Claremont Craft Beer Walk: Take a walk on the wild side

Even though the sidewalk was sweltering, we braved the heat to do some of our favorite things: socializing, drinking beer and listening to music. And this year’s Claremont Blues & Brews Craft Beer Walk was one to remember.

During a scorching heat wave, you might expect crowds to opt out of the festivities but the very opposite happened. Tickets sold out and streets were filled with beer-lovers from near and far. The heat wasn’t going to stop anyone.

We started our booze cruise at the newest restaurant in town, so new, in fact, that it isn’t even officially open yet—Beer Belly Deli. While at the newly refurbished spot, we ran into executive chef Vince Guerrero, who showed us the menu and some of the cool new features, including a smartphone-operated jukebox. We were excited to try Chef Guerrero’s food but for that we would have to head next door to the Claremont Forum, a nonprofit that sponsors the nationwide Prison Library Project. We walked into the delightfully air-conditioned bookstore to find Beer Belly Deli’s delicious pork BBQ sliders and New Belgium Brewing Company beer samples. We quickly devoured both and decided to once again head out into the heat.

Our next stop was Maple Boutique, where we indulged in a 21 Choices frozen yogurt bar and one of our favorite beers of the day: Legends Premium Lager’s Triple Karma IPA. We even got a chance to talk with founder and president of Legends, Jay Talley. Mr. Talley told us he had heard about the event on Eureka Burger’s twitter feed. Eureka wasn’t able to make it to the event so Legends stepped in. “Where ever we can help—we do,” he said.

While walking to our next location we stopped to enjoy some music. Electric blues band The Silver Kings were rocking out with their unique style near the First Street parking structure check-in site. Music-lovers stopped to listen and enjoy samples from The Pita Pit, another stop on our map. Pita Pit owner Chelsea Finley told us, “I feel the walk is beneficial to get known, we are in such an inopportune location, but being next to the check-in has brought in a lot of foot traffic.” She was not exaggerating, when we entered the business it was full of guests eating pitas and sampling Claremont Craft Ales selections.

After stuffing ourselves with pitas, we headed over to American Apparel to see what they had cooking up. We got the chance to taste Hanger 24 Brewery’s Orange Wheat beer, which was a refreshing summertime treat and tasted some pizza and pasta from Eddies Pizzeria & Eatery.

Around the corner on First Street, we noticed something called Claremontian Cab Bicycle Rickshaw, which was offering rides from one side of the Village to the other. A 2-seater buggy pulled by a bicyclist served as transportation for several happy guests.

We then made our way up Indian Hill Boulevard to A Shop Called Quest, where we encountered our first massive crowd. We barely squeezed ourselves into the new comic store and made our way to the back of a very long line. While waiting to taste brews from Oskar Blues Brewing Co., we ran into COURIER editor Kathryn Dunn and her entourage. She told us of all of the delicious beers she had tasted and that there was a lot more ahead for us to look forward to.

We left the comic store but only had to travel a few steps to Heirloom for what many had told us was one of the best stops. We weren’t disappointed. As we walked in, we were handed a delicious hotdog from The Corner Butcher Shop then we got to drink an amazing IPA from Sanctum Brewing Co.

By this time it was already growing late and we knew if we wanted to use up all of our beer sample tickets we would have to hustle. We speed-walked over to Claremont Village Treasures where we tasted beer from Bootleggers Brewery and some tasty Mexican food. We then crossed the street to enjoy the air conditioning and visit with our friends at Buddhamouse Emporium, who served up selections from Dale Bros. Brewery.

Our next stop was one of our favorites. Amelie was serving an upstart brewery’s beer, the Hamilton Family Brewery, which does not yet own a public location. But that doesn’t stop them from making some seriously impressive beer. We tried their IPA and 909 Wheat samples on tap but then got a secret tasting of grapefruit ale made with the remnants of their wildly popular Blood Orange Ale. After tasting their wares we knew we would forever be hooked. Owner Joshua Hamilton let us know how we could be a part of making that happen. Simply go to www.kickstarter.com/projects/1111714276/hamilton-family-brewery-stay-loyal-drink-local and make a donation to their Kickstarter.

We danced through the Village to blues bands throughout our course, passing by Remember Then cranking out classics we could all sing-along to, the Stan West Blues band featuring electric guitar and a saxophone and finished off listening to the Ravelers Blues Band at Craft Beer Walk headquarters, Sonja Stump Photography.

Ms. Stump seemed incredibly pleased at the turnout despite the hot weather and invited us to cool off in front of an industrial fan while trying some samples of The Back Abbey Belgian Craft Beer.

We made an all-out-dash to Colors 91711 so that we could get our hands on some Stone Brewing Company beer, the favorite of COURIER news reporter Beth Hartnett.

With only minutes to go, we rushed over to our last stop, Speckled Hens. This was not only our last stop, but also one of our top stops. They were serving beers by Karl Strauss Brewing Co. and we couldn’t have been happier. We tried not one, but 2 glasses of the Tower 10 IPA and would have continued on but we tapped out the keg. While drinking more than our fair share of beer we got the chance to talk to assistant draught technician Francisco Rosete and donation coordinator Joe Megna, who told us all about their unique beers. Karl Strauss Brewing Co. was started in San Diego, California and uses exclusively New Zealand hops. They also informed us that they would be opening a new tasting room next month in San Diego.

After the dust had settled and all the beer had been drank, we knew the event was an obvious success. While making our way home we stopped to say hi to Marvy Wagdy owner of Scarlett Closet who told us, “I got perfect beer, food and entertainment. It was awesome.”

We couldn’t agree more.


Always take the opportunity to indulge,

J&J