The 6th Annual Brew Ho Ho brought the masses to the Phoenix Club in Anaheim this past Saturday featuring more than 90 craft brews from some of the finest breweries in Southern California. It turned out to be great day for a winter ale fest – with weather in the mid-80’s and light breeze (Gotta love Southern California weather!). People came decked out in holiday gear, we saw everything from festive shirts, ugly Christmas sweaters to kilts. My kilt was at the cleaners so I wore my everyday drinking shorts and pretzel necklace – not thinking, I brought some tasty chocolate covered pretzels for a holiday twist, let’s just say they were a delicious chocolate mess a couple of hours later.
The Phoenix Club proved to be the perfect location with plenty of room for vendors, food trucks and a stage, where ska legends the English Beat performed later that afternoon. As far as beers go, Brew Ho Ho focuses on winter ales, porters and stouts. Some breweries brought special releases that went fast, like Hoparazzi’s cherry sour with chocolate, it ran out in 30 minutes, I’m still kicking myself.
But here are some festival brews that stood out: Einstok Beer Company had two great choices – Winter Brew, a Doppelbock 6.7% ABV and Wee Heavy, a Scottish Ale 8% ABV from Iceland. Amazingly crisp, both beers were rich in flavor with super clean finishes (maybe it’s that Icelandic water they use). UNSUNG brought their award winning Propeller Head 6% ABV and added peppermint and cacao nibs for a tasty coffee amber that freshens your breath! And winners at this year’s GABF, Cismontane from Santa Ana brought their Spicy Porter 9% ABV, that had slight notes of coffee and chocolate with a nice spiced finish.
Brewery Rex from Santa Barbara, who are looking to open a tasting room in Orange County, brought their Cosmic Latte 7.8% ABV, a Blonde Stout with all the fixings. Also pouring was Chapman Crafted C is for Cookie 8.2% ABV, a collaboration beer with Brewery Rex. This Cookie stout was like drinking a chocolate candy bar, thick and chocolate-rich with plenty of vanilla and toffee, it was pure deliciousness.
The 2017 Brew Ho Ho had a little bit of everything, plenty of room to walk and indulge in an all-star line-up of breweries and food trucks, and not to mention get some Christmas shopping done. You can’t help but get those holiday feels when people come together in the name of craft beer.