This year the OC Brewers Guild Invitational event was hosted at the Center Street Promenade in downtown Anaheim, where there has been many events like the Fest of Ales, etc. It’s a unique space where it’s almost like a lowercase t, with a long main strip and two small off-shoots. What’s great about this space is the parking, there are two big parking structures and it’s easy to get in and out of the event. As we walked up we noticed the long line that snaked its way through an entire side of the parking structure and around the corner. Thankfully most of the people who where waiting were in the shade, but nevertheless they looked pretty unhappy to be waiting. I heard claims that it took some people almost an hour to get in. There seemed to be a few issues with this event, so I will break them down into likes and gripes:
Like: Having the event in the early evening, it helped a little because the day was super hot and having it be later in the day helped quell the heat just a little. Plus it’s nice to take photos in the magic hour!
Gripe: Only 1 water station in the whole place. This is a major gripe of mine, to have an unlimited drinking festival without ample water is dangerous, especially on a hot day. It’s almost reckless in a sense, and the level of drunkenness I saw at the event was likely caused by the lack of water availability.
Like: Lots of great beer selections! There was super rare beer poured, especially by The Bruery. I mean, they had Chocolate Rain in bottles, that’s just nuts. But – the problem with that was Chocolate Rain is 18.5%ABV, so serving that when it’s hot and lack of water = really drunk people.
Gripe: There seemed to be a lack of fun music options, and the space in the small part of the t shape of the street seemed to be under-utilized. It was mainly lined with port-a-potties.
Like: The glassware was really nice, the gold leaf option for those who got VIP was a nice touch.
Gripe: In general, there was a lack of organization from what I heard from my friends who worked the event. There was beer that was overly foamy because of the heat levels, people had to move their stations after they were set-up, and I noticed extremely intoxicated people were still being served.
Like: I think the event has really great potential and I am glad to see the OC beer scene being celebrated. I think events like Firkfest is a good example of a well-run beer event in Anaheim, with several water stations, a well-known and well-liked DJ, and several people running the line check-ins. A few small tweaks and next year could be a fantastic event!