Enjoying Some Great Beers at The Festival
Last week, I attended a very special beer event. Simply entitled “The Festival”, it took place over the course of November 8-9 at Crafted at the Port of Los Angeles and was put on by The Shelton Brothers. I went for the final four hours of the event on Sunday evening and had a great time. Although admission was over $40 for a given session ($80+ for a full day and $160+ for both days), I was surprised that there was a separate charge for tickets to get tastings of beer. Although admission did get us a tasting glass, fortunately, the ticket sales went to benefit a local charity, which was nice.
When I went in, I figured I would just go and drink IPAs and double IPAs, which I greatly enjoy. Indeed, I started off drinking a couple of double IPAs and ultimately ended up drinking three in total: Beachwood Brewing’s Denver Jackhammer, which was pleasant, Hair of the Dog Brewing Company’s Blue Dot, which I found to be sweet, hoppy and fruity and semi-complex, and a bit yeasty – very good, and Cellarmaker Brewing Company’s Rodney Dankerfield, which I found to be lightly-bodied with a nice piney character. All three of these were great and I will make sure I keep my eyes out for them.
In the IPA department, I ended up drinking several: Anchorage Brewing Company’s Galaxy (lovely – I got grapefruit and it’s nice, light and fruity), Faction Brewing’s Fall IPA (really good), Renaissance Brewing Company’s Voyager, and Shmaltz Brewing Company’s He’Brew Hop Manna IPA (nice, calm, sessionable IPA), all of which I enjoyed.
However, early on, my drinking partner suggested I try something different. Since I knew I wasn’t going to fill up my time drinking just IPAs, I figured I would accede and try it, plus there was no line. It tasted quite yummy and had a significant amount of sourness, something with which I was not that familiar in beer. It was nice and it turned out to be Brasserie Cantillon’s Classic Gueuze, although I had never heard of it. Well, apparently, that was an inspirational beer, since many of the breweries there had similar sweet, sour, and dry beers. Eventually, my palate switched over from tolerating it to greatly enjoying it. Midway through my time there, I sought out this style.
Some great sour beers that I enjoyed there were Prairie Artisan Ales’ Prairie Standard (which was yummy), Prairie Artisan Ales’ Brouwerij Okie (which was great), To Øl’s Sur Mosaic (dry and sour), Brekeriet Beer AB’s Brekeriet Saison Sauvage (Sweet, sour, smooth, and dry – really enjoyable), and Telegraph Brewing Company’s Old Fashioned Saison (which was yummy). I also had heard great things about the Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project, so I wandered over to their table and greatly enjoyed their Vieille Artisanal Saison (yummy, dry, sour), Raspberry Origins (an incredible sour), and St. Bretta (Fall) (tasty).
Some other beers I greatly enjoyed were Brasserie Dieu du Ciel’s Herbe à Détourne (a yummy tripel), Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales’ La Parcela (dry and subtly pumpkiny), The Bruery’s Mash & Coconut (which was special (and bourbon barrel-aged(!)), and Bottle Logic’s Darkstar November (which was smooth, rich, dark, coffee-y and very big and boozy).
I thought the event was great – not too many people and the lines were kept to a minimum. But I wasn’t the only one: “Never have I seen assembled such a collection of the finest beers from the finest breweries in the world, under one roof, and with almost no lines,” said Carl Katz of The Bruery. “It was like what being at the signing of the Declaration of Independence must have been like, but instead of great statesmen such as Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, and Paine, you were in the presence of great breweries ranging from Belgium’s Cantillon, Drie Fontaine, and Struise, to can’t-find-in-California breweries such as Jester King and Hill Farmstead.”
The Festival 2014 was the third such event, with last year’s taking place in Portland, Maine, and 2012’s taking place in Worcester, Massachusetts, and featured dozens of beers. And not just a lot of beers, but also very special beers, as described by Cleo Tobbi in LAWeekly, “this weekend-long event also brought various highly coveted beers to Los Angeles for the first time and provided a tasting opportunity unlike any other.” It was also great to attend, since the lines were non-existant, which is strange for some breweries who are used to always having lines for their products. “The Festival is such an embarrassment of beer riches that tables from perfectly stunning breweries pouring not-at-all-common selections have no line whatsoever,” wrote Austin L. Ray at First We Feast. “I imagine this is due, in part, to the fact that the event doesn’t overcrowd like many similar festivals, but it’s also a credit to just how unbelievable the roster is each day.”
I certainly enjoyed myself and was glad that there were not lines and that it was easy to chat with whomever was there to present their beers. I also came away from The Festival with an appreciation and a liking to dry, sour beers and am excited to try more!