photos by David Mulvihill
Sabroso Craft Beer and Taco Fest began as a small venue festival, morphing some years back into Sabroso Craft Beer, Taco & Music Festival. The folks at Brew Ha Ha Productions now team with SGE (Synergy Global Entertainment) and have elevated the fest into a multi-faceted multi-day event filled with beer tasting, taco enjoying and top-notch musical entertainment.
Doheny State Beach was the setting for the 6th Annual festival weekend (April 6 & 7 with 20,000 attendees) that included 3-4 hours of sampling from over 150 beers available from area and far reaching craft breweries. This reporter was amazed to find that, even given the level of attendance and amounts of beer being dispensed in the relatively short time, most brewers still brought their best beer to serve during the event.
Music headliners included Bad Religion and Flogging Molly on Saturday, and The Offspring on Sunday. The full lineup also included Black Flag, Lagwagon, Strung Out, The Suicide Machines, Adolescents, D.I., Face To Face, Plague Vendor, Red City Radio and Orange Blossom Special.
Once again, Lucha Libre wrestling was on the bill, as well as the Annual Gringo Bandito Chronic Tacos Eating Championship. Sabroso is powered by Gringo Bandito, the line of hot sauces from The Offspring’s own Dexter Holland. Takeru Kobayashi returned to defend and again win the championship title by consuming 157 tacos in 10 minutes. Tacos sold at the fest were also rated in a best-of challenge. Best of Show went to Pink Taco for its poached octopus taco with chorizo, potatoes, onion and peppers. Runners up included Fiesta Gourmet (fried beer battered shrimp taco over a bed of pickled cabbage, topped with two salsas) and Sol Agave (slow-roasted pork belly taco with tomato mint slaw and fresh pineapple). These, as well as many others, were available for purchase by attendees.
Each year, a portion of the proceeds from Sabroso is slotted to go to the Doheny State Beach Interpretive Association (DSBIA).
OC Beer Week
OC Beer Week kicked off on Friday, April 26, swinging into action on Saturday with the 4th Annual OC Brewers Guild Invitational festival. This year’s festival was held on the beautiful grounds of the Elks Club in Garden Grove. The tree-lined park setting and mild weather made for an enjoyable outdoor event, with ample space for Guild member breweries and invited breweries to share their wares. It appears that the Guild has found the perfect venue for growing its primary annual fundraising event.
Beer Week events around the county included numerous tap takeovers, collaboration beer releases, special beer and can releases; meet the brewer dinners; food and beer pairings; the OC Brewers Brews and Bowl Tournament at Concourse Bowling; the OC Brewers Pinball Tournament at Mission Control; and $4 drafts of OC beers all week at Hopdoddy Tustin, Asylum Brewing’s Anniversary, and many others.
Highlights of the fest included the Guild’s collaboration brew and three Pink Boots Society OC Chapter beers brewed on Pink Boots Collaboration Brew Day (International Women’s Day).
For the Guild Collaboration brew, member brewers gathered at TAPS Brewery & Barrel Room in Tustin to brew My Zest Friends, a 6.9% ABV Citrus IPA. The zest and juice of citrus fruits from UC South Coast Research & Cooperative Extension of Orange County were utilized in the formulation of the delicious citrus forward IPA.
The 2019 Pink Boots Society hop blend of Loral, Glacier, Simcoe, Mosaic and Sabro hops from Yakima Chief was recommended for this year’s Unite brew. As in past years, $3 from each pound of this hop blend sold will be donated by Yakima Chief to Pink Boots Society and a portion of the proceeds from the sale of these Pink Boots beers will also be donated to Pink Boots Society to fund industry educational scholarships.
OC craft beer industry women gathered at Anaheim Brewery to brew Unite Belgian Tripel. Anaheim Brewery utilized the 2018 Pink Boots Society hop blend of Palisade, Simcoe, Mosaic, Citra and Loral hops from Yakima Chief. A portion of the proceeds from Anaheim’s brew will also go to the OC Family Justice Center. Anaheim Brewery’s Unite Belgian Tripel, while powerful at 10.6% ABV, presents with a floral and citrus aroma and a bit of spice, and drinks smooth with some sweetness and hints of fruit with a spicy and warming finish.
OC Pink Boots ladies also gathered at Bootlegger’s Brewery in Fullerton to brew These Boots, a 5.9% ABV Pale Ale utilizing the recommended hop blend. The result was a refreshing melding of citrus, pine and bready flavors. Bootlegger’s recently celebrated its 11th Anniversary. Growth has definitely been experienced in those 11 years. It now has tasting rooms in Fullerton, Redlands, and Costa Mesa.
The ladies of GameCraft Brewing in Laguna Hills participated in brewing Loral Croft, a 4.7% ABV hazy pale ale. Citrus and tropical fruits come to the forefront in this brew.
Other beer highlights during the festival were too many to single out. Needless to say most breweries brought their A-game beers.
L.A. Beer Week
Los Angeles County’s 11th Annual L.A. Beer Week begins on June 15th with the Los Angeles County Brewers Guild Kickoff Festival at the Los Angeles Center Studios. The festival will bring together approximately 90 independent craft breweries, with live music, local food, and more. Guest breweries will join the Brewers Guild member breweries in dispensing craft beer in support the Guild’s aim to foster craft beer culture in L.A. County. Consult the L.A. Beer Week website (labeerweek.org) for tickets to the festival and, closer to beer week, an updating calendar of beer week events.
Stone Brewing Berlin
News came in early August that that San Diego-based Stone Brewing Co would be transferring ownership of its Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens–Berlin facility to BrewDog. Stone first embarked to transform the historic Berlin, Germany gasworks property in 2014.
Stone’s co-founder Greg Koch posted an in-depth message detailing plans and providing background on what led to the tough and heartbreaking decision to give up a project he has been so closely dedicated to. The complete blog post can be accessed on Stone’s website here: www.stonebrewing.com/blog/venues/2019/farewell-stone-brewing-berlin#ageGatePassed. Koch began his dissertation with the following statement. “My heart is broken. It’ll mend, but I’m gonna let it be broke for a bit.” Stone’s close friends at BrewDog will be taking over the facility after Stone closes at the end of April. Stone definitely experienced some recognition during its time in Germany. The Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens–Berlin was named the Top Beer & Food Destination in Germany and Stone IPA was rated the #1 IPA in the country.
Greg shared that, while awards and accolades are awesome and humbling, they aren’t enough to “feed a beast like Stone Berlin.” Volume sales were required to recoup the tremendous cost of building and maintaining Stone Berlin to standards which folks have grown to expect from Stone. Although Stone’s German fan base has experience steady growth, it apparently has been difficult in a country that reportedly has the cheapest competing beer prices in Western Europe. Greg continued, “Unfortunately, according to the stats, most Germans are still ignoring these wonderful beers and buying the cheap stuff. It’s changing. Slowly, yes, but changing all the same. We invested a significant portion of a decade and significant millions building Stone Berlin. And it didn’t work out. These things hurt and these things happen. This one happened. And this one hurts a lot.”
Stone will continue to be distributed in Germany and throughout Europe. Some Stone beer will continue to be brewed at the Berlin location by the same Stone Berlin brewers that will be transitioning to BrewDog. The Stone Brewing Tap Room in Prenzlauer Berg, Germany will continue as a Stone-owned and -operated property.
Stateside, folks can look forward to a continuing, uninterrupted and growing presence of Stone Brewing, with its major brewing facilities in Escondido, CA and Richmond, VA; Stone World Bistro and Gardens, Escondido and Liberty Station San Diego County locations; and tap rooms in San Diego County (3 of them), Pasadena, Napa, CA and Richmond, VA.