Putting together a beer festival is a labor of love, and that highly doted-after labor is my yearly event called Firkfest. Now in its fourth year, one of my favorite parts is learning what breweries are bringing. As 50 beers are made specifically for the event, there’s no telling what kind of new flavor combinations brewers will come up with. As a lover of Tiki culture and cocktails, I wanted to see what kind of tropical vibes can be concocted in the blank canvas that is a cask beer served ala firkin, hence: the world’s first tiki beer festival was born.
From previous years, brewers birthed three kinds of beer for the event: 1, traditional English-style real ale, served bright after cask-conditioning; 2, fruity/juicy IPA’s bursting with tropical fruit aromatics; and 3, beers with insane ingredients—this year’s Kahlua Porker from riip beer company contains actual Kahlua smoked pork…in a beer.
What exotic beers am I excited to try?
It’s no secret that Barley Forge’s The Patsy coconut-rye stout is one of my desert-island beers, as it drinks like a tropical rain forest at night. For the festival, Barley Forge is tossing in some rum-soaked oak chips to hopefully kick the beer into full hula mode. I particularly like The Patsy as it smells sweet and coconutty, but finishes dry, thanks to a touch of rye malt.
Macleod Ale Brewery built a custom stand (called ‘stillage’ in real ale circles) just for the festival, which is great because they basically bring their entire tasting room to the fest. Much like Inland Wharf listed below, Macleod has perfected the art of serving proper English-style cask ales, and I was surprised to see The Little Spree Yorkshire Pale Ale with pineapple.
Gunwhale Ales Bait Ball IPA – Zombie Mode. When Pizzeria Ortica chef Justin Miller left to help start a brewery down the street, I knew the beers he would help create would be food friendly. “We’re bringing our already tropical IPA with some Zombie-inspired additions,” says the always hooded brewer Derek Testerman. Pomegranate, fennel fronds, vanilla, and citrus zest will be added to this zombified cask.
Inland Wharf’s Best Bitter is one of those beers that’s always worth trying at a festival, as legit English-style cask ales don’t Brexit over to the U.S.. Casks are time-sensitive vessels and a delicate style like a Best Bitter doesn’t travel well due to low alcohol. After a bunch of tropical beers, this might make the perfect palate cleanse.
Noble Ale Works Naughty Island is cool because it’s the exact beer that inspired Firkfest. At the OC Brew HaHa some five years ago, Noble had a line of 200 people waiting to try a sample of this beer, Naughty Sauce with lime and coconut. It’s a blonde milk stout with a huge Portola coffee nose, then puts the lime in the coconut and shakes it all up. It’s great!
Exclusive discount code for OrangeCoast readers, enter code BOOZEBLOG for $10 off with no fees! See you at the fest!
Anaheim’s Tiki Beer Festival, Firkfest, is Saturday, March 11, 2017 at the Anaheim Packing District, Farmer’s Park. Includes unlimited tastes of 50 casks from 30 breweries, a festive British 5-ounce nonic, and of course a Lei. firkfest.com