Comfortable – Part 2

Way back in 2020, I posted THIS about the Georgia brewery Creature Comforts coming to Los Angeles. Fast forward to June 2023 and I notice that at the Hopped booth at the Los Angeles Independent Beer Festival was a talk with Victor Montalvo of Creature Comforts LA.

So, I guess that despite the passage of years and a weakened craft beer market, that the plan is back on for Creature Comforts.

Featured Review – Unity 2023 led by Eagle Rock Brewery

LA Beer Week is going full blast, so it is time to review the Unity beer for 2023. Labeled as “a community-made hoppy Helles Lager”.

It pours a dark orange color. Lemon and tea notes on the nose. Dare I say, it tastes more like Session IPA or a Cold Pale Ale? Don’t get me wrong, it tastes great. The base for this beer is very light but the hops are well in proportion so everything stays bright.

LA Beer Week – Covid Hangover

In the before times during L.A. Beer Week, there was always a panel discussion, So You Want to Be a Brewer?. Tomm Carroll would moderate with brewers who had just gotten started or still wet from beer foam behind the ears.

I don’t have statistics on it but many a brewery owner attended these discussions. Henry Nguyen from Monkish Brewing being one of them.

But even panels have to pivot, so this year the theme was the cheery, upbeat pandemic.

L to R – Ben from Lawless, Joel from Strand, Samantha from Lucky Luke, Brendan from Paperback, Jennifer from MacLeod and Tomm.

Whenever there is a discussion, I start looking for golden nuggets of wisdom or weird but true stories and there were plenty last night. Covid created weird circumstances, such as….

Macleod – had 12 kegs of green beer ready for St. Patrick’s Day since they had sold out too quickly the previous year, took months to sell

Paperback – had focused their investment on their taproom but had to pivot to new canned beers each week. Basically doing things backwards from their plans.

Lawless – had bad timing strike the, as they were two weeks from their CUP when it hit. Postponed their journey to opening by six – nine months

Strand – the closure casualty of the group was another timing victim, they were in the midst of trying to get three other breweries in an alternating prop agreement to use their Torrance facility when lockdown hit

Overall though, the tone was one of gratefulness to the brewing community and the customers. It sounded very much like the extra positive times when craft beer was really growing. Lawless and Paperback were happy to have been going through the process close together and both leaned into knowledge from MacLeod so despite all the trials and tribulations, they got through together.

Family

LA Beer Week has an official beer but I am all for having more, so a side project from Ten Mile and fellow family-owned brewery Burnin’ Daylight present A “Family Hopportunity” West Coast IPA featuring Citra Incognito hop product and Mosaic Cyro Hops.”

LA Beer Week 2023 Picks

Time to make my humble suggestions as to which L.A. Beer Week events merit your attention this year.  Here are my top 5 picks…

June 11th – Drag Brunch at Frogtown Brewery

“Join Frogtown Brewing  for their first ever Drag Brunch! We will have 4 performers, a booth with raffle from Nova Community Arts, a limited edition Beer Slushee and some brunch items from Heritage Kitchen LA! This event is free and open to the public.”

June 14th – Beer Side Talks

“Ambitious Ales joins Beachwood Brewing for an educational panel speaking event to discuss the impact of breweries collaborating, how it brings together community, learning experiences, and more. Coinciding with the event, the two breweries are both releasing a West Coast IPA, Neighborhood Pals. The event ticket includes a 10 oz pour of each of the collaboration beers. Help us celebrate LA Beer Week and independently-owned craft breweries strengthening the craft beer industry.”

June 16th – Hawthorne Block Party

“BBQ, Beer Releases, Bands/DJ’s, Games and Food. 2pm-12am at both L.A. Ale Works and Common Space Brewing.”

June 17th – Clean and Crispy

At Long Beach Beer Lab, “Over 20 curated breweries! Exclusive taster glass + unlimited samples. Marketplace, food vendors and more.”

June 18th – King of the Kolsch

Arts District Brewing hosts your favorite beer style from Cologne, Germany with many different Kolsch variations from LA breweries.

You can see the full event guide HERE

Unity 2023

Fun L.A Beer Week fact is that each year Guild members choose a brewery to host the annual LA Brewers Guild Unity Brew.  This year, the chosen brewery is Eagle Rock.

Second deeper dive fun fact is that Eagle Rock did the first five Unity beers before the role started to rotate around. More details on the beer style, as well as where and when you can drink it coming.

And remember that LA Beer Week is June 10th-June 18th this year.

LABW23 – Long Beach Festival

June is shaping up as a busy beer month, following the Firestone Walker Invitational on the first weekend of June is the opening salvo for L.A. Beer Week on weekend #2.

LABW23 starts at Shoreline Park in Long Beach, a beautiful spot to sample the independent L.A. beer scene in 2023.

Mexican Lager Showdown

Arts District Brewing is known for their beer judging and on Sunday the 26th they will open their patio to Mexican-Style Lagers brewed right here in L.A.

24 (yes, you read that number correctly) of the L.A. County Brewers Guild will have lagers at the ready AND A dollar from all pints & half pints goes back to the guild.

Winners will be announced and you can agree or disagree after that. What you will agree on, is that the beers were good.

LABW13 – Cellador Friends Festival

I actually went to a beer festival! The first one since 2019! Cellador Ales hosted the kick-off event for the 2022 L.A. Beer Week and here is my rundown…

Before I start with my best beers though, I want to say that I love the fact that Cellador has embraced magnum pours. They had a whole “magnum island” booth plus bottles were being walked around the festival alley.

On to the beers, this was not a sour only event as in years past, but there were sours aplenty. Rare Barrel had Space Jellies with Strata hops, Craftsman had some barreled Flors and many others had bottle or can pours at the ready.

That said, some of my favorites on the day were from North Park who brought their historically named DIPA’s …

Probably a notch above was the Green Cheek version of Timbo Pils which was bright and hoppy and refreshing on a hot day.

Another stand-out was Craftsman Brewing, OG in L.A. bringing their famous 1903 Lager as well as three barrel-aged ales including 3rd and 4th Flor. I tasted 3rd which used Sherry yeast and was different from every other taster I had.

I like the set-up lots of colorful branded pop-up tents in a row with food at one end and wine and cider inside. I was hoping for more seating and shade options. It was telling that the slim strip of shade near the building quickly became a hang out spot.

I will need to get my festival legs back. I was like a kid in a candy store who hadn’t had sugar in a bit but was also was too wary of crowds. But, my pacing and technique will improve as I get back in the swing of things.

Thanks to Kevin and Fran for setting up a great return to festival action in Los Angeles.