Beer Shenanigans At The 5th Annual Orange County Brew Ha Ha Craft Beer Festival

Posted: September 10, 2014 in Beer, Events, Food, Food Truck, Music, Orange County
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Recently people have explained to me that September generally indicates the slowing of certain businesses as they prepare for the dreaded Q4. Understandably, not only do most young ones return to school, but the start of the NFL season means people stay locked in place every Sunday with no incentive to do anything else other than eat junk food and sit on a couch fixating the eyes on a television screen. As we all know, times change, so old trends may slowly fade away to give way to new ideas and notions, sometimes causing reverse trends. Now in 2014, we can take September and give it new light, bringing life back into it. Life should not have to slow down in September, and things definitely did not slow down at the 5th Annual Orange County Brew Ha Ha Craft Beer Festival.

Orange County’s biggest craft beer festival returned for its fifth run this past Saturday at the 5th Annual Orange County Brew Ha Ha Craft Beer Festival. Taking place at sunny Oak Canyon Park out in the hills of Silverado and Irvine, this lush park away from civilization marks a great getaway from the cluster of the city, especially since cell phone signals do not normally reach out here. Trumping last year’s festival in geographical size and content, this massive beer festival puts all others to shame by including a whopping 80+ breweries in attendance from all over the world carrying over 170 different brews, doubling its area from last year, and adding more food, games, exhibits, vendors, and live entertainment. Benefiting the Local 3631 Firefighters Union, general admission started at 1pm, while early admission started at 12pm. Newly changed this year, all attendees received UNLIMITED beer pours for the duration of the festival, as opposed to the ticket limit of previous years. All beers stopped pouring at 4pm, but trust me – many of the breweries brought strong or filling brews, resulting in majority of attendees leaving the fest at the end of the day full of beer and no room for much else.

Although attendees entered from the east end, vendors entered from the west end, so this brief tour shall start there. The west field contained a handful of breweries, all the food trucks, and the games including glorified Jenga, bean-bag toss, and the human foosball arena.

The southern stretch contained many vendors, with one of them servicing free haircuts for anyone needing one. A few breweries, a few food vendors, and the cigar lounge also welcomed attendees at this area.

The east field housed the majority of the breweries plus a few vendors. The majority of the attendees spent their time on this side, as it had most of the beer, plenty of trees for shade, and the stage for the live music.

Although two separate admissions existed to allow attendees in at different times, one would not expect a difference, as it appeared that more of the early-admission tickets sold than the regular tickets. A huge cluster of people entered right at 12pm, and the show got on the road.

Moving on to the northern stretch, we find our friends from Bad Pickle Tees, plus a handful of more breweries.

After having completed a round, I remembered my obligation to actually work at this event, while at the same time managing my beer intake. By now, a human foosball game had gone under way, so I knew I had to see how they would manage.

The aforementioned haircut vendor had already received some customers this early!

Our friends from Drinkbar Juicery brought a booth to serve up some juices and cleanses.

I finally got to check out Craft Brew Tours, something that has appeared before my eyes plenty of times in the past, but I had never done anything to discover more information about them. Now that I found them, I discovered the grand party bus of them all. This small party bus basically gives a middle finger to all other party buses out there.

With the festival moving along solidly, alcohol plus people means that anything could happen. Beer bottle candles? Check. Impromptu photo shots? Check. Bagpipes? Check. Short bus? Check. Noble Ale with a long line? Check forever.

Now that the afternoon had progressed a bit, we get to the timed releases. Some breweries brought rare beers that they decided to release at certain times instead of having them available from the start in order to build hype. Some breweries received more hype than others, such as Noble Ale with their Cinnamon Roast Crunch, or Bottle Logic with their Darkstar November. Other special releases include Ritual Brewing with Fat Hog, Valiant Brewing with Alpha Overdrive & Axiom, Bootlegger’s with Knuckle Sandwich, Beach City with their cask, and Hangar 24 with Hammerhead.

At this rate of expansion, I foresee a 6th Annual Orange County Brew Ha Ha as so large that any normal person cannot possibly complete a circuit in given time. If this case arises, they must consider running two sessions, just like how Stone Brewing does for their anniversary. If they cannot run two sessions on the same day, then they can add another beer fest of the same magnitude. Luckily, they already have – the 3rd Annual Orange County Brew Ho Ho will return to its same location at the Phoenix Club in Anaheim on Saturday, December 13th. Tickets have not gone on sale yet, but cost $45 for general admission last year. No other beer fest in Orange County can compete on the same level as the Brew Ha Ha – see why for yourself at their December beer fest, or hang on tight until next year!

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