L.A. Beer Week is returning for its ninth year in June and the 60-member-strong L.A. County Brewers Guild is using its signature festival kickoff event to prove that beer, not wine, is the food-pairing beverage for our generation.

While there’s always a few of the usual-suspect food trucks parked in the corner at your favorite beer fest, they’re usually just serving whatever cheese and carbs are required to soak up all the alcohol being poured.
The Vegan Beer and Food Festival (now called Eat Drink Vegan) and L.A. Weekly’s own Burgers & Beer both set a precedent by putting a wide selection of local beers up against a specific segment of the culinary world.

But not until the L.A. Brewers Guild’s first-ever L.A. Beer & Food Festival in January had the county seen a beer fest dedicated to showcasing local brewpubs and craft beer–centric restaurants – all of which have fully embraced the relatively young Los Angeles brewing scene as an integral part of the region’s growing modern food movement.

“We couldn't be happier with how our first L.A. Beer & Food Festival went, and moving forward, one of our goals is to continue to integrate as much local food at our events as possible,” says L.A. Brewers Guild executive director Frances Lopez. “Promoting the marriage of craft beer and food is a key educational component for us.”

Grilled veggies from M Cafe at Eat Drink Vegan; Credit: Jared Cowan

Grilled veggies from M Cafe at Eat Drink Vegan; Credit: Jared Cowan

The next place you’ll be able to check out this marriage made in gastronomical heaven is at the L.A. Beer Week Kickoff Festival, an annual guild-organized tradition that brings together the largest showcase of L.A.-made beer and prepares the public for 10 days of countywide beer events.

There has always been a small food element to the festival, but in the wake of the L.A. Beer & Food Fest, expect even more.

Lopez says the 2017 Kickoff Fest will return for its second run at Los Angeles Center Studios with twice as many food vendors as last year. The expanded food court will increase the fest’s footprint with a mix of fan-favorite food trucks like Cousins Maine Lobster, Mandoline Grill and BrewWings, plus additional booths featuring beer-infused tacos, pastries and more.

Agoura’s Ladyface Ale Companie, one of the the best examples of the brewpub model, will be pouring its beer and serving food items side by side. Each food vendor will feature suggested beer style pairings for its most popular menu items.

“Over the years, it's become very clear that making sure our events have thoughtfully curated food options available makes our event all the better,” Lopez says.

There’s also another good reason for upping the food-pairing game at these kinds of events.

“Not only does beer pair magically with food but it's also important to have food readily available for the safety of our guests,” Lopez says.

L.A. Beer Week, Saturday, June 17, 1-4 p.m., at L.A. Center Studios. Tickets $50.

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