Monday, June 29, 2009

Del Mar Fair International Beer Fest Recap

If you hadn't noticed, this last Saturday was was the newly named "International Beer Fest" at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. This was my first time going and I was glad I did. My friend Pat and I started out with lunch at Pizza Port in Solana Beach (about 1 mile away from the fairgrounds) and moved down to meet some friends at the fest right after. The only negative thing to happen all day was the traffic that surrounds the roads around the fair. After finally getting parked and into the fest around 2pm we located the arena where the beer fest was held. The area was plenty spacious enough for the crowd.

After getting wristbands and a taster glass we made our way through some booths. From what I can remember, in the first half hour or so I hit Sierra Nevada (because it was the first booth and I needed beer), Firestone, New Belgium, The Bruery, Jolly Pumpkin, Laguintas (Hop Stoopid was ridiculously good) and some foreign booths I can't remember. Got a nice little fix of sours in with Hottenroth Berliner Weisse, Oro de Calabaza, and La Roja. Down towards the other side of the grounds we hit all the Pizza Port booths, Ballast Point, and Airdale which seemed to be the buzz of the fest with their Dark and Stormy Imperial Stout. I was also surprised to see Haandbryggereit there, which I had read about for the first time on HBJ the other day. Friend's loved it, and called it very chocolatey. This was one of the few beers I could not make a conclusion on in my 1oz sample, and I never went back for more.

Other than Hop Stoopid, the beers I specifically remember loving were the Bruery's Berliner Weisse, which I've had many times, but this one seemed to have an extra wallop of funk to it. My friend Mario raved about the Mad River Double IPA but I never made it over to try for some reason. A new beer to me which stood out quite a bit was Pizza Port's Pier Rat Porter... a solid beer. Firestone's Pale 31 was also fresh and tasty. Firestone actually took first and second place in the pale ale category with their Pale 31 and their Nectar IPA. Lost Abbey's Ne Goein Saison was also in the top tier of the beers I sampled.

I wouldn't attend this fest alone, it's one where company may be needed to really enjoy it. But it's also not one where tasting and geeking out by evaluating beers isn't completely out of the question (though that was not my agenda for this fest). For a fest that goes 7 hours, for only $40, you can realistically drink hundreds of samples, 1 to 1.5 oz at a time. If that sounds good you may want to check this out next year.

See here for a pdf of the winners of the fest's competition

No comments: