Entrepreneur of the Year

Adam Firestone and David Walker

Award Sponsor: Cox Business

Firestone Walker Brewing Company began innocently enough: two brothers-in-law sitting around debating the subject of good and bad beer.

The debate escalated, and it wasn’t long before they had goaded themselves into brewing their own. The year was 1996. Given Adam Firestone’s winemaking bias and David Walker’s lack of fermentation experience, they believed that 60-gallon oak barrels were an appropriate vehicle for creating the ultimate elixir. Initial attempts were forgettable. But from this early failure was born a handy invention-the Firestone Union oak barrel brewing system, which yielded their original flagship beer, Double Barrel Ale (DBA).

Ever since, Adam and David have cultivated a culture of innovation at their brewery, always in pursuit of the perfect beer. Their entrepreneurial enterprise that began 20 years ago in a converted shed on the Firestone family vineyard has since grown to become the 10th largest craft brewery in the United States. The next chapter is now being written with a brew house expansion in Paso Robles that will pave the way for the next 20 years.

The creation of the Barrelworks wild ale facility in Buellton in 2013 along with the opening of the Propagator pilot brew house in Venice last year have further solidified Firestone Walker’s foundation as a regional brewery, with 75% of its beer still consumed in California. Firestone Walker maintains deep roots in the Central Coast, and continues to host and participate in events that benefit local non-profits such as Paso Robles Pioneer Day, Woods Humane Society, Paso Robles REC Foundation and others.

While much has evolved at Firestone Walker Brewing Company over the years, Adam and David’s original vision remains the same: to make each beer better than the last.