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
About two and a half weeks ago I was at the Shelton Brother’s Festival 2014 at the Port of Los Angeles. While I was wandering around trying beers from breweries I had never heard of, my fiancee was bouncing around between a few we were familiar with that had brought bourbon barrel-aged beers (her favorite style) with them. She had a pretty nice selection available to her with Firestone’s Parabola, Beachwood’s Sadie and Faction Brewing’s Nyx-goddess of the Night; heck, The Bruery even brought out some Black Tuesday. She would bring me a sample of each and they were all very good, but I remember when she brought me one in particular from Bottle Logic; it was outstanding. So much so that I went to their booth to find out what it was called; Darkstar November. I told them straight out; “You need to bottle this stuff.” I was happy to hear that this plan was already in motion and I made a mental note to reserve a day towards the end of the month. That day was today.
Bottle Logic Brewing is a production brewery with a tasting room out in Anaheim, which is a little more than 30 miles from us. Since their release did not begin until 4:00 PM and it was the day before Thanksgiving, I knew that the drive could be a bit of a hassle. We have only visited Bottle Logic once before, back in August, and there was a decent but not excessive amount of people there. I was not really sure what kind of crowd they might have there at 4:00 PM on a workday. When we were turning off La Palma onto Armando it became pretty evident that they were having a good showing. To be honest, as we drove around trying to find a parking spot we weighed the option of going elsewhere first, then coming back after the crowd died down. I knew only 3,000 bottles were available and there was a four bottle limit so I did the math and decided we had better stick it out. Continue reading
This past weekend was nothing short of amazing in the craft beer world as Shelton Brothers, importers and distributors of small batch beers and ciders from all over the world, brought The Festival 2014 to the Port of Los Angeles in San Pedro. The Festival 2014 took place over the course of four sessions split up over Saturday and Sunday afternoon. There were literally beers from all four corners of the world with close to 100 breweries represented and probably close to 400 different brews to choose from. Someone commented to me that it would be impossible to try all the offerings in one session. The fact of the matter is that it would be impossible to try everything there over the course of the four sessions.
The Saturday sessions were very well attended, but with all the amazing brews available there were only two booths that even had a line, 3 Fonteinen and Cantillon; by Sunday even they had no lines. It is not very often that you can go to a beer festival and have no lines for Beachwood, Firestone or The Bruery. I understand that San Diego Beer Week started on the same weekend, but if you drove to San Diego instead of staying in LA I am afraid you blew it. The selection of beer at The Festival would be pretty tough to beat anywhere.
Like many of you, when I go to a beer festival I like to try beers I have not had an opportunity to try before; at The Festival 2014 I was able to try numerous beers from breweries I had never heard of. Of course, there were plenty of breweries I had heard of, just never experienced and I did my best to make up for that. Continue reading
Presented by Shelton Brothers and Sharefest in collaboration with Brouwerij West at CRAFTED at the Port of Los Angeles in San Pedro, The Festival 2014 will be bringing you craft beer from all four corners of the globe with almost 100 breweries being represented. Not only are there more than 90 breweries in attendance, you will have the opportunity to meet more than 70 of the best beer, cider, and mead makers in the world!
If you think this is an exaggeration, take a look at the breweries scheduled to attend. International breweries include 8 Wired (New Zealand), Amager Bryghus (Denmark), Au Baron (France), Baird (Japan), Be.Er Brewery (Belgium), Birra Toccalmatto (Italy), Blaugies (Belgium), Brasserie Dunham (Quebec, Canada), Brekeriet (Sweden), Brew By Numbers (England), Brewfist (Italy), Burning Sky (England), Nøgne Ø (Norway), Oersoep (Netherlands), Oliver’s Cider and Perry (United Kingdom), Partizan (England), Pays Flamand (France), Peckham’s Cider (New Zealand), Rappi Bier Factory (Switzerland), Ribela (Spain). Ritterguts (Germany), Rooie Dop (The Netherlands), Shiga Kogen (Japan) and many more.
Just so you do not think that the American breweries have been left out, you will also find such breweries as AEppelTreow Winery (Wisconsin), Arizona Wilderness (Arizona), Cambridge Brewing Company (Massachusetts), Celestial Meads (MA), Crooked Stave (Colorado), Hair of the Dog (Oregon) Jolly Pumpkin (Michigan), Mystic Brewery (Massachusetts), Oxbow Brewing (Maine), Prairie Artisan Ales (Oklahoma), Pretty Things (Massachusetts) and Saint Somewhere (Florida) will also be pouring. California craft breweries Bagby Beer, Beachwood BBQ, Bottle Logic, Brouwerij West, Cellarmaker, Faction, Firestone Walker, Monkish, Rare Barrel, San Pedro Brewing Company, Tahoe Mountain, Telegraph and The Bruery will also be among those in attendance. Continue reading
When I agreed to go up to Santa Rosa for Drew at Decoding the Craft, I really did not know or realize just how many events were going on at the same time as the Pliny the Younger release at Russian River Brewing. There was the Double IPA Festival and the San Francisco Beer Week 2014 (SF Beer Week 2014) started on Friday, the day of the Pliny release. I would have liked to go into The City to check out some events, but it was always raining and it would not be fair to the dogs to deal with city life in the rain. It was decided that we would do our own SF Beer Week 2014 tour; we just stayed on the other side of the bridge.
Since we wanted to start off with a destination that included food, we started off at Marin Brewing Company, a brewpub in Larkspur. I will admit, I was a little apprehensive at first because my limited experience with them wasn’t very positive; but when Tanya read the menu from their website we decided to head over there. I do not know if it is because it was raining or the weekend or it is just always like that, but parking was pretty difficult. I saw a sign for free valet, but with the dogs I did not think it would go over well. They are located in what I would describe as a boutique shopping center; as it was raining, I did not exactly look around, so just my first wet impressions.
The place itself is huge and looks pretty upscale. We got a flight to share and I was immediately glad we made this stop; their flights offered a wide selection from their Broken Cherry sour ale and E.S. Chi spiced beer to their San Quentin’s Breakout Stout and Brass Knuckle Double IPA. They all ranked from good to amazing; the food was not bad either. We should have ordered more chili. Continue reading