Mammoth Festival Of Beers & Bluesapalooza 2012

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This past weekend, in the middle of a road trip visiting breweries, I attended the 17th annual Mammoth Festival of Beers & Bluesapalooza. It was my second time at the music and beer festival, and it’s a really great event. It’s sponsored, in part, by local brewery Mammoth Brewing. The downside is, of course, that Mammoth Lakes, California is a remote and hard place to get to, but the upside is that it’s worth it once you’re there. The best way to go is to make a weekend, or more, out of it (and take the family) because there’s a lot to do there. It’s close to Yosemite, Mono Lake, hot springs and the Devils Postpile, and a whole lot more.

For the Bluesapalooza music festival, they get some great blues musicians and the setting is wonderful — literally in a wooded grove. There’s music Friday night, and all day Saturday and Sunday (plus a jam session Thursday night, too). The beer festival portion of the event, which is Saturday only, has also grown considerably since the last time I went, possibly doubling or more. There were 70 breweries pouring their beer this year. If you’re used to seeing a lot of the same Northern California breweries at festivals, Mammoth gets a lot of central and southern California breweries, which makes it a special treat, too.

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The beer festival is a major fund raiser for the California Craft Brewers Association, a very worthwhile organization that I support and volunteer with. This is me at the brewer’s reception the night before the festival with CCBA executive director Tom McCormick.

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The Bluesapalooza stage Saturday morning.

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Shaun O’Sullivan, from 21st Amendment.

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The beer festival was in the back, behind the stage area, among the trees, and spread the entire length of Sam’s Wood Site.

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L.A.’s Golden Road brewer Jon Carpenter and social diva Cambria Griffith.

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It was also great seeing Travis Smith from Societe Brewing and getting a second chance to try his wonderful beers.

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As the festival beer sponsor, Mammoth Brewing had two booths, one with the tap trucks. Thanks to owner Sean Turner for putting on a great festival and being a gracious host.

Father’s Day Fest This Sunday

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You know what you really want for Father’s Day: beer! And since it’s your day, how can your family say no? And now you really can get what you really want. Here’s how:

The Brewing Network’s Winter Brews Fest has spawned off-spring, and what better time to celebrate that than a Father’s Day-themed Summer Fest! The city of Concord and the East Bay- based craft beer radio company have joined forces once again to throw beer lovers a family friendly day, complete with a chili cook off, live music, an antique fair, a corvette car show, and more!

Unlike its January counter-part, this inaugural Summer Fest is open to all ages, with those over 21 getting a chance to sample dozens of different brews from local breweries such as 21st Amendment, Bear Republic, Creek Monkey, Deschutes, Drake’s, Firestone Walker, Heretic, Lagunitas, Ommegang, Stone, Uncommon Brewers, and more.

The Brewing Network’s 2012 Summer Fest will be held at Todos Santos Plaza in Concord, CA, on Sunday, June 17, 2012 from noon to 4pm. Rain or (what’s more likely) shine, they’ve got you covered, all you have to do is bring your fathers, surrogate or other, and give them a Father’s Day to remember. And with Concord BART just two blocks away, this event is bound to entice beer lovers from around the Bay to enjoy a responsible day celebrating Dad!

Tickets are $40 pre-sale and $50 at the gate and include unlimited tastes of beer, while-supplies-last chili, and a commemorative glass for the first 4,000 guests. Proceeds from the event will go to the Kiwanis Club and Contra Costa County Fire Department charities. For more information on the event, and to buy tickets please visit BNsummerfest.eventbrite.com.

Remember it’s your day. When they ask how you want to spend it, repeat after me. The Brewing Network’s Summer Fest on Father’s Day this Sunday.

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The Firestone Walker Invitational

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This weekend down in Paso Robles a new beer festival debuted. The Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest took place at the Mid-State Fairgrounds. I drove down Friday with Sean Paxton, the Homebrew Chef, who was scheduled to make cotton candy with sugar infused with Centennial hops. The festival was simply one of the best organized, best run, most enjoyable beer festivals I’ve been to in a long time, which was especially impressive given that it was a first time event. Here’s how Firestone Walker’s brewmaster Matt Brynildson described what he was going for with the FWIBF:

The Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest was born from a dream of creating a world class festival featuring not only the best brewers in the world, but brewers whom we feel are leaders in the craft beer revolution. These are folks of like mind and spirit, some new friends some of many years, who share our same passion for making craft beer and sharing it with the world. This is a day where we can all put down our sales and marketing pitches and simply commune and share our beers and stories with people who are truly interested in craft beer. The ground rules are simple. Bring a session beer and a special beer accompanied by the artisan who created it. Brewers, their beers, good music and folks who care.

In order to insure everyone could have a good time, many aspects of the festival were limited. There were only 40 breweries pouring their beer, 21 restaurants making their food and a limited number of tickets sold. I never heard the final head count, though throughout the day I heard estimates that ranged from 2,500 to around 3,200 but whatever the finally tally it never felt overly crowded and there was plenty of room in the Frontier Town area of the fairgrounds to stretch your legs and move about.

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Interviewed by the Brewing Network during the event, Brynildson added that he simply put together a wish list of breweries he would like to have at his event — several that didn’t even distribute in California — and was overwhelmed by how many quickly accepted his invitation. But that was awesome for anyone attending, as the likes of Bell’s, Boulevard, Revolution, Southern Tier, Three Floyds and others were there pouring beer.

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The night before the festival, Firestone Walker Brewing hosted an event for the brewers and media at their new taproom adjacent to the brewery.

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Mikkel and I trying to mimic the fighting lion and bear in Firestone Walker’s logo Friday evening. I guess I’m the lion.

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The festival opened Saturday at 1:00 p.m. At least an hour before, all of the ticket holders were checked in, had their wristbands on, glasses in hand and a program to study while they waited. When the gate opened promptly at one, everybody could just walk in and begin sampling their first beer. It was the first of many well-executed and well-planned aspects of the festival. Others included water stations throughout the festival grounds, ample ice, plenty of shade, abundant nibbles, and more substantial food available for purchase.

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There were two excellent bands — and perhaps best of all — the music was segregated from most of the beer and food booths, in a separate arena right next to them so that you could hear the music no matter where you were, but it was never so loud that you couldn’t carry on a conversation. If you wanted to dance or just listen to the music, all you had to do was wander inside the music area where there was stadium seating and a stage.

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Also, with a 2 to 1 ratio of breweries to food vendors, there was something to nibble on every other booth, such as this amazing dish by Chef Dallas of the Tenth Street Basque Cafe (author of Never Cook Bacon Naked).

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It was also great seeing Noah Regney, who used to brew for Pizza Port, but recently moved to Hollister Brewing, along with his fiance Sarah Huska, who used to live in Chicago where she worked with Ray Daniels on the Cicerone program. They seemed so happy, I always love seeing people in that state of bliss.

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Bay far, Masafumi Morita, from Yo-Ho Brewing in Japan, travelled the farthest.

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It was a gorgeous day on the central coast, perfect weather for a festival.

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Pat McIlhenney, from Alpine Beer Co., with Tomme Arthur, from the Lost Abbey.

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An unknown friend of Claudia and Rodger Davis, from Faction Brewing, along with Fraggle from beer Revolution.

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Patrick Rue, from the Bruery, with some Black Tuesday. Another great feature of this fest was that each brewery brought something rare, along with a session beer.

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Me, with Megan Flynn, from Beer West, our friend Marieke Gerritsen, and another friend.

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Lincoln Anderson, from Three Floyds, who brought along Dark Lord, accepts the “People’s Choice” award, voted on by the crowd attending the fest.

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Matt Brynildson toward the end of the day, enjoying the festival he conceived. The entire gang from Firestone Walker did an incredible job pulling off this festival and are to be congratulated. If you missed it this year, be sure to try and come next year. There’s no way this isn’t just going to get beter and better.

Hard Liver Barleywine Fest Winners 2012

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Here are the results from the 2012 Hard Liver Barleywine Fest in held at Brouwer’s Cafe in Seattle, Washington:

Congratulations to all the winners. (And special thanks to Sean Paxton, the Homebrew Chef, for sending me the results since I couldn’t be there this year.)

Winter Brews Festival In Concord January 28

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The 3rd annual Winter Brews Festival, sponsored by the Brewing Network, will be held this year on Saturday, January 28 from Noon to 4:00 p.m. Thanks to the Occupy Berkeley movement, last year’s location was not available and BN thought they’d have to cancel. But the City of Concord came to the rescue, and this year’s event will be held at Todos Santos Plaza, just two blocks from the Concord BART station.
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Tickets went on sale tonight, and can be purchased online through Eventbrite.

Here’s all the info from the press release:

Todos Santos Plaza is normally closed to public events during the winter months. Due to the extreme situation, however, they graciously opened their doors to allow the event to go on uninterrupted. Partnering with the Todos Santos Small Business Association and a local environmental non-profi t organization, this event will proudly promote the value of local breweries, local businesses, and fresh beer.

Visitors will enjoy unlimited tastings from more than 30 world class breweries. Confirmed breweries include the 21st Amendment, Drakes, Heretic, Lagunitas, Magnolia, Triple Rock, and Russian River. This Winter Brews Festival promises to expose beer lovers, new and experienced, to a variety of appetizing and innovative beers. A portion of the proceeds will also benefit local nonprofit, the Coral Reef Alliance.

The 3rd Annual Winter Brews Festival will be held at the Todos Santos Plaza in Concord on Saturday, January 28, 2012, from 12pm to 4pm. Tastings will feature a wide variety of local brews and unique innovations from some of the best brewers around, many of whom will be pouring their own beers giving visitors an opportunity to learn more about how the beer is made. The event will happen rain or shine, with arrangements in place to keep festival goers dry or out of the sun. And with the Concord BART station just two blocks away, this afternoon event will no doubt satisfy locals wanting to enjoy some beers for a great cause. Tickets are $35 pre-sale or $40 at the gate and include unlimited pours and a commemorative glass. For more information on the event, and to purchase tickets, please visit The Brewing Network Ontap.

See you there!

The Bay Brewed: A Rock & Roll Beer Festival

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This sure sounds like a fun new event. The San Francisco Brewers Guild along with City Beer Store and The Bay Bridged is putting on a beer festival and a music festival called The Bay Brewed, which is scheduled to take place on December 3, from 2-7 p.m. at San Francisco’s Verdi Club, located at 2424 Mariposa Street. Here’s some more info from the press release:

Presented in partnership with the City Beer Store and the SF Brewers Guild, a ticket to The Bay Brewed includes unlimited beer tastings from San Francisco Bay Area breweries including 21st Amendment, Anchor Stream, Beach Chalet, Lagunitas, Magnolia, Social Kitchen & Brewery, and Speakeasy, and musical performances from four excellent San Francisco bands: Weekend, Sleepy Sun, Extra Classic, and Terry Malts. Food will be available for purchase courtesy of Rosamunde Sausage Grill.

Christian Cunningham, General Manager of The Bay Bridged, explained the desire to create an event pairing local bands and local craft beers: “San Francisco’s music and beer scenes are both unbeatable when it comes to the talent and creativity of the people involved. The Bay Brewed is our way of bringing together people who like great music and people who like great beer for a unique event that couldn’t happen anywhere but San Francisco.”

Ticket prices are $45 and can be purchased online, or buy them at the door for $55. According to the ticket page, “[y]our ticket purchase includes performances by four great local rock bands — Weekend, Sleepy Sun, Extra Classic, and Terry Malts — and a commemorative mug that gets you unlimited beer tastings all day long from an array of awesome local breweries. In partnership with the City Beer Store and the SF Brewers Guild, you’ll be sampling beer from and meeting the brewers behind 21st Amendment, Anchor Stream, Beach Chalet, Lagunitas, Magnolia, Social Kitchen & Brewery, and Speakeasy, with more still to come.”

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Bistro IPA Festival Winners 2011

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Family commitments kept me from attending this year’s Bistro IPA Festival, but owner Vic Kralj was kind enough to send me the list of the winners. Craig Cauwels’ IPA, from Schooner’s in Antioch, California, was chosen best in show at the 14th annual IPA Festival yesterday at the Bistro in Hayward, California. The full list of winners is below.

OBF Opening Ceremonies

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After we marched from McMenamin’s Crystal Ballroom to the Tom McCall Waterfront Park and the Oregon Brewers Festival, the ceremonial keg was brought into the park by the Hammerheads from this year’s parade host brewery, McMenamin’s.

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Hammerheads and the ceremonial cask.

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The Hammerheads and the Ruby Witches McMenamins’ folks positioned themselves in front of the stage.

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Then Art Larrance got things started.

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This year’s parade host represented by Brian McMenamin, took the ceremonial hammer.

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And passed it off to next year’s host, the Cascade Barrel House.

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Then Grand Marshall Fred Eckhardt had a few words for the crowd, before tapping the first keg.


Fred, tapping the keg.

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Fred drinking the first toast to OBF 2011.

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Fred and me catching up with a pint after the ceremonies.

Oregon Brewers Festival Parade 2011

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Although I missed last year’s Oregon Brewers Festival for the first time in many years, it felt like it had been at least five years since I’d been back. That’s how much I missed Portland, and I was thrilled to be there again. After the Brewer’s Dinner Wednesday night, I attended the brunch, this year held at McMenamin’s Crystal Ballroom, and helped setup for the event beforehand, as well. After everyone feasted and prepared their stomachs for the day’s drinking, what looked to be close to 1200 people lined up for the parade. That’s just a guess, but it was easily the biggest crowd I’d seen for the parade, and this was my third time, of the five so far. Many of the usual suspects were there, the band, the Rogue Friars, people in kilts, people wearing literal hopheads, etc. This year’s Grand Marshall was Portland legend Fred Eckhardt who led the parade via pedicab down to the Tom McCall Waterfront Park, the annual home of the beer festival. Here are some photos from the parade. Enjoy.

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Pedicab leading the OBF Parade with Grand Marshall Fred Eckhardt and OBF founder Art Larrance.

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Here we come.

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… walking down the street,

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We get the funniest looks from …

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Everyone we meet.

After arriving at the festival grounds, it was time to tap the keg and officially start the festival. Look for the ceremonies coming soon in part 2.