The past three weekends Collaboration Los Angles have hosted a beer garden on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood. Collaboration Beer Gardens is collaboration between the LA beer bars Tony’s Darts Away, Verdugo Bar, 38 Degrees, Surly Goat, Blue Palms, and Mohawk Bend. It’s a series of pop-up mobile craft beer gardens popping up “where true beer enthusiasts can gather and enjoy the best in brews under the warm California sun”. The location was a gravel parking lot on Sunset Boulevard. There was a main tent with tables and chairs and two pouring stations. $12 entrance fee and $6 for each normal size beer.
I’m always happy when I can find a beer or a brewery that I have never sampled before so I was happy to see the Sierra Nevada Kölsch Style Ale which I have heard about but never tried. This is a perfect beer for a warm summer day, refreshing, malty and only slightly hoppy. A brewery that was new to me at the event was El Segundo Brewing Company. Until now that is. The Blue House Ale is hoppy IPA style ale nothing out of the ordinary but still a drinkable beer. The brewery is keeping a low footprint on-line. The only thing I found was it being mentioned in a few food blogs and on Facebook. There were plenty of good beers from great breweries at the event but I don’t know what breweries. I can’t find anything on-line; there were no beer list and no information at all about the beers. In today’s internet world it’s not hard to have a website link on the menus or a QR code leading to a website with the beers are listed and some information about the beers. Except for the beer list at the pouring stations I could find no information at all. With that many good beers and a crowd of beer loving people it would have been a great opportunity to give the attendees an option to learn more.
I really like how Collaboration arranged for food. On the tables they had menus for some of the near by local food establishments including the phone number to them. You just call them, mention Collaboration Beer Gardens and the number of the table you where sitting at and then it was just to order. The food was delivered to your table after 20-30 minutes. This is a great way to also support the local community around the event. If you didn’t want to order from the places near by you could bring your picnic basket.
I was at the Collaboration Beer Garden right when they opened at noon. There were of course not a lot of people there but I heard that at closing time at 9 PM the place had a good crowd. In the evening with the lights, some good music, some great beers this could be a good way to spend a Saturday afternoon with friends. I’m afraid that the level of intoxication might be high with some people at the day goes. There were not much done to try to keep the intoxication level low. A hot summer afternoon with some really good and high gravity beers you need as a organizer help the customers from over drinking. In the end it’s up to the customers but I think the organizers need to think about it to keep a good atmosphere. Some key elements to do that is to have food available (which they solved in a great way), low priced or free water and the choice of small pours. I didn’t see any water at the event. You could of course go to a local convenience store near by to buy some but I think having it at the event is important. I think that the options of small pours are essential especially when you have many good high alcohol beers. Half pour at half price or half pour at 25% off would do a lot the keep the level of intoxication low. This is also an element in getting people to know and enjoy several kinds of beers. Giving the opportunity for people to try many different kinds of beer and learn more about beer is what makes the difference between a beer event and an event with beer.
I would rate this event as follows:
Beer: There were some pretty good beer there. B
Beer education: Nothing from what I could see except for the listing at the pouring station. F
Anti intoxication efforts: I would have loved to see small pours with all those good beers. I was even asked “don’t you want full value” when I asked for a half pour paying full price. C
Restrooms: This is an outdoor event without connection to a permanent building. There isn’t much you can do more than portable toilets. Not the greatest but better than nothing. The key is to clean the toilets often. B
Atmosphere: I could see fragments of Bavarian beer gardens like Paulaner’s Nockherberg in Munich. It’s hard to copy that here though but still a good attempt. B
Over all: For an afternoon with some friends? Yes, why not. I would bring water, extra glasses so we can share smaller pours and a smart phone to find some information about the beers and breweries. I would probably leave around 5-6 pm. It might get rowdy later in the evening. B