The setting was a bit different this year, tucked beside the hills along the Irvine Lake but OCBrewHaHa continued to deliver a great time. Plenty of seminars were conducted this year which embodied the spirit of the ever-growing craft beer scene. Dr. Bill Sysak gave all of us a passionate speech about the craft beer scene as we know it today and why this is the perfect time to be a part of it. Additional seminars were held by Ed Heethius from Ritual Brewing and has accomplished a lot in his 20+ years in the beer industry. Jonathan Porter looks extremely young but that doesn’t mean he is inexperienced, Jonathan is a Certified Cicerone and has been brewing professionally for over 5 years. The seminars we were able to attend all had pertinent information about craft beer and how unbelievably fast it is growing. This year’s event was preceded by the Brewer’s Dinner and Campout which will definitely be on our agenda next year if they decide to keep it in the itinerary. The night was a celebration of Great Beer, Fine Dining, Music, Games, Cigars and Camping. It really doesn’t get much better than that.
Breweries lined up for days within Oak Canyon Park in Silverado with many new faces making a big splash. Such was the case for Haven Gastropub which was already a well known restaurant pumping out great food and serving great craft beer but only recently did they start brewing beer in their Pasadena location with great results so far. The Imperial Russian Stout was definitely a favorite of mine but since it was coming in at 12% abv I decided on only trying it once. A trip to Pasadena will definitely be set in the very near future. Many places in attendance were new to me like O’Shea brewing company which easily became an instant favorite and we will definitely be stopping by the shop much sooner than later. This was a great event for someone like me who has a hard time traveling outside of Los Angeles to experience all of the great spots that Orange County offers.
Many beers at the event went untasted due to the overwhelming amount of bottles being opened at Beer Geek Island which is a private event within OCBrewHaHa. The event is free to anyone who pre-orders a ticket on Eventbrite beforehand. The only stipulation is that they ask everyone to bring a bottle to share with everyone else who is particpating which leads to an impressive amount of great beer.
OCBrewHaHa met and exceeded all of my expectations this year. This event continues to set the bar for not only beer events but all festivals in general. It is easy to invite some food trucks or have someone slinging hot dogs at an event but what sets OCBrewHaHa apart from the rest are the small details like having Stone making food from their World Bistro and Gardens. Slaters 50/50 also brought their unique approach to food and burgers to the event which must have been a crowd favorite with a line that was unforgiving throughout most of the day.
Until we meet again, here is a small but vital message from Dr. Bill Sysak…..