|Firestone Walker's dense Parabola|
1) Our favorite was Firestone Walker's Parabola, a hefty, chocolatey Imperial Stout with 13% alcohol and notes of anise or ginger. If I ever find a bottle of this, I'll make sure to try a float with a mild, caramelly ice cream.
2) Running a close second was Craftsman's Sour Lavender, a crisp, tartly floral brew which was nearly tapped out when I got there, but I managed to snare a small and satisfying taste.
|H.C. from LA and OC Foodventures manned San Diego's Mission Brewing table|
4) The venue: Union Station wasn't quite as bucolic as the shady lanes of Descanso Gardens, but it was a lot easier getting there on the Gold Line, and there were none of the pesky long lines that plague other local festivals.
|Cigars and beer seem to go together|
5) The crowd: Everyone was friendly and low-key, only one woozy drunk guy that I could see. Despite being pretty buzzed, this crowd was almost as mellow as the folks at the Pavement concert.
6) The organization: Free cheese and chocolate samples were a welcome touch. I didn't try the truck food, but everyone seemed to be enjoying Mandoline Grill's banh mi. Next year, it would be cool to get a list of breweries and beers at the entrance and check off what you try, and the signage on some of the breweries' tables could be a little more clear.
With Nibble Bit, Brouwerij West, Ladyface Alehouse and Eagle Rock Brewery among the L.A-area breweries joining since last year, it was great seeing how fast the local beer scene is growing. If you missed the fest, get over to Verdugo Bar, Surly Goat, Tony's Dart's Away, Naja's or tasting rooms at the Bruery and Eagle Rock Brewery and try some of the brews you missed.