The Latest B(eer) A(rts) M(usic) Fest is done but another good show was put on.
As usual, there was just too much beer on hand at BAM Fest to try it all. I ended up skipping large swaths of booths simply because I knew that I needed to pace myself. I also was on assignment from Beer Paper LA to write about a few of the newer/less known breweries which were pouring so my focus was on trying their offerings and talking to them.
One of which, Santa Monica Brew Works gets a gold star. Being the “local” or closest brewery to the festival, they had quite a presence and the most beers on tap. Six all told while most others had two. I was cautiously optimistic as I approached their table and I was really impressed. Their regulars, an XPA and a Wit were both well done. Clean and crisp and excellent gateway beers. But they also had another gear to take it up higher. The Chili beer was spicy without destroying the palate, the wet hop beer was a serious peach/apricot blast with a solid hit of bitterness. But the winner was PCH – Pale Chocolate Heaven. A golden orange color that was a serious milk chocolate beer. Surprising and very tasty. It will be the first one that I will try again. My beer crystal ball tells me that PCH will be the breakout hit for SMBW.
Port Town took my second place with their Hefeweizen and Pilsner. Both solid examples of the styles. Styles that are hard to nail correctly. This brewery gets new digs in 2015 and will be one to watch. Venice Duck had bottles of their Agave Blonde and their Hemp Ale and both were also solid. They rank a bit below Port Town because because they were a little less well defined in the flavor arena. But the beers do seem to be improving from when I sampled them last and I hope they get their Venice location going.
The other newbie was House Beer. They only do an American style lager and it was fine. I would take Port Town’s Pilsner over it though. Too much sweetness here for me. Got a little cloying. And I wish they could have their contract brew done in state as opposed to Wisconsin.
There are a couple things that I wish BAM would do for next year. The beer area needs to be expanded. By 4pm, the crowd was difficult to navigate, especially with a glass of liquid. Maybe add a seating area or two that could draw people away to create a better flow. Secondly, increased signage would be great. Or a little map in your glass to show you what was where and at what time. For the musical acts this would be easy. A board near the stage with a list of who was playing and when.
That being said, this is a great festival that always gives you both beer choices and art to marvel at.