Beer Fest Hopes to Save Long Beach’s Beleaguered Sunnyside Cemetery: What the Ale!

Photo courtesy of Phantom Carriage Brewery

It’s not every day that you can drink craft beer to bring a 112-year-old cemetery back to life. But that’s exactly what Ryan Hughes and Martin Svab of Phantom Carriage Brewery want to you to do at their dark-arts beer fest that aims to #SaveSunnyside.

Dubbed “A Celebration at Sunnyside Cemetery,” the June 30 event will bring dozens of local breweries to the Long Beach’s historic burial ground, which faces imminent closure if it doesn’t find a way to sustain its monthly operating costs.

As fans of the macabre and residents of Long Beach, Phantom Carriage founder Svab and his general manager/sales director girlfriend Hughes approached the cemetery with an idea for a fundraiser that would combine craft beer with the custom hearses and witchy retail of the death-positive vintage horror community. “It’s the most historic place in Long Beach,” says Hughes

Founded in 1906, Sunnyside serves as the final resting place for Civil War veterans, the city’s founders and working-class immigrants alike, making it a crucial piece of Long Beach history, albeit one that rarely gets the love it deserves.

Currently managed by a small group of volunteers—including many with family members among the 16,300 interred there—Sunnyside’s upkeep now far outweighs its income, and it needs help with its crumbling structures, dead trees and pesky gopher problem.

Photo by Sarah Bennett

This is where your drinking comes in.

Breweries as close as Ten Mile and as distant as Chimay have already signed on to pour. And all proceeds from A Celebration at Sunnyside go directly into keeping the historic graveyard alive.

The event is just the beginning of what Hughes and Svab hope will be a long programming partnership that includes summer movie screenings and more. “[Sunnyside is] the only place for me that’s peaceful. It’s a form of serenity in the busy city,” Svab says. “You can watch the world go by, but time’s stopped here.”

A Celebration at Sunnyside Cemetery at Sunnyside Cemetery, 1095 E. Willow, Long Beach; festivalobscura.com. June 30, noon-4 p.m. $20-$65. 21+.

Sarah Bennett

Sarah Bennett is a freelance journalist who has spent nearly a decade covering food, music, craft beer, arts, culture and all sorts of bizarro things that interest her for local, regional and national publications.

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