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New Times / Cuisine

The following article was posted on October 4th, 2012, in the New Times - Volume 27, Issue 10 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from New Times [] - Volume 27, Issue 10

Artisan drinks and creative cocktails

The Central Coast is paradise for drinkers


I’ve got to recommend three upcoming festivals, each of which promises a good time. Drinking your choice of a wide array of delicious wines, ales, or cocktails, eating decadent treats (who cares about calories when you can diet tomorrow?), live music and dancing, and joining their huge social network where you’ll find new friends. That said, here’s a really good piece of advice: Book a designated driver in advance. Then you can join the fun and really cut loose as long as you don’t get wasted in public—in which case you can be arrested for public drunkenness.

Chemistry of Cocktails invites local bartenders to wow celebrity judges on behalf of the Exploration Station in Grover Beach.

Don’t let my sobriety bring you down. There’s little to worry about, because the Central Coast adult drinkers I know are impressively responsible about alcohol consumption. And they are overly generous in their donations to very worthy local charities. For every dollar you spend—whether it’s for event entry, drinks, food, or memorabilia—a portion of it will support a very worthy cause—in this case Woods Humane Society, the Exploration Station, and the Paso Youth Arts Foundation. What better reason to go out and party with friends and support your community?

The eighth annual Oaktoberfest

“It’s what we drink around here,” the delivery truck slogans originally said of Firestone Walker Ales, and that’s always been true. Wine lovers and winemakers alike love the award-winning ales by their passionate and talented brewmaster Matt Brynildson, who has made the brews since the brand was founded. As it’s always been said in the wine industry: “It takes a lot of good beer to make good wine.”

The annual “Oaktoberfest,” Firestone Walker’s take on Germany’s famed Oktoberfest tradition, features their fabulous beers, a beer Olympics competition, German-style fare, a costume contest, and several beer gardens. It’s held at the Avila Beach Golf Resort from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 6. They invite you to fill your stein, flaunt your lederhosen or dirndl, and get stoked on oak.

“This event is a mash-up of Bavarian style and California flavor, and it’s also a nod to our longtime devotion to brewing with oak barrels,” said Jamie Smith, vice president of marketing at Firestone Walker Brewing Company. “It’s all about having fun, embracing the season, and supporting a good cause.”

The event will feature live music by the Jammies and ’80s cover tunes by Fast Times. During the beer Olympics, guests can compete in barrel rolling, stein racing, and other feats of agility and strength.

You’ll enjoy Firestone Walker’s fall seasonal Oaktoberfest beer with the ceremonial barrel tapping by brewmaster Matt Brynildson taking place at noon (as pictured during last year’s event). The Oaktoberfest is “a true German Marzen bier brewed with premium imported Pilsner and Vienna malts, spiced with Bavarian hops from the motherland, and fermented with Augustiner Lager yeast from Munich.”

If you can’t afford a limo, Firestone Walker is providing free shuttle rides to Avila Beach Golf Resort from Firestone Brewery Taproom in Paso Robles, or at Spike’s in SLO. Check out the details at

Brewmaster Matt Brynildson tapped the ceremonial barrel in full Bavarian mode during last year’s Oaktoberfest.

Tickets include admission, a commemorative half-liter stein, and one beer. Food and additional beer will be available for purchase during the event. Tickets are $30 at the door, or $25 purchased in advance at Firestone Walker in Paso Robles or Buellton, Boo Boo Records in SLO, or all Vallitix ticket locations. A portion of proceeds will benefit the Woods Humane Society.

A Taste of the Back Roads

Central Coast Touring Services
If you’re planning a tasting tour of SLO County wine country, why not look into some of these excellent tour companies and leave the driving to them?

• Breakaway Tours, 783-2929

• Gold Coast Limousines, 937-5466

• Grapeline Wine Country Shuttle, 888-894-6379

• Wine Line, 610-8267

• Alexis Limousine, 550-0112

• Wine Wrangler, 238-5700

The Back Roads Wineries of Paso Robles are offering this new event that takes place during the Paso Robles Harvest Weekend, Oct. 19 through 21. It’s their attempt to attract wine lovers to their great wineries found far from the beaten path. It begins with an educational seminar with five winemakers who will discuss the best wine they produce while tasting them with you. It’s followed by a walk-around tasting where you’ll enjoy wines from the collective of 18 winery members, samples by two olive oil producers, and foods by Ted’s Taco Bar and Dean Brothers Smoke House. There’s also live music by Acoustify. It takes place at Windfall Farms on 4715 Flying Pastor Lane in Paso Robles’ east side from 5 to 9 p.m. Tickets are $75 for the seminar and walk-around tasting and $40 for the tasting only, 6 to 9 p.m. The event benefits the Paso Robles Youth Arts Foundation. Buy tickets at participating wineries, like Still Waters, and find more information at Or conveniently buy them online at

The Chemistry of Cocktails

This adult-only event is described as an afternoon of grown-up fun where chemistry and cocktails collide! It’s open to everyone 21 or older at the Exploration Station in Grover Beach, a nonprofit designed to inspire people of all ages—and normally that means kids, too. Besides some very pretty and unusual-looking cocktails, event organizers will provide food (including some molecular gastronomy), live music by the West Coast Jazz Cartel, and a silent auction. The creative drinks are made by local restaurant bartenders in this competition that will be judged by celebrity judges. This is my first time judging, and I’m looking forward to it. From what I read last year from New Times’ Glen Starkey, who judged the first competition, this will be as interesting as it is fun for everyone.

The first winner was Rosa’s Italian Restaurant in Pismo Beach for its “Double Your Pleasure” cocktail. It takes place from 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 4, and tickets are only $40 in advance, $50 at the door. All proceeds benefit the Exploration Station’s educational programs, so please spend generously in the silent auction. For more details, call program director Tosha Punches at 473-1421 or visit I’ll meet you there!

Contact Cuisine columnist at