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My Guide to the FWIBF

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If you were lucky enough to snag a ticket to this weekend’s Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest, you’re in for a treat. This will be my fourth year (out of four) and it’s an event I always look forward to. With brewers ready to shake your hand and talk your ear off about the beers they love to brew, this event for me has it all; thanks to the accessibility of the brewers and the consistent outstanding quality of the beers being poured. You’ll have beers you’ve never tried (and might never try again), make friends you never knew, and with any luck at all bask in the experience of a beautiful day in Paso Robles.

The FWIBF carries a particular weight for me, which is a big reason for my attachment to it. My book, California BrewMasters, debuted for the very first time, to anyone at all, at this festival just a year ago (it will also be available to purchase at the merch stand this year!). It was because of this festival that the idea for the book was executed at all – it was four year’s ago that I approached a number of brewers in attendance with my one-minute elevator pitch, asking to visit their breweries to interview and photograph them. Not a single brewer I approached turned me down, despite me having zero ties to the beer industry. Directly because of this festival I’ve made friends and connections that are priceless.

Me, my parents, Donna and Jeff, and brother in law Michael at last year's fest. Book premiered to the public for the first time that day!

Me, my parents, Donna and Jeff, and brother in law Michael at last year’s fest. Book premiered to the public for the first time that day!

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Inside Sanctum Brewing Co: Meet Scott Lucas and Jason Stevens

*A version of this article will appear in the June issue of Beer Paper LA.

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Jason Stevens (left) and Scott Lucas, the owners and brewers of Sanctum Brewing in Pomona.

 

I first met the gentlemen of Sanctum Brewing, Jason Stevens and Scott Lucas, at the Great American Beer Festival this last year. We played shuffleboard together at a bar around midnight. Earlier that day I had photographed some competitive beer judging, where old men huddled around tables used their collective senses to sniff out hundreds of Belgian Tripels. They made sure, first and foremost, that each beer had the taste, smell, and appearance of exactly the style it claimed to be. Without passing this initial test, a beer is hardly given a second glance. While rigidity is a necessary evil for competitive fairness, the experience made me realize the important role that innovation has at the table as well.

This brings us back to Jason and Scott, two self described “regular dudes” that couldn’t care less about the rigidity of beer styles. And thank God for that. Sanctum Brewing, nestled in the corner space of the Pomona Packing Plant (about 6 miles east of Cal Poly Pomona), is rooted in inventiveness. But Sanctum’s envelope pushing, through the use of creative ingredients, doesn’t seem to come from an aggressive place; they aren’t testing boundaries for the sake of it. Instead, when you talk to these jovial, laid back guys, you get the feeling that they’re almost unaware of the role they’ve cast themselves as. They’re brewing what they want, and that’s pretty much the long and short of it.

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Crawl4Nepal: A Recap

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It was a beautiful sight to be seen on May 9th. Across Southern California, from the South Bay to Redlands, 34 breweries and beer bars came together across three counties to support a great cause, the Crawl4Nepal. What started as a crazy “what if?” became a rapidly organized Day of Action in just two weeks. Thanks to the hard work of some terrific beer journalists, and the generosity and sheer will of the craft beer community, I can happily report that our combined efforts paid off.

We only have a couple participants left to donate, but for the sake of timeliness I think it’s only fair to let the numbers be known at this time. We raised, so far (drum roll please)…

$13,445.56

That’s HUGE! What a great showing of support for a worthy cause. I am also happy to announce we have a winner for largest donation. A big round of applause and thank you to…

Hangar 24

Who raised $1,950.00

 

It should be noted that everyone involved played a key roll. Each donation, regardless of size, made a difference. So in the spirit of that, I have to thank the following participants:

1642 • 38 Degrees • Alosta Brewing Co • Angel City Brewery • Barbara’s at the Brewery • Barley Forge • Beach City Brewery • Blue Palms Brewhouse • Bottle Logic • Bread & Barley • Cismontane • City Tavern Culver City • City Tavern DTLA • Eagle Rock Brewing • Far Bar LA • Golden Road • King Harbor • The Lost Knight • Mohawk Bend • Noble Ale Works • Out of the Park Pizza (Anaheim & Buena Park) • Phantom Carriage • Pizza Port San Clemente • Ritual Brewing Co • Rookery Ale House • Sanctum Brewing • Select Beer Store • Sunset Beer • The Bruery • Three Weavers • Tony’s Darts Away

A few points, you can still donate to Crawl4Nepal and Global Giving through this link. When you visit, you may notice that the total on the site is only about half of the amount we have recorded. This is because about half of our participants chose to donate via check, and these donations are currently on their way to Global Giving, headquartered in DC. The total should be reflected as these donations come in.

Lastly, some of you might be interested to know where this money is going. Global Giving is a fantastic, highly vetted non-profit. Unlike most other relief groups, their goal is to fund organizations on the ground that might not see US dollars. They have amassed a relief fund of over $3 million so far to help 65+ organizations on the ground currently working in Nepal. The immediate goal is disaster relief, and the fund will continue to be divvied out to assist these organizations in long-term recovery. We can say with certainty that the money we’ve raised is going directly to on the ground assistance.

So cheers to everyone that came out, had a few beers for a good cause, and again cheers to the fantastic Southern California beer community for making this possible. Drink local, think global!

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Crawl4Nepal: On May 9 Beer Comes Together For a Cause

Before moving home to Los Angeles, I lived in Washington, DC working a a photojournalist. In 2011 I had the unique opportunity to visit and photograph in Port au Prince, Haiti for the one year anniversary of the earthquake that shook that country to its core, and then shook some more. On the ground, it was like nothing I had ever experienced. Buildings remained in ruin, hundreds of thousands remained in shanty towns and tent camps. An already fragile political climate had become volatile, and on top everything else a cholera outbreak had spread due to unsanitary conditions throughout the country.

I bring this up because I’ll never forget what I saw on that trip. I could keep focusing on the negatives, and trust me there were plenty, but to flip the same coin what I also saw on that trip was a country in healing, attempting to rebuild. And they didn’t do it alone. 1 in 5 people in Haiti at that time was a relief worker. I, myself stayed with a relief organization teaching emergency medical treatment. This should give us all hope that no matter how bad it gets we come together to help others on whatever scale we can.

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On Saturday, May 9th I invite you, yes YOU, to join in a community effort to help victims rebuild from another terrible disaster, the recent earthquake in Nepal. Myself, and beer writers Cleo Tobbi and Kelly Erickson have helped organized Crawl4Nepal, a Day of Action spanning over 25 beer locations in Los Angeles, Orange, and San Bernardino Counties. Each beer bar or brewery will have one designated “donation beer” on draft. When ordered, 100% of the proceeds will go Global Giving, a well vetted organization raising relief funds for both immediate relief and long term recovery.

I invite you to check out a couple links. Join our Facebook event, and if you can’t make it, you can still make a difference by donating directly to our Global Giving fundraising page. Spread it through social media as well, the more the merrier! #Crawl4Nepal

The support for this event has been nothing short of amazing, in the 2 weeks since we began organizing we’ve seen the craft beer community come together, like it always does, to do some good in the world. We just happen to do that by drinking, and really what a better way to reach our goals? Thanks to the breweries and beer bars that have joined us in this effort, and thanks to the craft beer community for getting to one (or three) of these awesome breweries and bars on Saturday and drinking your fill! Hell, bring your friends and make it a party. Cheers!

Participant Breweries

Eagle Rock Brewery • Golden Road Brewing • Mohawk Bend • Tony’s Darts Away • Sunset Beer Company • The Rookery Ale House • Cismontane Brewing • Ritual Brewing Co • Barley Forge Brewing Co • Sanctum Brewing Co • Bread & Barley • Beach City Brewery • Bottle Logic Brewing • Phantom Carriage • Blue Palms Brewhouse • Three Weavers Brewing Co • King Harbor Brewing Co • Far Bar Little Tokyo • Noble Ale Works • The Lost Knight • Select Beer Store • City Tavern DTLA • Hangar 24 • 38 Degrees Ale House & Grill • Barbara’s at the Brewery • Alosta Brewing Co • Angel City Brewery • The Bruery

(please be sure to ask which “donation beer” they’re pouring! There’s some good ones!)