Photo: Good Electrons
Photo: Brad Daane
Photo: Good Electrons
Photo: Good Electrons
Photo: Good Electrons
Photo: Brad Daane
Photo: Good Electrons
Photo: Good Electrons
Photo: Good Electrons
Photo: Brad Daane

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California Festival of Beers
Madonna Inn Meadows, 100 Madonna Road, San Luis Obispo, California

The 2017 California Festival of Beers is a 21 and older event will feature two different types of tasting tickets: Aficionado and General Admission. 

General Admission Tickets will include:

  • Admission from Noon - 5 pm
  • An Event Tasting Glass
  • Beer Tasting (Noon - 4 pm)
  • Live Music
  • Food Court and Retail Vendors
  • Interactive Games 

Aficionado Admission will include:

  • Aficionado Only Tasting from 10:30 am-Noon featuring beer and small bites offered from local restaurants and caterers
  • An Event Tasting Glass
  • Beer Tasting (10:30 am - 4 pm)
  • Live Music
  • Food Court and Retail Vendors
  • Interactive Games
  • Aficionado Bathroom Facilities
  • Seminar Access (limited attendance; advance reservations required**):

Seminar 1 - "Getting to Know A New Brewery" - 1 p.m.

On the 30th Anniversary of the first "all-California" beer festival, join beerfest founder Charles Hiigel for a look back on how a few beer travelers from a remote outpost like San Luis Obispo formed relationships with brewers all over California, making the California Festival of Beers possible.

The art of asking a brewer the right questions is more important now than ever, as breweries proliferate faster than we can keep up. Without taking too much of the brewer's time, can we get a quick outline as to what the brewery is all about? If so, the beers can be tasted from an improved vantage point. Hiigel's notes from those early brewer interviews resulted in a large one-page fact-sheet for each brewery, displayed at the brewers booth during the tasting, and which when compiled in smaller form, became the state's first brewery guidebook.

Seminar attendees will receive a reprint of the 1990 collection, and we'll apply the old fact-sheet format to a hypothetical brewery visit in the present day.

Seminar 2 - "The Joys of Craftsmanship in Craft Brewing" - 2 p.m.

Just exactly what does "craft" brewing mean? Attempts to pin down a definition have been going on for years, never entirely satisfactorily. In this seminar, Charles Hiigel will look at each step in the brewing process to find a brewery that chose to do things in a less-efficient, more hands-on way. Beers involving "micromalteries," decoction mashing, unusual hop applications, open fermentation, krausening, keg-conditioning, and unusual cellar treatments will all be tasted to see if the added level of difficulty is evident in the glass -- or do brewers do it because an extra level of craftsmanship is just more fun?

About Charles Hiigel

Charles Hiigel is best known to early supporters of California's brewing revival as the beer manager at San Luis Obispo's Spike's pub from 1981 to 1995.  Hiigel's first beer appreciation class was offered in 1983 and led to the production of California's first beer festival, held in the parking lot behind Spike's in October of that year.  Annual interviews with brewers led to the decision in 1987 to change the beer festival to an "all-California-only California" format in May of 1987.  Research for those festivals resulted in a collection of maps and fact sheets called The Breweries of California, the first book to document the pioneering "microbrewery" movement.  Hiigel's continuing work on beer dinners, restaurant staff training and numerous articles have earned him recognition as a leading consumer educator for the brewing community in California. 

**Those who purchase aficionado tickets will receive an additional code to make reservations online.  Each seminar attendee must have an aficionado wristband to enter the seminar.