I can give you 51 reasons why Firkfest is the Best craft beer festival in Orange County, but all you need to know is that Firkfest founder and organizer, Greg Nagel (OC Beer Blog) knows how to throw a firkin party!
2018 marked Nagel’s fifth year hosting Firkfest – bringing the craft beer community together to celebrate the art of cask beer (also known as real ales). A brewing process using a ten gallon vessel called a firken, where beers are conditioned naturally without artificially introducing Co2 for carbonation to create unique unfiltered brews. Staying true to the tiki theme, over 30 breweries brought tropical brews featuring ingredients like pineapple, toasted coconut and rum soaked oak chips and attendees donned their best Hawaiian garb.
There were 50 casks of one-off beers brewed specifically for the event and what made these taste even better were the brewmasters pouring their own suds – a personalized touch you don’t typically get at most beer festivals. I wasn’t able try every cask but I tried! Ha!
Good Beer Co owner and brewer, Brandon Fender was personally mixing up beer cocktails, a refreshing combination of IPA, piña, honey and grenadine topped with a lime wedge and cocktail umbrella. Brett Lawrence from Towne Park Brewery introduced his new head brewer, Rod Burguiere, who showcased a Brunette Brown with raspberries and chipotle peppers. Can’t wait to see what else Burguiere has brewing. Bobby Fitzgerald of Gunwhales Ales poured his War Bonnet Super Saison with pomegranate, passion fruit, lime, orange zest and rum soaked oak chips – it was absolutely amazing and tropical AF!
I unfortunately missed out on trying Noble Ale Works Skittlebrau, a tart beer with tropical Skittles, but I was able to enjoy their Paleface Killah#3 – a collaboration cask with Playground DTSA – a Blonde Ale that combined lactose, coffee, coconut, pineapple and Kaffir lime leaves to create a beer that was coffee forward with a tropical finish. Shout out to 3 Punk Ale from Chula Vista, they brought Mai Tai Rye, a Rye IPA made with a homemade Mai Tai mixture. Head brewer Ivan Maldonado is doing great things on both sides of the border, he’s also a partner at Silenas Cerveza Artesanal in Tijuana, Mexico. Another great highlight was all the amazing food – I enjoyed some short rib croquettes from our friends at Lido Bottle Works.
Congratulations to Greg Nagel and all the brewers, volunteers and sponsors that made Firkfest possible and for raising money for the Anaheim Fall Festival and Halloween Parade. Looking forward to next year’s fest!
Firkfest, Farmer’s Park, Packing District, 400 S. Anaheim Blvd., Anaheim; www.firkfest.com.