It was an inspired choice. The gardens and the non-rock music made for a very calm and relaxed time and also made sure that people knew that the focus of the afternoon and early evening was sampling fine craft beer.
Here are my personal highlights from the day:
Telegraph Brewing brought a Harvest Rye beer that they brewed just for the vintners in the Santa Barbara area. After a taste, I could see how after spending hours harvesting grapes that this would not only cool you down but it also had enough rye to give it a little kick. I am hoping to see this in bottles.
Craftsman Brewing brought what seemed to be their entire line-up of beer. Edgar, Summer’s End Sour and a new offering of a wet-hop ale. It was my idea of a simple, yet tasty IPA. It was crisp and bitter and not a muddle like some IPA’s have become. I will be looking to try this again.
The Full Pint brought a crazy amount of beer swag and were playing the Full Sail Brewing version of Rock / Paper / Scissors. If you don’t know it, just pick up a case of Full Sail Session (red or black), then look under the cap. It was a very popular booth to say the least.
He’Brew had Bar Mitzvah pouring. As if 13 different malts and 13 different hops wasn’t enough, I was lucky enough to get a vertical flight of 11 and 12 as well. All three are big, brash beers that really attack the taste buds. All three are beers to cellar. Grab the 13 now and hold on to it. It should mellow out nicely as the years pass.
Buckbean from Reno brought cans of two of their beers, Black Noddy (which I did not sample) and Orange Blossom (which I did). You get a big aroma of orange and I was real sure that the beer was orange too. It was probably a trick of the light but this beer had citrus flavor to spare.
The Maltose Falcons were in attendance. Not only to try the beer but to show off a new recipe book from member Drew Beechum and to hook more people into brewing their own beer.
Nectar Ales and Ballast Point brought the crowds with Black Xantus and Hout made with Black Currants. To me, it is not really a great festival until you get these specials. They are the chum for ravenous beer geeks.
The crowd was great! As I strolled around, there were lots of great discussions going on about aromas and flavors and which beers to get before they ran out. Plus, I admit to being worried about the unlimited pours. But it did not turn out to be a headache and the grounds were treated respectfully so we can all meet there again this time next year.
Your homework is to find one of the newest beers to hit Los Angeles. Requiem Espresso Stout from The Gentleman Scholar (aka Martin Svab + Skyscraper Brewing). It is an excellent beer with toffee notes that pours really black. It would be excellent as an end of dinner nightcap or paired with some coffee ice cream.
Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.