OC Brew Hee Haw 2015in Events
An uncharacteristically rainy day in Southern California set the stage for this year’s attendees of the 2nd annual OC Brew Hee Haw craft beer extravaganza.
Numbers were noticeably down at the Orange County Fair this weekend as many food vendors stood idly by, and many carnival games were left unplayed, prizes soaking in the rain.
The BierBuzz team was also down in numbers today as the rest of the team was hard at work planning out details for our upcoming 4th annual BierBuzz Masquerade Beer Festival. It was a little lonely at first, but hey, all the more beer for me!
Tucked away in the furthest corner of the fairgrounds, after 10 minutes of walking through rain and puddles I finally reached the OC Brew Hee Haw beer tent. Instead of seeing a small turnout like I expected due to the weather, I swear the tent glowed like some kind of mystical oasis, and what do you know—this part of the fairgrounds was actually packed! Seeing such a lively group of people made me feel like I had finally reached the Promised Land, except in this case instead of eternal salvation there was a never ending supply of craft beer.
The OC Brew Hee Haw is just one of many events that Brew Ha Ha Productions hosts during a calendar year. If you haven’t heard of the OC Brew Hee Haw until now, it’s probably because this is only the second year it has been hosted at the Orange County Fair.
Close to 40 different breweries bring two to three beers each in this beer extravaganza, with the large majority of the breweries coming from Southern California. This year, names such as Stone, Ballast Point, Bottle Logic, Pizza Port, and Valiant were only some of the breweries to look forward to. If you can name it and it's in SoCal, there is a great chance that it was here at the OC Brew Hee Haw.
Not to be left out, Colorado (Avery, Great Divide, Oskar Blues, New Belgium), Iceland (Einstok), and even Oregon (yes I know Reverend Nat's Hard Cider is not beer!) also joined in on the fun.
Once checked in, I received my tasting glass and began my journey of unlimited two ounce pours over the next three hours. As you can tell from the above picture, one of the glasses is a bit larger than the other because the event also has a VIP ticket option which grants an extra hour of tasting per session. VIP also grants access to some special beers that were only available during the first hour of each session.
When most people think of “special beers” they think of popular limited releases or incredibly expensive beers, but some of the beers I found today were actually a bit under the radar. Instead of having high notoriety, the only way you would be familiar with these beers is if you were a regular at one of their tasting rooms, or if you’ve tried the beer at another festival.
One such example is the beer We Saved Latin by Noble Ale Works, a brewery located in Anaheim, Calif. This beer is a Belgian Pale Ale with an ABV of 6.4%, and is actually a collaboration beer involving Monkish Brewing from Torrance, Calif. What makes this beer interesting is that while it is only the second Belgian Pale Ale Noble Ale Works has tackled, the influence of Monkish Brewing’s expertise in this beer category noticeably raises the quality level of this beer. This was a light, crisp beer with a noticeable hop element and some sour/estery flavors on the back end due to the wild yeast brettanyomyces. In a festival full of pale ales and IPAs, this beer was one of the most different flavor-wise out of the bunch.
Overall the festival was an incredible blend of big name breweries, local startups fresh to the game, and beer lovers from all over celebrating craft beer culture. The most represented styles at the festival were easily from the IPA and pale ale categories, sprinkled with some appearances from reds, whites, pilsners and saisons. If you feel like you missed out by not braving the rain to attend, well, you did. Luckily for you, OC Brew Ha Ha productions is having their biggest event of the year, Brew HaHa, on September 12, 2015. With over 90 breweries attending and over 250 beers on the roster, make sure to check it out!