When a Local Beer Fest Goes Punk In Drublic

NOFX's Fat Mike (pink hair) with Stone's Brew Team
Pink boots, pink hair don’t care – Photos and story Greg Nagel

“I’ve been working on this for over a year, and it’s sort of surreal that it’s actually going to happen,” says Cameron Collins, director of Brew Ha Ha events. What he’s talking about is a large traveling music and beer festival called Punk in Drublic, an event that brings three large, complex puzzle pieces together for a late-fall traveling show featuring heavy hitters in punk rock, a Stone Brewing collaboration-beer brewed with said punk rockers, and of course the local Brew Ha Ha guys that started large-format craft beer fests back in 2010.

If you haven’t been to an OC Brew Ha Ha beer festival production, you’re probably not a beer fan. There’s the Ha Ha, the Ho Ho Holiday Ale fest, the OC Fair Brew Hee Haw, there’s Sabroso Taco and Craft Beer Festival, there’s Ye Scallywag…then, this new festival that checks all the boxes for what this old-school punk rocker, craft beer nerd wants in an afternoon: to get Punk in Drublic.

Sampling the pilot batch with event producer Cameron Collins and brewing team.

While at Stone World Bistro and Brewery to watch the beer being made, a rare summer rain sprinkles down on Escondido as Fat Mike of NOFX announces, “We’re throwing a festival for adults! There’s going to be a bunch of punk bands like Bad Religion, Flogging Molly, NOFX, and a few friends, with about forty-to-fifty craft breweries to sample alongside.” Stone CEO Dominic Engels is just as thrilled to get the project started. “Like minds find each other, especially in crazy times like the present,” he says under a thick-brimmed Stone hat. “We’re independent-minded and do things in our own way…we do it from a beer standpoint and Mike does it from a music standpoint; there’s nothing better than mashing those things together,” he continued.

The beer, also called Punk in Drublic, is a hoppy pilsner using all German ingredients, including Weyermann malt and Huell Melon hops. The second pilot batch we sampled with NOFX is an easy drinking 5.8 percent pale lager with a healthy dose of fruity hops on the nose.

Off to brew the big 350-barrel batch that will be canned and kegged, Fat Mike straps on a fresh pair of pink boots, safety goggles, and a set of triclamp hose fittings—to his arms like bracelets. Opening the whirlpool hatch, he takes a whiff, then dumps around eight bags of the hops inside the swirling hot liquid. Steve Gonzalez, Stone’s senior manager of brewing and innovation, noted that Mike gave a lot of input and influenced the direction of how the beer would end up. “If he left it up to us, it would have been some sort of huge hoppy IPA,” Steve notes.

Sampling the pilot batch with event producer Cameron Collins and brewing team.

The festival is a five-city, West-USA jaunt starting in Tacoma, Washington, heading to Boise, Tacoma, Sacramento, Concord, and finishing in Huntington Beach on Oct. 28th at the new beach party Sea Legs Live spot in Bolsa Chica.

A beer festival with great live music on the beach? Sign me up! Tickets and information are available at punkindrublicfest.com. 

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