I type it every year and it is absolutely true. Session Fest, which took place on May 17 at Eagle Rock Brewery, is one of the Top 3 craft beer events in all of Los Angeles.
All the members of the Eagle Rock Brewery team create one-of-a-kind low ABV beers that run the gamut of styles from smokey to fruity and hoppy.
With blueberries, coffee, juniper and a pale ale pulled through a Randall filled with jasmine, there was plenty of experimental beers on offer but my favorite of five beers tasted was a simple, direct Vienna Lager. Sancho was a serious malt showcase with just a touch of sweetness. So good that I would like to have it bottled or at least on draft throughout the year (which is something else I seem to type every year, an annual plea of sorts to bring a session beer to year round status).
Blueberry Thrill a shilling beer with blueberries showed a lot of restraint. The fruit was present but didn’t jump on the palate and it melded well with the malt. Mellon, the pale ale with jasmine was similar in that the flowery notes played a minor key and didn’t try to be the star of the show. The Blacktop IPA, a coffee IPA, was less ground or roasted coffee and instead chose to highlight the peppery, spicy unroasted bean flavor.
And that is barely half of what was being poured in the taproom. There was a peach beer and if I heard correctly a beer that used beetles for coloring. The sheer inventiveness also surprises me. Using a limited set of paints for their beery canvas, the Eagle Rock crew seem to be even less restricted.
Even on a weekend with what seemed like 100 beer events, this was the one that I looked forward to and was most happy with at the end.
Your Beer of the Week requires some extra wrist work. Churchkey beers come in flat top cans that you, yourself must puncture to get the beer out. It is a light lager but it is not so light or sweet that you recoil in horror. This pilsner has the branding and look of a beer that your granddad would enjoy but it has the flavor of a beer that a craft beer geek would enjoy on the beach or at a BBQ. Plus you get an opener in each case.
This week’s Craft Beer Homework is to start plotting out the new outposts of King Harbor Brewing and Figueroa Mountain Brewing. The latter is moving into Westlake Village soon after creating locations in Santa Barbara and Los Olivos along with a future site in Munich. This will be the closest Fig Mountain site for Angelenos to access. Even closer for the South Bay beer lover is the 2nd location for King Harbor. Swirly, Abel Brown and the Quest will now be poured AT the Harbor. They will be in the same dockside location as the famed Naja’s Place.
Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.