Years from now the Dale Bros. Brewery 11th Anniversary Celebration held Jan. 25 might be remembered for more than the successful beer festival that brought together more than two dozen craft breweries from the Inland Empire and beyond at Cable Airport in Upland.
It may have introduced the region’s residents to a new publicly embraced beer community.
In bringing together craft breweries from throughout the greater Inland Empire and a few from Orange, Los Angeles and San Diego counties on a warm, sunny Southern California January afternoon, Dale Bros. gave locals a taste of what craft beer enthusiasts have seen for years in beer-rich areas – an industry in which so-called competitors find greater success by working in concert and not in opposition. Collaboration is the name of the game in the craft beer world, where the rising tide seems to be lifting all boats.
Although it has been more than a decade since Dale Bros Brewery poured its first brew, the craft beer industry is still relatively new and small in the Inland Empire, especially compared with places like San Diego County. Yet it is growing rapidly, as evidenced by Saturday’s anniversary beer fest, which was the first under this “everybody welcome” format. Last year’s Dale Bros. anniversary celebration was held at the new brewery site just north of Foothill Blvd., but there were no guest brewers pouring that day.
Julie. one of the event organizers from Dale Bros, said this year’s invitation list targeted smaller local breweries rather than bigger operations from outside the area (although Escondido’s Stone Brewing Co., the king of West Coast craft breweries, also was represented).
Among those pouring Saturday was Rök House Brewing Company from Upland, which has not yet opened the doors to its new tasting room on 11th Street just east of Central Avenue. Expected to open in March, the brewery will be walking distance from the Dale Bros. Brewery adjacent to Cable Airport but south of Foothill. It also is not far from Claremont Craft Ales on Claremont Blvd., which is about a mile to the west, giving beer lovers a convenient “triangle” of nearby watering holds. In addition, there are rumors of another brewery possibly launching in an industrial complex off Benson Ave. to the east of the airport. I don’t think it’s a stretch to assume more new breweries will be dotting the nearby landscape in the months and years ahead.
Cable Airport was the perfect setting for the Dale Bros. festival, which figures to grow in future years if organizers opt to make this an annual event. It has the potential be especially extraordinary, much like the annual Stone Anniversary celebration held each August on the Cal State San Marcos campus. Stone attracts breweries from around the country, with a “meet the brewer” event on a Friday evening and two separate sessions on Saturday (along with a more exclusive “rare beer” area requiring a higher-priced ticket). Stone will hold its 18th anniversary event on Aug. 15-16.
Besides exposing new audiences to craft beer, the festival was truly a community gathering with proceeds benefitting the Claremont Educational Foundation. Many friends and familiar faces filled the vast airport grounds, while my favorite local band, The Dogs, entertained during the opening hours. Powerflex 5 followed through the rest of the afternoon.
As is the case each year at the Stone event, I wanted to sample brews Saturday that I haven’t had before. My first stop was a Belgian-style with notes of banana from Aftershock Brewing Company from Temecula. La Verne Brewing Company offered an interesting Scotch Ale made especially for the Saturday festival. After that I found the St. Mawes American Stout from Claremont Craft Ales. Carrying mild notes of chocolate and coffee, this might have been my favorite beer of the day.
I was pleased to taste very nice IPA from Yucaipa’s Brew Rebellion. Not overly bitter, it was a nice pairing with Brew Rebellion’s other offering, a red amber that had many qualities of a Belgian. Unfortunately, I was too late to sample what was probably the most unique beer of the day, Brew Rebellion’s S’more Porter with graham crackers and marshmallows.
I enjoyed both the “6 Killer Stout” and “Devil Within” Double IPA from Ironfire Brewery in Temecula, and I also found a couple of brown ales to my liking from Alosta Brewing in Covina and Wicks Brewing in Riverside, as well as the Hullabaloo Winter Beer from Hangar 24 in Redlands.
There is a long list of others that I never had the chance to test, and as we got deeper into the afternoon, a number of the stations ran out of beer. Nevertheless, the food lines remained long and the grounds were crowded until the end.
Hard to argue with spending a beautiful Saturday hanging out in my own town with good friends, drinking good beer and listening to good music.