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Santa Maria Sun / Biz Spotlight

The following article was posted on July 31st, 2014, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 15, Issue 21 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 15, Issue 21

Spotlight on: Firestone Walker Brewing Company's Oaktoberfest

Adam Firestone and David Walker, owners | Matt Brynildson, brewmaster


Firestone Walker’s Oaktoberfest lager is now available to the public for purchase until supplies run out in October.

Paso Robles and Buellton are famous for their golden hills, oak trees, warm summer nights, and wineries. On the outskirts of both of these small cities are Firestone Walker Brewing Company (Paso Robles) and the Firestone Barrelworks Tap Room (Buellton). Adam Firestone and David Walker founded the company in 1996.  

Brewmaster Matt Brynildson recently shared with the Sun the story behind the company's seasonal beer, Oaktoberfest.

“That beer has been a beer we formulated specifically for our Oktoberfest celebrations,” Brynildson said. “It’s a gentle, lager beer that is amber in color.”

The name Oaktoberfest was chosen to pay tribute to the atmosphere of Paso Robles, as the growing city is surrounded by many oak trees. Additionally, it also represents the usage of oak barrels that Firestone Walker uses for certain beers.

“[Oaktoberfest] is available from the late summer to October,” Brynildson explained. “Brewing the beer is a five-week process. Most of our ales take about two weeks. We are already done brewing everything. We had to brew it a month in advance, so everything is already made for purchase.”

Brynildson also described the ingredients that go into Oaktoberfest.

“The beer itself is made from a very classic malt,” he said. “It’s made from Vienna Malt, named after the city, which has a beautiful, nutty texture. It also has a German hop. Hallertau Tradition is the hop that we chose. It’s a really nice German-esque beer.”

Oaktoberfest was created roughly eight years ago to celebrate the German tradition of Oktoberfest. Firestone Walker will be showcasing the beer at an upcoming event.

“We are doing a big Oktoberfest celebration down at the Madonna Inn on Oct. 11,” Brynildson said. “Every year that we’ve made this beer, we put the same amount of it in oak barrels. Then we show up at this party with the barrels. It’s kind of one of the main highlights of the event.”

While Oaktoberfest is a seasonal local hit, Firestone Walker also brews a number of popular ales.

“We’re famous for brewing ales like Union Jack and 805,” Brynildson said. “The Central Coast loves beer like 805, and they love Oaktoberfest as well. This beer is quite different. It’s a lot of fun.”

The brewing process for Oaktoberfest is significantly different from other ales.

“The yeast used for the ales work at a warm temperature, which causes fermentation to happen quickly,” Brynildson said. “The yeast in beers like Oaktoberfest [ferments] at much colder temperatures. In the old times people would make the beer in the colder months of the year. So they would generally make the beer in March so it would be ready in time for the late summer months.”

Brynildson also shared more historical backgrounds regarding beer.

“One of the most famous beer festivals in the world is the one in Munich, which is a town in Germany,” Brynildson said. “It works that only brewers who lived in the city limits of Munich were allowed to showcase their beer at the festival. We personally showcase our beer locally as well, and it’s available from the late summer to October.”

No longer is the beer found only in the Firestone Walker oak barrels during local events for an annual rite. It’s now available to the general public for purchase starting on Aug. 1 until supplies run out some time in October.


Intern Charlette Daigneault wrote this week’s Biz Spotlight. Information should be sent to the Sun via mail, email, or fax.

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