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A Sour Week in LA

Submitted by on September 3, 2009 – 6:15 PMNo Comment
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Seal Beach, CA – Spend more than ten minutes at Beachwood BBQand it becomes obvious that it’s a beer lover’s paradise, an oasis in an Orange County that is largely devoid of the kind of beer community found in places like San Diego and Denver.

In order to help foster such a community and expose residents of LA and Orange County to beers other than Coors and Budweiser, Gabe Gordon, the owner and founder of Beachwood BBQ, spent two years planning and preparing SourFest ’09. Photo0082 From August 25 to 30, SourFest featured sour microbrews from Avery, Deschutes, Russian River, Allagash and more, with upwards of almost 30 different beers available at any one time.

“Looking at people’s faces the first time they have a sour beer, people who walk in and order a beer because they like the name, and their faces twist up. But they have another drink and suddenly they’re like, ‘I think I like this.’ And you see the evolution. A number of our customers are going to walk away more amped on beer,” Gordon.

The first three days of the festival focused on three different breweries: The Bruery, New Belgium, and Lost Abbey. On Tuesday, drinks from The Bruery were accompanied by a special food list to accompany the unique flavors of their sour beers, such as the Berliner Weisse, which makes use of raspberries and woodruff syrup.

Some of the brewers made appearances at Beachwood, spending time talking to customers and explaining their brews, including Eric Salazar from New Belgium. “Eric came charging in like this larger than life personality,” explained Gabe Gordon, the owner and founder of Beachwood. “And it was really cool to see that he was more excited about how excited everyone else was about drinking his beer than he was about anything else. He was genuinely honored. Most of the brewing community is really like that. They’re all just really good people.”

The combination of meeting the men and women behind the beers and the rarity of the brews themselves helped pack Beachwood with people from opening until close and increased the turnover of many of the kegs. “We blew a keg of Isabel in 45 minutes doing five ounce pours,” Gordon said.

Photo0076In order to give everyone a chance to try some unfamiliar beer, all pours came in either five or ten-ounce sizes but even that didn’t slow things down. “We have three of us behind the bar and we can’t keep up,” Gordon said. “People are slinging those back like they’re shots. And you’re like, ‘That’s not what you’re supposed to do.’ You’re supposed to sit, drink, think about it, talk about it – like the inner workings of years strains, which bacteria you think was used in the culture, was it spontaneous – that’s what you’re supposed to do.”

Photos by Jake Williams