(Check out the Summer Kick-Off Craft Beer Festival Picture Gallery Below.)
The Summer Kick-Off Craft Beer Fest was a good idea. Combining beer, live music, food and outdoor games in a big open space. They nailed it on the food. There was a ton of it. They nailed it on the outdoor games. Human Hamster Balls, Human Fooseball and a Money Booth made this event unique. Once the live music started it was great and added a little atmosphere to the day. But that left two big issues. Logistics and Beer.
This was the first beer fest hosted by La Jolla Creative with what seem to be the best of intentions. The event was held on the Saturday, before Memorial Day at Liberty Station in Point Loma. When we arrived thirty minutes into the VIP session there weren’t many people, and the tension at the entrance was palpable.
Inside the stage for music wasn’t set up yet and it seemed as if most of the beer tents were empty. They weren’t exactly. There was beer but there weren’t representatives from the brewery. Just a keg (of good craft beer), a nearby pouring volunteer and a sheet with the name of the beer printed on it taped to a card table. The beer kegs had push-pump taps and were in BevMo tubs. Due to the holiday weekend the festival had a hard time finding breweries willing to come so they made sure there would at least be enough beer for the attendees. The breweries that were there including SanTan, Green Flash, Belching Beaver, Lagunitas and Washington Gold Hard Cider stood out. Their lines were long, and they were definitely generating good will with fest-goers looking for that brewery interaction. Even one of our favorite bars, Barrel Republic, was there. With competition what it is, it is surprising you don’t see more local craft beer bars hitting up these festivals to promote.
As the VIP session was coming to a close the line for the main session was growing, and growing, and growing. The entry staff was struggling to keep up. Some of the people who had won tickets from SoCal Sessions were in line for up to 60 minutes even though they arrived early. The logistics of getting people ID’d, wrist-banded & given cups got out of control fast. It was the biggest complaint we heard all day, and we heard it a lot.
Once inside though people mellowed out. It was still beer drinking, outside on a beautiful Saturday. And Human Hamster Balls. And food trucks. And good, friendly craft beer loving friends. For a few hours all was right. The bands started around 2pm and Emcee Steve Cooper started getting people into the money booth. Plus we got to meet Aaron Rodgers and Clay Mathews which was pretty badass. Weirdly, they were repping for Washington Cider though.
Near the end of the festival things started getting a little wild. The breweries started running out of beer around 3:30 even though the fest went until 5pm. The volunteer pourers had all been sipping, and it became more of a “help yourself” situation in the corner with house beer. I can’t say that was a bad thing though. It kind of felt like an outdoor BBQ at a friends house in his insanely large yard. And have you ever seen someone do a kegstand at a beer festival before? This was your chance.
The SKOCBF was a good reminder that beer-fests are a lot harder to put on than it seems. We applaud La Jolla Creative for the effort but expect more out of an San Diego beer festival. We hope they work out the details for a better fest next time, and raise even more money for charity. This fest helped support the San Diego Girls Alliance & UC-San Diego School of Medicine. All brew fests take note: Human Fooseball and Human Hamster Balls make every beer fest better.
(photography by Thornton Dale & SoCal Sessions)