On September 8th, 2012 the OC Brew Ha Ha http://ocbrewfest.com/ held its 3rd annual event. This year marked a new location at the Oak Canyon Park adjacent to Irvine Lake in Southern California. This is a fantastic event for a great cause, the Fallen Firefighter Relief Fund. Every year this event gets bigger and bigger. This year saw over 3000 beer lovers come through the gates to help celebrate with Great Beer, Food and Music.
The day started out at 12 PM for those with VIP tickets. This is really the way to go if you want to hit your favorites without having to stand in line for too long! It also helps ensure you get any “special” releases before they run dry! Several brewers were Tapped Out before the end of the event and many late comers were literally left in line holding empty glasses! As we entered the new location, I noticed it seemed very open and well laid out. The one thing that might have been better would be the signage for breweries or a map of them to help the day’s logistics. With 75 breweries present, it made it very difficult to hit everyone to see what was new and happening! To be able to target specific ones early one would be priceless! Other than that, I think the new location is great!
As I mentioned, there were 75 breweries on site. (See below for the link to the entire list of breweries) Pouring over 175 brews, it is near impossible to get to everything between two guys and a camera, within four hours. (But boy do we try!) This also does not give us time to listen to the guest speakers either. I think this really needs a four man, full court operation to get to everything! That being said, there were some new breweries in addition to long time favorites! Most of the pouring was done by volunteers from the firefighter association! This year there seemed to be a few less than years past. I also appreciated that most of the brewery reps were in the booth as well to help answer questions!
Of the new comers, some of our favorites included I & I Brewing Company, http://iandibrewing.com/ , Ritual Brewing http://ritualbrewing.com/ and also Golden Road Brewing. http://goldenroad.la/ I & I has been in business for almost 1 year! They actually specialize in Small Batches which allow them to offer a huge variety out of their tasting room in Chino, CA (Last I checked they had 14 live tap handles!). My favorite from them is the Session IPA. It has a good amount of hops but the ABV is less than 5%! Ritual in Redlands, CA , which we be opening shortly, is hitting the ground running with a brewery that will rival Hangar 24 with respect to overall capacity. According to Steve at Ritual, they are going to really work on some special releases. The Red I tasted was fantastic, which is a good indicator they will be very successful! Golden Road located in Atwater Village founded also last year, with a focus on delivering via can’s. (No doubt due to one of the founders history with Oskar Blues!) have some great beers that the release year round as well as limited releases. They also have a great onsite pub at the brewery as well!
Some of the breweries from the past events that we stopped by included Maui Brewing http://www.mauibrewingco.com/ , Craft Brewing http://craftbrewingcompany.com/ and also Sierra Nevada http://www.sierranevada.com/ . From Maui, we were informed that there will be a collaboration beer happening with Dogfish Head in the coming months that will be featuring Breadfruit which sounds amazing! . At Craft, Kurt was serving up a special mix of the Raspberry Wheat and Stout creating a sort of Chocolate Raspberry Truffle (AMAZING!) and Sierra Nevada not only were pouring one of my favorite seasonals Tumbler, but also at 3 PM pulled out the BIG Guns with a session of Bigfoot! I ended the day with some beers being poured by BRU grill http://www.brugrill.com/ that included Dogfish Head Punk which is one of the best Pumpkin beers which they have been doing since 1994 and one of the breweries first beers!
In the food department, there was the awesome traveling fire truck pizza unit known as Company 77. http://www.company77.com/ I always look forward to the amazing Pesto pizza they put out. In addition, Stone Catering http://www.stoneworldbistro.com/ was onsite, Bru Grill and several other food trucks serving up great stuff. And for dessert… what is a better pairing with Great Beers than Brew Cakes. http://www.facebook.com/thebrewcakes This amazing creation uses locally sourced beer to concoct some wonderful cakes and cupcakes.
The OC Brew Ha Ha continues to be one of the premier events in Southern California. With their ever expanding number of breweries and food vendors, it will no doubt continue to grow and flourish! A big congratulations goes out to everyone on the team including Ed, Tiffany and Cameron for a job well done. We hope to expand our coverage a bit next year for better, comprehensive insight. We are already preparing for next year’s event, Cheers! El Hefe
Click to check out the great photos from the 2012 OC Brew Ha Ha Event.
Here is the entire list of breweries this year. http://ocbrewfest.com/breweries-2/