In 2008, a dedicated group of passionate beer advocates launched the 10-day craft beer celebration known as L.A. Beer Week At the time, Los Angeles County had only two production breweries, a few beer bars and a sea of untapped market potential.
Without a local beer culture to speak of, LABW organizers invited major breweries from around the state and country to present their wares to the thirsty residents of L.A. at a festival at Union Station, and encouraged any establishment with a craft tap to host an event of its own. The approach undoubtedly introduced thousands of Angelenos to the concept of quality beer and sparked the interest in drinking local that has now taken over the region.
Over the last four years, however, L.A. County has gone from two breweries to at least 30, a few beer bars to a few hundred, and that untapped potential is now the nation's fastest-growing beer customer base. We even have our own brewers guild, a quickly expanding group of more than 20 engaged local beer makers, which is, for the first time this year, taking on curatorial responsibilities for L.A. Beer Week.
“The founders of LABW did a great job creating a structure around which the culture of craft beer was able to grow and flourish over the past five years,” said Eagle Rock Brewery's Jeremy Raub, president of the Los Angeles County Brewers Guild. “The L.A. Brewers Guild aims to continue building on that strong foundation, adding more interactive and educational components that will engage and energize the L.A. beer community.”
L.A. Beer Week 2014 will open Sept. 20 with a revitalized kick-off beer festival similar to the ones held in previous years, but with a new location (Chinatown!) and more of an emphasis on local breweries and education.
On Sept. 25, the L.A. Brewers Guild will be joined by member breweries from San Diego and San Francisco's brewers guilds for a Meeting of the Guilds event at Mohawk Bend. Beers from breweries in all three cities will be on tap to showcase not only the distinct personalities of but also the commonalities between California's major beer metropolises.
The shift in LABW leadership is good news for fans of local beer, as the week will be organized by brewers themselves and will include other low-key events — such as the countywide open house tentatively planned for Sept. 27 — that guild members hope will help people get to know more about their favorite area breweries.
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It's also good news for the L.A. Brewers Guild, which quietly formed last year and meets regularly to discuss issues such as conforming to new growler-fill policies. With only a few official statements released by the guild so far, L.A. Beer Week 2014 is a coming-out party of sorts for the young collective — a show of its strength in new numbers and ability to be a force for brewers and drinkers alike.