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Burbank beer fest draws craft brewing fans

Craft beer lovers filled the streets of downtown Burbank this past Saturday for the Burbank Beer Festival and Fall Street Fair.

The event was a retooling of the OktoBURfest the previous two years, with a new emphasis on bringing in independent brewers to share their beers with local enthusiasts.

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More than 85 different varieties of beers were on tap from breweries both near and far, according to Tammy Myers of the California Beer Festival, which put on the event in association with the Downtown Burbank Partnership and VisitBurbank.com.

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"The importance of this event is to bring traffic to downtown Burbank," Myers said. "To remind people (about) all the great shops, restaurants, bars — things that they can do downtown."

The festival stretched along San Fernando Boulevard from Angeleno Avenue to Magnolia Boulevard, featuring three blocks of craft-beer tasting and two blocks of street-fair activities, as well as live music.

With each ticket, attendees received a taster glass, perfect for enjoying a few sips of a new beer.

Burbank resident Kyle Brown, Amy Gallo of Culver City and her dog, Elle, stood in a notably long line to try out brews from Torrance-based Absolution Brewing Co.

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"We needed a date idea, so this was our date," Gallo said.

Asked what his favorite beer of the day was, Brown had to think for a moment. "I really like the (St. Archer) double IPA," he said.

IPAs, short for India pale ales, are brewed using lots of hops, resulting in a more bitter, tangy flavor. The style has become sort of a staple among West Coast beer makers and drinkers, and many in the crowd on Saturday mentioned an IPA as their favorite of the day.

"Pretty much everybody here is going to have an IPA," said Luke Mele, a promo rep for Angel City Brewery, located in Los Angeles' Arts District.

"Craft beer's kind of rising in L.A.," Mele said. "There's more and more people getting into the craft-beer scene (and) understanding that there's more than the macrobrews, and there's different types of beer out there."

"We try to bring beers that are a little different," said Joey Erwin, sales rep for Ballast Point, a San Diego-based brewery and distillery.

Ballast Point started in 1992 as a home-brewing project. The company now has four locations in Southern California and brews one of California's most well-known India pale ales — the Sculpin IPA.

"It's funny — we'll do an event and I'll have Sculpin on and (attendees) are like, 'I always have Sculpin. What do you have that's different?' And then when I don't have it, everyone's like, 'Aw, you don't have Sculpin?'" Erwin said.

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Erwin brought two kegs — an Oktoberfest and a pumpkin ale — to the tent for the first of two tasting sessions Saturday. The pumpkin keg ran dry before the session was over.

Burbank resident and "beer connoisseur" Stacey Zimmerman made sure to walk the entire festival route and visit many of the tents, but kept coming back for her standout beer.

"I'm in love with this IPA from Santa Barbara," Zimmerman said, referring to an ale from Island Brewing Co. "It's doing it for me."

According to Myers, attendance at the beer festival was double that of the OktoBURfest event the city put on last year, which she called "a step in the right direction."

"As people know about this event … it'll grow," Myers said. "I think it's going to be a huge hit."

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