A craft beer frenzy has taken over Los Angeles in recent years with gastropubs and eateries specializing in artisanal brews popping up across the city. Beer tasting is the new wine tasting, and Saturday’s fourth annual Los Angeles Beer Festival invites beer enthusiasts and novices alike to kick off the holiday weekend with food, music and of course, a few brewskis.
Local event company DrinkEatPlay has moved this year’s fest from its previous home at Sony Studios in Culver City to Paramount Pictures in Hollywood, where the studio’s famed New York City street backlot will be transformed into a springtime block party for an expected 8,000 revelers.
“We tried to make the venue interactive,” said event producer Dan Silberstein. “Some of the storefronts can actually be used, so one of them is going be a shop that sells ‘beer-friendly’ cupcakes, another will sell beer-related T-shirts, another will have a dueling piano bar, on the opposite end of the venue we’ll have a stage for bands and then on the stoops, there will be DJs.”
But the focus will be on the approximately 80 vendors that will be pouring throughout the day. The list of participating suppliers include familiar names such as Samuel Adams and Newcastle as well as up and coming local and regional brewers like Eagle Rock Brewery, El Segundo Brewing, SoCal Beer Company and Bootlegger’s Brewery.
Chris Briles, owner of Corona-based Cosmic Ales, began brewing small batches of his signature Hell Hound Brown Ale (which he’ll be serving on Saturday) for friends and family almost 12 years ago. “Everybody always was really interested in buying this home brew,” Briles said. “After doing the festival last year along with some other events like it … I started getting calls from bar managers who had either attended themselves or had patrons that had attended and were asking for my brews.”
Brewers like Briles will offer unlimited 4-ounce pours for two sessions during the festival, one from 1 to 4 p.m., and the other from 5 to 8 p.m. The crowd is expected to be a healthy mix of beer geeks and partyers with what Silberstein described as a common goal: to drink good beer and have a good time.
“Somebody last year mentioned in a review that it was like an adult Disneyland, so we kind of ran a little bit with that idea this year,” said Silberstein. “We’re putting something interesting on every nook, cranny and walkway.”
Metal Shop, an ‘80s hair metal cover band, will pay homage to the likes of Guns N’ Roses and AC/DC during the day’s first session while Black Crystal Wolf Kids will cover a spectrum of new and old indie rock acts such as Pavement and Vampire Weekend in the second. Howl at the Moon, a dueling rock ‘n’ roll piano show, will take song requests and invite drinkers to croon along during both sessions.
And because no trip to a beer-oriented theme park would be complete without some snacks, 15 food trucks including Slammin’ Sliders, Border Grill and Sugar Babies Cupcakery will be nearby to feed hungry drinkers.
“Because it’s pretty close to Easter break and spring break, you get a diverse group of people,” said Martin Medina, director of sales and distribution for Bootlegger’s Brewery, which has participated in the festival for three consecutive years. “You get a lot of groups of eight to 10 that show up and they’re there to drink and have a good time. You also get the craft beer aficionados — the people that actually go to craft beer events now are becoming a little more savvy and want to know more about the beer and to make a connection with the breweries.”
For Reza Javdar, an ER physician who last year turned his home-brewing hobby into Tarzana-based SoCal Brewing Company, the festival is a chance for small brewers to build brand awareness. “The breweries get to put their names out there for the general public to see and people who attend have the opportunity to try 60, 70, maybe up to 100 different kinds of beer in a limited amount of time,” he said. “It’s a win-win for everyone.”
Los Angeles Beer Festival
Where: Paramount Studios, 5555 Melrose Ave. L.A.
When: Noon-3 p.m. and 5-8 p.m. Sat.
Price: $40, online advance reservations only