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 Friday night at the 4th Annual Brew at the LA Zoo, a fundraiser for the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association. The craft beer festival featured close to 40 different craft and microbreweries from all over California; including Port Town Brewing, San Pedro Brewing Company, Beachwood BBQ & Brewing, Lagunitas, Firestone Walker and Heretic Brewing Company. While the lines were a little longer that what I normally notice at local craft beer festivals, no one seemed to mind as there were smiles everywhere and lots of laughing.
In addition to the wide variety of craft beers there was live music provided by Indian School, the Spazmatics, and Jug or Nots as well as DJ Johnny Hawkes. Most of the zoo was closed off to the public but the 4,000 plus attendees were able to visit zoo exhibits like Elephants of Asia, Campo Gorilla Reserve, LAIR (Living Amphibians, Invertebrates and Reptiles) and the new Rainforest of the Americas. The gorillas seemed to be the biggest hams while I got the impression the other animals would have been happy to just go to sleep.
Last year there were 23 breweries and this year there were almost 40, so that is a pretty big leap. I was talking to L.A. Zoo Director John Lewis and he informed me that every year this event seems to get bigger and bigger and the LA Zoo really appreciates the support from the community. As this event has sold out for at least the last two years you must keep in the loop of craft beer events if you want an opportunity to go next year. I will try to find out with enough lead time to alert you next year so you can get tickets if you have not had the opportunity to attend a Brew at the LA Zoo yet. Continue reading
This craft beer festival begins with their 2nd Annual Drink Good Beer Mash-Up Homebrew Competition which is an AHA, BJCP sanctioned event. Thursday, August 22 is the final day for entries if you want to participate. The cost is $5.00 per entry and you must provide ten (10) 12oz bottles. Not all categories of beer are being accepted, so if you want more information, I suggest visiting The Factory website for all the rules. The winner gets to brew his entry with Evan Weinberg at Cismonte Brewing so that is pretty cool. The AHA/BJCP judging will take place on Sunday, August 25.
On Monday, September 9 they will have their Best of Show judging and Craft Beer Guy was invited to be a judge for this, so I am looking forward to this opportunity.
On Saturday, the Drink Good Beerfest takes place and the winners of the Mash-Up Homebrew Competition will be announced then. If that was not enough, they will also have more than 60 rare and unique craft beers from over 30 local breweries! Now it’s a party. Among the breweries slated to participate are Ballast Point Brewing, Breckenridge Brewing, The Brewery at Abigaile, Bootlegger’s Brewery, Cismontane Brewing Company, Congregation Ale House Chapters Brewing, Dales Bros. Brewery, Drake’s Brewing, Eagle Rock Brewing, El Segundo Brewing Company, Epic Brewing, Firestone Walker, Golden Road Brewing, Hangar 24 Craft Brewery, Iron Fist Brewing, Kinetic Brewing Company, Latitude 33 Brewing Company, Lightning Brewery, Los Angeles Ale Works, Monkish Brewing Company, Noble Ale Works, Pizza Port – San Clemente, Ritual Brewing Company, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Strand Brewing Company, Stone Brewing Company, Smog City Brewing, Triple Voodoo, Trumer Pils and The Bruery. Continue reading