Last weekend, I flew north to the State’s Capital for a (Golden) State of the (Beer) Union.
The second California Craft Brewers Association Summit drew a big crowd of brewers, vendors and beer lovers to the Convention Center and later the Capitol Mall for a festival celebrating all California craft beer from Redding to San Diego.
Los Angeles had prime real estate to show off their wares. Right as you entered the Expo Hall, members of the Los Angeles County Brewers Guild were pouring at a bar. Kinetic Brewing had an excellent HiHopanonymous IPA that had lovely aroma. Later I sampled a new beer from MacLeod Ale Brewing, Thunder in a Jar, one of their biggest beers to date.
There were areas to enjoy Orange County, San Francisco, San Diego as well as sample the beers from the host city of Sacramento. Vendors lined up in rows selling hops, tap handles, and even insurance. Two stages rotated speakers throughout the day. Luminaries like David Walker of Firestone Walker Brewing Co., Peter Zien of AleSmith and the funny duo of Nicco Freccia and Shaun O’Sullivan from 21st Amendment spoke about their journeys in beer.
Upstairs each morning, breakout sessions ran the gamut from economics to the history of Sierra Nevada‘s Beer Camp to beer and coffee and a somewhat contentious panel on NE IPAs. (I learned not to use the “H” word when referencing them). There was a chef/brewer demo area where chefs joined brewers to show new and unique ways to pair beer with food. Even IPAs. I will be trying to recreate the sliced peaches on bread with arugula and prosciutto because it was a wonderful match to Pizza Port‘s hoppy creations.
The Summit is geared more towards brewers in some respects, but it is also a great way for fans to learn more about craft beer in virtually all aspects while being exposed to some really fantastic beers on tap.
[Next week, I will give you a tour of the booming Sacramento brewery scene.]
The best beer that I had in my three-day weekend in Sactown was hard to pick. I rotated amongst multiple possibilities before settling on a beer from Stone Brewing. Their XS IPA was aged in both gin and bourbon barrels and was really complex. There was a warm caramel note from the latter and juniper spice from the former that made this a pleasant sipper as I roamed the Expo Hall of the California Craft Beer Summit.
Your Homework is to head to Redondo Beach to see how well some of your favorite L.A. breweries make chili. There will also be beer, of course. Select Beer Store is holding their 4th annual Chili Cookoff and they have invited King Harbor, Brouwerij West, Phantom Carriage, Arts District, Three Weavers, HopSaint Brewing, Strand Brewing, Smog City Brewing and El Segundo Brewing to show off their cooking skills. Part of the proceeds go to help the Providence TrinityCare Hospice.
Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.