LA Beer Week 2016 Kickoff Festival

LA Beer Week Kickoff Festival
June 18, 2016
Los Angeles Center Studios in Downtown LA
Author: Dikla Tuchman
Photos: Dikla Tuchman & Rachel Ann

It’s official: LA Beer week is in full swing! With over 80 craft breweries pouring, more than half of which hailed from the Los Angeles area, LA Beer Week’s kickoff festival in downtown Los Angeles on Saturday, June 18 drew huge crowds and loads of unique brews. From bigger, more established LA spots like Karl Strauss and Angel City to the barely-a-year-old nano brewery 8one8 Brewing in Canoga Park, there was strong turnout from all corners of the vast and diverse LA County craft beer scene. Representation from the LBC included Beachwood and Timeless Pints, both breweries drawing large lines and happy drinkers.

The most popular styles pouring at the weekend’s big kickoff were unsurprisingly IPAs, from sessions to doubles to fruit infused hopped-up pale ales. Among my favorites was the El Mas Guapo, a guava IPA from Transplant Brewing Company in Palmdale. Coming in at only 5%, the guava gave this brew a nice, fruity finish with lots of citrus notes. Definitely a refreshing sessionable summer beer! Another citrusy, crisp IPA was from El Segundo Brewing, the Mayberry IPA. El Segundo never ceases to disappoint, and the Mayberry made a perfect pairing with a cheesy pastrami sandwich from Berlin food truck.

To my surprise and delight, many local breweries brought out some impressive sours. Among my favorites were two of the barrel projects from Craftsman Brewing in Pasadena. The Honesty Ale was a tart, sweet American Wild made with tons of cherry juice. Coming in at just over 7%, this should be carefully consumed in the sun. Even heavier hitting was the absolutely delicious and drinkable El Prieto sour dark ale. At 8.4%, this evil temptress lives up to its name, after the El Prieto hills in Angeles National Forest. This dark sour would make a great entry point for those who may not enjoy overly tart sours, as this one had lots of nice dark cherry and plumb notes, very juicy but not too much pucker. A more classic and wonderfully drinkable sour was poured by the fine folks at Eaglerock Brewery, the Zaigermiester. A sour ale coming in at only 5.7%, this incredible drinkable sour aged ale was brewed with tons of apricots and mangos. Juicy, sweet and tart.

One of the most creative and surprising brews I tasted included the PCH (Pale Chocolate Heaven) by Santa Monica Brew Works, a light-grain porter brewed with a liberal amount of cacao nibs and hint of vanilla. Don’t let the color deceive you, this caramel-colored ale has plenty of malty flavor and body, though light on the tongue. On the nose, this creamy brew replicated Nestle Quick. As I found myself instantly transported to happy childhood memories, it became hard not to love this sweet, chocolatey treat. PCH makes for a great dessert beer that doesn’t sit heavy and goes down easy even on a hot Southern California day. I will definitely be looking out for more by this still-young and impressive brewery from Santa Monica.

As the heat climbs, there will continue to be an array of eclectic beer events to choose from throughout the rest of LA Beer Week held throughout LA County, including a few here in Long Beach. Check out the schedule and keep an eye out for other coverage of LA Beer Week from your friends here at Craft Beer LB. Cheers!

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