Neither rain, nor sleet, nor…well, it was just rain. A lot of it. But there’s no stopping the Burgeon Beer Company in Carlsbad from having a good time. And beer with good friends always works as a party starter.
Burgeon held its 6th anniversary invitational party on Jan. 14, inviting 36 other breweries and 1000 guests to participate. The brewery did not invite the rain, but it came anyway. Upon entry, each guest was greeted with a custom Burgeon Beer umbrella, a collectors glass, and a thrilling view of all the great beer awaiting.
Breweries from all across the country made their ways to Carlsbad, probably expecting warm sun and to wear tank tops and shorts. No amount of rain, however, dampened the spirits of the attendees. The exceptional selection of beer made sure that even the wettest, chilliest participant had a glass of good cheer to lift their spirits and brighten their day.
Matthew Zirpolo, co-founder of Burgeon, explained the vision behind the invitational: “We like to showcase how truly special our craft beer community is. We feel incredibly fortunate to have such an amazing community supporting us.”
“We always cross our fingers for wonderful weather, but the rain brought main-character energy, novelty and memorability,” stated Mackenzie Kline, Marketing Director.
Burgeon brewed two beers for the day, which Anthony Tallman, co-founder and head brewer described: “The first is a good ‘ol clean American lager with a sweeter malt character and dry finish (American Gold) and the second is a lighter West Coast IPA where we dialed back the malt and let the hops shine (Subliminal Sync).”
There were no shortages of silver linings considering the people and beer at the event. It was truly a Who’s Who of craft. Outside the longest lines were for Moksa Brewing from Rocklin, California and Great Notion from Portland. Great Notion was serving one of its many IPAs (So Wrong It’s Ripe).
But it was Moksa that shook things up with a Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout treated with vanilla, coconut and coffee. Aged for 17 months in an Old Rip Van Winkle barrel, Watch ‘Em All Flock was a viscous, slightly sweet delight. And at 13.4 % ABU it warmed me too. Moksa also offered Sunset Punch, a sangria inspired Imperial Wine-Beer Hybrid that at least one local wine drinker found to be their favorite of the day (an assumption based on the number of return trips).
From the central coast, Liquid Gravity tap room manager Celeste Gough was serving Crispy Life pilsner, one of the many exceptional lagers available.True to the Burgeon collaborative spirit, Gough– in need of a hand– was being helped by the owner and head brewer of Ghost Town Brewing, Ryan Nosek and Justin Burdt, respectively.
Tony Lawrence, founder and head brewer at Boneyard Brewing in Bend, Oregon was enjoying the chance to return to Carlsbad. In recognition of the occasion, he served Notorious Triple IPA, the Boneyard 1st Anniversary beer first brewed in 2011.
“I always try to leave a craft fest event like this inspired…and San Diego beers always have what I’m looking for!” says Lawrence. “And the Burgeon 80s playlist is rocking!”
One of my favorite beers of the day was Cherry Riot, a sour brown ale with cherries brewed by Casa Agria Specialty Ales in Oxnard.
Eric Drew, head brewer and co-owner of Casa Agria was quick to point out, “the Burgeon staff is the best, we look forward to their anniversary every year. Everyone is stoked to be here, nobody is letting the rain bring them down.”
I was surprised on a day so cold and wet that another favorite beer was an American light lager brewed by Highland Park Brewing (Friendlier American Lager). James Sullivan, marketing manager at Highland Park, said he enjoyed trying so many beers he would normally not be able to find, and “meeting the folks who make the beers, and learning more about their process.”
At the end of the day, with a smile on my wet face but no more room for even a sip of beer, I met Gary Cole and his dog, Jackie Boy. Cole’s parting comment summed up the day perfectly: “I’m glad it rained. If it didn’t rain, it wouldn’t be a story!”
Jeff Spanier is the host of I Like Beer the Podcast, available wherever you get podcasts. To follow his adventures @ilikebeerthepodcast on Instagram.