Beachwood and Friends Craft Beer Garden Brings Together Local Breweries for Bike Fest Long Beach • Long Beach Post

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Last year’s Beachwood Craft Beer Garden. Photo courtesy of DLBA. 

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Over the last few decades, cycling and craft beer have become interconnected cultural phenomena. It’s not uncommon to find breweries who sell beer-branded cycling gear from jerseys to water bottles or even sponsor cycling teams or clubs; and likewise, groups of bicyclists will often gather at their local brewery or tap house to enjoy a pint after a long, weekend ride.

So, it will come as no surprise that when the Tour of Long Beach—the annual bicycle charity ride and festival benefitting pediatric cancer research and the Miller Children’s Hospital Long Beach—returns this Saturday, May 11, so too will one of Long Beach’s best craft beer events of the year: the Beachwood & Friends Craft Beer Garden.

Curated for the second year in a row by the award-winning, Downtown Long Beach brewpub, Beachwood BBQ & Brewing, in collaboration with the Downtown Long Beach Associates, the event will feature handcrafted libations from not only Beachwood but also SoCal’s oldest brewpub, Belmont Brewing Company.

Also, pouring at the event will be an impressive group of Los Angeles and Orange County beersmiths chosen for their proximity to, and accessibility in, Long Beach.

The additional breweries chosen for this year’s event are: The Brewery at Abigaile (Hermosa Beach), the Bruery (Placentia), the Dudes’ Brewing Company (Torrance), El Segudo Brewing Company, Golden Road Brewing (Los Angeles), Monkish Brewing Company (Torrance), Ohana Brewing Company (Los Ageles—head brewer Chris Walowski is a Long Beacher), the Phantom Carriage (gypsy brewery based in the South Bay and Westside), and Strand Brewing Company (Torrance).

For a deeper look into this unique charity event, the Long Beach Post turned to Beachwood’s Creative Manager, Jarred Ekstrom.

How did Beachwood BBQ and Brewing become involved with the Tour of Long Beach Bike Festival?

Beachwood was approached last year by the Downtown Long Beach Associates to participate originally as a food or monetary sponsor of the Tour of Long Beach. But as we chatted, we came up with the idea to host a craft beer garden that would showcase some great local breweries. But even more, we thought having a craft beer garden was a great way to raise money for Miller Children’s hospital. All of the proceeds from the ticket sales go to the hospital. Last year we raised something like $7,000. This year, same as last, all riders get one free beer from Beachwood Brewing and then can purchase tickets to the beer festival. Last year the crowds were great, we had bikers, family, friends and craft beer enthusiasts attending.

How were the other participating breweries selected? Are they literally all friends?

We wanted to showcase great beer that Long Beach residents could easily drive to. So we called up our friends, yes all those participating are friends, and enlisted their support. That’s the great thing about the craft beer community–we each individually support the communities in which we live and operate and we also provide support to each other…we all recognize how important our communities are to our businesses and we all want to give back when and how we can.

This is the second year for Beachwood & Friends Craft Beer Garden; are there any changes from last year’s event?

The event will run the exact same as last year but I know we have new breweries in the mix. Off the top of my head I know Monkish, Ohana, Phantom Carriage, and the Dude’s are all new.

Is it important for Beachwood to be involved in major local events like the Tour of Long Beach? Why?

We always try to make a positive impact on the communities of Seal Beach and Long Beach since these are the places we work and live. And these are the people who ultimately make up our customer base so anything we can do to help promote projects that help people and build on that sense of community is great.

This is a very large lineup of breweries for a non craft beer industry event. Is that because craft beer is growing so rapidly in SoCal? Or, is it more a reflection of the connection between cycling and craft brewing?

It’s no secret that craft beer is gaining popularity in SoCal which is great…but craft beer and cycling actually do have a long history together. I think maybe there’s something about the fact that you can feel better about drinking a beer if it’s done in conjunction with a healthy outdoor activity. Also, I think craft beer and cycling have been growing in popularity at the same time so people naturally want to put them together. It gives folks an opportunity to get together with friends and head out and support small local businesses (like craft breweries), while at the same time getting the health and environmental benefits of bike riding. Since we first opened our doors Beachwood has always had a steady stream of customers who take both very seriously. For the past six years Beachwood has also been raising money for the MS Foundation through our work with a local cycling team (Team Crash) led by our good friend and customer, Kevin Gaffney. While we of course would never encourage people to drink and then ride, we can totally get behind that feeling of enjoyment from a tasty craft beer after a nice long bike ride.

Beachwood and Friends Craft Beer Garden will run from 10AM to 3:30PM. Tickets for 10 tasters are $20. The Bike Fest of Long Beach will take place at the Tour of Long Beach finish line and will feature a vintage bike contest and vendor village. Admission to the festival is free. 

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