These photos are from the 2015 Pacific Brewers Cup homebrew competition which was held Saturday afternoon at Four Points by Sheraton at LAX. The event was hosted by Strand Brewers Club, Long Beach Homebrewers, and Pacific Gravity. There were 458 entries consisting of beer, mead and ciders.
While these photos were all taken Saturday, the fact of the matter is that with 458 entries, the judging portion actually started two weeks ago when members of the Strand Brewers Club had to sort the 1300 plus bottles into categories and get all the information entered in the competitions database. I helped out on the sorting by scanning in the entries with their assigned competition number; this gave me an opportunity to see where the entries came from. I have to admit, I was pretty surprised at how far and wide they came from; with several entries coming from out of state. Because of the substantial number of entries, there were a couple judging sessions done ahead of time.
As you might think, it is quite the task to judge 458 beers, mead and ciders and it truly takes a lot of work by an organized team to pull that off. The team yesterday consisted of 70 judges and 42 stewards. I met one of the judges yesterday that came all the way from Chandler, Arizona “for the love of beer” as opposed to trying to escape Chandler’s 100+ weather. While the judges were truly put to the test, I doubt that the event could have moved as smoothly as it did without the efforts of the stewards. Head Steward Barbara Bovee is to be congratulated for keeping things as organized as they were. Continue reading
This will be my fourth time attending BAM Fest and all I can say is that if you enjoy craft beer, live in the Los Angeles area and have never attended BAM Fest, you are doing yourself a disservice. From the first time I attended in 2012 I have been nothing but impressed; and the event just seems to get bigger and better every year and 2015 appears to be no exception.
These photos were taken at the So Cal Brew Fest After Hours, which was held Saturday afternoon at the Farmers Park Market located at the historic Anaheim Packing District. This particular beer festival was a fundraiser with the beneficiaries of this event being the Anaheim Homeless Collaborative and Project Hope Alliance.
I have to say, this was a pretty nice event with a nice variety of beers from local favorites such as Phantom Carriage, Bootlegger’s, Absolution Brewing, Backstreet and Wicks Brewing as well as the larger breweries such as Ballast Point, Lagunitas and Sierra Nevada. Ciders were represented by County Cider, Troy Cider and California 101 Cider House. I had read that Mike Hess Brewing was going to be there, but I never spotted them if they showed up.
In addition to the nice selection of beer, the price of admission included food from Umami Burger, Bronx Sandwich Company, Brandy’s Sweets and street tacos from a company whose name escapes me. There was music provided by a DJ and lots of games including cornhole, hula hoop, Jenga and even Bocce Ball. There were a couple drawings, including one for a $75 gift card from Total Wine and More. Continue reading
These photos were taken at the LA Brewers Beer Week Kickoff which was held Saturday afternoon, June 20 at Exposition Park. The kickoff was the official launch of LA Beer Week 2015 (#LABW7) and was a fundraiser with a portion of the proceeds being donated to L.A. Kitchen. The event featured more than 75 breweries pouring a reported 200+ beers, ciders and home brewed sodas. I did not count them but I can assure you there were so many outstanding options that it would have been virtually impossible to try them all in the five hours we had available. There were numerous times I headed off to try a beer that I wanted only to be distracted by something else on the way. I was pleasantly surprised at how many of the available options were brews I had yet to try.
In addition to the massive quantities of beer, there were eight food trucks, four bands, educational panels and a few games. There were about 3,000 people including attendees, volunteers and the breweries but there was very little in the way of lines. I think the longest line I saw was for people waiting to buy tote bags that were being offered there.
As it is Father’s Day and there are a lot of things going on, so I will go ahead and post the photos now and give an in-depth review later in the week. Suffice it to say, it was a great time with very little to find negative about the entire experience. The LA County Brewers Guild did a great job and is to be commended on putting on a great event. Of course, I am extremely appreciative of Absolution Brewing Company for sponsoring me at the LA Beer Week Kickoff. Cheers! Continue reading
These photos are from Saturday at the 4th Annual Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Festival (FWIBF15) which was held at the Paso Robles Event Center. The festival included craft beer of 53 breweries from all over the United States, Europe and beyond. This was my first opportunity to attend and I did not attend as any type of “official media” so my experience was probably similar to that of any other first time attendee; except I probably waited in line longer to get in. On Friday night I had heard stories of lines just to get in reaching down the street and around the block, so I walked over to the event center and was there before 9:00 AM. If you are taking notes, the event did not start until noon and there was nothing to be gained by being among the first 20 to be there. If you get there at noon you will be fine.
To be honest, I was not aware that this was only the fourth Invitational and it is definitely run like they have been doing it a lot longer. I had the opportunity to speak with individuals that had attended multiple times before and the one thing that became obvious is that Firestone Walker listened to the feedback they received after each event. For example, in the beginning, attendees had to buy food and water. As the event evolved it now has free food from 26 restaurants and multiple free water stations with enough filtered water to hydrate the 3,000 plus attendees. Now, I have to say, I am not really sure how many tickets were sold but between comments I heard, articles I read and a personal guess, I would guess between 3,000 and 4,000. The thing is, the location can hold a lot more than that and when you divide them between 80 booths there was not much in the way of lines. Naturally, there were some breweries like Three Floyds and Alchemist that had long lines all day; and when breweries like Beachwood or The Bruery had their special pours people started waiting; but most of the lines that I experienced moved rather quickly. Continue reading
These photos were taken at the 2nd Annual South Bay Beer & Wine Festival which was held at the South Coast Botanical Garden in Rancho Palos Verdes on Sunday afternoon. This outstanding event was hosted by Toyota and South Bay Equity Lending and sponsored by the Rotary Clubs of El Segundo, Palos Verdes Peninsula, and South Bay Sunrise. 100% of the proceeds from the event will go to support the humanitarian programs of the El Segundo Rotary Club, Palos Verdes Peninsula Rotary Club, and South Bay Rotary Club. Live music was provided by Detour.
While this was the 2nd Annual South Bay Beer & Wine Festival it was the first one that I attended, so I cannot compare it to last year’s event other than to say that I overheard a couple people that suggested that yesterday’s festival was bigger than their inaugural event. As a first time attendee I have to say that the stars must have been in perfect alignment as it appeared that Sunday’s event went off flawlessly.
I do not know how many people were in attendance, but when divided up between almost 30 breweries, close to 10 wineries and more than 20 restaurants lines were pretty much non-existent. There were not even lines for the restrooms. Continue reading
The 2nd Annual South Bay Beer & Wine Festival is hosted by Toyota and South Bay Equity Lending and sponsored by the Rotary Clubs of El Segundo, Palos Verdes Peninsula, and South Bay Sunrise. Proceeds from this event will go to support the humanitarian programs of the El Segundo Rotary Club, Palos Verdes Peninsula Rotary Club, and South Bay Rotary Club. The Rotary Club supports community programs focused on health and nutrition, high school Interact and leadership, education and literacy, vocational training, and community space restoration and renovation. They also support international projects such as worldwide eradication of polio, clean water projects, and wheelchair purchases and distribution. Continue reading
These photos are from the Taste of Brews’ Second Annual Twilight Tasting that was held at Lyon Air Museum on Saturday evening. I have to start off by saying that this was one of the coolest, most photogenic locations for a beer festival that I can remember attending. As we walked in the door I told Tanya, “I will have to try to find some time to have a beer while I am here.”
While Lyon Air Museum was billed as a World War II museum, the first vehicle we were greeted by was a 1922 Ford Model T Roadster and it just got better from there. A beautiful 1931 Buick and the 1930 Cadillac V-16 Roadster were among my favorite cars; but there were military vehicles of all types and beautiful motorcycles. When you added in the aircraft it was pretty difficult to concentrate on the beer. But to be honest, I am not sure that craft beer was the number one thought of the attendees at this fundraiser for the Make-A-Wish Orange County/Inland Empire, The Little Red Dog out of Tustin and Ocean Education Outreach out of Newport Beach. I think it was one of those fundraisers that was priced so that it was more about the charity than the buzz. I don’t know, it just seemed a little classier than the standard local beer festival.
They did have some good food provided by Stonefire Grill, Rubio’s and Sol Agave; and some pretty tasty desserts from Nothing Bundt Cakes and Paradise Bakery to go with the various wines I saw being poured, so maybe that had something to do with it. So while I may have stayed for the cool museum pieces, I came for the beer. Continue reading
Breweries from Orange County, Los Angeles County, San Diego County and the Inland Empire will be featured as well as a few from Northern California, Vermont, Illinois and even Iceland. Local breweries scheduled to be on-hand include Beach City Brewery, Four Sons Brewing, Barley Forge, Bootlegger’s, Phantom Ales, Left Coast, Coronado, Karl Strauss, Stone Brewing, Mission Brewery, Hangar 24 and Absolution Brewing. Other, not so local breweries featured in the lineup include Firestone Walker, Drake’s, Einstok, Lagunitas, Sierra Nevada and Goose Island. The growing hard cider community will be represented by Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider and Woodchuck Cider. Continue reading
These photos are from the 5th Annual Beer, Art & Music Festival (BAM Fest), a fundraiser which was held Sunday afternoon in Santa Monica at the 18th Street Arts Center. The 18th Street Arts Center is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization and is the beneficiary of all the proceeds from the fundraiser.
When it comes to beer festivals there are a few things I look for; the first of which would be the breweries in attendance followed by the beers that they bring with them. Anyone that knows me personally or has paid attention to my writing knows that when it comes to beer, variety is my thing. My favorite beer is the one I have yet to try. When one goes to as many local craft beer festivals as I have over the past couple of years it can become a challenge to find something new; especially when the event is a fundraiser that has had the beer donated rather than bought and paid for. The 5th Annual BAM Fest had plenty of beers that I had never had the opportunity to try before and I highly doubt I was alone. A couple standouts for me came from two new craft breweries; Three Weavers Brewing Company and Santa Monica Brew Works. Three Weavers just had their grand opening a week ago and I was unable to attend. They brought their Stateside Session IPA which I thought was an outstanding session IPA. Their Midnight Flight Imperial Stout was also quite tasty and really hid the 9.2% ABV well. I look forward to their tasting room opening on November 7; I hear their double IPA is something else.
Santa Monica Brew Works is a production brewery that has been around since 2013 but this was my first experience with any of their brews; it definitely will not be my last. Santa Monica Brew Works is a production brewery with no tasting room but it is my understanding that their beers can be found at most bars, restaurants and hotels in the Santa Monica area. Their PCH (Pale Chocolate Heaven) is mind blowing; it was the first beer of theirs I tried and it only made me want to try everything else they brew. Keep an eye out for it if you are dining in Santa Monica. Continue reading