California Beer Fests

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Beer Fest Review: OC Fest of Ales 2013, Anaheim

I missed last year’s OC Fest of Ales, but made it to this year’s Second Annual event in downtown Anaheim. The event starts with a 5k run, and I had a passing thought to participate in that as well, but then I came to my senses and stuck to just the beer fest.

The weather for the event could not have been more perfect. We just broke out of a minor heat wave in SoCal, and this was the first weekend with temps in the mid 70s. The VIP admission began at 10:00 a.m., and at that hour it was nice and cool with overcast skies. The haze burned off around 1:00, but even then the temperature stayed in the 70s.

With the event held in conjunction with a 5k, I thought parking might be an issue, but it was zero problem. There were garage parking structures immediately adjacent to the event, but they all had signs saying parking was limited to two hours. I suspect that was waived for the event, but just in case we parked at a shopping center about half a block away.

There was no delay getting into the event. Indeed, anyone 21 or over could get a wristband and enter the event to check out all the beer merchandise and buy food at the many food vendors, but to sample the beer you needed to have purchased a ticket. The standard ticket came with a wristband for 10 beer samples, while the VIP ticket offered unlimited beer and food tastings. (In retrospect, it may not have been intended that the food tastings be unlimited, but no one turned me away.)

At this event, the VIP admission really added to the value beyond just getting in an hour early and more beer tastings. An entire section of the event was reserved for the VIP attendees, where there were numerous booths offering pairings of food and beer. Slaters 50/50, one of my perennial favorites as these events, was ensconced in the VIP section. So too were The Bruery, Noble Ale Works, Hangar 24, Lagunitas Brewing, Bootlegger’s, Cismontane and a number of others. See the picture below for the full listing of the “VIP Experience”. In addition to Slaters 50/50, food tastings in the VIP area were provided by local restaurants including Tony’s Deli, House of Blues-Anaheim, American Tavern, Crow Bar, Side Door, Roy’s of Anaheim and The Kroft..

Overall, there were more than 80 craft beers offered by Ace Cider, Alcatraz Brewing Co., Anaheim Brewery, Craft Brewing, Rough Draft, Tap It Brewing Co., Bootleggers, Bravery Brewing, Coronado, Firestone Walker, Golden Road, Manzanita Brewing, Mission Brewing, Monkish, New Belgium, Noble Ale Works, Packinghouse, Sierra Nevada, The Bruery, Tustin Brewery, Pizza Port San Clemente, Ballast Point, Hangar 24, Karl Strauss, Lagunitas Brewing, Black Market Brewery, Valiant Brewing, and Stone Brewing Co.

I saw two great bands perform – Amber Foxx (Rockabilly) and Mo50 (modern/classic rock). PopRoqs (80’s) was also scheduled, but if they were there I didn’t happen to see them.

Just off the street where the beer fest was held, there is a museum called Muzeo (I figured out all on my own that was probably a museum before confirming the fact). The current exhibit was entitled “Lateral Acceleration”, with a collection of still photography, film and motorcycles, showing the “motorcycle culture of Southern California”, as they put it. Admission is normally $10, but it was free with your armband from the OC Fest of Ales. That provided a nice break during the beer fest.

I can’t offer a single suggestion to make this beer festival any better. It provided a great showcase for (mostly) local breweries and restaurants, and the execution was flawless.

— Aaron Morris

2013-09-21 12.45.43

OC Fest of Ales
2013-09-21 11.05.30

OC Fest of Ales VIP Experience2013-09-21 10.57.432013-09-21 14.06.12

OC Fest of Ales

Go here for more photos of OC Fest of Ales.

A Chance to Win a Trip to Oktoberfest in Germany

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Pints for Prostates Germany Beer Tour Scheduled for Oct. 9-19, 2014 

Oktoberfest 2014CHARLOTTE, N.C. – BeerTrips.com has put together a special beer tour of Germany to benefit Pints for Prostates. The beer adventure to Bavaria and Franconia will take place from Oct. 9-19, 2014.

The nine night dream trip includes stops in Aying, Garmisch Partenkirchen, Bayreuth, Rothenburg and Bamberg.  The trip includes beer tastings, escorted beer hall crawls, guided city walks, brewery tours, monastery visits, special meals and more.

BeerTrips.com is offering this special Pints for Prostates group tour to Germany to the public on a limited basis. Just 14 slots are available for this tour at $2,995 (+ air) based on double occupancy ($625 single room supplement). The tour will be hosted by Pints for Prostates founder and beer journalist Rick Lyke. Visit www.BeerTrips.com for details.

“This will be the fourth time we have teamed up with BeerTrips.com for a special Pints for Prostates European beer trip. This itinerary includes some amazing breweries and is really a unique way to experience Germany,” said Lyke. “We are thrilled to continue our partnership to help us raise funds and spread the word to men about the importance of regular prostate health screenings and early detection.”

“This is one of the most popular BeerTrips.com itineraries because it explores the best of Bavaria and Franconia,” said Mike Saxton, founder of BeerTrips.com. “We offer small groups an intimate experience with the chance for insider tours of some of the most famous breweries in the world. If you love beer and love to travel, this trip gives you a chance to experience the German countryside and some classic small cities that offer tremendous beers.”

As part of the BeerTrips.com and Pints for Prostates partnership, Pints for Prostates will raffle a trip for two for the special trip. For a $10 donation for a single ticket, $25 donation for three tickets or $50 for seven tickets, donors will be entered to win the trip that includes:

• The BeerTrips.com trip for two Oct. 9-19, 2014
• Roundtrip Airfare for Two from the Continental United States
• Nine Nights in Fine Centrally Located Hotels
• Brewery Tours
• Escorted Beer Hall Crawls
• Guided City Tours
• Breakfasts Daily/Special Beer Dinners and Beer Lunches
• Train & Private Coach Transportation

The total value of the trip for two is estimated at $8,500. The drawing will be held on July 27, 2014. The prize is non-transferable. No cash substitute will be offered. The winner and their guest are responsible for obtaining passports and all trip related costs not outlined above.

Beer Fest Review: San Diego Brewers Guild Festival

Brewerrs Guild Beer Fest San Diego 2012

Taken from the food trucks with iPhone panorama.

Epic is the only word to describe the 2012 San Diego Brewers Guild Festival. The beautiful location, selection of beers and great food combined to make this a memorable beer festival.

This year the event was right on the pier, with an amazing view of the water. Entry was a little slow. I don’t know why beer festival organizers cannot get it together in this regard, but the wait time here was far better than most.  Upon entry, you walked through a row of vendors and into a large building that held all the beer vendors. If you spent the few extra dollars for the VIP ticket (something I always recommend), you could go up some stairs to a room filled to the gills with beer and food vendors.

At this event, VIP really meant something. Usually, VIP just gets you early admission, and perhaps a tent where you can escape the sun. Here, it got you a special selection of beers and some amazing food, not available to the unwashed masses. In fact, once upstairs most were content to stay there, and the organizers sent people around to announce, “you know, there are other breweries downstairs.”

At that point I was already impressed by this beer fest, but when I finally did go downstairs, I was awed. The room was HUGE, and held dozens more booths with other breweries. There were also a number of vendors selling beer gear. If you walked the full length of that exhibit hall and outside onto the end of the pier, there was a small assortment of food trucks, allowing you to take a break with some food while enjoying the view of the bay. I imagine, however, that the food trucks did not get much business from the VIP attendees, because we were already stuffed with pizza and sliders and meatloaf and tacos and various desserts.

I have railed before against beer fests that use beer sample tickets, not because I want to drink mass quantities, but because it prevents me from tasting more beers than the number of tickets will allow. In other words, the VIP admission came with 20 tickets, but what if I prefer 30 2-ounce samples instead of 20 3-ounce samples? Same amount of beer, but I get to enjoy a greater selection, and that’s what a beer fest is all about. I was told by a number of sources that the City of San Diego had required the ticket system this year because things had gotten a little out of control the prior year. So, while the San Diego Brewers Guild Festival did use the ticket system (actually little tabs on your wristband), it all worked out. Most of the people serving up the beer understood the difference between a sample and a SAMPLE, so for the most part the 20 tab limit did not keep me from sampling whatever I wanted.

The San Diego Brewers Guild Festival now holds a position on my “must attend” list (a list that is getting longer and longer), and should be on yours as well.

— Aaron Morris

San Diego Brewers Guild Festival 2012

VIP Room

VIP Room

Main Hall at San Diego Brewers Guild Festival

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