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3rd Annual California Beer Festival to Return Bigger and Better

The California Beer Festival is back in Ventura, Calif., and it’s back in a big way. This weekend at Mission Park on Saturday is the 21+ beer tasting day with more than 100 brews for slaking thirst along with food from great local vendors. On Sunday you’re going to have the opportunity for an all ages day of music, award-winning BBQ, and great music. This year the organizers have stretched this event to two consecutive days, and after a successful event in Santa Cruz, they are back where it all started, Ventura, for what is sure to be the best event so far; third time being a charm.

From its reserved beginnings of a single music stage, few port-a-johns, no food vendors and just a few dozen brews for tasting, we’ve come a long way. Topping out at more than 100 brews this year is a feat unto itself, but with two music stages, a variety of food, and enough Johns to service every construction site from here to Pasadena, this has the makings for a great time for everyone. Not to mention that this festival has hit the road with three stops. Santa Cruz is checked off the list, and after Ventura is a second consecutive visit to Claremont, CA on October 8. That event will feature some 60 brews, four live bands, and more amazing food.

I was there that first year in Ventura, and last year, too. The one thing I know about this event is that everyone is out to have a good time. There has never been an incident, ruckus, or problem of any kind. With all that beer flowing there has been nothing but shooting the breeze with those around you in line as new, fast friends or lounging on the grass or in the swank furniture provided under the shade of the tree in the park. For a local it is a parade of familiar faces and good friends as you walk from tent to tent to try a new beer. With beer in glass you wait in line and finish your brew as you hand your glass to someone who will fill it right back up.

When I moved here from the Northwest, a true beer capitol, I was nervous that my taste for local brew would have to go unslaked, but I have been proven wrong time and time again, but never more so than at this event. I know the list that I look forward to seeing from the brew houses I frequent. Local flavor like Telegraph, Anacapa, Ventura Surf Brewery, Island Brewing, Santa Barbara brewing, and looking forward to seeing VIBE (Ventura Independent Beer Enthusiasts) properly represented once again. The list is too long to write here, and frankly I don’t even know what all will be there. Blue Moon, Karl Strauss, Lagunitas, Leinenkugel’s, Ladyface, and Inland Empire. I am also betting Firestone will be represented, Packing House, Sierra Nevada, SoCal, Sam Adams, Wolf Creek, Tap It, Speakeasy, Stone, Deschutes, Firemans Brew, Alaskan, Widmer Bros., Lhasa, and I am hoping to get a shot at beer companies I’ve never even heard of. I am constantly surprised by the abundance of niche and small brewhouses that pop up for an event like this.

It all started here at Mission Park, and this is the one you want to attend if you can manage it. It is big, fun, sunny, and sudsy. This weekend marks the third year for the California Beer Festival and it is sure to be one for the books. Tickets are nearly sold out, so visit the link below and get yours fast, since this will easily sell out before Saturday. Hotels are available in Ventura within walking distance, so I suggest you make a weekend of it LA, and come for both days. Saturday is the great beer parade of brews available for tasting with just the ticket and the mug you’re given, but for a full family experience then pick up another ticket Sunday for more music, amazing BBQ prepared by teams of backyard masters, and for more beer available for sale Sunday. Burt the Bear will be on hand, and I can’t help but think of a Goldilocks analogy. The first event in 2009 was a too soft, 2010 was too hard, but the 2011 CBF at Mission Park is gonna be just right. (sorry, couldn’t help myself).

Also, come by the judges table and say hello! DisarrayMagazine is honored to have been offered a seat at the judges table for Saturday’s beer tasting and awards. So if you see a pale guy with a giant smile on his face and a pitcher in front of him, that’s probably me “working” very, very hard. Prost!

For more information click on the links below. Tickets are just $45 and are worth every damned penny. Gates open at noon and beer starts being served at 1pm. So get in, grab some food, and claim your place in line in front of your favorite brewers to get the day started right.

See our coverage from last year:

All photos and video by Wesley Bauman

About the Author

Wesley Bauman, author of Doggy Paddling in the Deep End, is a writer/photojournalist originally from Oregon who makes his home in Ventura, CA. He's contributed to the VCReporter and maintains an active blog ( where he writes on political and social satire regularly. Follow Wesley on Twitter @myownfalseidol


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