Photos – DTLA United Festival

I fought my way through the Ciclavia to Angel City for the first (of what may become annual) DTLA United Festivals.
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Here are a few photos and my quick thoughts on the event…..
DTLA Fest
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I knew that this was a small festival but it was literally just the corner lot where the Farmer’s Market normally congregates in the Arts District. There were no lines to get in. Only 150 tickets were sold. Plenty of elbow room and you could talk with the brewers for minutes on end without interruption.
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Onto the beers that struck my fancy. Cowboy Curtis from Arts District (the silver medal winner from GABF) was a finely balanced hit of smoke and chocolate. By far the best beer on the day and that I have had from ADBC. Second for me was Llorona from Dry River. Described as a dark sour which it was in flavor if not color. Indie Brewing had a lacto version of the 7th Street Saison that was wonderfully dry and quite earthy.

The two beers from Mumford Brewing, well, I was expecting more. The Pantsuit Saison was a bit rough and abrasive and the DTLA IPA was not to the heights that past hop offerings from them have been.
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Not only was their craft beer flowing, there were two emissaries from the land of spirits. Greenbar Distilling and the Spirit Guild were pouring as well. Spirit Guild makes their Vapid Vodka and Astral Pacific Gin from Clementine oranges which added a citric tint to both. Greenbar was pouring their foray into hops with their hop liquer.
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Because the fest was so tiny, there wasn’t much to take issue with. There was a good variety of beer, there were special pours throughout the afternoon. Water was readily available, as were restrooms. Everyone was in a great mood and you could almost (if you were ambitious) try everything that was being tapped before hopping onto public transport.

Take the I-15

IMG_3587.PNG I have been hard on beer festivals of late, but something about the eagerness of the I-15 fest seems to work for me.

“We are doing with the I-15 Brew Festival is injecting new life into the traditional brew festival. We feel that by hosting an event at night, bringing in concert and laser lighting, specialty performers and music to surround the breweries that it will be an event that will go over big with the audience.”

Now, hopefully, more local (ie Temecula) breweries will appear on the participating brewery page.

Real Ale + Figueroa Mountain

In two weeks,Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company will unleash the full potential of the cask program that is under the stewardship of Head Brewer of Santa Barbara, Kevin C. Ashford.  Currently all of the Fig Mtn. taprooms have a ““Firkin Friday” featuring many of their standard ales.”

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Now they are going bigger…..

“Wanting to bring more exposure for cask beer to the Central Coast, Ashford and the events team at Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company will be hosting a Real Ale Invitational on Saturday, October 25, 2014 from 1:00 to 4:00 PM. Over a dozen breweries will be showcasing their own styles of real ale at Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company’s flagship brewery and taproom in Buellton, California. Admission is $40 and includes a souvenir glass, unlimited tastings and live music. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Los Padres Forest Watch.

For those beer lovers that want a more intimate experience paired with food, a limited number of tickets will be sold for a Real Ale Lunch prior to the Invitational at 11:30 AM to 1:00 PM. Meet the cask masters who have perfected the skill of brewing real ale while enjoying a 4-course meal prepared by Beto Huizar, Executive Chef of Beto’s Place, a new restaurant slated to open in Fig Mtn Brew’s Buellton taproom later this year. Tickets to the lunch cost $75 and include admission to the Invitational.”

Tickets will go on sale starting August 1st, 2014.

another Stone anniversary!


Stone Brewing Co. may be celebrating its sweet 16 this year, but true fans know that the brewery’s aggressively-flavored bitter ales are anything but sweet. To commemorate the happy (hoppy?) day, Stone is releasing Stone 16th Anniversary IPA on August 13, and will hold its annual 16th Anniversary Celebration & Invitational Beer Festival August 17 and 18. One hundred percent of the profits from the festival will be donated to local charities including: Boys & Girls Club of San Marcos, Fight ALD, Palomar Family YMCA, and Surfrider Foundation.

The two-day event begins Friday, August 17 with the Brewers Reception held on the grounds of California State University San Marcos (CSUSM). The $75 ticket price includes a commemorative glass, tastings of special beers, meet and greet with the world-class brewers featured at the festival, and complimentary gourmet fare and live music. The Stone 16th Anniversary Celebration & Invitational Beer Festival is also held at CSUSM and tickets are $40 per person, per session – Session A is 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Session B is 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. The Festival features more than 40 breweries and 100 beers, as well as the infamous Arrogant Bastard Ale onion rings, complimentary homebrewed sodas, and samples of Mike’s Beer Cheese. Ticket holders will receive a commemorative tasting glass with 10 four-ounce samples. All Access Pass/Rare Beer Section tickets have already sold out.”

LA Beer Week – Final Report (and grade)

Entering the final weekend of LA Beer Week, I was excited to see how the closing festival turned out in it’s new location at Union Station. Very well indeed. Crap, I jumped the gun on my own post.

But first, I drove over to Eagle Rock Brewing on Saturday to try the LA Week beer. The aforementioned, Unity LA’s Team Beer. An imperialized California common. As well as the new lemongrass wit. They have been busy at ERB! (And I haven’t even talked about their coffee beer Stimulus)

Of the two, the Lemongrass was the winner. Distinct and vibrant notes of lemongrass that didn’t cloy on the palate. Why it doesn’t have a fancy name like the rest of the beers I don’t know. But it was delicious.

The Unity was solid and well made but not a style that I would normally go back to repeatedly. I think I just prefer the regular old fashioned common / steam beer. Amping up this style doesn’t add anything for me.

On to the FINALE!

I arrived early to volunteer and got to haul ice and do some general helpful things before getting my assignment for the four hour festival. I and Oregon Beer Festival veteran Richard would be manning the Wyder and Woodchuck cider booth.

Luckily that put us right in between Brian and Nibble Bit Tabby and Jeremy and Co. from Eagle Rock. And Craftsman was right across from us. Thankfully cider is easier to pour. Less finicky than beer. So we could watch the crowd ebb and flow and see everyone come to see Jeremy’s GABF medal.

It was a blast to be a part of something that put so many smiles onto people’s faces.

So now that the 2010 edition is in the books, I will be giving out two grades. One for the week+ of events and one for the Union Station festival.

EVENTS GRADE – B-
Why? – Plenty of events all over the LA. Diversity of events.
Why not higher? – Need more events in the mid-price range ($20.00-$30.00)

I always found something to go to. And if I didn’t have something new or spectacular, I did get to re-visit some places that I hadn’t seen in a bit. That is such a plus.

Here are my recommendation for improving on this years edition.
1. The ability to tag and get updates on those events that most interest you. This would have helped me considerably. I mentally jotted down what I wanted to attend and then didn’t really look to closely after that. If there was an e-mail update that told me that the Oinkster event was about to put tickets on sale for an event that I didn’t know required tickets, I might have made that event. Same for the Hot Knives and Cheese at the Verdugo. Information was on the calendar very fast but it changed too and it is becoming daily work to keep on top of things.

2. Official “HOME of LA Beer Week” banners for establishments holding events during the week. Who knows how many people may have wandered into a bar or brewery if they could easily see such a sign. (More on signs later)

3. Keep pressing for more press. KPCC was at the Float Showdown. Los Angeles magazine did a blurb. More is needed and will come if the momentum is tended to.

FESTIVAL GRADE – B+
Why? – Good amount of breweries. Wide ranging beer selection. Was not cramped. Great location.
Why not higher? – Needed more signage and toilets. Needed to display the Unity beer more prominently.

First off, I want to congratulate all of the people who dedicated alot of personal time and energy to put this on. These events are hard to put on. Logistically and stylistically. Then factor in that this was the first attempt at this venue and you add more hurdles. Anybody who starts complaining or whining without spending time congratulating and high fiving people first, is an idiot.

Now down to brass tacks. AKA, my personal recommendations for improvement.

Pre-Event
1. I could not for the life of me find the list of breweries. Maybe it was there and I missed it. Either way, it was not easily accessible.

2. Push the mass transit. Link up to the rail and bus time tables.

3. Have the LA beer bloggers start banging the drums about what they are itching to drink.

During the event
1. We need the mayor or a sports personality to tap the first keg and it needs to be the official LA Beer for the week. And that beer needs to be front and center and visible to all walking in. Even if it is in limited supply.

2. Signs. In the Union Station space, a map truly isn’t required. I could walk around in 5 minutes with a festival going on. But signs would be nice. A sign for the Spero Foundation booth. A sign for the water. Where to go for the food trucks? If that is too costly or time consuming, posting 5 or 6 volunteers around the festival with “Ask Me” pins or shirts would work wonders.

3. I don’t know what the breakdown of new to craft beer vs. old hands has been for the festival but we need an education booth or breakout session. Where we can distribute information about all of the great places to go here in LA. I know a map is in the works but even a simple sheet just names, address, hours of operation and website might bring more people after the festival.

Post-Festival
1. Pre-assigned breakdown teams. Before the event, put people into specific groups for cleaning. One group starts by kindly getting our guests out of the area. Another group does empty bottles. Another group moves kegs. Another strikes tables. Each group should have a leader. There is a great group of volunteers willing to help that could use more forceful direction.