Saturday was the third edition of the Los Angeles Vegan Beer and Food Festival held at the Roxy on Sunset Blvd. The event is well-regarded in the craft beer community, and after our first time attending this year we can see why! With over sixteen breweries, four food trucks, and a dozen other vendors the festival was a perfect way to kick off summer in Los Angeles!
Vegan beer? Don’t worry, it isn’t as dodgy as the less conventional gluten-free beer can be, in fact most beer is already vegan! Beers that are not vegan either use obvious animal products in their creation, like honey or lactose in a milk-stout , or they use animal products in the filtering and clarification process. Either way most craft beers are vegan, and there are resources on-line to steer you away from those that aren’t if you do try to stay vegan. Of course, all the beers and food served at the festival were vegan, and they were often the flagship beers from the breweries.
The event was slightly different that other beer festivals we’ve attended because your $50 ticket admitted you to the grounds and gave you unlimited pours of the beer! No keeping track of tickets or wooden nickels at this event! The other big difference was the lines, or rather the lack of them. I don’t think we ever even had to wait one minute for a beer at the event, though there were enough people there that the event seemed “crowded.” It was often tougher to find a quiet place to stand and enjoy your beer than it was to find another beer to enjoy!
The breweries on hand, most pouring from two-taps, were:
- LA’s Golden Road Brewing: Hefe and Point the Way IPA
- Hangar 24: Orange Wheat and Alt Beer
- Green Flash: Imperial, Rayon Vert and Palate Wrecker
- Smog City Brewing: Little Bo Pils and XPA
- Stone Brewing: Levitation and Cali Belgique
- North Coast Brewing: Le Merle and Brother Thelonious
- Fireman’s Brews: Blonde, Redhead, Brunette
- Sierra Nevada: Summerfest and Torpedo
- Bootleggers: Palomino Pale and Hefeweizen
- Anchor Brewing: Summer Ale and Liberty Ale
- Firestone Walker: Sol and something
- Karl Strauss: missed them entirely
- Utah’s Epic Brewing: IPA and something
- Eel River Brewing: (Three beers served from bottles)
- El Segundo Brewing: missed them entirely
The tap-stations were spread out around the grounds, with about half set-up inside the theater and the other half set-up under tents in the spacious outdoor area adjacent to the club.
This outdoor space was really well put together, with colorful paper lanterns strung overhead, hay bales to sit on, and areas of astroturf spread out for impromptu lawn seating. A stage was set-up in one corner of the courtyard and the bands played at a shockingly appropriate volume. You could rock-out and dance to the reggae, classic rock, and jam-band tunes if you wanted, but you could also hold a conversation at a normal level if you moved away from the front of the stage. One of our favorite food trucks, Mandoline Grill, was on hand along with a fry truck and a couple of others to serve food, and there were several other food vendors, from Doomies to a presence from co-sponsor of the event Tony’s Darts Away.
The unlimited pours make for a more carefree experience since you never have to weigh the decision between two beers and one ticket. Just try ‘em both! We were able to sample a fair amount of beers, here are some of the highlights:
- We hit up the Green Flash taps first for a refreshing and lively Rayon Vert and wisely decided to save the Palate Wrecker for our final pour of the day since we didn’t want to, well, wreck our palates that early. Rayon Vert is quickly becoming a favorite from Green Flash; it a Belgian-style pale ale hopped like a west coast IPA. Similar to Ommegang’s BPA with a more assertive bitterness and the distinct tang of brettanomyces the Rayon Vert is a great summer beer.
- Next up was a Cali Belgique from Stone Brewing, which is always wonderful and even more so on draught. This is a fantastic beer for tasting the contributions of yeast in a beer since it is brewed with the same recipe as the classic Stone IPA with just a change in yeast. Try them side-by-side to really get a feel for the presence of the yeast.
- We found ourselves gravitating to old favorites over trying new beers, but the Le Merle from North Coast Brewing was an exception that had us forgetting about the tap of Brother Thelonious at the North Cost table. The Le Merle saison is light and moderately bitter and it went with the sunshine and the hay bales perfectly.
- One very pleasant surprise was the Brunette dopplebock from Fireman’s Brew. We hadn’t heard much about this brewery out of Woodland Hills, but this dopplebock had us take notice. It was had a great roasty flavor and lots of body but a really clean finish that belied the near 9%abv. Another great beer for a warm and breezy afternoon.
The event’s well thought-out set-up, delicious grub, and the awesome weather on the day made for a great afternoon in the sun and an awesome prelude to American Craft Beer Week. The organizers did an amazing job putting together a list of breweries and food vendors, and we highly recommend checking out next year’s festival. We also want to thank the guys at Untappd for hooking us up with tickets since otherwise we probably would have missed this event, and that would have been a shame.
Were you at the LA Vegan Beer Fest? Let’s hear what you thought about the even in the comments!