When I was the Event Manager for the World Beer Festival World Beer Festival building the local beer community was one of our main missions. I experienced the same thing this weekend at the first Buellton Brew Fest in Buellton onlt 2 hours north of Los Angeles. Buellton is in the Santa Ynes Valley, which is a beautiful part of Central Coast in California known for it’s great wine. This is also the area where the movie Side Ways was filmed. So why do you have a beer festival in wine country? Beer has been an natural part of the Santa Ynes Valley ever since Firestone Walker Brewing Company started in 1996. They started in Buellton and then moved their production facility to Paso Robles just about an hour north of Buellton. Recently two new breweries opened in the Santa Ynes valley area, Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company in Buellton and Solvang Brewing Company in Solvang. The Buellton Brew Fest have what I like about beer and the beer community. This festival is a community event around beer where people come out to have some good food, listen to music, and sample great craft beers. The 1000 festival tickets where sold out before the event, which is a sign of a great support from the community. There was plenty of space at the festival at the River View Park and now long line to get beer. Food was included in the $25 ticket price. It was just a great day with great weather (as usual in the Central Coast) and great beer! One of my favorite breweries Firestone Walker was of course there with their 805 and the newly released Parabola. 805 is only available in Santa Barbara County. The Parabola is a barrel aged Imperial Stout with deep rich dark chocolate flavors and some vanilla. Firestone Walker had great success at the World Beer Cup in San Diego with Gold medal for the 805 and the Pale Ale. Firestone Walker did not only win great awards for their great beers. The Brewmaster Matt Brynhildsson won Mid Size Brewery Brewmaster of the year.
The beers from Figueroa Brewing Company keeps growing on me. They have great
flavors and not over the top beers. I have had their Danish Red a few times but today I got a Copenhagen flashback. I don’t know if it’s because the Copenhagen Beer Festival that was going on at the same time. The malty but not overly sweet flavors reminded me a little about Danish beer. I asked the brew mast A.J. Stoll if he had any specific Danish beer in mind when he came up the receipt. He said that he never had any Danish beer and he just tried to come up with something that he hoped was close. I think he did a good job. The only thing I missed with the Danish Red was a Fiskefile at Kanal Café.
From a attendee point of view I can just say that the first Buellton Brew Fest was a success. I talked to a few brewery representatives and they also liked the festival. One of them was a little cynical. He said that next year tickets will be $55, 2000 attendees and way to crowded. I hope they can keep this a great community event and still grow.