Featured Festival | Photography & Story | Greg Aleshire
Back for its second year at Doheny State Beach in Dana Point, Sabroso Craft Beer, Taco, and Music Festival was sold out again and packed with a great crowd out to enjoy the sun on the beach. And the Craft Beer! And the Tacos! And the live music!
We had perfect weather for the fest this year with cool overcast early and the sun breaking through for the afternoon it was another beautiful April day in Southern California. Although parking was a little difficult, Doheny is a much better location than out near Irvine Lake where cell reception and therefore GPS cut out before you find it.
I’m pretty sure there was something for everyone there. Luchadores (Lucha Libre wrestlers, think Nacho Libre) battling in the ring, a skeleton faced juggler on a unicycle, and lots of fun outfits from some of the attendees were alCool part of the fun…so cool!
The Gringo Bandito Chronic Tacos Challenge, taco eating contest, was definitely no place for rookies. Takeru Kobayashi from Nagano, Japan (the man holds eight Guinness Book world records in eating competitions!) won for the second year in a row by scarfing down 154 tacos in ten minutes. I don’t think I could have done it in ten hours.
There were some people who actually tasted the tacos though, and they were the panel of distinguished food judges rating the “Best of Show” from the taco vendors. First place went to Chisme Tortilleria and their Asada Chimichurri Taco. Fiesta Gourmet took second with their Fiesta Fish Taco, and third place went to Sausage King for their sausage INYO taco. There was so much good food there that we had to remember to save room for the beer. But then there’s always room for beer, right?
Oh, and the beer…yes, the beer! With about fifty-six breweries pouring 2-4 beers each, try as we did, we could not taste each of them, but trying was the fun part! Plenty of really good beers were there and among my favorites were these (in no particular order).
Craft Beer Highlights
“Frederick H” from Bruery Terreaux in Anaheim is a Berliner Weissbier 4.4%ABV fermented in Oak Foeders and is pleasantly tart and funky with Brettanomyces. “Citra Extra Pale” 7%ABV from Knee Deep in Auburn, CA is a single hop (Citra) West Coast style American Pale Ale (APA) that I really enjoy, bright and a bit citrusy and fairly dry.
“Mexican Chocolate Stout” 7%ABV (being Sabroso Taco Fest there were a lot of Mexican themed beers) from Belching Beaver in Vista, CA, was delicious. Formerly known as “Viva La Beaver”, this chocolate stout uses “Abuelita” Mexican chocolate for its unmistakable flavor of Mexican hot chocolate. If you’ve never had the hot chocolate try it, then you’ll know how tasty it is…
“Bruiser” Imperial Chocolate Stout from Docent in San Juan Capistrano is a BIG beer coming in at 11.3%ABV and is definitely a sipper in small quantities but thoroughly enjoyable.
I also had a chance to sit down and talk to Dakota Gartner who is the lead singer of the opening band at Sabroso 2018, Naked Walrus. Along with lead guitarist Hayden and drummer Taylor, they have a straightforward rock sound that’s tight and clean. With influences such as Foo Fighters and Queens of the Stone Age, their sound gets the crowd rocking.
Although they’ve been accused of being too positive (being raised by hippies may have had something to do with that), they do have a good vibe happening that is appealing, and admittedly want “the love to radiate” when they are performing. They don’t want to write about negativity, even though “Acceptance” does have some dark(er) tones, as it is about substance abuse, something he sees a lot of when working events (he also happens to be the hospitality manager at Sabroso).
So the band’s name…Dakota and Hayden came up with Naked Walrus while in high school 7 years ago and despite friends telling them to change it, they didn’t, and it works! As part of their “anti-boy-band” themed marketing, “The Walrus” is the mask, and “Naked Walrus” is the band and is a part of the members’ aim for anonymity with masked photo shoots for promotion. I am glad to see they don’t perform in masks though.
Although they did a Kickstarter campaign for their second album they don’t want to do it again because it felt too disingenuous. So they spend a lot of time touring which they enjoy, doing 75 shows last year. I’m looking forward to hearing more of their music, including “Soul” which is written from the Devil’s perspective of taking over one’s soul.
As the beer tasting came near an end, the crowd was noticeably“happier” than when we started and we had a great time as usual. When the clock strikes 4:00 and the beer tasting ends, it can be disheartening to be third in line and waiting in anticipation for that taster of double IPA that never gets poured, but you’ve probably had enough anyway, right? It’ll just have to wait for next year, or the next beer festival, or jeez, just go to the brewery’s tasting room and buy some!! Cheers! Greg Aleshire