5th Annual Lake Arrowhead Brewfestin Events
Homebrew clubs pouring their beers directly across from established craft breweries like Stone and Firestone Walker; that’s a really unique beer festival in my opinion!
This was the fifth iteration of the Lake Arrowhead Brewfest, held outside of Jensen’s in Blue Jay. The 1,000 or so attendees were able to sample a variety of commercial breweries or, in a unique twist that I really liked, they could donate a non-perishable food item or money and have access to the VIP taps, which were all hosted by homebrew clubs! I’ve never seen something like this before where you have homebrew clubs serving up their beers when commercial breweries are right across the pavilion. It was really unique to see where most of the commercial brewers once started and to be honest, the lines in front of the homebrew tents were longer than in front of most of the commercial brewers tents! Entrance fee got each attendee a really nice glass with the Brewfest logo on it, although it was a little large to serve as a taster glass for an event like that, it is a nice souvenir. The power-trio band Mountain Brew was playing covers really well of songs that everyone seemed to know from Sublime to Bob Marley. The sun was up and there was a light breeze that made this up in the mountains really special.
From the homebrew side the Mountain Brew Club, High Desert Homebrewers Anonymous and the Maltose Falcons were pouring numerous different beers that rotated every couple of hours. There were a lot of really great beers but some of my favorites from the homebrew side of the venue were Jerry’s IPA (that’s Jerry with the moustache) that had a smooth hoppy profile with a nice malt backbone. From the Mountain Brew Club the smooth flavors of the Maple Porter were amazing and the subtle touches in Elizabeth Orange Ale were not to be missed. Not to be outdone, the Falcon’s pulled out beer that they must have been brewing for months in advance and knocked out several really great beers including the Coffee Stout, an English Olde Ale and a Hibiscus Saison that although not my style, was one of my wife’s favorites. On the homebrew side of the pavilion, these guys were killing it!
On the end of the aisle were the food vendors that had their fried goodness emitting aromas that were un-real. I ended up getting food because it’s a long drive back down to the Inland Empire from up there and I didn’t want to be famished when I got back, at least that was the excuse that I used. The Smokehouse Cheddarwurst from Jensen’s was made with Brew Rebellion’s Amber Ann Ale and was awesome. Also, I had to try the beer cupcakes because I’ve never heard of anyone using Russian River Consecration for anything other than liquid refreshment. These cupcakes were really amazing and while the Consecration was great, the Great Divide Yeti was the best one. If you want to get some of these cupcakes check out this link (http://www.nikiscustomcakes.com).
As with all beer events that I go to there are some standouts that should be mentioned. At the end of this article is a complete list of the breweries (I didn’t include the hombrew clubs because they got their own section of the write up) that attended for your jealous reading pleasure. For the best new brewery, I have to give the nod to Skyland Ale Works. These guys aren’t even technically in business yet (although they got all their licenses the day before the event), they are in the process of getting up all of their equipment set up in their new location in Corona but they came to the show with two beers including Skirt Lifter Honeydew Melon Agave Wheat. This powerhouse clocked in at 8.4% ABV but had smooth, distinguishable flavors and a residual sweetness which left no guessing why they named it what they did. This sort of creativeness is really good for brewfests and I’m excited to see what else these guys come up with.
Another brewery that I’ve passed dozens of times but never actually tried was Big Bear Mountain Brewery. I was fortunate enough to chat with the owner while enjoying the sampling of their beers and in addition to the great conversation really liked their Old Miners Gold. The brewery is in the big yellow house on the way to Big Bear Lake, if you’ve ever driven up there, you’ve passed it! Make sure to stop in next time you are in the area for a good brew with good folks! The last brewery that I want to give a hand to is Brew Rebellion. First off, they had their awesome new beer truck up at this event. This thing has the tap handles coming from the back of the truck where the kegs are stored, which is really cool. They brought two beers with them but their Honey Wheat was amazing. It was really smooth with subtle honey flavor and aroma that was refreshing in the heat.
Overall, this was an amazing event filled with really great people, an incredible selection of beers and awesome food. The weather couldn’t have been better and the getting to hang out amongst the pine trees was a rare treat. This is a great event run by a really good group of people. Proceeds (both food and donations) from the event went to Operation Provider, a local food bank that has been around for 25 years! Holland Lowe, the executive director and founder for Operation Provider was manning the donations booth herself! This is a great charity that is really helping out the area so if you are so inclined, visit their website and give a donation (http://www.operationprovider.org)! I'd like to end with a photo of someone who had one too many cold ones on that hot day...
Brewery List (in no particular order):
Dale Brothers Brewery
Big Bear Mountain Brewery
Skyland Ale Works
Strand Brewing Company
Stone Brewing Company
Hanger 24 Craft Brewery
Firestone Walker Brewing Company
Ritual Brewing Company