California Beer Festival coming to Claremont
By Tony Krickl
Ventura pours it on
Thousands try brews, eats at California Beer Festival
By Anne Kallas
The 4,000 tickets to the second California Beer Festival in downtown Ventura sold out days before the Saturday festival, which left event organizer
Vincenzo Giammanco with only the logistical challenge of getting the huge line of people inside the gates.
Call the operation a success.
"We had issues last year with the number of people coming in, so this year we had a bigger staff and a bigger layout," Giammanco said. "We got everyone in in under an hour."
Once inside the gates at Mission Park, festivalgoers were each given a 5-ounce tasting glass and a ticket they could use to cast their vote in the barbecue contest, where vendors gave out samples of barbecued meat in a contest for an $800 grand prize.
Giammanco said the emphasis of his California Beer Festivals is beer, with some barbecue thrown in. He has another scheduled for Oct. 16 in Claremont.
"There's more to beer than Bud Light," he said. "Wine- and beer-making have been around forever. Wine tastings are popular, but beer hasn't been as popular. We create an environment where people can come with friends and over-21 families and have some amazing food and try the best beers around. I'm creating a good time."
One person having a good time was Joey Anaya of Nipomo, who was visiting the Beer Festival as part of a surprise bachelor party with eight buddies. "I thought I was going to a local bar in San Luis Obispo. I've never been to Ventura before. This is great," Anaya said.
While his buddies wore T-shirts that read Team Groom, Anaya's identified him as the groom and included a checklist on the back that he was working his way through.
One item on Anaya's bachelor party list was "Get a girl's phone number." Hollee King of Ventura approached Anaya and wrote the phone number 867-5309 on the T-shirt. Later, King laughed and admitted she enjoyed realizing that the young men had absolutely no clue that the phone number was made famous in the 1982 hit song "867-5309/Jenny."
"I guess they were too young to know the song," she said.
Some people at the festival said they were enjoying the barbecue, but weren't enjoying the crowds. "The tri-tip is awesome, but the lines are too long," Greg Borchard of Ventura said. "It's not as good as the Salute Beer Festival."
Giammanco shook off the criticism, noting that his festival drew four times the people as the one earlier this year at San Buenaventura State Beach. "People will be pouring money into downtown businesses when this ends. We've brought all of these people into downtown Ventura," he said.
One group standing in line for beer was dressed in coordinated outfits. The males in the group were wearing red-and-white-striped T-shirts, with blue hats. The females were wearing white T-shirts that read "Where's Waldo."
A member of the group, Jennifer Whaley of Oxnard, said that she celebrated her 21st birthday last year at the festival. She now considers it a tradition and was back this year with her brother, Daniel Whaley, and his friends.
Asked about the coordinated outfits, she said, "We can never find these guys in these crowds and we're always going, 'Where's Waldo?' so we made T-shirts so we could find them."
DISARRAY MAGAZINE (2010)
2nd Annual California Beer Fest Returns with a BBQ Cook-Off and 100+ Brews
POSTED BY WESLEY BAUMAN, CONTRIBUTING WRITER SUNDAY, AUGUST 25, 2010
Do you like beer, sun, music, and BBQ? Are you free September 18th? Then get your (gl)ass to Ventura for the second annual California Beer Festival! This year, the second annual California Beer Festival is on Saturday September 18 from 12pm-5pm, in downtown Ventura, Calif., in Mission Park.
Last year one of my first pieces I reported on for Disarray Magazine was the first annual California Beer Festival. It was incredibly well patronized with many beers on tap from all over California, friendly people, and good music.
As with any festival's first time out there were a couple of little issues that made the day slightly uncomfortable. The first issue was that the event seemed to be oversold with a line wrapping around the block and winding through town of people waiting to get in. The second issue was a lack of port-a-johns which made lines there longer than any line for beer; I don't know what it is but beer seems to be the only beverage in the world that makes you need to pee more than you actually drank, go figure. This year, the festival organizers seem to be fixing those little problems and then ramping up the fun to be had.
At www.californiabeerfestival.com, you can find listings of what this year has in store for everyone willing to buy the ticket and take the ride. With tickets at just $40 dollars each they are flying out the door and will quickly sell out. This year there will be six bands on two separate stages doubling the good tunes that will float over the grassy park and those enjoying beer. Those in charge of the event have pin pointed one thing missing from a sunny afternoon with friends drinking beer; BBQ! This year at the festival will be a BBQ cook-off with prizes that I am assuming will allow people to taste some homemade cooking from recipes that those entering the contest might have under a literal lock and key.
So we've got more music, authentic BBQ, and a promise of more throne rooms for the physics defying brew. What about the beer? Oh don't you worry folks, there is talk of more than 100 beers for tasting. That is one hundred beers that you can try from all over the state. Some of the things you might look for on the local tip? We've got entrants like Anacapa Brewery, which is on Main Street just blocks from the event; within stumbling distance. There is also Telegraph Brewing, Santa Barbara Brewing Company, Island Brewery from Carpinteria (a favorite of mine to visit). We've also got brews by Firestone, Wolf Creek, Leinenkugel's from Wisconsin (toured that beautiful brewery myself), Lost Coast, Sierra Nevada (of course), and Karl Strauss Brewing, which makes the Windansea Hefeweizen, one that blew my mind last year.
They aren't skimping on the beer, music, or food in the least, and at $40 it is a steal of an afternoon in Ventura. Are they just going to release you after without thought of safety? Not a chance. If you visit the festival's website you will find that if you are coming from out of town and don't want to be a DD on this kind of day you can get 1/2 price taxi rides from the event from Gold Coast Cabs, and for those of you coming up from LA or down from Santa Barbara and further then you can get specials on local hotel rooms if you feel like after partying at the local pubs and bars like Anacapa (which is where you're gonna find me come 5pm) and sleeping it off in town before going home on Sunday.
This year it seems they have thought of everything and I for one cannot wait to go to the event. Last year not a single incident with two drunks, or cutting in line. All I found all day were passionate brewers ready and willing to talk beer and share their brew and love of good beer with you and anyone interested. I had an amazing time shooting, writing, and drinking my way from tent to tent in the grassy park. There were couches and loungers under the massive tree in the middle of the park for those trying to escape the heat and have a few laughs. My experience could not have been better last year with all the friends I made chatting about beer and waiting in line next to people who were all too willing to just talk and shake your hand. It was a day of good times and great beer which can only mean that the festival coming up September 18th in Ventura is only going to be better. This time around, organizers are keeping what worked last year, adding a BBQ cook-off, and of course more brews which is the point of the day; and more toilets.
Visit www.californiabeerfestival.com to buy tickets (THEY WILL SELL OUT SOON), get directions, parking, and more information on cab rides and motel deals to have both a fun and safe trip to sunny Ventura, Calif.
I've got my ticket and I had better see you there! You can also find me after at Anacapa Brewery working on my photos, article, and a handcrafted pint at the bar. Prost!
DISARRAY MAGAZINE (2009)
Ventura's Calfornia Beer Festival Review
POSTED BY WESLEY BAUMAN, CONTRIBUTING WRITER SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 2009
When I moved to Southern California just over a year ago, I had no expectations for quality beer; I didn't expect America's wine country to have any skill or interest for that matter in brewing decent ales. With an afternoon at the First Annual California Beer Festival in Ventura, CA, I was proven quite incorrect in my assessment of So Cal beer appreciation. The event provided a great selection of beer, great live music, and a laid back mood that the patrons created.
Upon arrival I was blown away at the turn out. I saddled up to the line, which snaked its way around the fountains across from the historical San Buenaventura Mission and moving, literally, around the block along Thompson Blvd. As I made an effort to get access to this event, I had come across the information that the event had been sold out on pre-sale tickets, with those interested at trying their luck encouraged to do so, but with no guarantee of entry. So, I tried my luck at the event gate and luckily, as a member of the press, took 'cutsies' in front of a few hundred people to get my cup and an arbitrary amount of tickets, which each counted for a beer. (Unfortunately, the 'ticket' idea did not fly and was not carried out too well. The tickets served as a meaningless item to hand out to vendors - who didn't even ask for them).
Nonetheless, this first ever event in Ventura, CA provided fine crafted brews including Firestone, Pyramid, Sierra Nevada, Sam Adams, and the ever popular New Belgium Brewing. However, these beers are perennial and national favorites that everyone knows and probably has in their fridge, so to prevent wasting my time, I decided to avoid these beers. What I was looking for was some of my local favorites and those that I knew of locally in Ventura, but had rarely, or never, had the chance to taste.
I have to admit that I was a kid in a candy store at this point. I am blessed by not having the belly to prove my love of beer, but trust me, I am a fan. I know what a lauder ton is, I know what hops are, a maltiness, and the big difference between a Lager and an Ale. Now, I could take the time to review every beer I tasted, and there are about a dozen, (I was trashed) but instead I want to keep this piece brief and tell you about my standout showings. There were all sorts of beer on tap, 2-5 at almost every vendor, but I was not going to taste them all for two reasons: one, I knew a lot of these beers intimately, and secondly, I would have been unable to write this piece if I had even tried to partake in them all. It would have been dangerous and stupid to have tried. I am a professional after all.
What follows are a few standout beers from what I put in my face and bloodstream. The beers mentioned here are local favorites and some interesting brews that deserve a mention for reasons from complexity, flavor, and because I am partial to a few of the breweries based on regular patronage.
Let's start out with our biggest disappointment, and when I say disappointment it is simply based on the fact that I set a high bar and I want a different interpretation of classics. You could say that when I drink a beer I want a 'cover band' version of what you would traditionally find when you hear 'Oatmeal Stout'. Sometimes, you just want to hear 'Abbey Road' with a metal/rock take, you know what I mean? With that said, Telegraph Brewing has been doing their dirty deed (meant lovingly) since December of 2006, so I chock their oatmeal stout up to being new. As a young brewery, I can understand going with some standards, but an oatmeal stout needs to hit you, and this stout I sampled was a bit muted; I need my stout using its 'outside voice'. This classic oatmeal stout did not come up to par with my favorites put out by the likes of Rogue and Alaskan Brewing. I tasted a lack of body in their version and overall it came out a bit flat. I felt a brewery that had the same name as a street I drive on would give up a more full bodied stout with a more pungent roasted aroma and a stronger finish on the after taste where you almost breathe the beer after a sip. Bottom line, compared to other beers I have tasted of the same type and better quality, I was not impressed with their oatmeal stout.
However, I did not discount their brewery in its totality. In speaking with one of the boys on hand, having a smoke and pouring beers, I held out tremendous hope for their Reserve Wheat Berliner Weizen. It is their Cezan 'flagship beer' but sadly I could not confirm the quality of said beer as it was not up for tasting. Additionally, they only do it a few times a year; but it sounds interesting should you ever get a chance to go a few rounds with a pint or two. Look for that from Telegraph, and others as they tend to try and stay away from the standard things like blondes and pilsners and focus more on full bodied flavors.
Besides beer, the event also provided live music by 'My Brother's Band', Orlando Napier, and Rey Fresco. Hundreds of people stood in line and roamed the grounds of Mission Park in a beer utopia. Noticeably, in Southern California, the overwhelming majority of beer is drinkable in quantity and served ice cold in part to the weather we experience. Rare is the person who wants a moderately cold stout at 2 pm on a Saturday, but that was me and I found two beers that fit the bill and then some.
Stone Brewery had one beer to taste when I got to them around four, but it was a wonderful Imperial Stout that rocked me. With a bouquet of almost licorice and a flavor that rolled chocolatey in the front and a roasted, smokey flavor on the finish, I was very impressed at the quality and complexity of the beer of such a dark persuasion. Right up there with the Stout by Stone was the beer I waited almost a total of 45 minutes to get. My initial trip in the line for the Fireman's Brew tent was about 15 minutes to hear CO2 was out and it would be another 15, so I took off in another direction. When I returned to the ever-present line, I got my long awaited and now hyped up beer. I got to taste one of the well-crafted 10.8% ABV beers. Far too often, when you get your paws on a double digit ABV beer it can be like choking down the contents of a Ni-Ca battery, but this beer was almost dangerously smooth. The brew the Fire bugs had for me left me blown away, and after two glasses of this extreme brew, I was starting to buzz out, and needed a break. It is saying something for a beer that surprises you, and this dobblebock named 'Brewnette' crept up nicely on the mind, getting me buzzed on the quick and leaving a sour or acidic taste on the palate, even after two glasses for the good of proper journalism. If you are looking for a barleywine with the drinkability of a strong amber that mated with a porter, then you have got to find this well crafted little piece of brewing history. It's beautifully crafted.
The big winner of the day, the big surprise and maybe most well crafted and balanced beer with flavor and drinkability to spare was the Karl Strauss Windansea Wheat Hefeweizen. I am a Hef fan, and a bit of a snob. I have had them from Alaska to Oregon to Wisconsin, and many have been great, but this traditional Bavarian unfiltered Wheat Ale was something to behold. First was the aroma with a shocking scent of clove and most of all...banana! The banana aroma took me by surprise and when I tasted the clove, banana, and the sense of vanilla or tannin I was floored. In speaking to the guys at the booth, this was a Hef that needed no lemon and frankly would probably sprout arms and stab you if you tried to put one on the rim of its glass. Far too often, in the world of Hef, brewers go nuts with the lemon, coriander, zest, and citrus of whatever persuasion that that you start to get a pucker face after a few sips. Great as it is, it makes the experience of a few brews tough to stomach, but getting my hands on Strauss' brew, I knew I could drink them endlessly. This beer was medium bodied, subdued but not shy, and the finish was crisp and so refreshing. In short, Karl put out a Hefeweizen that was jettisoned to Earth from Krypton.
Others that deserve a mention are Creekside for a very flavorful and smooth American red, playfully called their 'Ripoff Red' for its funny origin. Usually, when you put the word 'American' in the name of a beer you are going to be disappointed. However, this was a great surprise in a beer I had never tried before. It had an interesting take on the traditional Irish Red, which can be very hoppy with a biting finish. Coronado Brewery has an India Pale Ale or IPA I was very fond of as far as to say that it might be better than the fan favorite Sierra Nevada Pale Ale you can get just about anywhere. It was very hoppy but in a softer tone and the drinkability on a 76 degree day, like Saturday, was superb. Lastly, a brewery close to my heart, and my front door, is Anacapa Brewery in downtown Ventura, CA. They had a large selection of beers for the event, plus an ever changing menu of funky beers (like a club remix of the classics) and with only a few blocks to get to the brewery, it was packed as the event let out. They had a wonderful Maple Brown and an Oktoberfest that might have been the best fall beer at the event.
Overall, this was Ventura's first shot at the beer fest and I think it was a massive success. There was a great selection of beer, great live music, and a laid back mood that the patrons created. I met total strangers in line, chatting, laughing, and carrying on even as I walked around and ran in to people again and again; just the nicest group of people. People were dancing to the music, lounging on couches under what I can only think is a massive oak tree in the middle of the park, and enjoying good beer and food. With four ounce pours for tasting, no one got out of hand, no more so than the out of hand lines for bathrooms - need more of those next year. I would suggest a larger venue; maybe the fairgrounds can be justified with the overload of interest that was underestimated in planning. While the event was fun, improvements to think about include a way to expedite entry, a better way to monitor the drink and food tickets and of course more bathrooms.
In my time here, and especially from this event, I have found that there are breweries in my town, all over Southern California, and beyond that take great pride in the drinks they create. There wasn't a bad beer on the day, not one I got to taste. Impressive was the caliber of the music, people, food, and most definitely the beer. California has once again surprised me with the abundance of culture, diversity, and sense of community that was exemplified by the California Beer Festival through the view of an empty beer mug.
THE BEER GODDESS
The Return of the Beer Fest
by David Glasgal
In the early afternoon of September 26th 2009, I realized that Vincenzo Giammanco had pulled off exactly what southern California beer lovers have been thirsting for.
He seemingly single-handedly organized and pulled off the most enjoyable, high quality beer festival I have seen in a long time. With so many of the beer events that have rolled through Los Angeles recently leaving that 3-hour frat party taste in your mouth, Vincenzo and his inaugural California Beer Festival renewed my faith in the beer community's ability to offer that elusive combination of atmosphere, quality, diversity and entertainment that all beer festivals should strive for.
Held in the picture-perfect seaside town of Ventura in a moderately sized park at the end of Main Street, I expected there to be a decent turnout for the California Beer Festival. For it's first year out of the gate, I was very curious to see how this festival would play out and what kind of people would come. What I did not expect to see as I walked towards the park, were several-hundred people waiting in a thick line wrapped clear around the entire block.
Turnout was very high, as people showed up in droves to the already sold-out fest, many without tickets, hoping to get in. The line moved fast and entry was a breeze. $40 (door price) gets you into an adult playground beer lovers dream about. Upon entry, you got a wristband, a commemorative drinking mug, and a fistful of tickets; each redeemable for a hefty pour of any of the 60-ish breweries setup in the park. Walking through the gates, my eyes glazed over taking in the view. I panned the grassy area about the size of 4 football fields and took in the sight of colorful booths announcing the wide variety of breweries and food vendors representing. A stage was setup at the top of a small hill overlooking the park where some great bands played throughout the day. Taking in all the big-name and little-known breweries, my mouth watered with anticipation. I felt like a powerful magnet was pulling me in every direction at once. Regaining my composure, I decided the orderly thing to do was just go around the park from one side to another, booth by booth.
Throughout the 4 hours of my stay, I sampled many fine brews. Sometime between the 10th and 15th very large beer sample, I realized, sadly, for several reasons - none of them a time, or money restriction, that I wouldn't be able to try them all. Although my beer fantasy of drinking fine beer after fine beer for 5 hours straight was being dashed, I was conformable in the resignation that I'd have my fill and then some before I left. Note to self- next festival be sure to bring a designated driver- surely a job I would loathe to have, (perhaps a non-beer lover would be perfect choice- if you can find one.)
Some of the beverage highlights of the day were
- Octoberfest (Anacapa Brewing Co, Ventura CA)
- Maple Nut Brown (Anacapa Brewing Co, Ventura CA)
- Hoptober (New Belgium Brewing Company, Fort Collins CO)
- Kellerweis (Sierra Nevada Brewing Co, Chico CA)
- Oatmeal Stout (Telegraph, Santa Barbara CA)
- Rincon Red (Santa Barbara Brewing Company, Santa Barbara CA)
- Red Ale (Creekside Brewery, San Louis Obispo CA)
- Tower 10 IPA (Karl Strauss Brewing Company, San Diego CA)
- Windandsea Wheat (Karl Strauss Brewing Company, San Diego CA)
- Newcastle Brown Ale. (Scottish & Newcastle, Tadcaster England)
Throughout the day we met a ton of cool, friendly people. It's somewhat unusual to go to a special event like this where the central interest is narrow in scope, but the diverse of people there is so wide. Everywhere you looked there were all kinds of very friendly people of all ages and hailing from all over the map. From San Diego to Bakersfield and everywhere in between, people were drawn to Mission Park in Ventura to join together and share their love of great beer. On behalf of everyone who was there, everyone who wishes they were, and everyone who will go to the next one, I raise my glass to you Mr. Giammanco- thank you for a great Beer Festival!