You’re going to have a busy weekend if you’re a craft beer lover in the Southland. With vegan brews, an airshow and a celebration of the lighter side of beer, Saturday and Sunday are packed with can’t-miss events. If you’re a beer lover or just beer curious, these celebrations of craft culture are great ways to discover new brews and meet some new friends.
Naja’s Place IPA fest
The special brews start pouring on Wednesday at Redondo Beach craft institution Naja’s Place as the seventh annual IPA Fest gets underway with a showcase of local breweries and over 60 IPAs on tap. The celebration of craft beer’s most popular style runs through Tuesday and features a lupulin-laden list for the whole week. On Thursday, Ballast Point headlines with five variations of the ever-popular Sculpin IPA, and on Saturday Pizza Port brings a baker’s dozen of IPAs for fans to sample. Expect lines and crowds, and some of the freshest hop-bombs in town.
Hangar 24 Airfest
The Redlands Airport-adjacent brewery is celebrating its lucky seventh anniversary as only they can — with an all day airshow/beerfest. In addition to several pouring stations serving up Hangar 24’s year-round and special-release beers, there’s a fleet of food trucks, several bands, and of course a lineup of aerial demonstrations, stunt planes and skydivers. Admission is $15 and drink tickets are $7 each.
The Bruery Copperversary
The Orange Country brewery is also turning seven, and it's celebrating with a blow-out at the Phoenix Club Anaheim. Admission is limited to Reserve Society members (and members of the even more toney Hoarders Society), but if you’re a card-carrying fan of the Bruery you can’t miss this celebration. Beachwood BBQ is catering the event, and there are more than three dozen Southern California craft breweries slated to pour.
Vegan Beer Fest
Don’t have tickets to the Bruery’s party and don’t feeling like trekking out to Redlands for a fest? L.A.’s own Vegan Beer Fest is also on Saturday. Don’t let the name fool you, this party is a blast even if you’re an omnivore. There’s a long list of breweries, including regional powerhouses like Bell’s Brewing, Modern Times and Firestone Walker pouring alongside local favorites like El Segundo Brewing Co., Noble Ale Works and Smog City (and even a few rarely-seen-in-L.A. names like San Diego’s Automatic Brewing and Bay Area darling Faction Brewing). This year’s fest moves to the Rose Bowl and also features performances from the White Buffalo, Jamestown Revival and other bands. The $50 tickets jump to $65 if they don’t sell out before Saturday.
Eagle Rock Brewery’s Session Fest
Looking for a smaller event that trades a long list of attending breweries for some wildly creative one-off beers made by the very people serving them to you? Eagle Rock Brewery’s annual celebration of the flavorful, yet low-alcohol brews is where you want to be on Sunday. The whole ERB team from the brewery, tasting room and the new Public House restaurant all brewed small-batch beers that are under 4.5% alcohol, and $15 gets you admission and three half-pints from the dozen available beers. In previous years, the offerings haveincluded takes on traditional Polish smoked beers, drinkable small stouts, English-inspired bitters and some wild concoctions that you probably won’t ever get to taste again. The event celebrates the creativity of craft brewing, and there’s no telling what will get tapped this year.
Save the date
Assuming you don’t burn out on beer after this weekend, there are a few other upcoming celebrations and special events that you might want to jot down in your calendar.
May 24 — Beer Belly’s 4-Year Anniversary — The popular Koreatown beer bar always throws a killer party, and while details for the celebration are slim, the tap list is already shaping up to be a can’t miss.
May 30 — Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Festival — This party in Paso Robles has been called one of the best beer events on the West Coast for good reason, and the event sold out in minutes. If you find tickets on the secondary market, they’re not going to be cheap, but can you put a price on being the envy of all your beer-geek buddies?
May 30 — Pairing Is Caring — This craft beer and pizza pairing party is being held at Union Station, and the event benefits the Pasadena Humane Society. The $40 admission gets you unlimited beer pours, unlimited pizza pairings and access to the puppy play area. An extra $20 gets you into the VIP bottle share area too.
June 20 — L.A. Beer Week Kickoff — The official launch of the seventh annual L.A. Beer Week moves from September to June and from Chinatown to Exposition Park. The $65 VIP tickets (including admission an hour early featuring special beers and a VIP beer tent with more special beers) are not yet sold out, but they won’t last much longer.