Richardson has had a venerable career in the beer industry, graduating from the UC Davis brewmaster program while most of us were still building a pog collection and pretending we knew the lyrics to Nuthin' but a 'G' Thang. He originated the role of brewmaster at Firestone Walker in 1996 and later spent six years brewing at Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. From there Richardson moved into the olive oil industry before returning to FW last year to direct Barrelworks.
To better understand barrel-aging at the "cathedral of barrels," as Barrelworks is lovingly known, start by asking Richardson why Firestone Walker opened the location in Buellton, 88 miles from the home brewery in Paso Robles. Then get into how he built the sophisticated program of blending and aging beers that have all spent time in barrels of varying character -- American toasted oak, Bavarian oak, industry-leader French oak, which were used as English Union barrels, for viognier or cabernet grapes, and a few bourbon barrels, all from different beverage "generations."
Bring your esoteric questions and as well as general inquiries: This is the man from whom you want answers. Take advantage of the opportunity to hang out at Chloe -- Golden Road's pub-within-a-pub, which opened late last year, and is usually privy to beer industry players only. Sip on FW beers and order the dessert that chef Adam Levoe will prepare with Sucaba, FW's 13% abv barley wine.
You can throw down some cash for a large private party or inch your way into the craft world if you want to check out Chloe, but wouldn't it just be easier to show up tonight and see what all the fuss is about? Read more on the Golden Road website and be sure to get the details on Barrelworks from our January Q&A with Richardson.