January Beer and Wine Events

It’s a new year with plenty of great places to visit for wine tasting, beer festivals, tap takeovers and more. Check out some of the activities taking place around the Inland Empire on my monthly listing of beer and wine events on IEShineOn.com.

Beer and Wine Events For October

ieshineon-inland-empire-october-beer-and-wine-events-guide-623Oktoberfest celebrations dominate the adult beverage event calendar this month, but there are plenty of other options for tasting wines and sampling brews and spirits. Take a look at our October calendar at IEShineOn.com to plan your next outing. But be sure to plan ahead and designate a driver or call Uber. Cheers!


Claremont Craft Ales Celebrates Fourth Anniversary

I don’t know of any craft brewery that does a better job of showcasing its own beers at an annual anniversary celebration than Claremont Craft Ales.CCA 1

While most breweries have great fun-filled events and special new beer releases to commemorate such an occasion, CCA will offer more than 50 of its own brews on tap at its upcoming fourth anniversary festivities, including several brand new releases and barrel-aged beers, along with popular Claremont Craft Ales favorites.

CCA anniversary 4

Photo courtesy of Claremont Craft Ales

This year’s anniversary event will take place at the brewery on Saturday, July 16. There will be two separate sessions from noon-4 p.m. and 5-9 p.m. Families bringing children are encouraged to attend the first session.

In addition, no fewer than three food trucks/vendors will be on site, while local Claremont band “Raul” will perform at the second session. A DJ will entertain during the first session. Games for kids, corn hole, a photo booth and other activities are also scheduled.

CCA anniversary 3

Photo courtesy of Claremont Craft Ales

Limited-edition stainless steel insulated growlers will be available for purchase, along with other merchandise, including commemorative shirts and caps.

Of course, the beer is the main attraction. Last year’s event included 10 barrel-aged brews among the offerings.

Admission is $30 per person and includes 16 pours of beers and a souvenir glass. Children and designated drivers are admitted free. Tickets are available to purchase at the brewery or online at www.claremontcraftales.com. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Shoes That Fit in Claremont. Those who donate a new pair of socks at the door will receive an extra pour of beer.

Claremont Craft Ales is located at 1420 N. Claremont Blvd., Suite 204C, in Claremont. For more information, call (909) 625-5350 or email info@claremontcraftales.com.

CCA anniversary



The Last Name in Craft Beer

LNB_Logo_NewDale Bros. Brewery has always been on a last name basis. But from now on, Curt and Andy Dale, the brother owners of Dale Bros., will literally refer to their popular Upland brewery by its last name.

That’s because Dale Bros. Brewery has changed its name to Last Name Brewing.

Announced Saturday at the highly anticipated “The Big Reveal” special event, the brewery built mystery over the past month for the special announcement. Naturally, it came as part of a big celebration with live music, food and the release of the brewery’s first Belgian White Ale.

LNB_Bottles_Year-RoundAfter 13 years under the Dale Bros. moniker, the change was done for trademarking purposes and officially goes into effect today, May 1.

“It turns out there’s another Dale in craft brewing, and in all fairness, he was here first,” said Andy Dale.

His brother added, “While it was really hard to think about giving up our company’s name, we knew it was the right thing to do.”

Established in 2003 by brewmaster Curt Dale, the brewery was one of the founding breweries of the Los Angeles-area craft beer movement and is considered the “dean” of local breweries. In 2007, Andy Dale joined the company to head up business development and help with the brewery’s first substantial expansion at the brewery and into restaurants and bars. They eventually began bottling their beers, which are currently available at most local stores that sell craft beer.

“Being two brothers with the last name Dale, it seemed like calling the company Dale Bros. Brewery was a natural,” said Curt Dale.

LNB_Bottles_SeasonalBest known for its flagship amber lager Pomona Queen, Last Name Brewing will still be located at 2120 Porterfield Way and will continue to brew Pomona Queen and its vast assortment of year-round, special and seasonal brews, including several new beer releases later this year, said Karen McMillen, Last Name Brewing co-owner and marketing chief.

“Call us whatever you want,” said Andy Dale. “We’re still the same people, making the same great beer.”

McMillen said the brewery team worked with Pasadena-based branding and advertising agency Echo-Factory to develop the new name.

“We wanted something that we could transition our existing branding to easily and that captured the feel of who we are,” McMillen said. “With the boom in the craft beer industry over the last decade, trying to come up with a new name that both ‘fit us’ and that we could trademark was a challenge.”

The Secret Club

12973042_10153795661978813_6381892529046587664_oProhibition era-style speakeasies are once again returning to prominence, except now they are legal. While Los Angeles and other major cities around the nation have their share of these hidden bars, there has yet to be one thumb_IMG_3392_1024surface in the Inland Empire — unless it’s so secret that I haven’t heard about it. The closest thing to a speakeasy now operates in the Claremont Village. To find out where it is and what makes it special, read my story on IEShineOn.

Brewery Special Releases and Anniversaries

12339414_10100582973778029_5829703369428039815_oThe line stood more than 100 people deep as it wrapped past the dumpster and around the corner. As the clock ticked toward the magical hour on a cool sunny mid-December day, a somewhat startled Josh Hamilton peeked his head out the door to the delight of those waiting outside.

No, Hamilton isn’t a famous celebrity or the Major League Baseball player with the same name, but to those who waited he was a rock star. His Hamilton Family Brewery was releasing its Big Night Oil bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout. With fewer than 200 of the $19 bottles available to purchase, and only a small amount on tap at the Rancho Cucamonga brewery, you were left out if you didn’t plan ahead.12360408_10100582973877829_4040009132784299317_n

Such is the case with special craft beer releases. Many coincide with brewery anniversary celebrations, while others are timed with first-time or exclusive once-a-year seasonal offerings. Dale Bros. introduced a new beer for its Brews and Bros festival in January, and Claremont Craft Ales has tapped special brews at each of its three anniversary events. Such occasions are definitely cause for celebration – and a new highly anticipated beer.

Of course, the introduction of a new beverage could be cause enough for festivities. Rök House in Upland recently celebrated the draft release of its new Sledge Hammer quadruple IPA with the bottle release of its Hammer of Thor IPA.12650954_528264124019740_4805205808284948777_n

Most craft beer makers also limit the number of bottles of a special brew they’ll sell to each customer, in part to slow potential secondary market sales. Resale, trade and the collection of highly desirable craft beer is not unlike buying sporting event or concert tickets from a scalper – it will cost you.

The fall and winter months bring a lot of barrel-aged releases. Goose Island’s famed Bourbon County stouts are traditionally released on Black Friday after Thanksgiving. Hangar 24 in Redlands hosted its annual Barrel Roll series release in December, with bottles sold online in advance of an afternoon bottle “pick up” event in which new and past Barrel Roll brews were offered on tap. Not surprisingly, the bottles sold quickly and the kegs emptied rapidly.

12301746_10153777106032162_3002814223613011929_nThe Lost Abbey/Port Brewing in San Marcos released its “My Black Parade” in October, and despite its $41 per 750 ml bottle price tag, it sold out within minutes. I’ve since seen it listed by after-market sellers for upwards of $200.

Local beer aficionado Bob Grider made the long trek to Truckee, Calif., in December in the snow for this year’s release of the Eclipse Fifty-Fifty barrel-aged imperial stout series. He came home a happy man with new additions to his “Imbibery” collection.

Brewery anniversaries and festivals also are cause for anticipation. Online tickets to this summer’s Firestone-Walker International Beer Festival in Paso Robles began at 10 a.m. on sale Feb. 1 and were completely gone by 10:02.

Dale Bros. Celebrates Lucky 13


Dale Bros. Brewery will celebrate its 13th anniversary, but it’s the local craft beer lovers who will be lucky.

The Upland brewery will once again host “Brews and Bros.,” the region’s biggest craft beer festival for an afternoon of craft beer, food, entertainment and fun on Saturday, Jan. 23, at Cable Airport in Upland. The event will run from 1-5 p.m., rain or shine, and an early rare beer hour will begin at noon for those with VIP admission.

Beer aficionados and novice craft beer drinkers will have the opportunity to choose samples from some 100 different craft brews, wines, ciders and craft sodas. More than 40 local and regional craft breweries will be pouring their popular and specialty brews, and an assortment of food trucks, on-site haircuts, henna art and live reggae music by Upstream will also be featured.

Dale Bros. will introduce a new specially crafted anniversary beer as part of the celebration.

Local breweries Rök House Brewing Co., No Clue Brew, Hamilton Family Brewery, I&I Brewing Co., Claremont Craft Ales, La Verne Brewing Co., Sanctum Brewing Co. and Old Stump Brewery are scheduled to participate. Major regional and national craft brands will also be represented, including Stone Brewing Co., Deschutes Brewery, Ballast Point, Lagunitas Brewing, Karl Strauss, Maui Brewing Co. and Sierra Nevada, among many others.

The event will also feature wine from Galleano Winery and Joseph Filippi Winery and cider from four different cider makers.

The event has grown considerably in the two years that Dale Bros. has held its anniversary festival at Cable Airport. More than 2,000 attended last year, up from the previous year’s estimate of 1,300 people.

Proceeds from the festival benefit Claremont schools through the Claremont Educational Foundation. Last year’s event raised about $18,000 to benefit the educational foundation.

Tickets priced at $45 include a souvenir glass and unlimited tastings. VIP admission at noon, which also includes the rare beer hour, preferred parking and a souvenir bottle opener, is priced at $60. Food is available for purchase from at least eight food truck vendors.

Attendees are encouraged to make transportation arrangements or designate a sober driver.

For more information, a complete listing of participating breweries and to purchase tickets online, visit www.brewsandbrosfest.org.

Sid Robinson is managing partner of the strategic communications and public relations firm Robinson and Associates, LLC. (www.robinsonandassociates.us). His articles about craft beer, wine and spirits also appear in publications such as Foothills Reader and 909 Magazine.