Beer Alien invaded the Best Coast Beer Fest in San Diego at the Embarcadero South on March 7, 2015. The Embarcadero South is such as beautiful spot, that added to the enjoyment of the beer festival for sure. The nice San Diego weather was a huge plus as well.
The beer festival was broken into two sessions plus a VIP area. Session one allowed you unlimited samples from 12-5PM. The All Day pass allowed unlimited samples from 12-9PM. There was a little confusion with the staff and security as to how that worked. One of our All Day ticketholders was issued the wrong wristband and security was trying to eject them. Event management was able to resolve it quickly and we were back in business.
There were 50+ breweries, each with multiple beers. The layout was stretched across the entire Embarcadero South which spread out the crowd nicely. There was a stage with a live band playing and while that added to the enjoyment of the festival as whole, the volume was loud. This meant that conversations at the breweries near the stage had to involve yelling to the person you were trying to talk to.
Another plus was that most of the brewery tents were staffed by brewery employees so you could ask questions about the beers and find out more about the breweries.
There were many food trucks available if you got hungry. With that many trucks there was a wide array of choices for food, ensuring there was something for everyone. (including the VIP people who could not get the food they expected for the VIP area pairings… see below)
Next, we want to discuss the VIP area. This had pluses and minuses. To put this into perspective, we want to explain the difference in pricing between VIP and non-VIP tickets. VIP tickets were $125, while All Day passes were $75. VIP tickets included food pairings, talks with brewery professionals, separate toilet facilities and free water bottles. There were good and bad points about the VIP area and it would be easiest to list them:
- very short lines or no lines for the toilet facilities
- free water bottles
- talks with brewery professionals were interesting and came with VIP only beers
- VIP only beers (some intended for food pairings)
- food pairings were well thought out seemed to be good matches, however… see The Bad below
- There were only 50 servings of food for each pairing, but way more than 50 people in the VIP area. This led to many people missing out the food pairings. We talked to a few VIP ticketholders who expressed their anger at the fact that they paid extra for VIP because of the food and they got none. The Beer Aliens in attendance at the festival were only able to get a food serving from the very last session of the day but we could not pair it since the beer for that pairing was not pouring anymore
- There was a schedule of pairings and speakers, but the food pairings were not quite on schedule. Some of the dishes were served earlier than listed.
- The line for the VIP beers was long as they usually only had 1 or 2 people serving. (this lead to the problem with the food pairings as everyone in line for beer just rushed over and grabbed the food)
Recommendations for VIP food pairing at the next festival:
- Sell VIP + Food tickets separate from VIP area tickets
- or provide enough food servings to match the number of people requesting them
Overall, the Best Coast Beer Fest was a huge success and we would strongly recommend attending this event again. That being said, we would not recommend VIP based on our experience at this festival. Next time Best Coast Beer Fest comes around, we would suggest verifying how they are going to handle food pairings and the VIP area before spending the extra $50 for expectations that may fall short.
Here are some photos from the event: