Los Angeles Business Journal

Paso Robles Brewery Taps Venice for New Restaurant

Beer: Firestone Walker sees operation as mainly market research facility. By James Rufus Koren Monday, August 26, 2013

By sometime next year, Firestone Walker plans to open a restaurant and bar, as well as a small-scale brewery, marketing offices and classrooms for seminars.

Firestone said the brewery prides itself on a scientific approach to beer, hosting seminars with suppliers and classes on hop varieties at its Paso Robles headquarters. So it will have similar offerings in Venice, geared toward beer enthusiasts that Firestone calls “beer wonks.”

“Our customers seem to be intrigued by the process, the technology, the science behind our beer-making,” Firestone said. “That’s our conversation.”

The Venice brewery will be tiny, capable of making no more than 130 gallons of beer at a time, compared with an 1,800-gallon system at Firestone Walker’s Paso Robles brewery. Beer made in Venice will be served on site, allowing brewers to tinker with everything from carbonation levels to the type of glassware each beer is served in, along with simply seeing what sells and what doesn’t.

In addition to restaurant staff, Firestone said the Venice site will likely be home to two full-time brewers and six to eight marketing employees, some focused on social media.

A few members of Firestone Walker’s marketing team might move from Paso Robles, but Firestone said most of the Venice team will be locals pulled from the Westside’s young creative class. That’s one element that drew the brewery to the area.

“We like the creative potential of this area,” he said. “It seems to have become a real gathering point for creative minds and that drove the decision.”

But setting up on the Westside has its risks as well. Firestone said customers in Venice will likely have higher expectations for the brewery’s restaurant than customers in Buellton and Paso Robles.

“We’re going into the foodie capital of the world,” he said. “Expectations are just enormous. We will have to take our game up a couple notches or the locals will show up with torches and pitchforks.”

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