An old expression goes “All good things must come to an end.” I would never hope this to occur to any successful event, but alas it shall sooner or later. The 4th annual Mission Valley Craft Beer & Food Festival (MVCBF) wrapped up this past Sunday at Handlery Hotel in San Diego. As indicated by their sign above, this mega fest provided more than just beer – this fest combined a beer fest with gourmet food from local chefs and restaurants. In addition to unlimited beer pours, all attendees could sample all the delicious food they could handle until the vendors ran out of food, and boy did the food fly out fast. Do not expect any corporate or chain businesses here – MVCBF only invited the best in local cuisine to the party. With so many vendors invited to the party, the venue’s area had to stretch to wrap around the building, and even then did they still lack ample seating for all the guests, although this does not indicate a flaw – only that this proves the immense popularity of this fest.
With an eye for great quality food comes an eye for great quality craft beer. MVCBF ensured that guests would sample only the best beer that they could find, and all the breweries brought their A-game. Beer enthusiasts regard San Diego as the home of the West Coast IPA, so in order to provide variety to the guests, MVCBF decided to highlight all the great styles of beer among every brewery invited. From blueberry ales to coffee stouts to strong ales to cask beers, guests could truly find a beer of almost every type available.
All this time I had spoken of the amazing quality of the food present, but have not yet described any of it. Unless you have tried some of this food already (such as Slater’s 50/50), words honestly cannot accurately depict the unique flavors of the food available. Some of the standouts include a brownie with peanut butter mousse, wild boar baby back ribs, IPA carnitas nachos, drunken shrimp, beer-brined pork belly crostinis, spiked red velvet cheesecake, beer-braised beef cheeks with beer mac & cheese, and more. As expected, Slater’s 50/50 carried the longest line of the day, so by the time I got in line for them, they had run out of buns, so started serving just the meat with avocado mash and spread. They kindly gave me a plate with just the burger ends, which I knew contained all the flavor from the meat.
So above, I mentioned that all good things must come to an end. Sadly, this event marked the final iteration of the MVCBF. In order to focus on maintaining a high standard for quality and service, the organizers have decided to pull back and focus on smaller events where they can better keep an eye on operations while providing greater service to guests. Future events from the organizers will still honor the best in local food and craft beer, such as a Country Boil coming up in three weeks or another beer fest that features breweries opened for under two years, which arrives in less than three months from now. As far as I can see, this radical announcement may come as a shock, but upon further consideration, this happens for the best. Any event organizer should strive for high quality and great service, so by reducing the size of future events while increasing the quality, surely the folks behind the MVCBF prove their expertise in this field. I could go on and on about the wonderful organizers, but have you met any of them yet? Meet Michele Gretano, one of the visionaries behind the MVCBF and their future events. Personally, I love it when event organizers get hands-on with the fest.
It pains me that this super fest has to come to an end, but on the other hand, I cannot wait to see what future events they have in stock. So far, they have announced two upcoming events – see more info on them in the paragraph above. Missed the MVCBF and want to experience an amazing time? Attend one of these events, and have a great time. Act quick though – the number of tickets available has greatly decreased from the amount that MVCBF posted!
Their statement regarding the MVCBF finale:
When The Handlery Hotel started the Mission Valley Craft Beer and Food Festival it was all about our desire to “re-invent” the traditional beer festival by celebrating “Local” craft beer paired with “Local” Chefs. We wanted to provide terrific beer but we also wanted to showcase fantastic food to go with it, we wanted both to matter. We chose early spring because there wasn’t much going on in the city and we wanted you to feel like you were getting a value. You liked what we were doing and we thank you greatly for that.
Fast forward a few years and now there are five festivals competing for your attention. They’re doing the same cattle call, “take a sip and move to the next line” exactly what we tried so hard to avoid. In order to compete, grow and continue, we would have to adopt their same practices and principles to keep the festival alive. That’s not who we are and that’s not the kind of event we want our name on.
MVCBF Fest IV is going to be our last. We’re going to pull back and focus on our smaller events following our original concept where the details don’t get lost in volume and we honor local craft beer and food. Future events like Chef Karl’s Country Boil with Societe Brewing and New Kids on the Block II, focusing on San Diego’s newest breweries. We’re going to do events that allow our Brewers and Chefs to do what they do best.
So, if this is our last ride for the MVCBF, we’re going to do it up right and leave it all on the field (or parking lot in our case). We thank you for all of your support and we look forward to seeing you all at our other events where we keep it “Local”.
Food vendors: Amore Cheesecakes; Baker Shake Foods; Bernardo Winery; Delicias; Carnitas Snack Shack; Crown Point Catering; Farmhouse Café; Handlery Hotel; O’Brien’s Pub; R Gang Eatery; Sea Rocket Bistro; Slaters 50/50; Stone World Bistro; Sweiners; Table 926; Terra; Toronado; Urge Gastropub; Local Habit
Breweries: AleSmith; Ballast Point; Belching Beaver; Cold Bore; Coronado; El Cajon; Golden Mead; Green Flash; Hangar 24; Helms; Hess; Hillcrest; Iron Fire; Karl Strauss; Latitude 33; Lightning; Mad Lab; Manzanita; Monkey Paw; On The Tracks; Port/Lost Abbey; Prohibition; Rough Draft; San Diego; Societe; Stone; The Beer Company; Thorn Street; Wet-n-Reckless
Entertainment: Danny & The Tramp (VIP Hour); So Cal Vibes; Split Finger; Safety Orange (After Party)