(Patrick Meissner/Living Out Loud LA)
Events like this need to happen way more often in Los Angeles. LA knows wine and LA definitely knows its hard alcohol, but beer? Sure you can go to most bars around town and find a good selection of micro-brews. And the hipsters can’t get over their obsession with Belgians, for some reason. But an event like this, a low key tasting, an all you can drink celebration of the craft, in this town at least, is somewhat of a rareity.
In prior years, The Malibu Beer Festival had been held on the Malibu Pier, as opposed to The Malibu Inn, which is across the street. Logistical issues forced the event to its indoor location this year, a move that presented both clear advantages and disadvantages. The view may not have been as sexy as it was last year, but then again, it’s always advantageous to have the amenities of walls, working bars, and ample bathrooms for an event of this kind of nature.
Spread out between the patio and the indoor bar area, The Malibu Beer Festival boasted a healthy variety of beers to choose from in order to get your day going. Ninkasi Brewing Company out of Eugene, Oregon showed up with at least 3 brews that were most definitely worth talking about.
The biggest seller for them was the Total Domination IPA, with the Tricerahops IPA following in a close second. Both of them are outstanding IPAs, but the Total Domination, with less IBUs was a bit more sessionable. It didn’t pack as much of a bite so it’s easy to take a few of them down. Their seasonal Radiant Ale was smooth but robust. It’s a good beer to have later in the afternoon after you’ve already gotten your fill from the other breweries.
Another vendor of notable mention was Hangar 24 out of Redlands California. Out of the three beers they were boasting, the Amarillo Pale Ale was the one that kept people coming back. They also had an Orange Wheat and an Alt-Bier Ale, neither of which had quite the charm of that Pale Ale, though.
A fun event indeed, but unfortunately, Hangar 24 and Ninkasi were the only really notable craft beers in the whole place. Shock Top showed up with a Lemon Shandy and an apple wheat beer that were both pretty gross. Sam Adams brought their Angry Orchard, but that was worth skipping as well.
Really, the talent pool, with regards to vendors, was pretty shallow at this year’s Malibu Beer Festival. With the hundreds of craft breweries that are operating out of California alone, it’s a shame that they couldn’t pull more talent. One of the biggest displays was a Bombay Sapphire setup. Nothing against gin, it’s just not beer.
Where was Angel City? Where was Lagunitas? What about Ballast Point? Or Port? Hell, give me some Eagle Rock or even some Karl Strauss or Stone if you have to. If you’re going to have a “beer festival” don’t half ass it with the talent. Reach out to the local breweries! They will send sales people that know about, and actually care about their product. It helps build culture and it keeps people coming back.
The event yesterday, save for a few select vendors, was just a collection of products from alcohol sponsors, handed out by an indifferent, third party, event staff. Sure it’s an efficient way to run an event, but it just doesn’t give off the proper beer festival charm. Clearly, beer culture has a ways to go in Los Angeles. But events like yesterday’s festival, shortcomings aside, show that there is definitely an interest, and a market for the craft here. Los Angeles needs more events like this. And it will blow people’s minds if they could see one that was done right.