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So Cal Brew Fest- After Hours 2015

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The Farmers Park two acre lot was bustling with activity last weekend as the Anaheim Packing District hosted the So Cal After Hours Brewfest.

This event was a smaller, more intimate sequel to the So Cal Brewfest held in the Phoenix Club earlier this year. Despite being a smaller event, there were still plenty of beers to choose from. In the words of one of the attendees, "Are you going to check all of your beers into Untappd? There are way too many today!"
Instead of having beer tents spread out across the open field, the breweries lined up down the redwood boardwalk directly under the overhang to avoid the sweltering heat. Umami Burger along with other food vendors such as Urbana Mexican Cuisine, Bronx Sandwich, and desert specialist Your Sweet Temptations were also present, providing food for free.
You heard right.

Just imagine this: Free unlimited Umami truffle burger sliders. Are you kidding me? I'm not sure how event director Brandon Mozley made that magic happen, but my taste buds thank him profusely.
After devouring a few of those delicious Umami sliders I began my walk to choose my first beer, but I didn't get very far. The first brewery in line was one I've never heard of before.

Phantom Carriage, the first established brewery in Carson, California, opened its doors earlier this year in January. According to their Bar Manager Jairo Bogarin, Phantom Carriage "specializes in everything funky" and focuses their efforts on brewing sours and wild ales. Depending on the gravity of the beer (and other factors), Bogarin states that their brewing process may take anywhere from 5 months to 2 years, and that they currently have over 380 barrels at the brewery filled with mostly sours.
While their flagship beer is a 100% Brettanomyces blond ale named "Muis", they brought a saison and wild berliner wiesse style to the festival. I gladly sampled the Leapwood saison, and the crisp, medium to high carbonation of this beer was just what I needed on such a hot day. Like many saisons there was a bit of funk and spice presence, but I very distinctly remember being hit right in the face with what appeared to be an apple pie flavor. It was a very "flash in the pan" moment as the apple flavor did not take center stage for very long, but it sure made for an interesting drinking experience.
Another memorable beer at the After Hours Brewfest had to be the cream ale Calm Before the Storm by Ballast Point. It's a very interesting beer because while it pours a dark orange/copper color, coffee notes are at the very forefront of the flavor profile. It's a bit of a juxtaposition to taste such a flavor from such a color, but the vanilla kicks in soon after which reminds you that yes, this is a cream ale after all.

While finishing up my cream ale, I was told to keep an eye out for two upcoming Ballast Point seasonals. The first one being Pumpkin Down (Which is a pumpkin variant of their Scottish ale Piper Down), and Dead Ringer which is an Oktoberfest brew.

Speaking of seasonals, I also had the pleasure of speaking with Todd Patrick who is the sales manager for Bootlegger's Brewery. There are a few major changes coming to their seasonal schedule partly because of the popularity of their Knuckle Sandwich DIPA.

"Knuckle Sandwich is going crazy right now. Stater Brothers just picked it up on their new reset (and Rocco Red) so it's going crazy. We've had to ramp up production. It takes a month to brew it. It's our longest brew out of any of our beers."

Not to be left behind, their Rocco Red and Golden Chaos brews are also in high demand which is part of the reason they have expanded their operations.

"We just installed our new brewhouse, a 30 barrel system (we were working on a seven barrel system). We've quadrupled production basically."

As a result of this new focus, their Pumpkin Ale will not be hitting production this season, and their other seasonal Mint Chocolate Porter is also on the chopping block potentially being skipped this year. Sad news for fans of those beers, but excellent news in the long run as Bootlegger's Brewery is becoming more successful.
Overall, I very much enjoyed the slower pace of the After Hours Brewfest. Since there were hardly any lines, my tasting cup was always full and the free gourmet level food was fantastic. The style distribution of beer for this festival was also to my liking as there were beers of every style instead of it being an IPA/lager heavy festival. Best of all, once the festival was over I still had the Anaheim Packing House to explore. I'd say this was a successful event.


Brian Funes

Contributing Editor




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Guest Saturday, 24 February 2018

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