Brews & Bites beachside beer festival comes to the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel

Bruery will be pouring at the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel’s beachside beer festival.
Local breweries, like the Bruery based in Placentia, will be pouring at the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel’s beachside beer festival.
(Courtesy of Treat Day Creative)

The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel brings back its Culinary Cookout series this year, with the first event of 2023 being a beachside beer festival.

Brews & Bites will bring a lineup of brewers to the Dana Point resort on Sunday, Feb. 19, from 1 to 4 p.m. Set on the resort’s Dana Lawn overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the event will feature well-known local breweries like the Bruery, based in Placentia, and Anaheim’s Bottle Logic Brewery. Beer lovers can also look forward to tasting brews from more far-flung innovators, like New Mexico’s Bow & Arrow Brewing Co., the nation’s first Native American and women-owned brewery, and Peoples’ Republic of South Central, the first Black-owned craft brewery in South Los Angeles.

“We are not just a brewery but a beverage company,” said People’s Republic co-founder and director of production, Samuel Chawinga. “We are mostly doing beer, but we are also doing product development. We have a winery license, I’ve got a cider line coming out, we are doing some wine blending and making some mead, so we are doing a bunch of different projects.”

Chawinga has been brewing beer professionally for 23 years, inspired by a brother who worked for Gallo to get into the industry. He started People’s Republic with Craig Bowers in 2021, as a Qualified Opportunity Zone Business, a social enterprise that employs and works to empower South Central residents.

Craig Bowers and Samuel Chawinga of Peoples' Republic of South Central.
Craig Bowers, left, and Samuel Chawinga of Peoples’ Republic of South Central, the first Black-owned craft brewery in South Los Angeles.
(Courtesy of Treat Day Creative)

“We are committed to hiring 75% of our employees locally, we are paying living wages, and if you are full time you are getting health insurance,” said Chawinga.

The beverage incubator also has pending B Corp status, a certification that a business is meeting high standards of verified performance, accountability and transparency on things like employee benefits and charitable giving.

For Brews & Bites, People’s Republic has teamed up with the Bruery’s Offshoot Brewing for a collaboration beer.

“They are friends of mine, and they reached out to us, and we are so happy to be coming out with nice American-style lager with nice, fruity hops on it,” said Chawinga. “It is super crisp, clean and light. We also have a fruitier version with apricot that we are releasing at the same time. The beer is called ‘Like, Wow.’”

People’s Republic will be joined by breweries like JuneShine, a hard kombucha and canned cocktails producer out of San Diego, Baja Brewing Co., pouring Mexican beer, and Laguna Niguel’s OC Local Taproom that features craft independent breweries from Orange County, San Diego and the Inland Empire.

Each $150 ticket to the event includes an afternoon of unlimited beer tastings with a keepsake glass and access to global street food stations that will be serving snacks like wood-fire Bavarian pretzels, Korean corn dogs, New Delhi fish and chips and tacos. It is a spread that Chawinga said will pair perfectly with beer.

“There is going to be a lot of nice tapas food, and beer has almost 40 times more flavor profiles than wine can have because of the materials used in it,” said Chawinga. “So it should be fun for people to grab different kinds of foods and pair them with different kinds of beer.”

Moreover, the festival will have Chawinga’s favorite part of beer-making: the community.

“I love beer. I love drinking it. I love making it,” said Chawinga. “But beer for me is really a social beverage. It is bubbly, it‘s vivacious … but in general, when we go to a beer hall there are loud voices, people laughing, and it is not the same feel as wine, not the same feel as liquor.”

Chawinga hopes beer lovers will come out to the event to find a new favorite brewery or new friends.

“I enjoy bringing people together to have a good time,” said Chawinga. “Bringing the community together is the most important thing, bringing all kinds of communities together around beer.”

Tickets and more information on the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel’s 2023 Culinary Cookout on the Coast Series can be found at

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