With the sun’s death rays beating down on the Sunset strip, beer-drinking vegans take to the streets for some free supplemental vitamin D…but mostly for the fourth annual Los Angeles Vegan Beer & Food Festival. Mainly meatless since March, I’m all about getting in on this action. As a vegan beerfest virgin, I’m looking forward to grazing the bazaar of LA and OC’s best vegan food plus great local beer choices produced without any cow, fish, bee, or bull testes.
Many types of Vegans made it out for the fest: the beegans, then gleegans, veganics, v-sluts and the v-curious…all here with one thing in mind – eat, drink and be merry. With such an abundance of food, Bridgette Kominek tweeted, “I plan to run around singing the Veruca Salt song from Willy Wonka.” Indeed, she wants it NOW. The fest is laid out like the replica town in the movie Blazing Saddles, complete with hay bales, dirt, and a festive maze to get to the restroom. Food trucks and tents sandwich in the central beer garden and seating area neighboring the stage/music venue. Goers were encouraged to BYO chairs and towels, which makes the middle area look like Florida’s South Beach on a 90 degree day. I will say that this festival has an overall better-looking-than-average clientele than a typical beer fest. The stereotypical beer belly’d Pliny shirt/bearded dudes didn’t make it out for this one, sadly. Untappd only had around 300 checkins during the event.
Tony Yanow, owner of vegan friendly craft beer bars Tony’s Darts Away, Mohawk Bend and part owner of Golden Road Brewing spurs the vegan/craft beer scene in LA. He, along with power vegans Quarrygirl (vegan blogger) and Nic Adler (owner of the popular Hollywood venue The Roxy) blaze this annual festival. The best part about about this fest is vegans can safely eat and drink anything without asking questions. Food options range from inventive menu options like beer battered avocado tacos (a local favorite of mine from Seabirds Truck), meatless tamales, desserts and even a French dip sandwich from Tony’s Darts Away chef Randall St. Clair complete with Au Jus (Randall is pictured in green above, grub pictured below with a Maui Brewing Mana Wheat).
The beer choices on hand aren’t that much different from any other beerfest. Brewers towed typical summery IPA’s, wheats and pilsners. Some of my favorites of the day were Monkish Brewing‘s Oblate (Belgian Blonde w/Chamomile), El Segundo Brewing’s White Dog IPA (Nelson hopped and super fresh), as well as Firestone Walker’s Pivo Pils (described in this blog post).
Golden Road Brewing brought an Almond Milk Stout. The whole point of a milk stout is to have a mid to high level of sweetness that carries the roastyness. Traditionally, milk stouts use lactose sugar (not vegan friendly, moo) that is unfermentable by yeast to add sweetness. The problem with almond milk is that it’s largely sweetened with sugar cane juice which is ‘edible’ to yeast. I perceived GR’s Almond Milk Stout as fairly dry, tasting and finishing similar to a sessionable dry Irish stout, which is strange for a beer finishing above five plato. I would have expected more hints of creamy nuttyness and a little bit more sweetness. I’d like to try the beer in their pub on nitro. Fun beer though, and I applaud their experimentation. I would have thought Coconut Milk would have been the obvious choice.
(sponsored) Click to pre-order noted author and vegan handyman Randy Clemens The Veggie-Lover’s SRIRACHA Cookbook! Release date is July 12, just in time for all those backyard summer sizzles with your veggie-crazed buddies. Seriously, the book costs the same as like four bottles of Sriracha. You should buy it with four bottles, then squirt ropes of the cockish Huy Fong goodness all over your eggplant!
Normally, live music at a beerfest is a sub-par list of cover bands. Not today! I actually sat through an entire set of The Janks. This is the first beerfest I’ve actually discovered new music. I actually bought their album for the ride home! During other bands, people are actually shaking their groove things. I’m smiley. Great times are being had! The people watching here is also top notch.
Overall, I can’t really knock this fest as it’s the only vegan beer fest in the world. Pretty much, if you’re vegan (or v-curious), you should go. The food and beer options are aces, but a few logistical issues should be addressed next time. (see bottom) I had a fantastic time and the great far outweighed the issues. If you’re a fruit and vegetable murderer, it’s well worth the trip up to LA for the vegan food and revelry. If you’re not…well, save it for another fest. Cheers! May the fourth be with you.
Gripes: Being in a field on Sunset Blvd looked like a nightmare for brewers to haul stuff in, grab ice and such. Flavored vitamin-type water bottles were handed out at one point, but ran out a couple hours in. The hand wash stations were also out of water…I saw a girl wash her hands with beer! That’s a first. I’m also not sure if the grounds were 100% handicapped friendly. There was no circular flow to the grounds, making a trip to the bathrooms a bit of a task if you were near the entrance. Brewers were given scarlet letter DD armbands even though they weren’t pouring. Harsh. Some people complained about parking as well but I can’t really speak to that. Maybe a better location next year? I hope so.