So I endured the horrible traffic from Los Angeles to Escondido to hear Wil Wheaton talk and to try some sour beers. The outdoor bar is just perfect on a hot day. By 6pm it was nice and cool, and the drive was forgotten.
First up was Craftsman El Prieto. It was dark red and not to much head on it. You could smell sour from a mile away. The tartness doesn’t push you away though. When you drink it you get the sour first then fruit flavors mingle in later.
Second was Deschutes St. Lucy Belgian Artisan Ale. This was golden and fizzy. You could see the bubbles. This was more sour than the El Prieto with a bit more kick to it. This could have used some more fruit taste to balance.
Last was the Stone 13th Anniversary. Almost cola colored. Had a nice foamy head that dissipated quickly. Very floral hops. Bold and assertive IPA. But what do you expect from Stone? My favorite of the night.
Also, on August 22nd, the fine folks from Stone will be throwing a birthday bash and Invitational Beer Festival. $35.00 will get you in if you buy now. Those tickets will fly away quickly.
Yesterday was the 1st of hopefully many more to come of the Craft Beer Fest Los Angeles. I was there as both fan and volunteer from 2pm to 10pm so this will be a longer than usual post so find a comfortable chair. I will break it up into sections to make for easier reading.
Section 1 – The beer!!
Not a bad brewery in the bunch. And most importantly for me, new stuff that I really wanted to try plus new stuff from some of my old favorites. Here is what I had…..
1. Siamese Twin from Uncommon Brewers
Light golden ale, very different fruity taste to it. This beer really grew on me.
2. Automatic # 1 from Blind Lady Ales
Light Belgian ale. Had a bit of a tinny taste to me. A little astringent.
3. Scotch Isle from Craftsman
Very nice. Dark and malty. Not my favorite style of beer but this is well done.
4. Black IPA from Stone
Very good. I love IPA’s and this is an excellent beer.
5. Golden State from Uncommon Brewers
Hazy color. Light and flavorful. Great on a summer day.
6. Cuvee Jeune from The Bruery
Had this at Blue Palms a week ago and had to get some more. Excellent sour taste.
7. IPA from Hangar 24
Another really solid IPA. Not a hop bomb but citrusy and not too acidic.
8. Warm Water Wheat from Port Brewing
This was a really good banany hefeweizen. I hope they bottle this it is one I would like to have more of.
What I didn’t get to try and wanted to..
TAPS – Belgian White (which was really popular)
Port Brewing – Pig Dog Pale Ale
Section 2 – The Beer Panel
Moderated by Christina Perozzi with Mark Jilg from Craftsman, Ryan Sweeney from The Verdugo, Larry James from Wine Warehouse, Steve Grossman from Sierra Nevada and Victor Novak from TAPS Brewery.
Quite the interesting cross section of the beer community. They were all quite optimistic and passionate about making craft beer and where we are compared to the past and where we may end up.
It was so heartening to hear what they were saying and I wish they could have gone on longer. One thing that I took away was that there seemed to be a feeling that it was inevitable that craft beer would do to BMC (BudMillerCoors) what Starbucks did to Folgers. To that I say Amen!
Section 3 – Behind the Bar
All I can say is, I had great fun being behind the bar. I had never done it before and I am sure it showed but it was great to hand beer over to the smiling faces on the other side. It was not long before I was sweating from avoiding fellow volunteers and going all the way from one side of the bar and back with four beers trying hard not to spill. Thanks to Kevin, Alex, Liz, Bob and Ben for allowing a rookie to help out.
Section 4 – Who was there
Jeremy from Eagle Rock Brewery
Tomm from the Celebrator
Tony from Craftsman
Joel from 826LA
Patrick from The Bruery
All in all a really great time. If you weren’t here this year plan on it next year.
Now that I have fully recovered from the awesome amount of Belgian beers (25 on tap, 117 total) Here are some photos and commentary….
As you can see, a beautiful day in Carslbad, California.
The first beer of the day! Craftsman’s La Luz. Great way to start. Light but with a punch of flavor. Really excellent beer for a sunny day.
The second beer was # 16 on the list. The infamous Lost Abbey, Cuvee de Tomme. A super sour beer that is still way drinkable. My first sip was way sour but it mellows and is just excellent. Top beer of the day for me.
I was back at the taps for beers 3 and 4. A Dubbel and a Quad. The Dubbel from Hollister in Santa Barbara was good. Strong taste. Made with raisin puree. The even stronger quad was the Russian River Mortification. 11% alcohol and really good. Both are excellent choices.
I was four for four. Then I chose the only boring beer I had. The Pizza Port Faceplant from the San Clemente location. Not bad but the description said coriander and orange zest. Didn’t taste it. The alcohol must have obliterated the spicing.
Onto beers 6 and 7. I left the draft list and for my last two beers chose European beers. First was Baladin’s Al-Ikser. Very complex. A sipping beer not a “guzzling” beer for sure. Had a great smell and almost too many flavors maybe due to the fact it was made with whiskey yeast. The final beer was Boon’s Marriage Parfait. A vintage gueze. The 2nd best beer of the day. Sour but delicate. Easy to drink which is saying something for gueze. This was the 2003 vintage.
So Cuvee de Tomme, Marriage Parfait and La Luz are the top 3 but there were so many I didn’t try. Among them the Saison de Lente from the Bruery, Cascade Sour Fruit Ale, Nogne Saison and Ommegang’s Chocolate Indulgence. There is always next year.
Mark down May 9th on your calendar. Craft beer, gelato, live music with the proceeds going to one of my favorite charities, 826LA.