Over the weekend, the Port of Los Angeles played host to a beer festival that shifted the focus from local craft brewers and onto a bevy of international producers and American craft brewers seldom seen on the West Coast. The Festival, as it is called, offered a glimpse at the possible future of craft beer.
The Festival is an annual showcase of breweries by longtime beer importer the Shelton Brothers, and this year's event lived up to the expectations. During four four-hour sessions split over two days, thousands of beer connoisseurs turned out to sample vintage gueuzes from Belgium’s biggest names in lambic, pours of Japanese beers that ranged from by-the-book classic styles to wildly inventive umami-tinged beers, and a lengthy list of tart and funky wild ales from some of the U.S.’s most exciting craft operations.
International breweries outnumbered American operations by about 2 to 1, many hailing from nations not known for their beer culture, such as Spain, Italy and Japan, where the craft beer movement has more recently caught hold. The European Low Countries were well represented and well regarded by the beer fans in attendance.
American producers like the veterans at Hill Farmstead (which, amazingly, never had a line at its booth), fan favorites Firestone Walker Barrelworks (which mistakenly tapped its olallieberry-infused SLOambic a week before its official debut, much to the delight of the crowd), and exciting newcomers like Arizona Wilderness and Tahoe Mountain vied for drink tickets alongside the Old World’s very best - Brasserie-Brouwerij Cantillon and 3 Fonteinen.