OC Brew Hee Haw Beer Festival
The OC Brew Hee Haw is a popular summer beer festival that corresponds with the opening weekend of the OC Fair. I attended the third OC Brew Hee Haw on July 16th, a Sunday, which was their third session of the weekend. The first two sessions were held on the previous day, at 12-4 and the second evening session at 6-10. Both of these sessions sold out. Because this festival offers unlimited pours, the Saturday sessions are popular with people who go to get drunk and who aren’t necessarily interested in craft beer. Videos posted online show a fairly rowdy and at times obnoxious crowd. So I was happy to attend the more laid-back, less crowded, Sunday event, the less-popular session made evident by the fact that tickets were available on Groupon for $45.
The festival is held on the OC fairgrounds. It was only 85 degrees, but the humidity made it feel especially muggy with an occasional light breeze cooling things down. A large covered structure held about 20 different brewery tables, with some bar tables in the middle, and people tended to gather here to avoid direct sunlight. Other breweries are located outside surrounding the covered structure. Seating is limited at this festival; luckily some friends who arrived early scored a table with an umbrella which served as our beer-base for the duration. The festival is heavy on IPAs, blonde ales, pale ales, witbiers, and pilsners, as one would expect from a summer festival. A few notable mid to dark ales included:
Barley Forge Brewing (Costa Mesa) – Coconut Patsy – an iconic OC staple
Ska Brewing (Durango, CO) – Cream Stout
Four Sons Brewing (Huntington Beach) – CocoNutorious coconut amber ale
Ritual Brewing Company (Redlands) – Extra Red red ale
Belching Beaver (Vista, CA) – Peanut Butter Milk Stout (tapped out by 2:00 PM)
I used this as an opportunity to sample beers that I don’t normally drink. Some of my favorites included:
Common Cider Company (Drytown) – Lemon Saison
– Refreshingly light and almost effervescent; the champagne of ciders.
32 North Brewing Co. (San Diego) – Pilsner the Conqueror
– A solid, hearty, German pilsner.
Acoustic Ales Brewing Experiment (San Diego) – Witte Snake witbier
– With lemongrass, ginger, coriander and orange.
All-American Ale Works (Anaheim) – Blue Manchu wheat ale with blueberry and vanilla
One of husband’s favorites was Backstreet Brewery’s Hefeweizen with Fresh Mango and Habanero, which I found had too much habanero and not enough mango.
The biggest disappointment was Artifex Brewing Company’s “Unicorn Juice,” which I had to try for the name. Made with passionfruit, this wheat beer was a disappointment, kind of blah with little passionfruit flavor. And the fact that Belching Beaver and Ballast Point had both tapped out by 2:00 PM *sad face*.
I do recommend this festival; go on Saturday if you’re a party-type, of Sunday if you just want to hang out with friends in a casual environment. It also includes admission to the OC Fair, so after 4 hours of steady drinking, you can go eat a bacon-wrapped corndog or a giant turkey leg. That’s a win-win for everyone!