To backpedal a bit, a firkin in this instance is a special one-off cask from 30+ of L.A. and Orange County breweries. Generally a known beer with a twist of a special ingredient (or three), The Bruery pouring Humulus Lager with Pomelo grapefruit and Habanero pepper is a perfect example.
The hot day was made even hotter with the addition of a chili cookoff with tents. Slater’s 50/50 won the taste-off, but my favorites were the ghost pepper and Indian accented chili from Adya and the chili from Barley Forge in Costa Mesa.
Beer wise, there were just too many choices spread out on the promenade and I was glad to get my first taste of a beer from Artifex Brewing as well as try a soon-to-market Hop Water H2ops. Since the interwebs loves lists, here are my top 3 beers from the day:
1.Selah from Monkish Brewing with chamomile and lavender
2.Photonic from Smog City Brewing with Thai basil and Kefir lime leaves
3.Longfin Margarita from Ballast Point Brewing with lime and sea salt
You could have just parked yourself in front of the very impressive MacLeod Ale Brewing display and sampled the (6) casks that they brought down from Van Nuys. From British IPA to historical versions of Barclay Perkins beers, all were delicious. I couldn’t pick one beer over the other.
If I can be allowed a quibble though, the esteemed panel of speakers that were assembled for a cask talk were stuck in a volume no mans land where you would have had to sit right next to them to truly hear what was being said. Plus it was at the peak of the heat and no shade to allow people to sit and listen without baking.
Beer wise, this is one of the best events because you are truly getting a taste of creativity. No knock on fests that pour the classics but if you want to taste the cutting edge melded to an old world serving style, then this is the place to be each March.
Your Beer of the Week is from Chico, California, via Idaho. Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. releases Harvest IPAs throughout the year and right now the spotlight is on the new hop varietal Idaho 7. Not as exciting a name as Big Hero 6 or Eight Men Out. But I7 has “complex fruity aromas of orange and apricot [that] mesh with hints of black tea-like character” according to their website, which should make for a tasty single-hop beer.
This week it is your Homework to listen to the audio component of Beer Paper LA. The guide to all things beer in L.A. has entered the podcast realm. Listen to guides John Verive and Kristofer Barnes as they keep you informed of what is important in craft beer. Maybe they will have their take on Firkfest in a future episode.
Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.