Just when you thought it was safe to sit back at home with a six pack and drink from the comfort of your overstuffed pale blue animatronic armchair, the National Brewers Association goes ahead and puts together American Craft Beer Week. Well isn't that just great. Now you've got to dust off the ol' social calendar, call up some friends and put together a game plan for the next seven days of serious drinking.
Beginning Monday, May 13th and running through Sunday the 19th, local and regional craft breweries all across America will be celebrating another year of soaring sales and booming beer business. Here in Southern California, where our brew scene continues to multiply (including a proposed 17,000 square foot Arts District brewhouse to compete with Angel City), there is no shortage of fun on the menu. Here are a few of our favorite beer-centric events to celebrate American Craft Beer Week.
Downey Brewing Company will be kicking off the week with their 3rd Annual American Craft Beer Week celebration. While the popular suds spot normally just ratchets up their tap selection for the week, this year they're getting serious. Beginning at 7 p.m. today, the first 60 people to RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org will get the opportunity to sign a Craft Beer Manifesto, which outlines an allegiance to and undying love for American craft beer. After that serious stuff is signed off on, there will be a special selection of craft brews opened and poured for those in attendance, before the general public gets their chance at a pint.
On Wednesday, Silver Lake hotspot L & E Oyster Bar dedicates their upstairs to the Portland, Maine brewery Allagash. There will be great brews on tap and available by the flight, including their Yakuza strong golden ale and a Golden Brett that's been aged in oak wine barrels with live yeast cultures. Or, head up to Agoura Hills for Ladyface Ale Companie's special brewmaster's dinner. At $70 a person, the night will feature a five course meal direct from the kitchen, plus an array of seasonal, regional and often exceedingly rare beers. While this is a recurring series for Ladyface, the fact that it falls on American Craft Beer Week is a sure sign that they've got some special drinks up their sleeve.
Things start to heat up on Thursday night, when Firestone Walker's own David Walker will be on hand at The Surly Goat in West Hollywood for a tour of the Central Coast brewery's rarest beers. Their anniversary ales from the past three years will be available, as will the hard-to-find Parabola, a yearly barrel-aged Russian imperial stout.
Then, on Saturday, the Lost Abbey / Port Brewing team will be taking over the taps at Draughts Restaurant and Bar in Thousand Oaks. Everything from Lost Abbey's Framboise de Amorosa berry beer to Port Brewing's Mongo will be available, beginning at 11 a.m. Meanwhile, down in Orange County, Valiant Brewing's new tasting room will be home to the unveiling of their latest brew: an American strong ale called First Flight. The seriously big beer clocks in at nearly 14%, after having been aged in oak barrels. But if you're really feeling the high-flying craft beer spirit, you'll have to head to Redlands. That's where you'll find Hangar 24, the local-sourcing brewery with an aviation-inspired theme. And they'll be putting it all to great use on Saturday at the first ever AirFest, taking place at the Redlands Municipal Airport across the street from the brewery. It's a full-fledged air show, with sky high acrobatics and plenty of beer, food and music back on the ground. Plus, it's the fifth anniversary of Hangar 24, which means plenty of cellared beers and rare releases available for sipping.
It's a shame that you won't be able to just sit back and relax at home next week, it really is. But with this many fantastic craft beer events going on from Agoura Hills to Orange County, there's simply no excuse. That gigantic tin foil ball of yours will just have to wait a few days.