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: