Hidden in the midst of Los Angeles Beer Week was a very small but very special event. It featured two brewers (neither from Los Angeles), and highlighted a beer brewed not just outside of LA but outside of the continent. It took place at a newly opened bar I had not yet heard of, tucked into an open-air back room that, according to its owner, had not yet been fully completed. Few of my fellow beer-friends were present, yet in this foreign space with foreign people was something deliciously familiar.
On Saturday June 25th Long Beach was home to the grand finale of Sierra Nevada’s Beer Camp Across America. In the shadow of the Queen Mary over 150 breweries came together to celebrate both the local and nation-wide craft beer community in the only way craft beer knows how; with a strong showing of flavorful and diverse brews. The second Beer Camp to materialize after a one-year hiatus, Beer Camp Across America again highlighted various regions throughout the country in both a the six-city festival tour with nearly 700 participating breweries, as well as a commemorative twelve-pack featuring six beers each brewed in a different region.
Los Angeles has played a particularly important role here, which underlines a respect for the city’s fast-growing beer culture as well as a reputation for quality. “We saw a lot was happening in Los Angeles,” says Sierra Nevada founder Ken Grossman on bringing the festival to LA County. “LA had been a bit of a beer-desert… and now it seems like there’s really a movement here with a lot of great brewers and a beer scene’s really starting to happen.”
The 8th annual Los Angeles Beer Week is finally upon us – and for folks like me it might as well be the summer time version of Christmas. Like the holidays, Beer Week (which runs from June 18 – 26th) week will be bountiful with gifts for all, coming in the form of great beer events. With so many options, I thought I’d share my two cents on what not to miss out on for what is sure to be the best LA Beer Week yet. Hope to see you at one of these beer-riffic shin digs, sure to satisfy the palate and enrich your sense of community so often found in LA Beer Culture.
Before I give you my list, may I highly recommend picking up this year’s Unity beer – an IPA brewed this year by Three Weavers using two experimental hops, HBC522, and HBC342 (sexy names, aren’t they). Unity is the official beer of #LABW8 (make sure to use the hashtag), so get your hands on this awesome-looking bottle while it’s nice and fresh.
Saturday, June 18th
Not to be missed, this festival will feature 75 craft breweries bringing their A-game to represent Los Angeles and the amazing quality of beer that LA is beginning to be known for. With 200+ beers on tap, live entertainment, and tasty food trucks, this event is quintessential in my eyes as your direct line to enjoying all that LA beer can offer. Buy Tickets ahead of time, take public transportation (this year the fest has relocated to Center Studios in Downtown) and I hope to see you there!
No back up, just go… but also hit either El Segundo for a Pizza After Party, or industry folks can check out Far Bar in Little Tokyo for a VIP after party.
It’s a funny thing to know the highlight of your LA Beer Week when the week’s not quite over, but as I look back on Tuesday night’s Battle of the Bands at the Echoplex I realize that I simply haven’t had that much fun at a beer event in quite a while. If you weren’t able to make it, this should be an absolute priority for next year’s LA Beer Week. If you were lucky enough to watch these brewers sing (and dance) their asses off, then these photos might be entertaining (or painful reminders) of what transpired. I was really impressed at the level of legitimate musical talent that each band brought to the table, whether it be Noble’s gangster rap set or Monkish’s mosh pit inspiring punk rock. Ultimately, hosting brewery Eagle Rock took the win, with father-son team Steven and Jeremy Raub at the lead. Now sit back and enjoy some damn photos – we’ll see you there next year.
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.
If you were lucky enough to attend this year’s Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest, by now the hangover must be cured, making today the perfect day to recap my favorite beer event of the year. This year was extra special because I was one of the official Firestone photographers documenting the controlled chaos and happenings within “Beer Mecca.” This year was pretty ideal – the weather, crowd, and beer selection were all nothing short of amazing. I saw old friends and made a few new ones. And, per the job description, I took photos. Lots and lots of photos. After letting them marinate for a while I’ve brought you my top 25 (and a few extras) to recount this beautiful day in beer-paradise.
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.
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)…
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…
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!
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.
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!
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!)
Last weekend I took advantage of an incredible opportunity. Like a story involving a Nigerian Prince and his bank account, someone approached me months ago and said, “Nick, we’d like you to join a group of beer savvy, like minded individuals on a weekend excursion to Firestone Walker in Paso Robles, to build relationships with their staff and gain an inside look at some of their programs. There will also be multiple parties which take place in barns.” Fighting off a first response of, “Get the fuck outa town!” I followed up on the off chance that his could, possibly, maybe, be true.
Fast forward to the sunny afternoon of Sunday, April 12th in Venice Beach. It was the sort of day where if you were a productive member of society, you’d be wearing your Sunday best, skipping around to farmers markets and indulging in the newest brunch spot with a French Bulldog in tow. I, however, required sunglasses and Panda Express to give my body the relief it so desperately required. The weekend had taken its toll.
I rolled off the bus, our weekend chariot manned by mustachio bus driver Frank Frankowski (real name). I collected my things and gave hugs and hand shakes to new friends and old. I left slightly smelly, slightly hung over, and a bit buzzed. I climbed into my girlfriend’s car, gave her a smooch, and settled in for the ride home. A fat grin slid across my face.