After one bus and a Red and Expo train I entered Exposition Park through the Rose Garden for a more calming experience, then through the California Science Center, then around to the Natural History Museum and the Butterfly Pavilion.
All before one beer had passed my lips at the Kick-Off event for the 7th L.A. Beer Week. It reminded me of the first festival that was held at Descanso Gardens way back in the day.
While dodging the suns UV rays, I sampled:
Santa Monica Brew Works Cucumber Kolsch which was excellent particularly for this day and learned that they will be receiving their bottling line soon.
Ladyface Magnanimous IPA in their oasis which had tables and chairs.
Kinetic’s Wild Ale for their 3rd anniversary which was just as good as some Belgian dark sours that are raved about.
King Harbor Coconut Swirly which I thought was a little too much. I guess I am a regular Swirly man.
Then it was time to try the two Cascade collaboration beers. First up was the Phantom Carriage / Cascade Vermiste Kat. Which I found pleasant but not any better than the regular line-up. The El Segundo Perfect Strangers was more interesting flavor wise but the hops of ESBC were fully in charge over the sour power.
FIrestone Walker’s Velvet Merlin was as smooth and delicious as ever plus Anders had the most shaded spot along the History Museum steps.
Phantom Carriage Citra Muis showed how versatile a base beer Muis is. A touch of the lemony hop was just right.
Boomtown Brewing from the Arts District was new to the fest this year and my first beer from them was the Ingenue white ale which could have had more spice to it but did hold it own and was slightly better than the Personal Assistant Pale which was good as well for a new outfit. Look for more from them as they expand out.
I also had my first Rev Brewing beer. Great to see them at the fest. Unfortunately the pale ale that I sampled, though fine, was less interesting and balanced than I had hoped. I will need to head to Covina and try the full range though.
Three Weavers Return of Sassy Rye was my favorite on the day. I had wanted to try the Watermelon saison but it had tapped out. If this beer is any indication, I am going to love Arts District Brewing.
Noble Ale Works brought a bevy of beers. They almost brought a mini-OC fest with them. Mosaic Yum Yum was the star but I opted for We Saved Latin a Belgian tinged IPA that I hope makes it to bottles.
Highland Park Brewing has some of the best beer names around and even though it was my second to last beer the Simcoe Bonkers IPA really stood out. Great aroma and a sprightly taste.
Overall the Kick-Off was run well. There was plenty of elbow room. You could park yourself on the ground and sit if you needed. Restrooms and water were strategically placed and in more abundance than last year. And with hopped water and coffee in booths, you could easily stay hydrated. The layout was well executed. You didn’t get stuck in traffic jams and the few rare lines moved fast.
On the con side of the ledger, the expected absence of Craftsman and unexpected absence of Eagle Rock left a gaping historical hole. I also don’t get the need for both music and seminars. As educational as they may be, the beer education just gets swallowed up by the music and by the time they start, most people are sheets to the wind. Food trucks are also becoming a drag. They never don’t have lines. Lines that never seemingly move.
The big con was, of course, the heat. It didn’t damper the fun but I did come home with a white line where my wristband had blocked the sun.
In comparing the last three festivals, this is the clear winner. The beer quality and selection was high. So high that Mother Nature’s heat couldn’t compete.