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A Beer Festival Takes Place for the First Time at CSULB

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A Southern California college campus recently hosted its first-ever craft beer festival, with over fifty breweries pouring their brews.

 Taking place on the campus of California State University, Long Beach (CSULB), there was a significant security presence there, with both event security and campus police, presumably due to making sure nothing got out of hand.  The Long Beach Craft Beer Festival, which took place on October 15th, was a very pleasant festival, especially since the crowds were spread throughout the perimeter of Jack Rose Track Stadium, keeping lines low.

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In addition to the weather providing clear, blue skies and a wonderful temperature, the social environment of the festival was very much in keeping with Long Beach’s relaxed energy. Many of the attendees were CSULB students, themselves.  As an attendee, I can say it went well, and that sentiment was echoed by those running it. “Everything ran smoothly from our end and we were thrilled with the outcome,” said Kiersten Stickney, director of marketing and communications for CSULB’s Forty-Niner Shops. “It was a beautiful day for craft beer-tasting and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.”  

Due to the spreading out of the brewery tents, attendees were able to spread out, as well as spreading out the lines.  For the most part, the lines were quite good in the first hour, with only a few people in each one, with not more than 5-10 people waiting in lines, with perhaps only a few exceptions in the last hour.  The short lines may also have had to do with it not being the only beer festival in Long Beach that day (the second annual Long Beach Oktoberfest took place at the same time). The competing beer festivals probably reduced expected attendance. “We had around 1500 people attend the event.  Our original attendance goal was 3000,” said Stickney. “Although we fell short of meeting that, it seemed rather full in the venue and we are happy with where our attendance numbers ended up.”

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With shorter lines, that meant quicker access to the beers, which was great for attendees.  Most of the more than fifty breweries, many of which were from Southern California, were pouring at least two beers, with some pouring more.  Most of the breweries were pouring an IPA, which seemed to be the most popular beer style there, including session IPAs.  Because of the timing of the festival, the season was teetering between the summer and the fall, so it felt more like the warmth of the summer, thus many session IPAs being poured. One IPA that was really pleasing was Ska Brewing and I was also impressed to find an imperial IPA, that Four Sons Brewing poured (9.9% ABV!).  There were also a fair amount of lighter beers, although there was at least one pumpkin beer to be found. There were very few stouts, although I greatly enjoyed Ska Brewing’s Molé Stout.

 

For those looking for the more specialty beers, there were a few sour beers, including three Berliner weisse beers, with Phantom Carriage pouring both a sour IPA and an incredibly deliciously tart fruited Berliner weisse. I also greatly enjoyed Lost Abbey’s very delicious sour Framboise De Amorosa, which was barrel-aged (they also had a really wonderful brett beer, Brett Devo).  There were not many other barrel-aged beers although there was also a barrel-aged saison by Coedo and a barrel-aged blonde ale by Mother Earth, all of which were delicious.

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It was a great event and there is also room for growth. “From the food to the band and especially to the brewers and volunteers, we had a great group out there,” said Stickney. “We couldn’t be happier with the success of this event.  A few things on our list to change for next year include: spreading the food throughout the venue, possibly relocating check-in, and filling the infield with additional breweries.”

 

The location of the beer festival was no mere accident – proceeds from the event benefit school programs. “The idea came from the Forty-Niner Shops CEO, Don Penrod,” said Stickney, since “he was looking for a way to raise funds for the Hospitality Management Program on campus. The Forty-Niner Shops is a non-profit auxiliary to the CSULB campus and manages the retail and dining locations on campus. As such, we work closely with the Hospitality Management Program.” Many of those manning booths were students in the CSULB Hospitality Program, who were able to benefit from the experience.

 

The first-ever beer festival at CSULB went well and, hopefully, won’t be the last. It seems to have gone well: “Overall, we consider it a success,” said Stickney.

 

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