Beerventure: A trip characterized and dictated by one’s obsession for craft beer. Beerventures often involve traveling an extensive distance to visit a series of breweries or attending multiple beer festivals. When I first found out that the San Diego International Beer Festival and LA Beer Week Kickoff event were happening on the same weekend, I immediately booked some Amtrak tickets and a hostel in San Diego’s Gaslamp District. After boarding the Amtrak train from my home base in Orange County on Friday, June 16, I enjoyed a bottle of Stone Mocha IPA while admiring the beachfront views along the train route.
First Stop - San Diego International Beer Festival!
On Friday, June 16, I started my weekend off at the San Diego International Beer Festival located at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. Although the San Diego County Fair was happening simultaneously that weekend, I naturally spent all of my time at the festival tasting as many beers as I was able to at the largest beer festival on the west coast. Over the course of the three-day weekend, attendees were able to attend up to five, four-hour sessions that served over 300 beers from over 150 breweries. At most beer festivals I attend, I don’t often run into big beer companies such as Anheuser and its presence caught me off guard. The announcer of the evening hosted a variety of fun games for attendees to participate in at the center of the event. I withheld myself from spending all of my money on cool merchandise such as t-shirts, beer coasters, and bottle openers. I really liked that they hosted different food and beer information sessions every hour. At the breakfast and beer session held on Friday evening, Belching Beaver Brewery’s executive chef convinced the audience why beer should substitute mimosas at your next Sunday brunch. I never pictured drinking beer in the morning but now, I am convinced that IPAs and pancakes are a delicious combination. As much as I enjoyed the festival, I wish the volunteers were better trained in explaining the beer I was about to taste. My favorite beer of the festival? Champion Brewery AleSmith has an incredible imperial English-style ale - Private Stock Ale from its 2016 Vintage series. All I wanted to do was savor the toffee notes that hit my taste buds.
San Diego to LA Beer Week Onboard Pacific Sunliner Train 769
I am surprised that more beer enthusiasts did not attend this event! On Saturday, June 17, three talented minds in craft beer, Steve Wagner of Stone Brewing Company, Patrick Rue of The Bruery, and Adam Avery of Avery Brewing Co. were on board the Amtrak train en route to LA Beer Week’s Kickoff. Attendees even received a free craft beer from one of the three participating breweries! (They served Stone Ripper, The Bruery’s Or Xata and Avery Brewing’s White Rascal in case you were wondering.) I never imagined myself to be placed in a situation where I was able to meet the masterminds behind the beers I love drinking. All three of them are among the nicest people I have ever met. They interacted with everyone, signed posters, and posed for photos with me. I was floating on cloud nine. I even gained new friends from San Diego who made a strong impact on my beer trip.
Final Stop - LA Beer Week Kickoff
Although the event was smaller than the San Diego International Beer Festival, I was highly impressed with the organization of LA Beer Week’s Kickoff event. The check-in line looked long from the outside but moved extremely fast. Over 85 craft brewers showcased their best beers at the largest showcase of LA-based breweries. Presented by the Los Angeles County Brewers Guild, big beer definitely was not found at this event. I learned more about what I was drinking thanks to each brewery’s knowledgeable beer staff. The event featured some bands, sold LA Beer Week merchandise, and even was the site of a proposal. (Congratulations to the happy couple!) It was extremely hard for me to find my favorite beer of the festival because every brewery showcased its best. However, towards the end of the event, I found it - The Lost Abbey Brewing Company poured its fantastic Red Poppy Ale, a Flanders red ale characterized by sour cherries. I never thought I would find myself wanting to drink more sweet beer.
Honestly, I never imagined how life-changing this beerventure would be. I am so glad that I embarked on this craft beer trip and I cannot wait to plan another one.