So much has changed since the first L.A. Beer Week in 2009.
In those simpler times, Twitter was basically like a group text message where everyone microblogged about the weather, rather than the preferred platform for the issuance of government edicts that will shape our society for a generation. And L.A. Beer Week was a scrappy get-together for the five breweries then situated in Los Angeles County instead of a weeklong blowout.
This week is arguably the beeriest week of the year in Los Angeles, and it kicks off with a massive party featuring 250 beers from 90 breweries and then splinters into a dense thicket of wildly diverse themed tastings, release parties and oddball one-off events.
As the event enters its 10th year, there are now 80 breweries in Los Angeles and Beer Week is now run by the Los Angeles County Brewers Guild. Frances Michelle Lopez, the guild’s executive director, says brewers from all over California and outside it are excited to immerse themselves in the scene.
“We’re not only showcasing a record number of L.A. breweries but we’re also featuring a slew of collaborative beers with breweries we respect and owe a lot of our beer culture in L.A. to,” Lopez says. “We’re proud that brewery owners and brewers attend our event — it's what makes L.A. Beer Week stand out in a sea of summer festivals.”
Among those visiting this year are Cellarmaker, the Lost Abbey, Green Cheek Brewing and Noble Ale Works.
There are too many events for anyone to attend — pool tournaments, pinball tournaments, sour seminars, game nights — even if they had a jetpack. Here are the six events we suggest you put at the top of your list.
Saturday, June 16: Kickoff party
You’re going to need to pace yourself at the opening party at Los Angeles Center Studios downtown, where there will be unlimited tastings of 250 beers plus food trucks, games and live music.
The music has a unique touch: The headliner is a one-night-only supergroup of brewers from Beachwood, Eagle Rock, Sunset Beer and Three Weavers. You might also want to avail yourself of the legendary beer slushies made on a machine by L.A. Ale Works. The featured flavor is lime and sea salt Blumeritas featuring their Blume Berliner Weisse.
Los Angeles Center Studios, 450 S. Bixel St., downtown. General admission tickets are $50 for 1 to 4 p.m. VIP admission tickets are $70 for noon to 4 p.m. labeerweek.org/tickets.
Saturday, June 16: Hill Farmstead tapping
Vermont's Hill Farmstead regularly lands atop lists of the best breweries in the world. And if you’ve got a buddy who's into beer trading, chances are you’ve tried some of these rustic, nuanced beers made with well water from Sean Hill’s family farm. But Hill Farmstead has never been properly poured for the public in Los Angeles — until now. Following the kickoff party, you can bet all the cool kids will be making their way to Mikkeller Bar for a glass of Florence, a Belgian-inspired wheat.
Mikkeller Bar DTLA, 330 W. Olympic Blvd., downtown LA.; 5-9 p.m.; 21+.
Sunday, June 17: Hats off
El Segundo’s Thomas Kelly has been as influential as anyone in Los Angeles beer over the last decade, pioneering a “day one” distribution model of trucking his IPAs to accounts on the day they’re brewed to insure that drinkers get ultra-fresh hops.
His latest IPA is a collaboration with Ventura’s Topa Topa beer to raise money for victims of the Thomas fire. The freshest, coldest kegs anywhere will be tapped in downtown El Segundo on Sunday, which is also Father’s Day. If you’ve got kids, bring ’em: There’s going to be a fire truck on-site.
El Segundo taproom, 140 Main St., El Segundo; noon-3 p.m.; all ages.
Monday, June 18: Brewers in the Hot Seat
Remember The Spicy News, that long-gone YouTube series where comedians read the news while destroying themselves with nuclear-grade peppers? This is kind of like that, but with beer. A Bay Area beer scenester will host a panel at Eagle Rock Public House, with the brewers from Highland Park, Three Weavers, Societe and Eagle Rock. The twist is that they’ll be served progressively spicier wings as they talk and drink. You are also welcome to order the flight of wings of increasing heat — but make sure you don’t Instagram yourself eating the mild and trying to brag about it, lest you be roundly mocked for it.
Eagle Rock Public House, 1627 Colorado Blvd., Eagle Rock; 6-8 p.m.
Wednesday, June 20: NorCal Beer Night
Like Pride festivals and Magic: The Gathering tournaments, beer weeks are now an excuse for people with shared interests to visit their friends in different cities. This year’s L.A. Beer Week is hosting a number of Northern California brewers, including HenHouse, Cooperage, Temescal and Sante Adairius Rustic Ales, who will take over the taps at the Hermosillo in Highland Park. The event will feature an appearance by Kim Sturdavant of San Francisco’s Social Kitchen and Brewery, the inventor of a bubbly new style called Brut IPA. Sturdavant made a Brut in collaboration with Eagle Rock that’ll be around, but this event features a new creation called The Rice Is Right that’s he’s stoked on. It’s a jasmine rice Belgian Tripel fermented in wine barrels with brett. “It's super weird and multidimensional,” he says.
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The Hermosillo, 5125 York Blvd, Highland Park; 5 p.m.-midnight; 21+.
Thursday, June 21: Women-Brewed Beer Tap Takeover
Back in 2009, when the first L.A. Beer Week happened, the craft beer industry was dominated by a small handful of like-minded men. Happily, the scene is growing much more diverse. This tap takeover at Sunset Beer Company features woman-brewed beers from Arrow Lodge, Arts District, Three Weavers, Indie, Transplants and Brouwerij West.
Sunset Beer Company, 1498 W. Sunset Blvd., Ste. 3, Echo Park; 6-9 p.m.; 21+.