California Beer Fests

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Beer Fest Review: Beer Ho Ho 2012 at the Phoenix Club in Anaheim

2012 Brew Ho Ho Anaheim Phoenix Club
The fine people who bring you the Brew Ha Ha, modified the name for the season, brought in some appropriate seasonal beers, and created the 1st Annual Brew Ho Ho at the Phoenix Club in Anaheim. We of course were invited, being influential members of the beer media (that, and because we paid for tickets). Here are our impressions.

First, kudos to the organizers for the efficient entry. It’s not that tough to get a large number of people into an event without a long wait time. Go to any professional sports event for proof. But it is beyond most beer fest organizers to make it happen. Not here. We sailed in without a moment’s pause.

Kudos also for the venue. The heart of the event was inside a large tent-type pavilion, but the event also spread out onto the grounds, where there were numerous, very un-beerfest like activities available, like giant Jenga games, bean bag toss and a rifle range. You read right. Nothing goes with a beer fest like firearms. Don’t worry; they did not permit beer on the firing range – you had to down it before entering. Safety first!

And what a great selection of beers! Stone Brewing offered its 12.12.12 Vertical Epic Ale; Noble Ale Works was there with Excuse Me, There is Schmutz in My Coffee and You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out, Kid; TAPS offered Toasted Santa; Warsteiner Brauerel had Warsteiner Premium Dunkel; and surprisingly, all the way from Chicago was Goose Island Beer Co. with 312 Urban Wheat Ale and others. The list of breweries goes on and on – Maui Brewing Co., Old Orange Brewing Co., Firestone Walker, Ritual, Speakeasy, Packinghouse, and more.

And the food! Slater’s 50/50 was there with its famous sliders, there were two food trucks, and there is a German place that apparently is part of the Phoenix Club, serving up a very tasty selection of sausages and other German cuisine.

And cigars! Try to smoke a cigar at most beer fests, and you’d best be prepared to find a corner to hide in while you smoke the evil weed. Here, there was a cigar vendor with very reasonably priced sticks ($9 for a 54 x 6.5 Oliva V), and a seating area behind the booth where all the cigar smokers enjoyed their sticks with good craft beers. (It was adjacent to the German beer and food. A good bratwurst, German beer and a cigar. Heaven.)

If you put a gun to my head (remember, they were available) and forced me to criticize something about this Brew Ho Ho, it would be the lack of live music. They did have a DJ, and he played a great mix of Christmas music and rock, but the event cried out for a live band. But that’s picking nits. This event was tremendous. I don’t want to sound like a broken record, because I was also quite effusive about last month’s San Diego Brewer’s Guild Festival, but the Brew Ho Ho has also made my must attend list.

— Aaron Morris

Beer Fest Review: Septemberfest 2012 in Santa Monica

Septemberfest 2012 Beer Festival in Santa MonicaThe Septemberfest in Santa Monica, put on by Drink Eat Play, is one of my perennial favorites. What’s not to like? Over 150 different beers served in unlimited quantities right next to the ocean. Add to that not one, not three, but TEN food trucks and a really good band called Petty Cash (covering the songs of Tom Petty and Johnny Cash – get it?), and you’ve got yourself a great day of beer drinking and socializing. Some of my favorite breweries present were Deshutes, Old World, Bootlegger’s, Eaglerock, Noble Ale Works, Fireman’s, Venice Beach, Tap It, Bierbitzch, and Primo, to name just a very few. Anchor Steam was on the list, but I didn’t realize until after the function that I had never seen them. I don’t know if they failed to appear or I just missed their booth.

Septemberfest 2012 Santa MonicaIf I had to find something to criticize, it would be the lack of any shade. Even with the breeze off the ocean, it was a bit warm for part of the beer fest. One of the breweries – the Old World Brewery out of Phoenix, Arizona – came with an absolutely brilliant, inflatable pub. Picture one of those bounce houses you see at kids’ parties, but with a pub inside instead a trampoline. Not surprising a brewery from Phoenix would come equipped with a respite from the sun. And speaking of brilliant, some attendees brought folding chairs with them and set up their own place to get out of the sun in the shade of one of the food trucks.

The sun was really not an issue, but some shade would be a nice addition. Note to Drink Eat Play: Since you already sell VIP admissions, make it a little more VIP by adding a VIP tent where attendees could relax out of the sun.

But sun aside, this was one great Beer Fest, and if you reside within a couple of hours drive, one you should plan to attend next year.

— Aaron Morris

Santa Monica Beer Fest Septemberfest 2012

Santa Monica Beer Festival 2012

Beer Festival Septemberfest 2012

Beer Festival Septemberfest 2012 Santa Monica

Santa Monica Septemberfest 2012 Food

San Diego Brewers Guild Festival — November 3, 2012

California Beer Festivals -- San Diego Beer WeekWe previously reported on the Beer Garden event at the end of the San Diego Beer Week, but now we have the details for the San Diego Brewers Guild Festival that kicks off San Diego Beer Week. This is one you don’t want to miss, given the outstanding craft beers produced by San Diego breweries. We recommend spending the few extra bucks for the VIP pass on this one.

The San Diego Brewers Guild Festival will be comprised of over 500 individual special events staged throughout San Diego County as part of this celebration in the heart of the craft beer movement.

Showcasing virtually all of San Diego’s breweries and award-winning local beers that have contributed to San Diego becoming known as the leader of the craft beer excitement throughout the United States, the San Diego Brewers Guild Festival will also feature an extraordinary food line up with specialty beer pairings, music and more craft beer related activities.


  • Over 100 of the finest beer offerings from San Diego Craft Breweries.
  • Excellent food from Allied Guild Member Restaurants and Brewpubs.
  • Live music and entertainment throughout the Festival.

Location: Embarcadero area Harbor Drive, Downtown San Diego, California

General Session (2pm – 5pm) ($35 now, $45 at the gate)

  • Commemorative event acrylic tasting glass and 10 tasting tabs.
  • Food available for purchase.

VIP Session (1pm – 5pm) ($55 now, $70 at the gate)

  • Entry into event one hour before the general session opens.
  • Meet and greet with some of your favorite San Diego local brewers.
  • Special 4 ounce commemorative tasting glass and 15 tasting tabs.
  • All access pass to special VIP area featuring complimentary food pairings provided by Allied Guild Members.
  • Admission to the general admission session area where additional food will be available for purchase.

OC Fest of Ales and 5K Beer Run

California Beer Festivals -- Beer Run 5KI don’t normally associate drinking beer with running, but the Downtown Anaheim Association is going to attempt to bring them together on Saturday, September 22, 2012. At first I had visions of craft beer drinkers staggering through the 5K, or perhaps (and I like this idea), instead of the usual water stations, the local breweries would have tables with cups of beer for the runners to grab as they ran past. For added incentive, the first 100 or so across the finish line would be met with a table of rare beers.

Well, maybe next year. This year the functions will be separate, and there will be no beer drinking until after the 5K run. The OC Fest of Ales will be held at the Center Street Promenade in Downtown Anaheim, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. There will be over 100 craft beers from more than 20 local breweries, along with food from local restaurants and food trucks.

This sounds like it will be a great event, and a VIP upgrade is available which adds earlier access to the Beer Garden and some other perks. For more information, go here and here.

— Aaron Morris

Beer Run California Beer Fests

San Diego Beer Week — Pencil it In

California Beer Fests - San Diego Beer Week

Not to be critical (okay, exactly to be critical), but the folks at the San Diego Brewers Guild really need to spend a few minutes updating the website. True, San Diego Beer Week doesn’t start until November 3, 2012, but much of the information on the site is for the 2010 Beer Week. The headline proclaims, “Save the Date — November 3, 2012” but the calendar immediately below it shows the festival starting on November 4.

So, we’re a little thin on specifics, but we can tell you two things. First, the San Diego Beer Week is an impressive “week” (ten days actually) of events, and second that it will culminate on Sunday, November 11, 2012 with a beer garden, admission to which will bring you unlimited tasters of the best of San Diego craft beer, as well as food from local restaurants.

So, for now, with ink write down November 11, 2012 in your calendar so you don’t miss what will certainly be a highlight event in beer drinkerdom (really, that’s not a word?), and pencil in the prior eight days until the San Diego Brewers Guild gets around to telling us exactly what is in store. Rumor has it that there will also be a beer fest on Saturday, November 3, but details are proving elusive.