Near the entrance of the gate, I immediately rushed to try my first brew of the day – Skyscraper Brewing, the Bulldozer Honeyweizen. It was a nice start to the Orange County Beer Festival, on Sunday, August 30th. When the crowds weren’t congregating near the booths for a refill, they were huddled together in the shade, near the band. That’s where we discovered Fireman’s Brew. Created by two L.A. based Firefighters, the owners weren’t present for this festival, because they were busy fighting the fires that have been blazing across Angeles National Forest.
Besides the taste, one of the great things about their beers is that they donate a percentage of proceeds to the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. That’s hot. We first tried their Redhead, a red amber ale, rich with a caramel finish. From the Fireman’s website, “This 3-time Gold Medal winner is made from a combination of 5 different malts and several Yakima Valley Hops…” Surprisingly light for an amber ale, it poured a clear dark – you guessed it - amber with noticeable carbonation. To find their beers, visit http://www.firemansbrew.com. We then walked around and tried the Ballast Point Big Eye IPA. Not for the hop shy, this one opens your eye at first sip. American Centennial hops are used to brew this American IPA. It has a strong flavor, perhaps pine and bitter citrus joined by a hearty graininess.
I moved on to Mendocino Brewing, where I tasted Eye of the Hawk Select Ale. We then got a taste of Lagunitas Correction Ale, a nice seasonal release. It was a slightly dark, golden ale with a nice little bite. As Lagunitas says, it’s “A Beer to help remember that things go in cycles and then to help forget what you remembered.” My fifth beer, it was doing its job… uh, I think. What was I saying?
Anyway, we sauntered over to check out the band, Metal Shop. Ya’ know, at least they were in on the joke, because damn, it was funny. The hair, the scarves hanging from their belts, the tight, tight pants (I suppose to help raise their voice to that level) – it was great. You could tell people were getting a nice buzz, as one guy decided to whip off his shirt and gyrate to Poison’s, “Nothin but a good time”. After about five Def Leopard songs, they started playing “Jump” by Van Halen. Now, this was interesting because they had no keyboardist. But it didn’t matter, the crowd was into it and having a great time.
We took a few steps to visit the firemen again and this time grabbed a Brewnette (see the theme here?). It was a german dobblebock. At 10.8% ABV, it was surprisingly smooth.
Back to the band – they introduced the guitar player, the guy that had these pants that made him look like he was ready to lead an 80s style aerobics class. He broke out with the “Eruption” guitar solo – well, some of it.
Next, it was onto the Newport Beach Brewery, where I tasted the IPA. They actually used a hops machine to filter the hops into the beer. Pretty cool – and tasty! We then grabbed the darker beer from Palm brewery, amazingly smooth for such a dark beer.
As the festival was wrapping up, we stopped by Coronado Brewing Company, where I indulged in some orange wit beer. The two guys (one of whom was the President, Rick Chapman) pouring the beers were jovial and well, you could just tell they really loved their job. I recommend one of their specialty beers, the Orange Avenue Wit, appropriately named after the brewery’s address and the pleasant orange and spiced flavors laced in the beer. They had one of the most clever tag lines at the festival. “Brewing is our middle name.” Seriously? Duh. Brilliant.
Last, but not least, was the ESB at Deans Brothers. You can find their beers at various beer pubs around L.A., Santa Monica and Venice. One of the newer breweries, they’ve been in existence for about three years. The ingredients in the ESB pale ale are 100% British (except for California water). Flavors of caramel, light citrus and some earthiness ended the festival….not counting the In-n-Out burger I inhaled in the car.
Overall, it was a great time, with awesome beers. It looked like a good time was had by all, especially that guy.
Photos by Sean Planck