Another year, another epic round of vegan debauchery. The best of the best made it out to celebrate. Vendors near and far made the trek, as well as dear friends.
If ExpoWest was Disneyland, this is Magic Mountain.
One day, 6 hours, unlimited flowing beer, restaurants, food trucks, outdoor concerts and for the first time it was being held at the one and only Rose Bowl. Impressive to say the least.
This year, a VIP ticket was well worth it compared to last. We entered on time and were lucky enough to have an enter power hour available to us before general admission. That hour was majestically quiet before the storm.
Not to say I didn’t have a blast when everyone swarmed in, it just mean’t I got to grub a whole lot more before the crowds.
It was my opportunity to hit up my “must-try” vendors first.
/Life is Sweet Bakeshop booth/
My heart was set on the much anticipated poptart. The flavor I chose was the exclusive Strawberry Basil with Vanilla Glaze.
It was beyond anything I had expected. A perfectly flaky crust enveloped a sweet strawberry basil filling. This was the most memorable pastry I had all day. I wish I had bought more than 2…or at least kept the second one instead of being a doll and giving it away.
We also grabbed a Blackhouse Buzz beer flavored cupcake. Boozy cupcakes, I'm in.
Right next door were my dear friends Nary Dairy. They were debuting two new flavors; one exclusively for the festival and another just because. You have to love them for that!
They love experimenting with new flavor combinations.
Truth is, they actually debut the Gouda a week earlier at Farmers Market, but I had missed the opportunity to try it. Shame on me, I know. BUT, my opportunity had arrived at Beerfest.
I. Was. Blown. Away.
Vegan gouda is not easy to replicate. I’ve rarely seen it done well. Nary Dairy captured the essence perfectly. The flavor was spot on and the distinct Nary Dairy texture was present. I hope this flavor makes more than one debut this summer.
The second flavor was the exclusive pub cashew cheese “Wolf Amoung the Weeds”. Not only was it a fun snack to tote around (and then later take home) it was also perfectly layered with cashews, beer, and cheesy flavors. Does it pair nicely with a cold beer? Oh yes it does.
These days, you can’t go to a festival, event or an expo without seeing the amazing Beyondmeat team. For VIP’s they were giving out free Po’Boy’s! I scooped one right up!
A restaurant I frequent quite frequently, had some great choices. One in particular I have been wanting to try for a while, the cornmeal crusted tempeh slider with pickled radish, avocado and arugula topped with garlic chipotle mayo.
Now if you didn’t know about the Thrillest from Garden Grill, you weren’t paying close enough attention. This was by far one of the most talked about options at Beerfest. I mean, come on, a loaded chicken sandwich with a Ronald’s donut bun, how could you not be intrigued? Novelty to the max. We just couldn’t say no.
My tastebuds were so confused, but also so stimulated. Chicken with a crunchy coating, soft sweet bun, savory sauce and fresh vegetables. Huh?
Whatever it was, it made my day. I was definitely at a festival and this sealed it.
/Mac and Yease/
I knew my buddy Ayinde from The Lusty Vegan was having a booth for the first time and he wasn’t holding back. Mac and Yease was once again within my reach. That was a priority. I hustled my way over so I could re-introduce myself with my long lost love and to introduce it to my friends for the first time.
Ayinde and his team were heating each and every dish–making it even more mouthwatering. Smart because Mac and Cheese left cold just isn’t the same.
My friends loved it! I loved it! Throughout the course of the day, I knew others who had never tried the coveted Mac and Yease so I brought them right over.
All happy to have tried it. All now in the know.
One of my grubbing partners in crime, Plantbasedfatkid had the Vietnamese nachos from Mandoline Grill on her list. We made our way over and picked up a few people on the way (Veganwhat and her out-of-town friend).
One of the best things I can say about Beerfest is all the grubbing partners I had that day. Everyone was happy to be there, ready to eat good food, drink tasty beer and immerse themselves with accepting vegan friends. The day flowed perfectly.
Another item on my list was to finally try a cupcake from Claracakes–the creator of the Inception Cookie Cupcake! I am a cookie monster and a cupcake lover, this concept was made for me.
But sadly, the balance wasn’t there. Separately they were both good, but together the very chocolatey cupcake overshadowed the tiny cookie inside. I was much more impressed with the tiny bite of cookie on top.
While we were at the booth we decided to get another much anticipated item, the Mac and Cheese Waffle.
So this is the thing, I think if the sauce isn’t extra rich and extra creamy cooking the pasta will dry it out and make it just taste like cooked pasta. The ranch sauce helped because the waffle itself didn’t have much flavor.
/The Grilled Cheese Truck/
After trying the Mac and Cheese waffle I really wanted to try the Chicken and Cheese Waffle Sandwich from the Grilled Cheese Truck.
But by the time we wanted to give it a try, the line was wayyyy to long. I snapped this photo from a guy passing by who was kind enough to indulge me. Regret #2 from Beerfest. Remember the first one was not buying enough poptarts.
/Plantfood for People/
Always savory, tender and fresh. Mmmm…I love this taco. It never disappoints.
At 3pm, an incredible group I belong too called Power to the Veg was having a meetup for a group photo op. As long as I have been apart of the group (and it hasn’t been that long) the size has doubled and not everyone was even in this photo! Its heart warming–my vegan family…and look at all the people on the turf!!
/Mud Hen Tavern/
At Vegan Street Fair, Mud Hen Tavern was my favorite booth with their tasty off-menu Banh Mi. It was freakn delicious! So I was definitely curious to see what dish they were showcasing at Beerfest. Knowing this restaurant and knowing the team, I knew it wasn’t going to be a regular menu item. They are always thinking outside the box over there…they remind me of Nairy Dary in that way.
Welcome the Walnut Chorizo Tostada. Layers upon layers of textures and flavors–I was impressed! I ate the whole thing!
Have you seen my write-up on Vromage? If you haven’t, let me tell you, we LA’ers are quite a lucky bunch. We have the first all-vegan cheese shop and it is heavenly. Plantbasedfatkid and Vegan_Glory both had not yet had the pleasure in venturing to Vromage, so we ran on over (yes again we ran) to Vromage’s booth to sample some vegan cheeses!
As usual they were right on the money, especially with the truffle brie.
Regret #3 was not getting the panini or the caprese sandwich.
This means a venture to Vromage is in the very near future to rectify this regret.
Hey! Do you want to see what it looks like when I can’t stop eating one of my favorite sandwiches?!
Yup, the speed on my camera could not handle the pace at which I was chomping down on The Puerco by Organix. I may or may not have stolen a large amount of this sandwich from Veganfatkid.
If you haven’t tried this, run to Organix!
I also may have stolen a bite from Gluten Free with Emily’s delicious gluten-free cookie sandwich by Whisk Gluten-Free Bakery that Organix was also selling.
It was the perfect booth to hold up at, take a breather and relax with some friends.
Right next door was Donut Friend. One of the bigger disappointments of the day. This chocolate strawberry donut didn’t nearly live up to the ones I’ve had at the store. I will say, the Husker Blu at the shop is one of my favorite donuts ever. I’m one of those weird people who actually prefers a cake donut over a traditional.
/Floret Vegan Kitchen/
A deliciously warming cup of Spiced Bombay chai tea from the lovely ladies at Floret Vegan Kitchen to end on.
There you have it. The 6th Annual Los Angeles Vegan Beerfest is in the books, in my belly and in my heart.
I have never been more proud to be part of something that understands the bigger picture…FOOD & BEER! Just kidding, but not. Food is a wonderful gateway drug to comprehending and then living a Klean-Karma life. Some (if not all) of my best memories were over food. My vegan evolution first started with my plate and then compassion followed.
As always, I can’t wait for next year and I hope to see you there!
Just some more favorites and a little cameo by John Salley.