LA Beer Float Showdown, Part III: Bigger, Bolder, Top Chef-ier
A scene from last year's showdown at Verdugo Bar
No LA Beer Week would be complete without an LA Beer Float Showdown, just as no ice cream would be complete without... beer? A sugary sacrilege to some, and a boozy benediction to others, beer floats symbolize the unique strain of genre-bending, boundary-pushing culinary cross-pollination that makes L.A.'s food and beverage scene great. And in true L.A. fashion, the third annual Beer Float Showdown promises to push the envelope even further.
Tomorrow afternoon, five of our city's most celebrated chefs -- including three former and upcoming Top Chef contestants -- will team up with five of the area's most beloved breweries, and compete to see who can create the most delicious, original, and eye-catching beer float. But unlike other culinary competitions that rely on panels of celebrity judges to select their winners, the third annual L.A. Beer Float Showdown will crown its victor according to popular decree; all attendees (the maximum capacity for the event is 350) will cast their votes to decide who will win top honors at this year's event. And in keeping with showdown tradition, 25% of proceeds will go to charity.
This year's teams are:
- Ilan Hall of The Gorbals, winner of Top Chef season two, and Jonathan Porter, the GABF gold medal-winning brewmaster of Tustin Brewing Company.
- CJ Jacobson of The Yard, contestant on Top Chef season three, and Jace Milstead, Certified Cicerone and L.A. representative of the fourteen-time GABF gold medal-winning Firestone Walker Brewing Company.
- Laurent Quenioux of Vertical Wine Bistro and LQ@SK, contestant on Top Chef's upcoming ninth season, and Julian Shrago (brewmaster) and Gabe Gordon (owner) of Beachwood BBQ & Brewing.
- Andre Guerrero and Jan Purdy of The Oinkster and Maximiliano, and Jeremy Raub, owner and brewmaster at the GABF gold medal-winning Eagle Rock Brewery.
- Thi Tran and Nguyen Tran of Starry Kitchen, and Dave Griffiths (owner & brewmaster) and Cyrena Nouzille (owner) of Ladyface Ale Companie.
With a roster like that, tomorrow's showdown promises to be a true clash of the titans, making the original 2009 showdown, featuring The Golden State and Scoops versus BottleRock and MILK, look more like My Dinner with Andre.
The third annual LA Beer Float Showdown will take place tomorrow (Saturday) between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. at Eagle Rock Brewery. Tickets can be purchased in advance online for $35. But for those looking to make a day of it, Thrillist is offering a 90-minute VIP pregame package for $45 that includes all-you-can-eat Filipino food from Neri's Curbside Cravings, and all-you-can-drink draught beers from Eagle Rock Brewery. Food and beer will continue to be available throughout the main event, but at regular price. All attendees -- both VIP and General Admission -- will get five 9 oz. beer floats (one from each team), and cast their votes to decide a winner.
So what kind of beer floats can you expect to see tomorrow? Not even Joshua Lurie, the event's organizer, knows for certain. The only rule of the competition is that each team must create a beer float containing both beer and ice cream -- any kind of ice cream -- and present it in a 9 oz. clear plastic cup. "Beyond that," Lurie says, "anything goes."
As for those people who remain skeptical about combining beer with ice cream, Lurie offers a word of encouragement: "If you will ever like a beer float, it will be on Saturday."
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