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LA Craft Beer Festival Recap: LA Ready for Craft Beer Culture

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While we can debate over the burritos in LA vs. SF to no end, it is hard to argue over which city has a more prevalent beer culture. Perhaps this is because no one has ever really pushed such a culture here in LA. That is, until now.

Last Saturday, the Los Angeles Craft and Artisan Beer Appreciation League (LACABAL) hosted their first annual Craft Beer Festival at The Echoplex and it was clearly a success, selling out and raising almost $10,000 for 826LA. Festival co-organizer and Hot Knives chef Evan George said "if there's anything we learned, judging from our unexpected over-success, LA is ready for craft beer culture.".

It's almost surprising the success was unexpected (over 900 people showed up), as the event went beyond just beer, showcasing food that is unique to LA and offering up stuff for both beer experts and beer "novices" (like this LAist writer) to enjoy, learn and appreciate.

28 kinds of beer, including "unaccessable local, handcrafted 10% barley wines". Ice cream by Scoops. Cheese pairings by Hot Knives. Vegan snacks by Pure Luck. Burritos by the LA Burrito Project (LAist). Live music. And a craft beer roundtable moderated by Christina Perozzi of Beer for Chicks. All to raise money and benefit the wonderful 826LA.

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Evan added, "We also got people thinking about how beer fits in with eating and living, hence the cheese pairings and beer-friendly snacks, not to mention getting them to sit and listen to a panel discussion about beer industry issues, rather than just letting them loose in a parking lot to guzzle free beer."

Here's what we learned:

  • Barley wines are our favorite. Was our first pick of the day the Lagunitas Olde GnarleyWine because it boasted a 9.7% alcohol content? Yes. But did this turn out to be one our favorites, and a crowd favorite as well? Yes. So clearly, this method worked.
  • The Rock-N-Roll 7-11 in Highland Park has an excellent selection of craft beers.
  • To really appreciate how a beer ages, Hot Knives advises you buy two bottles, save one and drink it six months later. You will taste the difference.
  • Hot Knives like to eat well, drink well and video cook, and their blog is very funny (check out their post-beer fest cheese cave video below).
  • Rosemary babies aka rosemary walnuts are an amazing beer snack.

Our Favorite Beers:

While some festival goers may have complained about the lines and amount of people, given the fact that this was a first time event and the goal was to raise money for 826, one can't blame the organizers for a few hiccups (and they are already addressing them for next time). We're pumped for the next festival, where we can expect a larger, outside venue with more pouring spots. Hooray Los Angeles. HOORAY BEER.

Cheese Cave: Craft Beer Fest edition from Hot Knivez on Vimeo.