Posts Tagged ‘Drink Good Beer’

2013 comes to a close, marking the end of old fads and the birth of new trends. News that forever shifts the face of the earth break regularly, creating history that we all live through, albeit we simply take it with a grain of salt. We must keep in mind that the next generation will view what we live through today as history, so we should care for what goes on in today’s world and economy. As time progresses, so do trends and tastes, which explains the ever-rising popularity of craft beer and micro breweries. Corporate beer manufacturers saw significantly lower sales this year – while still relatively high compared to most micro breweries, the sales did not keep up with growth. In the craft beer industry, event planners hold beer festivals to generate buzz about many different types of beers to the guests that attend. Traditional beer fests had guests pay an entry fee and enter an area where they can freely roam and drink, usually in some public area where people cannot drink on normal days. Some beer fests require drink tickets to receive beers, while others provide all-you-can-drink beer. 2013 provided some new fest structures, but in the end, the goal of exposing attendees to new, amazing beers that they have never heard of or ever imagined drinking remains the same. California caters well to the craft beer industry, and as such host many beer fests throughout the year. Read on to check out five of my favorite Southern Californian beer festivals from 2013.

5. Drink Good Beer Fest

With all these big beer fests going on around this time of year, we tend to overlook the smaller crowd. A beer fest comes with a handful of objectives: provide lots of beer for attendees to drink (quantity), or invite micro breweries that need exposure (quality). Oktoberfest provides a prime example of the former – attracting thousands of people to one location to guzzle bad overpriced beer. When you want to find good beers but have no idea where to start, a beer fest makes for a great place to start, as it exposes attendees to a variety of local beers. Some larger beer fests get dominated by larger companies like Budweiser or Corona, so in order to seek out the locals, we have to look at smaller fests. In terms of any type of food & beverage festival, size does not always mean everything, and Drink Good Beer Fest at The Factory in Long Beach proves just that. All the breweries at this fest brought so much beer, and most of them brought their strong stuff too, a rarity in small-size beer fests like this. A giant canopy provided enough shade for any attendee wanting to escape the hot sun, as well as the snacks’ table where attendees could purchase snacks, water, or food from the host restaurant. Also, how often does a small beer fest last four full hours? Most beer fests nowadays last only three hours, or four with a “VIP admission” that costs more than general admission. The Factory went in the right direction with this beer fest, as it serves multiple purposes, such as exposing people to new beer & breweries, and exposing people to The Factory, a gastropub in an otherwise family-friendly neighborhood. Stay tuned for this fest next year, and start thinking of beers to brew to enter into this competition!

4. Mission Valley Craft Beer & Gourmet Food Festival

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 Mission Valley Craft Beer & Food Festival (MVCBF) returned to Handlery Hotel in San Diego for its fourth and final year. 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. 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. Although this grand festival will not return, the organizers still hold smaller, intimate events, so check out their website for all of their upcoming events.

3. Hangar 24 AirFest & 5th Anniversary Celebration

Coincidentally coinciding with the end of American Craft Beer Week, Hangar 24 Brewery celebrated their 5th anniversary with an all-day AirFest taking place at Redlands Airport. Hangar 24 fans could enter for $5 if purchased online, or $8 at the gate. Located just across the street from the tasting room, this all-ages gathering covered almost the entire airport area, sans the runway, with tents and trucks pouring beers. Strewn throughout the area, in addition to the various tents and trucks pouring beer, the airport crew set out vintage planes that guests could inspect and gaze at, and opened some of the hangars so guests could tour the airport. Guests could climb into some of the planes for photo opportunities as well. All day long, taps poured beers, food trucks sold their food, local bands played live music, and pilots put on aerial acrobatics shows, providing more than enough entertainment for the crowd. A kids’ play zone kept the little ones busy while the adults could go and drink elsewhere. Free parking meant that guests could leave and return at their leisure, provided that they leave their wristbands on. With so much ground to cover, so much beer to drink, and so much else going on, no guest should have ever felt bored the entire day. A combination of all small details contributed to the greater success of this event. First off, guests could park for free, and could reenter the venue. This alone can sway hesitant minds towards purchasing a ticket to attend. With such a large area to cover, guests did not have to wait in long lines to receive beer tickets or beer pours. As I entered the fest, the immediate ticket booth had a long line, but as I explored further into the area, I discovered more ticket booths with no line at all. Unlike the standard beer fest with tribute bands as the only form of entertainment, AirFest brought varied forms of entertainment, especially with the air shows and local bands playing their own original music. Most importantly of all, the people made this fest a grand event. From the amicable attendees to the sociable staff, the general aura of goodwill in the air placed everyone in a good mood that bounced from person to person.

2. San Diego Brewers Guild Festival

As San Diego Beer Week entered its fifth year running, breweries have never looked stronger than ever before. The San Diego Brewers Guild quickly approaches a hundred member breweries, and they strive to show their collective strength to the public with their San Diego Brewers Guild Festival. Now in its 11th year (thus starting before San Diego Beer Week existed), this annual beer festival now coincides with San Diego Beer Week with a massive celebration at the Port Pavilion on Broadway Pier in San Diego. This year’s festival from this past Saturday afternoon featured over 50 of the county’s guild breweries all spread out along the pier, each serving at least two of their beer offerings. With over a hundred different beers to taste, and only so much time available, attendees would have to power through all their beers in order to maximize the variety of beers tasted. People do not simply call San Diego the west coast capital of beer for no reason. San Diego County alone has almost a hundred official breweries – more if you count brewpubs and homebrew clubs. Consider that the state of Washington has just over 190 breweries, and you have a county packed full of craft beer enough to fill half a state. The San Diego Brewers Guild Festival rightly holds its place as one of the nation’s top beer festivals for its sheer amount of content packed into a small space within a 24-hour span, which included a VIP reception from Friday night. As a kickoff event for the rest of the beer festivities, attendees will have a better sense of direction for finding more events and specials throughout the week all over San Diego County.

1. Orange County Brew Ha Ha

Orange County’s biggest craft beer festival returned for its fourth year running this year at the 4th 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 70+ breweries in attendance from all over the world, doubling its area from last year, and adding more food, games, exhibits, vendors, and live entertainment, including Reel Big Fish! Benefiting the Local 3631 Firefighters Union, general admission started at 1pm and included ten beer pours, while Early admission started at 12pm and included 15 beer pours. All beers stopped pouring at 4pm, but trust me – they allocated more than enough beer per person, since many of the breweries brought strong or filling brews, resulting in majority of attendees leaving the fest at the end of the day with extra beer pours remaining. At this rate of expansion, I foresee a 5th 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 2nd Annual Orange County Brew Ho Ho returned to the Phoenix Club in Anaheim on Saturday, December 7th. No other beer fest in Orange County can compete on the same level as the Brew Ha Ha – see why for yourself next year!

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With all these big beer fests going on around this time of year, we tend to overlook the smaller crowd. A beer fest comes with a handful of objectives: provide lots of beer for attendees to drink (quantity), or invite micro breweries that need exposure (quality). Oktoberfest provides a prime example of the former – attracting thousands of people to one location to guzzle bad overpriced beer. When you want to find good beers but have no idea where to start, a beer fest makes for a great place to start, as it exposes attendees to a variety of local beers. Some larger beer fests get dominated by larger companies like Budweiser or Corona, so in order to seek out the locals, we have to look at smaller fests. In terms of any type of food & beverage festival, size does not always mean everything, and The Factory’s Drink Good Beer Fest proves just that.

The Factory Gastropub in the Bixby Knolls neighborhood of Long Beach has always had a penchant for supporting the local beer scene. Everyday, customers will find taps stocked only with craft beers in the dining room. Every month, they host various beer-related events, such as tap takeovers, bottle shares, beer pairings, and homebrew meetings. The Factory strongly supports the homebrew movement, encouraging locals to take up brewing beer at home. This notion to support homebrewers activated the invocation of the Drink Good Beer Mash-Up & Homebrew Competition. This event combined a homebrew contest with a small beer fest, which saw the launch of Ohana Brewing‘s flagship beer last year. Now running for the second year in a row, the 2nd Annual Drink Good Beer Fest has grown to include more homebrew entrants and micro breweries in this event. Following last year’s launch, Congregation Ale House launched their new beer at this fest. For as little as $25 for presale admission, attendees received up to four hours with ten 4oz beer pours at this fest – plenty of time to get through it all. I even bought more drink tickets since I had exhausted my original allocation with an hour left to go.

Breweries in attendance: Figueroa Mountain Brewing, Noble Ale Works, Dudes’ Brewing, Kinetic Brewing, Firestone Walker, Sierra Nevada, Cismontane Brewing, Strand Brewing, Congregation Ale House, Stone Brewing, The Bruery, Smog City Brewing, Pizza Port, Latitude 33, Iron Fist Brewing, Golden Road Brewing, Ohana Brewing, Los Angeles Ale Works, Eagle Rock Brewery, New Belgium, Monkish Brewing, Epic Brewing, Karl Strauss, Hangar 24, Ritual Brewing, Bootlegger’s Brewery, Valiant Brewing, El Segundo Brewing, Tenaya Creek Brewery

Of particular note, Los Angeles Ale Works decided to not only bring beer like everyone else, but also to bring craft soda. I have seen homebrewers and micro breweries head in the direction of craft sodas, so to see it in fruition here makes the vision appear more real. It also helps that, for an outdoors festival, they carried the only free non-alcoholic beverage. To sample at this fest, they brough Ketsara, a Thai Tea soda.

Nearly every brewery brought up to two different beers to try. For a small fest, one would expect to see standard beers available instead of the fancy stuff found indoors at popular establishments. However, a few of the breweries decided to man up and bring strong stuff. A handful of the beers floated around the 9% range, but Firestone Walker wins the strongest of the fest for bringing their §ucaba, a 12.5% barleywine. Other beers I got to try:

  • Hangar 24 Brewery – Kirschen, a 3.9% Berliner Weisse (not pictured)
  • Epic Brewing – Santa Cruz, a 5.8% brown ale
  • Eagle Rock Brewery – Unionist, a 5.4% Belgian ale
  • Monkish Brewery – Seme Della Vita, a 9.8% Belgian Tripel
  • Smog City Brewing – L.A. Saison, a 5.8% saison
  • Karl Strauss – Peanut Butter Cup, a 5.8% porter
  • Firestone Walker – §ucaba, a 12.5% American barleywine
  • Tenaya Creek – Old Jackalope, a 10.4% barleywine
  • Iron Fist Brewing – Dubbel Fisted, an 8.1% dubbel
  • Golden Road Brewing – Hudson Imperial Rye Porter, an 8.5% strong porter
  • Kinetic Brewing – Saison Été, a 6.6% farmhouse ale
  • Dudes’ Brewing – Grinning Face, a 6.2% American porter

At the start of the beer fest, The Factory’s owner Natalie welcomed Congregation’s owner Travis as he blessed the beer and the day for everyone to enjoy.

At the end of the beer fest, the homebrew contest organizers finally announced the winners of the competition. Their homebrew will receive limited distribution in the South LA/Orange County area for a limited time.

Who said size matters? We have not seen so much content in so little space since Slater’s 50/50 held a beer fest in the parking lot right outside their newest location. All the breweries brought so much beer, and most of them brought their strong stuff too, a rarity in small-size beer fests like this. A giant canopy provided enough shade for any attendee wanting to escape the hot sun, as well as the snacks table where attendees could purchase snacks, water, or food from the restaurant. Also, how often does a small beer fest last four hours? Most beer fests nowadays last only three hours, or four with a “VIP admission” that costs more than general admission. The Factory went in the right direction with this beer fest, as it serves multiple purposes, such as exposing people to new beer & breweries, and exposing people to The Factory, a gastropub in an otherwise family-friendly neighborhood. Stay tuned for this fest next year, and start thinking of beers to brew to enter into this competition!

2013 Cerritos Taste of the Region & Business Expo
4:30 pm – 7:30 pm, September 10
Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts, Cerritos
http://www.facebook.com/events/151727981691632/

This “Taste of Cerritos” makes its annual return this Tuesday to the same location, the Cerritos Performing Arts Center. Unlike other food fests in LA & OC, this event does not cost as much – attendees pay $5, then receive unlimited tastes once they enter. Over 30 restaurants will serve food samples, meaning attendees will certainly get a bang for their buck. Also, guests do not have to pay for parking here.

Free Bread & Jam Tasting
5:00 pm – 7:00 pm, September 10
Blackmarket Bakery, Costa Mesa
http://www.facebook.com/events/696338460395848/

Sample all-natural breads with artisanal jams this Tuesday evening at Blackmarket Bakery at The Camp in Costa Mesa, all for free.

Heart of Pacific Beach Restaurant Walk
5:00 pm – 9:00 pm, September 11
Downtown Pacific Beach, San Diego
http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/427579

Experience the variety Pacific Beach has to offer at this all-inclusive restaurant walk this Wednesday night! For $20, all attendees will get to sample food from 19 local restaurants, as well as craft beer sampling. Anyone can come and join in on the feasting, but only those 21 and over may receive beer tasters.

Spanish Punk Night w/ Destruction Made Simple
9:00 pm – 1:00 am, September 11
The Stardust Club, Downey
http://www.facebook.com/events/500692410024663/

Check out this FREE punk rock show this Wednesday night in Downey. Two punk bands from Spain will join the show that already consists of great local bands like Destruction Made Simple. No one under 21 may attend.

Downtown Los Angeles Art Walk (Second Thursdays)
6:00 pm – 10:00 pm, September 12
Downtown Los Angeles
http://downtownartwalk.org/

This free monthly event takes place over many blocks in Downtown Los Angeles. Many galleries will open late, and some parking lots will contain more art, vendors, food trucks, entertainment, and more. Unless you know business owners, free parking barely exists in Downtown LA, although some meters only operate until 8pm. First-time visitors should attend with someone who has gone here prior.

Los Angeles Lobster Fest
5:00 pm – 11:00 pm, September 13
11:00 am – 11:00 pm, September 14
11:00 am – 7:00 pm, September 15
Ports O’Call Village, San Pedro
http://lobsterfest.com/

This lobster festival at Port of Los Angeles will have lots of fresh lobster for guests to eat. In addition, guests can enjoy dancing, games, rides, pirate shows, music, arts & crafts, and more. The $10 admission includes parking and entry into the fest, while all food comes separate, so anyone wanting to eat will have to bring extra cash. A printable coupon on the website allows guests to save $1 off entry.

OC Weekly’s 10th Annual Decadence
7:00 pm – 10:00 pm, September 13
Rancho Las Lomas Wildlife Reserve, Silverado
http://microapp.ocweekly.com/decadence2013/

Come enjoy a night of food, drinks, music, dancing, and more. This festival for the senses will feature over 30 local restaurants, live music & DJ’s, local dance performers, signature cocktails, wild animal exhibits, and more. All-inclusive admission costs $30, or click here to pay only $15 for admission. Guests should look to park at Saddleback Church and take the free shuttle from there, as the venue has limited valet parking only. No one under 21 may attend.

Blackmarket Bakery’s Fall Open House
10:00 am – 1:00 pm, September 14
Blackmarket Bakery, Costa Mesa
http://www.facebook.com/events/712429488783795/

Come to Blackmarket Bakery at The Camp in Costa Mesa this Saturday morning and sample seasonal tarts, chocolate bark, toffee, pastries, buns, and breads, all for free. Every eighth customer that makes a purchase will receive a free t-shirt!

Cantillon Zwanze Day 2013
10:00 am – 3:00 pm, September 14
Beachwood BBQ, Seal Beach
http://cantillon.be/br/3_21

“Zwanze Day is an international, simultaneous tapping of a one-off Cantillon abbey-style beer that visits 46 special locations around the United Stated, Canada, Europe, and Asia. One of Belgium’s finest breweries, these highly sought-after beers have become increasingly hard to find. Zwanze 2013 bears the name of its illustrious place of origin, Abbaye de Cureghem (Cureghem Abbey). In Dutch, “zwanze” refers to a type of semi-sarcastic humor typical of Brussels that one often encounters at Cantillon Brewery.”

As quoted by Beachwood BBQ, they will carry this extremely rare beer this Saturday, pouring samples and providing a brunch/lunch buffet to attendees. All reservations for this tapping have SOLD OUT already. If you would like to attend, search after-market sites for anyone selling tickets.

1st Annual Ramen Yokocho Fest
10:00 am – 8:00 pm, September 14-15
Torrance Cultural Arts Center, Torrance
http://ramenyokochous.com/

At this free and all-ages festival, guests can explore and eat ramen from some of LA’s top Japanese chefs. Guests park and enter the fest for free, while each bowl of ramen will cost $8.

Long Beach Fleadh – Irish Music & Oyster Festival
11:00 am – 10:00 pm, September 14-15
The Pike, Downtown Long Beach
http://www.longbeachfleadh.com/

Revel in Irish culture all this weekend in Downtown Long Beach, with Irish music, oysters, food, whisky tastings, film screenings, live entertainment, and more. This all-ages festival will bring Irish culture to town, ensuring an enjoyable experience for all. Guests will find fresh oysters, champagne, Guinness, whisky, and other delicious Irish foods to consume, all while enjoying the Irish music all weekend. General admission costs $20 per day, or $30 for a two-day pass. Click here to purchase a one-day admission that comes with two free drinks. All attendees must cover their own transportation expenses. As an outdoors event, guests should stay hydrated, apply sunscreen, and take any other precaution for lasting long in hot weather.

Immelmann Release & End of Summer Bash
11:00 am – 12:00 am, September 14
Hangar 24 Brewery, Redlands
http://hangar24brewery.com/events-admin/?p=2751

Immelmann makes its long-anticipated return this Saturday at Hangar 24. Get your bottle from the tasting room for $20 this Saturday, where the tasting room will also have other special beer releases, food from The Big Easy, and three local bands.

Wet Electric SoCal
12:00 pm – 9:00 pm, September 14
Huntington Beach State Beach, Huntington Beach
http://www.wet-electric.com/wet-electric-socal-september-14/

I cannot understand the website’s description of this event. To me, this looks like an all-day dance party at the beach, complete with live DJ’s and lots of people dancing at the beach in their swimsuits. General admission starts at $75, while VIP admission starts at $140 and comes with perks such as exclusive entry and VIP areas.

Drink Good Beer Mash-Up & Homebrew Competition
1:00 pm – 4:00 pm, September 22
The Factory Gastropub, Long Beach
http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/431562

The Factory Gastropub will host a beer fest and homebrewers competition in their parking lot this Saturday afternoon. Presale tickets sell for $35, while tickets will sell for $40 at the door. Over 30 local breweries will serve their beers to attendees, while homebrewers will sample their beers as well. Registration to enter you homebrews ended already, so if you want to enter your brew(s), you will have to wait until the next competition. All attendees must bring valid ID to show at the gate. Attendees may park for free in the surrounding neighborhoods. No one under 21 may attend.

3rd Annual Great Wine Festival
2:00 pm – 5:00 pm, September 14
Orange County Great Park, Irvine
http://www.greatwinefestival.com/

Over 50 wineries will gather to sample their tasty wines at this wine festival this Saturday afternoon at OC Great Park. For $75, attendees will receive unlimited wine tastings & food, while getting treated to live music, a silent auction, and an opportunity drawing. No one under 21 may attend.

SoCal Zombie Walk
6:00 pm – 8:00 pm, September 14
Pasadena Central Park, Pasadena
http://www.socalzombiewalk.com/

Practice your zombie walk this Saturday evening in Pasadena. Meet up in Central Park in Pasadena, congregate with the other zombies there, and show Pasadena the collective force of a zombie invasion. This FREE and all-ages zombie walk will start early on in the night – guests not in zombie outfits or makeup will have to walk behind the main peloton of zombie walkers.

6th Annual Pasadena Mumbo Gumbo Fest
6:00 pm – 10:00 pm, September 14
T. Boyles Tavern, Pasadena
http://www.gumbofestpasadena.com/

All the gumbo you can eat returns to Pasadena this Saturday evening. This festival celebrates gumbo at its finest, and also includes live music, dancing, $5 beers & glasses of wines, and more. Presale tickets cost $40, while tickets at the door cost $60.

The Detours in Baldwin Park
6:00 pm – 12:00 am, September 14
American Legion Post 241, Baldwin Park
http://www.facebook.com/events/201844143317481/

Before legendary punk bands like The Adolescents and D.I. started their thing, The Detours helped to pioneer today’s punk rock. You can see them perform all of their original hits this Saturday night in Baldwin Park, along with plenty of other local bands. This all-ages show costs $10, and has a full bar inside. Guests can park here for free.

Free Punk Show @ Blacklight District Lounge
8:00 pm – 1:00 am, September 14
Blacklight District Lounge, Long Beach
http://www.facebook.com/events/235613353253497/

Check out some local punk bands at this free show this Saturday night. No one under 21 may enter.

Guttermouth @ The Juke Joint
8:00 pm – 2:00 am, September 14
The Juke Joint, Anaheim
http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/449031

Catch Guttermouth and other great local bands this Saturday night at The Juke Joint in Anaheim. Presale costs $12, and will likely sell out, so act fast! If any tickets remain, you can purchase admission at the door for $15. If the venue’s parking lot fills up, guests can park on North St. No one under 21 may attend.

San Diego Restaurant Week
September 15-20
Various Restaurants, San Diego County
http://www.sandiegorestaurantweek.com/

For six full days, various restaurants all over San Diego County will participate in this special week, where they will offer special prix-fixe meals that highlight their unique cuisine. Use this chance to explore and discover new restaurants in the area!

Los Angeles Fried Chicken Fest
4:00 pm – 8:00 pm, September 15
The Coop Pop-Up, Beverly Hills
http://www.lafriedchickenfest.com/

The LA Fried Chicken Fest returns with the best fried chicken you will ever have, plus craft beers and cocktails to keep your thirst quenched. All tickets to this event have officially sold out, but you can still find after-market tickets on sites like StubHub or Craigslist.

Rock Comp Finals
5:00 pm – 1:00 am, September 15
Tropics Lounge, Fullerton
http://www.facebook.com/events/193736110798388/

Say farewell to the old Tropics Lounge as they close the doors after one final show this Sunday night until they move to a new location. Check out this 11-band show for only $2! No one under 18 may attend.

8 Kalacas @ Los Globos
6:00 pm – 1:00 am, September 15
Los Globos, Silverlake, Los Angeles
http://www.flavorus.com/event/8-Kalacas-wSurprise-Headliner/187043

Spanish punk and ska come to LA this Sunday night. Tickets to this all-ages show cost $10. Guests should park in the neighborhood down Vendome St.

The Adicts, Agent Orange, Narcoleptic Youth @ The Observatory
7:00 pm – 1:00 am, September 15
The Observatory, Santa Ana
http://www.observatoryoc.com/events/the-adicts

Punk rock giants hit the stage this Sunday night at The Observatory, as The Adicts headline a show along with Agent Orange and Narcoleptic Youth, two more extremely popular punk bands in their own right. Tickets to this all-ages show cost $25. Arrive early to park in the venue’s parking lot – arrive too late and end up paying for parking in neighboring lots.

Dirty Little Secrets Rock Burlesque – Summer Strip Down
9:30 pm – 11:00 pm, September 15
TRiP, Santa Monica
http://www.facebook.com/events/237167809772803/

Enjoy a fun burlesque show courtesy of the Dirty Little Secrets this Sunday night in Santa Monica. Bring cash for parking and a possible cover charge. No one under 21 may attend.