The Sunset Strip in Los Angeles is the part of Sunset Boulevard that passes through West Hollywood. The Sunset Strip is in Los Angeles County, outside of the City of Los Angeles where LAPD (Los Angeles Police Department) had stricter law enforcement in the 1920s. The LA county Sheriff ran a less vigilant jurisdiction so alcohol was served in the back rooms of the clubs during prohibition, which attracted a lot of movie people. In the 1970s the Strip became a heaven for music
bands that played in the many music clubs on the Strip. The Roxy Theater is one of the legendary clubs that have hosted Neil Young and the Santa Monica Flyers, Genesis (with Pete Gabriel), Bob Marley and the Wailers, Van Morrison and many more mega musicians. Many artists have recorded their live albums at The Roxy. The Strip has always been on the cutting edge of the entertainment business so it’s not strange that The Roxy is hosting its second LA Vegan Beer Festival. Because beer is entertainment isn’t it? But having a second beer festival in 2011is only cutting edge in Los Angeles. There has been a beer movement going on in America for the past 10 years that Los Angels have been totally oblivious about. But LA is waking up. There are more and more beer events popping up and the amount of breweries are slowly increasing. The LA Vegan Beer Festival this Saturday was hosted by The Roxy, Tony’s Darts Away rated 23 on Rate Beers worlds best beer bar list and quarrygirl.com a vegan blogger. With these three hosts the main ingredients’ was set, music, vegan food and beer.
Lets start with the one I no the least about, music. It’s not that I don’t listen to music. I just don’t pay any attention to the band or the music style. It’s a pity that when I for once would like to know who played I can’t find it. It’s not any website and it wasn’t displayed at the festival. But what I heard I liked, especially the third band. And with a venue like The Roxy I wouldn’t expect anything else.
I know a little more about vegan food. And what I have learned is that there are two main groups for those who choose to eat vegan food. There is the animal rights group and the health group. At the vegan beer festival it was clear that the festival organizers turn to the animal rights group. There was not much food that was very healthy. It seems to me like this group have taken what they used to eat and replaced everything that comes from animal kingdom with highly processed substitutes. The substitutes often looks the same and almost taste the same. And it often includes a lot of fat, vegetable of course. I can understand that the animal rights group chooses to take responsibility for animals but what about the rest. I bet that producing the highly processed substitutes have a great negative impact on environment and on the health of the people eating it. So they set the lives and well being of animals before their own well-being. This is of course very honorable but I have a hard time seeing how you can help others when you can’t help your self.
Then there is the other group, the health group that I try to stick with as much as I can. They have chosen to eat vegan
food out of health reasons (and maybe also out of animal rights reasons). The health vegans have the same basic rule, nothing from animal kingdom. But the big difference is that the food they eat is raw plants that are maybe boiled, baked or fried, as little additives, preservatives and processing as possible and low or no fat, sugar and sodium. I saw very little of this at the festival. I have no issues with eating meat. I prefer eating a hamburger with meat from grass fed cows that have been responsibly kept instead of highly processed substitutes. But this was a vegan beer festival so I had to try something. I tried a Franken from Franken’s Gourmet Franks. What drew my attention was that it was made with ale from Full Sail Brewery. I can’t say that that the flavor would have been difference without the beer but it was good. The claim that all their franks 100% plant based. I usually look for food that is made with beer at festivals and the only other food item was a vegan cupcake with Lindemans Framboise frosting from Doome’s Home Cooking.
So what about the most important thing, BEER!!!!!! At a beer festival I look for beers from local breweries that I haven’t sampled before. And there were a few of those. My first beer was the Columbus IPA from Hanger 24 Craft Brewery. It’s a very balanced IPA that is not over hopped. I’m getting a little tired of the over-hopped imperial IPAs but this is a very good American style IPA. I also tried their Orange Wheat, which was refreshing. Another for me new brewery was Cismontane Brewing Company. Their The Citizen is a warm fermented lager, slightly bitter but with a great balance. They also had a stout called Blacks Dawn with coffee, brown sugar and oats. It’s an 8% beer with a complex flavor, clear coffee nose and long after taste.
Eagle Rock Brewery is, according to their website the first brewery with operations based in Los Angeles in 60 years. Their Revolution XPA is a hopy pale ale more like a British IPA but still fare from the over-hoped American IPAs. I really enjoyed the balance between the hopyness and the malt. This was probably the best beer I had at the festival.
Browerij West is a small brewery that doesn’t own their brewery equipment. They rent space at other breweries. They have two Belgian style beers, a Blond and a Tripel, both of them really good interpretations of their origin. The Blond is 5.5%, refreshing beer great for a warm summer day and the Tripel is a 8.25% beer with citrus aroma and dry bitterness.
I also sampled Humboldt Brown Hemp Ale from Nectar Ales. This is an old brewery from the early days of the beer revolution (that some say never happened). Brown ale is not a style that I prefer. I think it’s a little too malty and sweet for my flavor. But the Humboldt brown is a brown ale that I really enjoyed.
So what about the festival itself? As a former events manager for the World Beer Festival I of course look at the arrangements related the festival. I was trained by the best and ran one of the best festival in the country so this is an important thing for the over all impression of a beer festival. A beer festival is different for many different people. Some just come to have a good time and drink some beer, some come to continue their quest for the perfect beer experience. I think there are a few basic elements to a good beer festival and to no surplice they all coincides with the mission of the World Beer Festival. A good beer festival needs to be:
- An educational event.
- Building and strengthening the local beer community.
- A celebration to good beer.
The LA Vegan Beer Festival lacks the education element. It was hard to see what beer was on a tap and information about the beer was often none existing. There were some brewers talking about their beers, which I think is good. All breweries should have the brewer or a brewery representative at the festival. If that is not possible the volunteers need to be educated about what they are serving. There should be some kind of a handout with information about the beers that is presented and about beer and the beer community in general. The organizers missed the opportunity to educate the public about beer and vegan food.
The beer that was presented at the festival was good. There were some good new and local breweries that make the festival interesting. But is the LA Vegan Beer festival what I would call a good beer festival? I’m not sure. The bouncer at the door implied when I entered that if I won’t get drunk there is something wrong with me. And charging $2 for water at a beer event is a rip-off. You can buy water for 30-50 cents a bottle at Costco or Wallmart. Affordable food, which the festival had and water is essential for people that drink a lot of alcohol on a warm day. This prevents over-consumption that is an unwanted side effect at a beer festival. When using the all you can drink model you also need to be aware of the amount of beer you pour with each serving. Great American Beer Festival is only pouring 1 oz and at the World Beer Festival pours 2 oz. The samples here were generously poured. I think that a beer festival that is serious about beer need to take measures to prevent over consumption. But the level of intoxication at the LA Vegan Beer Festival was not higher than at other beer festivals I have been at. I think that having a beer festival you need to decide if you are having an event to promote craft beer and the knowledge about it or are you throwing a party with good beer. I got the feeling that LA Vegan Beer Festival is more an afternoon party with good music and food. And that’s OK. Did I have a good time? Yes. Will I come back next year? I don’t know.