It’s that magical time of year beer lovers, LA Beer Week is finally upon us! The LA beer scene has made some incredible progress this year, several outstanding breweries have opened up solidifying Los Angeles as a beer-destination to be reckoned with, and the growth of not just the industry but the fan base is something well worth celebrating.
In many ways I look at #LABW7 as a watershed year, at least for me personally. Looking at what LA Beer has become, it seems as if we’re a little more confident, and we carry a little more pride (and swagger, of course) in our step. San Diego and San Fransisco once glossed over Los Angeles as a black hole of good beer, a “cocktail town” was what I heard uttered a lot. And as the seventh largest economy in the world, there’s no doubting that we have plenty more growing to do. But as it stands today, I can look at the beer Los Angeles is making today and say without a doubt that it is world-class. We owe our success to one thing and one thing only – quality beer. Without the painstaking efforts of the brewers that I report on, the growth of our corner of the industry would fall flat on it’s face. We now give SD and SF a run for their money (the proof will easily be seen at the Meeting of the Guilds at Naja’s on Wed). This week, we come together to celebrate our progress, sample the fruits of our labors, and drink fine beer with fine friends.
So, as an obviously proud Los Angeles beer blogger I felt compelled to share my thoughts on this incredibly kick-ass calendar for the week. While I thought I’d share my top picks, don’t discount your local area. A full event calendar can be found on the LA Beer Week website, and I encourage everyone to support their local bars and breweries. But if you gotta know the best of the best – stick with me.
Saturday, June 20
There’s really no other place you can be to kick off LABW7. With over 75 breweries, live music, food trucks, and a private VIP area (get in an hour early with VIP as well), this is surely your greatest introduction to Los Angeles Beer. This year the location has changed to Exposition Park, which means more room to get your beer-lovin’ on, and more (much needed) porta potties. Find the tap list here. Look for me there, I’ll be the guy with the California BrewMaster’s T-shirt and camera around my neck. Ticket’s are still available.
Runner up: you’re kidding, right?
Sunday, June 21
Cask and Ye Shall Receive 2.0 (all day)
Macleod Ale hosts a double whammy – an educational event on cask beer with moderator Tomm Carroll of Celebrator Beer News and Beer Paper LA, as well as the celebration of MacLeod’s one year anniversary. There are three sessions so be sure to get your tickets online and plan ahead. Guest breweries, and some amazing MacLeod Ale will be pouring all day. ($15-$50)
Runner up: Clash of the Burger Titans (11a-3p)
I’m a sucker for the great love affair that happens when burgers and beers come together, but this love triangle will involve an epic competitive burger bash between The Oinkster and Grill ‘em All. We know whoever wins, we’ll all fall for the paired Eagle Rock beers. A perfect way to spend Fathers Day if you ask me.
Monday, June 22
Join the women of the Pink Boots Society LA as they take over Three Weavers Brewing. My photos still hang on the walls there – which is adequate reason to ALWAYS check out Three Weavers (oh, and the beer is amazing too), but on this day you’ll get some incredible beer being poured, and all the money raised goes to help craft beer’s premiere women’s groups. ($20 gets you five 5oz. pours and a Three Weavers glass)
Runner up: Craftsman and Macleod Tap Take Over at Lost Knight (7p)
This is hardly a runner up and much more of a tie. One of Echo Park’s best new spots is The Lost Knight, which always features top-notch ales to accompany tasty British grub. We’re lucky that Mark Jilg of Craftsman will be hanging out with Andy Black of MacLeod, bringing along 6 beers each on tap. These are some intriguing beers made my equally intriguing brewers – so don’t miss out. (Free to get in)
Tuesday, June 23
This is a highlight of LA Beer Week for sure. Do. Not. Miss. Brewers from the Southland perform on stage while you get to drink local craft beer at the Echoplex. This is definitely a good event to bump shoulders with industry folk – and the perfect opportunity to laugh at our friends on stage – who rock out surprisingly hard. Ticket’s are $10, still available.
Runner Up: Cascade Tape Take Over at Beachwood BBQ (6p)
Beachwood BBQ in Long Beach always throws some amazing tap takeovers, and this beer week is no exception. Oregon’s Cascade brings the sour on Tuesday, for those pucker-lovers that can’t stand live music. Also check out their Cellarmaker & Friends Takeover on Wednesday the 24th, and the Societe takeover on the 25th. (first come, first serve)
Wednesday, June 24
Another event on the “Do Not Miss” list – SF, SD, and LA come together on the sacred grounds of Naja’s Place in Redondo Beach to share their collective beer-wealth with the masses. 2o representative breweries from EACH segment of the Golden State. Winner gets the coveted “Golden Keg.” This is going to be too fun – so no runner up event needed.
Thursday, June 25
It saddens me deeply that I won’t be able to go to this, but I assure you this will be one of the most interesting and educational events you’ll have a chance to go to. Measure Your Head: An Adventure Through Flights of Mixed Fermentation Beer with Craftsman, Monkish, and Highland Park Brewery, will bring together some of LA’s most eccentric beer-personalities on a wild ride through their beers and their minds. This event is what LA Beer Week is all about. ($20)
Runner Up: Cascade Collaboration Release with Phantom Carriage (6-10p)
If you’re a sour fan – this event is for you. Phantom Carriage collaborates with Cascade (who’s making an impressive showing at this year’s LABW) and delivers a power punch of a beer to be released at Phantom’s styled tasting room.
Friday June 26
One of San Diego’s legendary beer personalities is larger than life Toronado bartender Nate Soroko. Let him talk your ear off or challenge him to a chugging competition (spoiler: he’ll win), but whatever you do just go and be in the presence of beer greatness. You can catch him a day earlier at El Segundo Brewing as well, where he’ll be guest bartending there as well.
Runner Up: Meet The Founders: David Walker at Beer Belly (6-10p)
Meet the illustrious David Walker of Firestone Walker Brewing Co. at Beer Belly. Equal parts British spy and craft beer king – if he doesn’t charm your pants off the Barrelworks offerings certainly will. Oh, and it’s Beer Belly, so eat like a champ.
Saturday June 27
Rarest Of the Rare Smog City (12-8p)
Smog City has been stock piling their special releases and will bust them all out for this all day event. Variants of this year’s LABW beer, Unity, will be available along with your favorites The Nothing, Coffee Porter, Sabre-Tooth Squirrel, and so many beers you haven’t heard of that it’ll make your head spin. My pick – try the ChipShot Porter – trust me.
Runner Up: Ladies of LA Craft Beer at Mohawk Bend (4p)
Join my good friend of Girls Who Like Beer at Mohawk Bend for an intimate evening with leading ladies of the SoCal craft beer scene. Panel discussion with Alex Nowell (Three Weavers), Devon Randall (Formally Pizza Port, now Arts District Brewing), Lauren O’Neill (Mohawk Bend), and Sarah Bennett (LA beer writer). On top of that – rare beers being poured that we can’t tell you about yet! ($35)
Extra – El Segundo releases a collab beer with… you guessed it, Cascade. Perfect strangers releases at 12:30 at El Segundo ($30).
Sunday, June 28
End LABW7 on a classy note with a menu and beer pairings prepared just for this event. Their head chef is not one to disappoint. While pricy ($80 a head), Eagle Rock Public House is the perfect destination for such an event. End a wild week with beers from Ladyface, Three Weavers, Craftsman, and Smog City.
Everyone have a safe and enjoyable beer week, and try this year’s Unity Beer!