The 5th annual California Beer Festival is a multi-city (Ventura, Santa Cruz, Marin, San Dimas) series of events that combines all you need and love about craft beer and food. The weekend in Santa Cruz consisted of a Food & Beer pairing competition, a Craft Beer festival, and a rocking Blues & Brews festival. With 85+ domestic/ international beers, there’s something for everybody to try.
And for a little variety, there was also artisan cheese tastings from Emmi, mead offerings from Chaucher’s, and sips of vino from Cupcake Vineyards. It was basically one awesome event after another (and each region is a bit different in their offerings).
After founder Vincenzo Giammanco tried his palette with craft beers in 2009, he passionately started event planning his own, blossoming into the festival it is today. Coincidentally, the first one was held in my home county of Ventura in Southern California!
Right off the bat, I was impressed with organization. They did a great job planning and setting up the venue, which was a circular grassy park with side by side beer stands. Small enough that you could see to the other end and big enough that it could fit a triple-digit capacity.
Secondly, the variety of vendors was very unique. Showings from TheBloodyCure (a bloody Maria Michelada), Emmi cheese variations, Duke’s artisanal beef jerkies, and Whole Foods snacks were a pleasant surprise. Additionally, we have new incomers like Leopold 7…Belgian born amber ales brewed in California. These folks are breaking into the US market with their flagship product, international legacy, and fervent passion – watch out for them!
Interestingly, what I’m starting to notice more and more is the rise of craft beer alongside food. We know that beer enthusiasts are “foodies”, but I’m quite certain the opposite is true as well. There’s a special magic that happens when we combine these two human pastimes. If you ever see a brewer and a chef collaborate, always stick around. It’s a new space being created where scientists and artists collide.
I’d highly recommend checking them out if you’re interested in attending a fun and entertaining festival. There aren’t many of this caliber, organization, and variety anywhere. These folks have the magic, do take advantage and snag a ticket!