Festival Review – Beer Advocate’s Extreme Beer Fest

I have been a loyal subscriber to Beer Advocate magazine and have read about their various and sundry events on the other coast and finally (perhaps as a Christmas present) I got to cover the first Los Angeles appearance of the Extreme Beer Fest.

And the locale turned out to be unexpected in a John McClane bursting through plate glass windows via fire hose kind of way with Alan Rickman shooting weaponry behind. Up on the lucky 13th floor of the California Market in DTLA, beers lined the walls…

Beers from East Coast to West were on offer. A list over 250+ long and most extreme in the ABV definition of the word. My three best breweries of Session 1 were de Garde from coastal Oregon, Finback from NYC and The Rare Barrel from the Bay Area. All three were basically walk up and order a beer affairs since the madding crowds had decided (apparently in advance and without input from me) that Great Notion. J. Wakefield and Weldworks were to be the darlings of the ball.

The empty floor turned out to be a great idea. Traversing back and forth was easy with the occasional cutting through snaking lines. Water was available in plentiful amounts as was food (including donuts and the awesome Beer Belly). The program for the event was helpful and the glasses were one of the rare style that I actually didn’t want to leave at the event. A little plastic wine glass minus stem with a divot for your dainty finger to hold.

I tasted 15 beers over a few hours and ran across quite a few that I need to recommend. Polyphonic DIPA from Finback was tied with DeLorean Dust from Alvarado Street for best hoppy offering. Sours was a two way race between de Garde and Rare Barrel with Purple Kriek and The Florist almost equal to Sloe Daze and An Awfully Big Adventure from the latter. But the Iced version of Spittin’ and Cussin’ from Smog City was near those peaks as well. Captain Lawrence, which used to be a darling, seemed ignored for some strange reason because their NE IPA Powder Dreams was excellent as was their brett’d IPA.

This event showcased that Beer Advocate has done this before. The lines were set-up, elevator help had been enlisted and all seemed smooth. There could have been more tables (two-tops) so that people could photograph the beers (hint hint) but the views were amazing….