June 13: I am sitting on the curb outside Firestone Walker Brewing Company at sunset. I can smell the wort from their 5th batch of today, a batch of DBA (Double Barrel Ale). The compressors are noisy, the highway traffic less so. The western horizon an reveals the silhouette of a broad orchard crowned with a pink sky, fading up into violet and then pale ultramarine blue. The North Star hangs suspended like a single white Christmas light alone in that expanse of pale blue. A small black beetle decides not to climb on my legs where my laptop is balanced. The wireless signal is not quite good enough here. I'll have to move closer to the tasting room.
Today I spent a lovely morning with Will Crosby (photo above with Brewmaster Matt Brynildson) brewing Red Nectar and then DBA on Firestone Walker's 50-barrel JV Northwest system. This system is very similar to Deschutes' 50-bbl JVNW system, except Firestone Walker uses hop pellets and Deschutes uses whole hops. Will even let me hop in the kettle to squeegie the last bits of the spent grain down the chute.
I spent most of the afternoon with QC Manager Jim Crooks (photo right) in their lab. We swapped stories on qualtiy control (or the lack that we've both seen in our long careers.) Both Will and Jim are very into bread-making. Seems there are a lot of us yeast nuts out there.
I'm parked in a shady spot near the brewery. There's railroad tracks about 20 feet from Big Buddy, but only one long train went by last night. On the other side of the tracks is a large brown-grass field full of sheep and one dedicated shepard.
Paso Robles is a grown-up agricultural town. That means the visitation of wine-country tourists ensure a decent selection of restaurants downtown. Matt Brynildson and his girlfriend Melissa and I enjoyed some of that selection. If it weren't so darn hot here, it would be a nicer place than it already is.
P.S. Thank you to Firestone Walker for the free wireless internet in their tasting room.