Around 7 p.m. in the back of Barley Forge Brewing in Costa Mesa, folding tables sit among pallets of kegs and various cleaners, littered with growlers and bottles from twenty Orange County breweries, still cold with condensation. As brewers gather, shop is talked while sipping each others’ beer out of plastic cups; everyone is quickly seated after a few whistles from the VP of the guild, Brandon Fender. December’s O.C. Brewers Guild—a brand-new organization aimed at promoting local craft beer—meeting has begun.
Filled with invited speakers, budget items, and announcements, the guild starts off listening intently on the inner workings of how to sell a brewery from industry lawyers that worked on a recent deal in San Diego. After that, the agenda unfolds like any other meeting. O.C. Beer Week and a guild fest is being planned, a ten-day stretch brimming with events all around the county. I’m there on business as well, gathering story ideas, news on my beer festival (Firkfest), and, of course, checking in on beers I haven’t tried in a while.
The guild offers three levels of membership: enthusiast, affiliate, and brewer. The enthusiast membership, geared at beer fans like you, is offered at $40, which includes snazzy perks like discount growler fills, VIP entrance into beer festivals, a hat, and of course, “a long, awkward hug from your favorite OC brewer“. If getting tangled in a giant beard suits you, head over to their site and become a member! Be sure and whisper “this feels right” upon receiving your hug. Brewers like that.