Soaking in California Love at the 1st Annual Cali Uncorked Festival

Posted: November 18, 2015 in Beer, Events, Food, Food Truck, Music, Orange County, Wine
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Beautiful California: a state unlike any other. From the luscious weather to the so-called California Girls, California almost represents a unique country of its own. As one of the major metropolitan states of this nation, California has one of the largest populations of virtually all demographics, but especially young adults. As society can guess, young adults sure love their hard beverages, and California has no shortage of festivals featuring hard beverages. Practically every week of the year, a festival occurs that features either craft beer, wine, or cocktails/spirits. When adults think festivals that include alcohol, they immediately think about what other activities and forms of entertainment to expect at the events. The days of simple tasting events have long gone by the wayside, and now people expect to find more than just drinking at such festivals. Typical events may include some games or live music, plus some some of food either included with admission or at a separate cost. The more these events feature, the more they feel like they bit off more than they could chew. Some events promise everything yet deliver underwhelming content, while some events promise the best of a few specialties and deliver all they can to satiate the attendees, such as at the 1st Annual Cali Uncorked Festival.

The organizers behind OC Brew Ha Ha, Orange County’s biggest beer festival, have delivered a new festival unlike anything ever before: the 1st Annual Cali Uncorked Festival. Benefiting the Local 3631 Firefighters Union, this festival combines Californian craft beer, wine, food, music, and comedy all in one location. With over a hundred different beers and wines to sip on, attendees had a plethora of options to get their buzz on. Cali Uncorked took place at Oak Canyon Park in the hills of Silverado in east Orange County, which lends well to these sorts of events with the massive area of the venue. The park represents an oval centered around a lake, with each side housing something different.

  • East: Attendees entered from here, and this side held the dozens of Californian breweries, picnic tables, and a row of vendors.
  • North: All the wineries set up at the north row.
  • South: The south section housed all the vendors, including merchandise, food trucks, food booths, and the pairings stage.
  • West: This side contained the music stage, comedy stage, and VIP area.

With so much to do in so little time, one would expect to try to rush around to see everything before the event ended. The drinks stopped pouring at 4pm, while the entertainment continued to 7pm. This created an unpleasant crowding effect by the 3pm hour, as the people who attended primarily for the entertainment instead of the craft drinks continued to arrive even after 3pm. At this time, all the wine and beer booths had ridiculously long lines, and almost everyone in those lines no longer cared about the drinks pouring – they simply wanted to get drunk. This created a culture divide with the attendees of this event: those who care about the quality of the drinks, and those who attended for the entertainment that cared less for the drinks. Anyone who arrived early enough certainly got to enjoy any drink without needing to wait in lines, and could take time to discover the different types of drinks. However, as time passed, the type of attendees present quickly became apparent that no one cared for the drinks. At one point, I asked a worker about the types of beer available, but someone quickly cut in front of me and said to just fill her cup. Also, the rampant stench of marijuana gradually increased over time. With the lines for beer getting longer, people caring less about the drinks they received, the smell of marijuana growing, and the uneasy feeling of getting lost in a crowd rising, I ended up leaving before 4pm. In fact, the band performing as I left continued to goad the crowd into smoking and getting high, asking everyone in the crowd to share with someone nearby that did not have anything to toke.

For the first Cali Uncorked ever, the notion and intention of the event seems aspiring. Combining multiple different types of events into one represents a mammoth task that one person cannot possibly undertake. The Brew Ha Ha crew teamed up with music festival production company Synergy Global Entertainment (SGE) for this event, and I can see the stark contrast in the types of people they invited: the craft people, and the music people. This strongly reminds me of why I started this blog in the first place: to bridge the gap between the punk rock crowd and the gourmet crowd. The stereotypical punk rocker lives a frugal life and consumes cheap products, such as mass-produced beer and fast food, while the stereotypical gourmet person lives the opposite way, a life of luxury. I attempt to shatter those stereotypes by introducing the worlds to each other, and I see how Cali Uncorked attempts the same by introducing the craft beer crowd to the reggae crowd. However, a large scale event such as this probably lacked the proper execution to do that, as the reggae crowd just wanted to get high and drunk and listen to music, while the craft crowd had to deal with the smell all over the area.

Can the organizers behind Cali Uncorked come back next year with a bigger and better festival? I believe that the genre of music had a large effect on the people who showed up. Consider that the entrance still had a massive line in the final hour of drinks, and that the 420 culture eventually overtook the craft side of the festival. Perhaps Cali Uncorked can bring on a different genre of music, since reggae seemed to invite all the stoners and skinheads to the entertainment side. Despite having The Aggrolites as the headlining band, OC Brew Ha Ha did not have this stoner problem back in September. What if Cali Uncorked goes with either country or alternative rock? For now, we leave it in the hands of the organizers to decipher how next year’s event will run. In the meantime, check out Cali Uncorked on Facebook and Twitter for future updates, and for news about upcoming events.


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