Marek Warszawski

‘We feel nothing but friendship for Fresno’: Brewery responds to Twitter put-down

The story behind Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Take a look inside Firestone Walker Brewing Co's main brewery in Paso Robles as co-founder David Walker talks about the beginnings of the business and the craft beer revolution in the United States.
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Take a look inside Firestone Walker Brewing Co's main brewery in Paso Robles as co-founder David Walker talks about the beginnings of the business and the craft beer revolution in the United States.

The founders of Firestone Walker Brewing Co. are offering an olive branch to Fresno in the form of a hop leaf.

Two days after the Paso Robles-based brewery drew the ire of Fresno residents for one of their employees’ Twitter pot shot at California’s fifth-largest city, co-founders David Walker and Adam Firestone didn’t let the situation ferment.

“We can’t (and don’t want) to control our employees’ personal opinions, nor do we have to agree with them,” Walker wrote in an email.

“Whether it’s Dodgers v. Giants, Niners v. Rams or (Cal Poly) Mustangs v. (Fresno State) Bulldogs, we don’t have rooting interests … but we can assure you that Firestone Walker as a brewery feels nothing but friendship for Fresno, our Central California neighbor, where we have shared beers and good times for nearly two decades.”

Opinion

Those good times felt a little strained over the weekend when Jemma Wilson, Firestone Walker’s communications manager, tweeted “I’m sorry you had to go to Fresno though” in response to singer John Legend’s appearance at Saturday night’s Fresno State-Minnesota football game at Bulldog Stadium.

After initially doubling down on her “joke” in the face of criticism from Fresno residents, Wilson deleted her tweet and set her account to private.

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Jemma Wilson, a communications manager at Firestone Walker Brewing Co. in Paso Robles, responds to a tweet from singer John Legend with a dig about Fresno. The tweet has since been deleted.

Weighing in on the kerfluffle, I wrote the city is owed an apology and playfully suggested Firestone Walker treat everyone in town of legal drinking age to a free beer. Just to ensure no hard feelings.

Walker and Firestone agreed. Well, at least to a pint … er, point.

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Firestone Walker Brewing Co. co-founder David Walker. David Middlecamp dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

“During this time, we have found that laughter is the best medicine, and that fresh beer is a close second,” Walker’s email continued, “so in response to your spirited request, any Fresnan passing by the brewery in the month of September, have them let us know as we’d love to share that pint and a few smiles.”

To be clear, Firestone Walker isn’t offering every Fresno resident who makes the 110-mile drive to Paso Robles a free beer. That would run afoul of state Alcoholic Beverage Control regulations.

What they are offering, provided you bring your ID and wear closed-toed shoes, is a free brewery tour and taste samples. (Which is perfectly legal.)

There you go, a hoppy ending to this saga.

Firestone Walker Brewing Co. is putting the final touches on a two-year, $15 million expansion of its Paso Robles brewhouse and new visitor center.

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Marek Warszawski writes opinion columns on news, politics, sports and quality of life issues for The Fresno Bee, where he has worked since 1998. He is a Bay Area native, a UC Davis graduate and lifelong Sierra frolicker. He welcomes discourse with readers but does not suffer fools nor trolls.
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