The Lion & The Bear
Firestone Walker Brewing Company began innocently enough: two brothers-in-law—Adam Firestone and David Walker—debating the subject of good and bad beer. Their search for a decent local ale finally led them to brew their own starting in 1996. The original Firestone Walker brewery was located in a converted shed on the family vineyard, where they experienced no shortage of trials and tribulations. From these humble beginnings was born one of the world’s most decorated breweries.
Today, David—a.k.a. the Lion—is a tireless advocate of craft beer who fuels the creative and operational energies behind Firestone Walker. Adam—a.k.a. the Bear—is the brewery’s resident hardhat-wearer and you can find him wherever the hammers are swinging on our next brewery project. Through it all, Adam and David’s mutual calling has always been the same: to continuously pursue the perfect beer.
Brewmaster Matt Brynildson’s nickname says it all: “Merlin.” Renowned as one of the world’s leading brewmasters, Matt has worked his magic at Firestone Walker since 2001. He has been named “Champion Brewmaster” four times at the World Beer Cup and “Brewer of the Year” six times at the Great American Beer Festival. Matt is known throughout the global beer community as an educator, collaborator and innovator.
California has been our home since we started in 1996. We live and brew here, and we draw energy from the communities that surround us.
Our beers are available nationwide, yet they always reflect where they come from—a land where creativity and innovation are the rule. This is what it means to us to be a California beer company.
At Firestone Walker, Beer Before Glory is our mantra for reminding ourselves we do what we do because of the beer. Period. It’s our battle cry to never accept well enough. It’s the high aim for a perfect beer we will never make. Beer Before Glory is our craft, ever honed on the stone of humility.
We tap into the power of renewable energy wherever possible, starting with Paso Robles sunshine. Our new 9.7-acre solar array is designed to offset up to 80 percent of the brewery’s energy needs by generating 4,800 MWh hours of electricity each year. We also minimize energy use throughout each step of our operation, be it electricity, natural gas or fuel.
In the brewhouse, all of our tanks are insulated and all motors are demand-controlled. We utilize kettle steam recovery systems that save energy as well as water, and we also recover energy by capturing heat during the wort cooling process. LED lighting located throughout the campus increases energy efficiency by 75 percent. Additionally, our new warehouse is energy efficient thanks to its highly reflective roof; leading-edge insulation; electric forklifts; and efforts to ship by rail when possible.
As Californians, we understand how vital water is to the landscape and to our community. For this reason, our brewhouse employs techniques to ensure that this resource is used sparingly throughout each stage of the brewing process. Recycling weak wort allows us to save two to three thousand gallons of water per turn. Recovering condensate from steam enables us to apply that energy toward heating other kettles. Additionally, “clean- in-place” programs and water recirculating in filtration further reduce our level of water consumption. As our skilled brewers strive to optimize each step of the brewing process, we continue to seek new ways to conserve this precious resource.
In 2015 we installed a water treatment facility on campus in order to process our effluent water, thus benefiting our local utilities and community. We work to recover small amounts of wastewater, about 10,000 gallons per week. The remainder is processed, separating out the fine organic material and leaving the water acceptable for delivery back into the city’s waste water infrastructure. This facility also provides up to 65 KW of energy through anaerobic digestion.
Not wanting anything to go to waste, we divert as much from the landfill as possible through the recycling, reusing and repurposing of excess material and equipment.
Our spent grains and yeast are converted to feed for local livestock. Additionally, we have most supplies delivered in bulk–including grain, bottles, and cans—which cuts down on incoming materials waste. Our processed plastics, aluminum, glass and cardboard are 100 percent recycled. We also aim to minimize waste throughout distribution by streamlining packaging, removing excessive cardboard and plastic, and maintaining our own fleet of steel kegs that are reclaimed and maintained in-house.
An important part of our waste program is The Boneyard– an area devoted to the storage of old equipment that is repurposed in various projects. For example, an old whirlpool has been transformed into seating at our Venice location. Similarly, we use reclaimed city water tanks at our wastewater treatment facility.