Okay, today, we’re going to do things a bit differently today and start with a hypothetical. 

Let’s say you’re gifted a free ticket to the greatest beer festival in the world. You already know your beer, that’s for sure, but, the thing is, there will be 68 of the best breweries in the entire world at this get-together. So, you’re a little overwhelmed.

What’s your plan of attack? Do you hit the biggest and most exotic first and brave the lines for a good cause (fun fact: enjoying good beer is always a good cause)? Do you search out the experimental and rare and take a sip of something that usually takes either lots of connecting flights or hefty import taxes to regularly acquire? Do you just walk around with an empty glass hoping someone, anyone, will top it off? 

Everyone has a different approach to Invitational. And we get it, there are always loads of sparkly things that catch our eye every year. 

But, have you ever thought about how a brewer approaches it? 

If anyone knows how the proverbial sausage is made (or, in this situation, how the beer is kegged) at a beer festival, it’s the brewers. In fact, these festivals are just as much for them as they are for me and you. 

So, we talked to Sam Tierney to get the low down on what exactly a brewer is looking for when they show up at the Paso Robles Event Center on the first weekend of June. Sam is the Brewery Manager at our Firestone Walker Propagator R&D Brewhouse in Venice Beach for those unfamiliar. He’s regularly researching, developing, and pouring new, delicious brews at The Propagator.

So, while Sam may not be speaking for every brewer around the world here, he certainly provides a unique, experimental lens to the world of beer. Who knows, maybe you’ll reconsider your next booth-to-booth itinerary after reading through his notes.

Here are both his suggestions and takeaways:

– “This year, I mostly aimed toward the booths with people I’m looking to talk to and hang out with, whether they’re old friends or new in town or otherwise. I was impressed by the West Coast IPA game, which stood out. There were some very solid lagers as well, particularly with Ghost Town. There weren’t many surprises otherwise but I didn’t go out of my try some new things, just so I could avoid some of the hecticness.”

– “In saying that, I did want to search out places like Chuckanut as they have some unique practices, like their asymmetric boil heating program. It’s fun to see what those sorts of things are about and learn about whatever effects it has on the beer itself.”  

– “A lot of times though it’s less about the weird and strange beers and more about trying established styles so we can refine concepts we already have. Plus, everyone is so open and nice. So, it’s easy to approach any booth and start chatting with them if I want to get a breakdown on a concept.“

– “Mostly, I’m asking myself, “What are the beers I like?” And then seeking those styles out specifically. That way I can try, learn, and improve our own brewery and use the knowledge of so many brewers in close proximity to our advantage.”

Want to hear more from Sam? We’re always updating our Propagator Rotating Draft Menu, where you can see the latest and greatest creations from our R&D brewhouse gracing our taps. Or, even better, you can come in today and enjoy a glassful or two today.