Meat and cheese-lovers were out of luck on the Sunset Strip this Saturday, as 40 animal-free breweries and 30 vegan food vendors took over an empty lot for the 4th annual L.A. Vegan Beer and Food Festival — an event that is quickly proving itself to be one of the city's biggest and best for craft beer.
Despite a seemingly niche premise of welcoming only animal-free products, the sold-out festival was attended by more than just those who ascribe to the vegan lifestyle. Yes, there was a vegan rapper (“I went vegan, now what you sayin'? Educate yourself you might understand…”) and lines of hungry hoards clamoring for Kind Kreme's dairy-free ice cream and Shojin's no-fish sushi, but the event brought out craft beer fans and curious Angelenos alike, who wandered the grounds exploring these two growing culinary trends.
Emphasis was definitely on the beer this year, now that the Southland is home to an ever-growing number of local breweries. More than a dozen of them showed up to represent at what would have just a few years ago been dominated by out-of-town names.
As mentioned in our preview of the festival, beer is sometimes not vegan because of the use of gelatin finings or fish bladders to clarify cloudy beers. And everyone from Orange County's Bootleggers and Cismontane to L.A.'s El Segundo and Ohana brought kegs of their best unfiltered drafts. Kinetic Brewing in Lancaster — accompanied by new Head Brewer Alex Nowell — poured a coffee-infused amber ale. Golden Road (whose sister bar Tony's Darts Away presented the event) even tapped a Vegan Beer Fest exclusive: an almond-milk stout, which takes the traditional milk stout to a delicious, nuttier level.
Non-L.A. breweries — from Stone to Sierra Nevada to Firestone Walke r– were also on hand, but most attendees made sure to hit the locals' tents first, proof of the growing support for craft beer in one of the industry's largest untapped markets.
The festival, however, is one of only three times this year that craft beer fans will have an opportunity to try all of these local breweries in one place, a sad fact considering how spread out most of the tasting rooms truly are.
In addition to the L.A. Vegan Beer and Food Fest, there is the annual L.A. Beer Week Festival held at Union Station each October. And on May 11 (this weekend!), Beachwood BBQ and Brewing is presenting its expanding Beachwood and Friends Craft Beer Garden at the Long Beach Bike Fest, which will include exclusively local brews.
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