Myers, but with a German accent) passes bottles of Double Jack, Double Barrel Ale and Pale 31 like communion. Our livers (and cell phone batteries) are in for a slow and painful death this weekend.
11:30 A.M. Slowly sipping a Bruery Rugbrod makes the time and trees melt by the bus windows ever so fluidly. The business cards have all been passed out, Twitters have all been followed and the bus vegans have all outed themselves. Somewhere off of James Dean Highway, the bus creeps onto a thin dirt road and squeeks to a stop. Bones crack as we emerge through the dust cloud. “Where the hell are we?” Anders trots to the top of the nearest hill and makes a call. I check the itinerary: “noon – Lunch – Think Fresh”. Then it happened, a sunbeat tractor rolls over the hill to save us. “Is that David Walker on the back? Holy fucking shit!”
“Hop on” David says in his Mozy ‘charming man’ accent. Musical chairs ensue. Being lunchtime, the thought of dining on a farm seems like a fucking fairy tale. I snap a photo of David Walker with the sole purpose of showing my barber. “He’s one cool son of a bitch.” I tell the Beer Goddess next to me. Picking up a bunch of media people on a tractor is beyond pimp-like. I need to be pinched.
We end up at Farmers Bill and Barbara Spencer’s Windrose Farm just outside Paso Robles. Firestone Walker and many other restaurants get their truly organic/biodynamically produced goods from this wildly manicured plantation. Envision rolling hills littered with trees, 70’s porn rosemary bushes, sheep grazing and shitting like natural fertilizer factories…acres upon acres of apples and beyond. If you’re looking for a spot to camp for Firestone Walker’s Invitational Beer Fest, this is the spot. They even offer a cozy pink trailer ‘farmhand for a night’ stay that includes fresh food and beer! (Call for details)
Gathering around the farmhouse, pitchers of Firestone Barrelworks BrettaWeiss are served. As farmer Bill speaks to us on the crappy state of “organics”, a rooster tro-lo-los along to a quartet of wind chimes jingling in the warm breeze. Closing my eyes while taking a sip, I feel dreamy and hypnotic. This beer is bright, tart and is farming with character from the wild yeast, yet remains approachable and refreshing. If this is any indication of what Barrelworks in Buellton is capable of, I’m 100% on board.
- Farmstyle salad; fresh picked greens, vegetables, Union Jack vinaigrette; w/Double Jack IPA (bottled yesterday)
- Braised bitter greens; Windrose Farm smoked tomatoes; w/ Wookey Jack Black Rye IPA (bottled two weeks ago)
- Walker’s Reserve Braised Lamb; roasted root vegetables; w/Parabola Russian Imperial Stout (2011)
- DBA caramelized apples, vanilla ice cream; w/ Double DBA Imperial ESB
Enjoying such beautiful food at its peak of flavor and nutrition next to shockingly perfect beer sets a perfect foundation for the rest of the day. I’m ready for anything. I could box a lion and wrestle a bear after this. This lunch is world class and faultless. This is my Jonestown moment for fresh food and craft beer!