On a weekend with multiple craft beer festivals taking place at the same time, I chose to attend the one least known to the public: Salute Beer Fest. This beer festival took place at The Phoenix Club in Anaheim on Saturday afternoon immediately following Veteran’s Day, where it combined breweries with military-themed vendors and exhibits. VIP admission started at 11:30 am while general admission started at 1pm, and the festival ended at 4:30 pm. Based on what I saw on Salute Beer Fest’s website, this event has taken place across the country in the past; however, it has no links or sources to show for previous festivals. Sadly, this started to show itself as its true form as the event progressed.
An exorbitant amount of issues at this event caused it to leave a sour taste in many people’s mouths. Primarily, the organizers totally botched the entrance procedure. They advertised that VIP admission would start at 11:30 am; however, the staff did not appear ready by then. In fact, volunteers started to unwrap cups and place them out after 11:30 am. The staff did not pre-check any of the attendees waiting in line to enter – they started checking ID’s after the start time. If they wanted to operate more efficiently, they could have checked people in, given them their wristbands and cups, and had them wait to the side to all enter at 11:30 (they had a huge open area to the left where a second line could have waited to enter). the staff also did not delegate the lines properly – they first pulled will-call attendees out for a second line that included the Groupon attendees. After waiting in that line for ten minutes, they said that Groupon needed to get back in the other line that already stretched out to the street. As a result, I ended up standing in line in the hot sun for an hour. Want to know what else they did that totally ruined this experience? Once you get to the front of the line to scan your ticket, the staff charged you a transaction fee before you could enter! They said I needed to pay a $3.75 transaction fee because they did not charge it when they sold tickets online. This outright LIE stacks on top of the Eventbrite fees, meaning that this transaction fee went to an unknown location since whoever bought tickets online already paid an online transaction fee. Most of the attendees frustratingly paid this transaction fee since they had already waited an hour in line, so the frustration of waiting simply caused them to cave up and pay the fee.
After you deal with the fiasco of the entrance, you enter the beer festival area only to discover 17 breweries, some of which appear to have gotten thrown in the last minute. Salute Beer Fest had plenty of mobile food vendors to feed everyone, and enough other vendors to keep people occupied, including a whisky vendor. However, people paid for a beer festival, not to visit food trucks or check out vendors. General admission appears to have gotten in fine, as I did not witness any lines at 1pm.
- All-American Ale Works
- Legacy Brewing
- Knee Deep Brewing
- Golden Coast Mead
- Angel City Brewery
- Hangar 24 Brewery
- Evans Brewing
- Ballast Point
- Big Sky Brewing (no jockey box)
- Cerveza Imperial (no jockey box)
- Pyramid Brewing
- Magic Hat Brewing
- Sierra Nevada (no jockey box)
- Bootlegger’s Brewery
- Lagunitas Brewing
- Karl Strauss
- Hess Brewing
Despite my photos making the fest look fine, this event frustrated many so much that they left early, including myself. I had already tasted a beer from every participating brewery within my first hour inside the venue. As far as Orange County beer festivals go, the major ones have over 50 breweries participating, giving people true value for the price they pay. If Salute Beer Fest comes back, save yourself some trouble and do not spend any money on it.