This past weekend, legions of L.A. beer fans descended upon two beer "events" -- ColLAboration 2 in Hollywood on Saturday and the Rock and Brews Festival in El Segundo on Sunday. The huge turnout and joyous atmosphere at both events confirms that the craft beer revolution has finally overtaken the City of Angels.
On Saturday, June 4th, the ColLAboration 2 pop-up beer garden at Hollywood and Gower killed it, serving dozens of rare beers to thousands of appreciative beer fans. The crazy good beer event even featured an anti-fizzy yellow beer rant, uh, speech from a table top by Stone Brewing CEO Greg Koch. Koch, one of the biggest names in the craft beer world, then hurled himself into the throng of appreciative fans for some good old fashioned crowd surfing. Yes, rock and roll and craft beer have groupies in common.
Then on Sunday, June 5th, Rock & Brews, a craft beer garden in El Segundo hosted their first beer festival with the early session featuring local brewers and their hard-to-get special beers, followed by an afternoon into evening session featuring those same brewers' cask beers. Cask beer, or cask-conditioned beer, is the term for unfiltered and unpasteurized beer which is conditioned and served from a cask without any additional nitrogen or CO2 added. The beer is poured from a hand pump instead of a tap. Again, legions of loyal craft addicts arrived in full force to savor the supremacy of beer brewed in small batches.
Some of our faves from the day were Cismontane's "The Citizen", a steam beer like Anchor Steam except that Anchor Brewing owns the term "steam beer" so we shall henceforth refer to it as a California Common beer. We will also refer to Cismontane's version as delicious. Eagle Rock was pouring their sublime Solidarity, a black mild beer, and Strand Brewing offered a beautiful (hell yes, beer can be beautiful) cask-conditioned double dry-hopped version of their Atticus India Pale Ale (that's a mouthful). But our fave of faves from our sunny drinking day in the South Bay was El Segundo Brewing's Blue House Citra Pale Ale. Admittedly, we are an easy mark for a hoppy, yet sessionable pale coming in at a very drinkable 5.5% abv, but hometown brewer Rob Croxall, whose brewery is right across the street from Rock and Brews, knocked this one out of the park.
The festival was a blast, and if you are looking for a German-style beer garden with a huge, sunny outdoor patio and a great selection of taps, Rock and Brews is your place. Located in the Idaho-like "downtown" of El Segundo (just Gundo if you are a local), they have dozens of craft beer taps and are located five minutes from LAX, which makes it the perfect place to stop before or after a flight.
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As for the traveling road show known as ColLAboration, every L.A. beer geek should try out the pop-up beer garden concept. They will ramp up to events every weekend in July. You can check out their facebook page for dates, times and locations. Who knows which CEO or master brewer will end up crowd surfing at future events.
After developing a reputation for being late to the craft beer revolution, L.A. is making up for lost time. Festivals are everywhere in the Southland -- and now, pop-up beer gardens. A dozen talented local brewers are brewing beer that matches the best in the country and more home-brewers are converting to the professional ranks every month.