So what if it hasn't been a full year since the last L.A. Beer Week brought hundreds of special events and rare kegs to Los Angeles County's craft beer fanatics? The 2015 L.A. Beer Week, for the first time since its humble beginnings seven years ago, will take place not in September but in June.
The eight-day affair — which starts Saturday, June 20, and runs through Sunday, June 28 — centers on friendly competitions, meet-the-brewer nights and tap takeovers. Every year, we embark on the arduous task of sifting through the overwhelming listings to compile a lengthy roundup of worthy events to help you plan your attack for the week.
This year, we're making things even easier. We've still done the sifting, but instead of dumping another lengthy list of events on you, we're picking just eight. Below are the most cool, exciting, interesting and sometimes official events we could find, one for each day of L.A. Beer Week. Consider it your L.A. Beer Week bucket list.
If you still want to see what else is happening in beer on any particular night (something closer to home, perhaps?), the comprehensive L.A. Beer Week website awaits. But we know where we'll be.
Saturday, June 20: L.A. Brewers Beer Week Kickoff Festival
On the first day of L.A. Beer Week, there is nowhere (literally — the event barrage hasn't started yet) to get amped for the upcoming days of local craft beer other than at the L.A. Brewers Beer Week Kickoff Festival, where 75 breweries will be pouring more than 200 beers for $45. In addition to showcasing the 30-plus members of the year-old Los Angeles County Brewers Guild, which took over L.A. Beer Week organizing duties in 2014, the Kickoff Festival is a chance to sip cider, home-brewed sodas and draft selections from our neighbors in Orange County, Ventura County and the Inland Empire. After its inaugural year at the Chinatown Plaza, the festival is expanding to Exposition Park with two stages for music and educational panels, plus more food trucks, water stations and shade. 1-5 p.m.; $45, tickets available here; Exposition Park, 701 State Drive, Exposition Park.
Sunday, June 21: Cask and Ye Shall Receive/MacLeod Ale Brewing's First Anniversary
During last year's L.A. Beer Week, real-ale masters MacLeod Ale Brewing Company hosted the city's first all-cask-beer fest, Cask and Ye Shall Receive, designed to introduce drinkers to the traditional-but-still-kind-of-weird idea that beer should be naturally carbonated and served at cellar temperature. Tons of local breweries showed up and hand-pumped special beers out of cask vessels alongside MacLeod's all-Anglophile U.K.-style brews. But now that L.A. Beer Week has moved to June, this signature event is aligning with the Van Nuys brewery's first anniversary and the two are being combined into one mega cask party in the Valley. Breweries including Strand, El Segundo, Wicks, Noble and Highland Park all have signed on to pour at the event and MacLeod is offering plenty of pricing options (including free designated-driver tickets) over the day's three sessions. There will be a panel discussion on cask ales, lots of food trucks and an actual bagpipe band to commemorate the occasion. 1-10 p.m.; $14-$50, tickets available here; 14741 Calvert St., Van Nuys; (818) 631-1963, macleodale.com.
Monday, June 22: Pink Boots L.A. Takeover Three Weavers
Anyone who thinks beer is still a man's game is clearly misguided (and probably a jerk). In case you haven't heard, L.A. is home not just to one but now two badass women brewmasters, as well as a slew of female assistant brewers, brewery owners, bar managers, brand reps and writers (including the author of this story), who banded together last year to form a local chapter of the Pink Boots Society, which supports women in craft beer through education and scholarships. For Pink Boots' L.A. chapter's L.A. Beer Week event, Three Weavers (helmed by one of the aforementioned brewers) is handing over its Inglewood tasting room for a mini charity beer fest featuring beers from some of the best breweries in Southern California, all of which happen to have lots of cool women involved in their operations. Golden Road, Eagle Rock, Monkish, Noble and more are all sending kegs, and with 100 percent of proceeds going directly into the Pink Boots Scholarship Fund, you can feel good about giving back, too. 4-9 p.m.; $20, tickets available here; Three Weavers Brewing,1031 W. Manchester Blvd., Inglewood; (310) 400-5830, threeweavers.la.
Tuesday, June 23: Battle of the Bands
Ever wonder what your favorite brewers do when they're not making your beer? Why, they rock out, of course. After the sell-out success of last year's Battle of the Bands, this now-signature L.A. Beer Week event is taking over one of the city's most iconic venues, the Echoplex, with a full lineup of bands made up of at least 50 percent of brewers and brewery employees. Each brewery — like Monkish, Monkey Paw, Pizza Port, Beachwood and Noble Ale Works — has pulled together a musical dream team (it helps that some of these guys used to be musicians, too), and they'll go head-to-head in a battle of the bands that may end up just serving as a reminder to not quit their day jobs. 6 p.m.; $11, tickets available here; The Echoplex, 1154 Glendale Blvd., Echo Park.
Wednesday, June 24: Meeting of the Guilds
The Meeting of the Guilds is now a thrice-yearly tradition that brings together members from the San Diego, San Francisco and Los Angeles brewers guilds for a massive tap takeover and a night of camaraderie. Held during the three cities' respective beer weeks, it invites breweries from the other two to visit the host city and show off their local beer. This year, L.A.'s Meeting of the Guilds is happening at Naja's Place — the legendary dive and-old school craft beer bar on the Redondo Beach International Boardwalk — where 60 of its taps will be pouring selections from California's three biggest beer towns. Drink through the state's best beers while the harbor's fishy smell wafts through the room. And don't forget to cast your vote for your favorite; the winner will inherit the prized golden keg. 6 p.m.; Naja's Place, 154 International Boardwalk, Redondo Beach; (310) 376-9951, najasplace.com.
Thursday, June 25: Kick the Keg at City Tavern DTLA
A few years ago, City Tavern in Culver City started hosting a friendly competition during L.A. Beer Week: Put 28 beers on tap at 6 p.m. and see which one runs out first. It's a simple premise, and yet so perfect. (It also encourages the breweries to roll with a deep posse.) The Culver City iteration of Kick the Keg will happen on Monday, with an emphasis on Westside and South Bay Breweries, but Thursday is a chance to drink your way through the Eastside while you check out City Tavern's downtown location, which is hiding on a subterranean level of the new FIGAT7TH complex. 735 S. Figueroa St. #133, downtown; (213) 239-5654, citytaverndtla.com.
Friday, June 26: Nate Soroko Guest Bartends at Smog City
Nate Soroko is a San Diego beertending legend. Born on Palau in the South Pacific, he earned the nickname "Islander" during his decade-plus working at San Diego's original beer bars, where he provided sage suggestions and good conversation. Now he splits his time between Toronado in North Park and Modern Times Beer's Point Loma tasting room, finding time to jaunt up to L.A. once in a while and stop into his favorite northern haunts. In honor of L.A. Beer Week, Soroko is slinging beers at a few of them, picking up guest bartending shifts at El Segundo Brewing on Thursday and at Smog City in Torrance on Friday. While at Smog City, make sure to have him pour you a glass of Unity, a tart saison that's the official beer of L.A. Beer Week, a beer brewed just a few feet away by members of the L.A. Brewers Guild. 4-8 p.m.; 1901 Del Amo Blvd., Torrance; (310) 320-7664, smogcitybrewing.com.
Saturday, June 27: Perfect Strangers Release
Cascade is an Oregon brewery that doesn't mess around. A pioneer of the Pacific Northwest's sour beer movement, Cascade makes tart, barrel-aged works of art that are coveted both in the bottle and at their Barrel House tasting room, where most of the beer gets poured. It's pretty crazy, then, that this sour powerhouse decided to make a rare collaboration beer with L.A.'s resident hophead brewery, El Segundo. Even more crazy is that Cascade's master brewer, Ron Gansberg, is bringing four hard-to-find Cascade beers with him for the special-ticketed tasting that will celebrate the release of Perfect Strangers, a hoppy, sour brew that's a melding of two West Coast minds. Regular admission gets you a full pour of Perfect Strangers, tastings of Cascade and El Segundo beers, plus bites from Vella Pizza. Come early for the VIP session and Gansberg and El Segundo's Tom Kelley will personally guide you through your flight. Noon-3 p.m. and 3:30-6 p.m.; $30, tickets available here; El Segundo Brewing Company, 140 Main St., El Segundo; (310) 529-3882, elsegundobrewing.com.
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Sunday, June 28: Eagle Rock Public House Brewmaster’s Dinner
Eagle Rock Brewery changed the brewpub game when it opened its Public House on Colorado Boulevard in December. With co-owner Ting Su's brother, Jerry, in the kitchen, the menu eschewed burgers and fries for oysters and hamachi, crafted by the Momofuku and Son of a Gun alum. Despite the forward-thinking pub food, Eagle Rock Brewery has not yet hosted a brewmasters dinner at the neighborhood restaurant — until now. As part of L.A. Beer Week, Eagle Rock's Public House hosts its first beer-pairing dinner, featuring beers from a half-dozen local breweries paired with Su-made dishes. It's one of the only beer-pairing dinners happening during this year's L.A. Beer Week and it's one that even the food nerds will geek out on. 6 p.m.; $80, email email@example.com to RSVP; 1627 Colorado Blvd., Eagle Rock; (323) 739-0081, eaglerockpublichouse.com.