When American Craft Beer Week reigns, it pours
If you believe that your inalienable rights include “life, liberty and the pursuit of hops and malts fermented from the finest of U.S. small and independent craft brewers,” then you need not wait until July 4 to celebrate your independence.
American Craft Beer Week, an effort by the Boulder, Colo.-based Brewers Assn., is set for May 11-17, and there are a number of occasions to raise a glass around the Southland, including Craft Beer Fest L.A., which starts the festivities two days early, on Saturday. New this year to the drive to raise awareness for small breweries is the Declaration of Beer Independence, which in addition to expanding your inalienable rights asks you to sign and declare that “the beer I choose to enjoy is not a commodity” but “an artistic creation of living liquid history,” calls for beer sellers to carry local and regional breweries and claims that, among other things, beer “teaches us geography.”
If you’ll drink to that, here are some opportunities:
Craft Beer Fest L.A., the master machination of LA CABAL (the Los Angeles Craft and Artisanal Beer Appreciation League), invades the Echoplex on Saturday. There will be 15 California breweries present, each with at least two varieties. The $30 admission comes with 15 drink tickets and a take-home glass. Tastings will be 3 ounces each (“like a triple-espresso-size cup,” says CABAL member Evan George). Additional drink tickets will go for $1 a pop. There will be food to help sop up those suds: Expect beer nuts made to order (hot pepper peanuts, rosemary and olive oil pecans, vanilla honeyed cashews), vegan appetizers from Pure Luck (owned by CABAL member Ben Ling), salad from new Fairfax beer bar Golden State, beer-flavored desserts from Scoops, fresh-delivered pizza bites from the nearby Masa, bean and cheese burritos courtesy of the LA Burrito Project, and chips and salsa from Santa Monica’s Library Alehouse. And if you get beered out, there will be organic coffee from local roaster Cafecita Organica. And it will all be set to old-time music by the likes of Sausage Grinder and Triple Chicken Foot. Brewers will be available to discuss their work, and CABAL members and Hot Knives bloggers Alex Brown and George will give a presentation on the do's and don’ts of beer and cheese pairings. And, if you aren’t actually spent by the festival’s 9 p.m. end, the Echoplex will start selling its usual offerings at that time.
The fest, at 1154 Glendale Blvd., Los Angeles from 2 to 9 p.m., sold out its 500 presale tickets. There will be a couple hundred available at the door -- but expect a line if you don’t have a presale ticket. George says public transportation is encouraged (after all, parking is scarce and those 2 ounce tastings add up – many of the beers will be potent). Metro bus 92 stops nearby on Glendale, and the 2 and 4 buses run above on Sunset. The event benefits 826LA.
Around SoCal during the big week:
Blue Palms Brewhouse in Hollywood is going all out, with different California breweries featured each night beginning Tuesday: Lagunitas (Tuesday), Moylan’s and Marin (Wednesday), Rubicon (Thursday), Stone (May 15) and Firestone Walker (May 16). May 16 is the big date, as there will also be a prime rib dinner available, plus music from the Firkins -- doors open at 5 p.m. and the music begins at 9, and there's no cover. Anyone who brings in a signed Declaration of Beer Independence will be entered into a raffle held Sunday from 7 to 9 p.m., and $1 from each beer purchased by a signatory will be donated to the Hollywood YMCA. Blue Palms Brewhouse, 6124 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood. (323) 464-BEER (2337) www.bluepalmsbrewhouse.com. Sunday, 10 a.m. to 2 a.m., Tuesday to Saturday, 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.
BrewBakers in Huntington Beach, where you can brew your own craft beer, is offering two special varieties (summer rye and oatmeal wheat stout). For a brewing appointment, call (714) 596-5506. 7242 Hell Ave. Huntington Beach. (714) 996-6258, www.brewbakers1.com. Sunday, noon to 6 p.m., Tuesday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., last brewing appointment at 7 p.m.
In addition to participating in Craft Beer Fest L.A. and an upcoming special night at Library Alehouse in Santa Monica, the Bruery in Placentia is celebrating its first anniversary with a party on May 16. For $25, attendees get eight beer samples, food and a glass. 715 Dunn Way, Placentia. 714-996-MALT (6258); www.thebruery.com. 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Library Alehouse will be offering special beers from Stone and the Bruery throughout the week, and on May 19 will host an evening with the Bruery and Andrew’s Cheese Shop, pairing and tasting their respective specialties. The Alehouse’s Tom Kelley says the Bruery’s beers have “Belgian style, American heart.” The event is from 6 to 8 p.m. and will cost $45 plus tax and tip. 2911 Main St., Santa Monica. (310) 314-4855; www.libraryalehouse.com. Open 11:30 a.m. to midnight daily.
Lucky Vanous, proprietor of Lucky Devils, has taps ready for kegs of several special releases from California breweries, including Stone’s Black IPA. Pints as low as $5. 6613 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood. (323) 465-8259; www.luckydevils-la.com; Sunday to Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to midnight.
Stone Brewing Co. devotees who can make it down to Escondido (and who can find the place -- be sure to check the website for specific directions) can purchase growler fills of special craft beers and enjoy 32 Southern California beers on tap at the Stone World Bistro & Gardens. On Tuesday, there will be a discussion about the history of brewing in San Diego with a guided tasting. The informal college class is $20. On Wednesday from 5 to 9 p.m., the restaurant will have a keep-the-glass night featuring Green Flash, Le Freak and Belgian IPA. And don’t forget to take a complimentary tour of the brewing facility.
1999 Citracado Parkway, Escondido. (760) 471-4999, www.stonebrew.com. Hours for restaurant, company store and tours vary. See website for details.
The York, in the Highland Park neighborhood, has Craftsman’s Poppyfields Pale Ale delivered from Pasadena on Thursday. Pints go for $6. The bar’s Ryan Ballinger says that it’s “like opening a bottle of wine when you tap the keg” and that the brew evolves like a wine and sometimes has better character on the second day -- that is, if there’s any left on Friday. 5018 York Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 255-9675; www.theyorkonyork.com. 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.
-- Blake Hennon
Photo: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times