Happy Birthday, Greg Nagel!

Even though Firkfest happens in March, they really should have it on April 28th, the Day of the Nagel. In as much as the firkin festival benefits the OC Brewer’s Guild, it’s Greg’s beer-mustached mug that looms large over the entire affair, grinning Chesire Cat-like with a nonic-shaped glint in his eye.

After going off without a hitch for Firkfest’s inaugural year, producing year two and year three became old hat for the OC Beer & Booze blogger and Orange Coast Magazine writer. This year, Greg achieved the old hat trick plus one (that’s a hockey term, you dirty bastards.) Not bigger, but better. Firkfest: Caskaway Tiki Beer Fest blew up Farmer’s Park like Disney’s World of Color with hot pinks, lime greens, sunny yellows, and the like, carousing about in a sea of suds.

Whenever a party is Tiki-themed it pretty much guarantees that it will be a helluva time. American Tiki culture spawns from the 40s when Donn Beach, of Don the Beachcomber fame, fashioned a lifestyle borrowed from a Polynesian vacation. It was all about the cocktail set sipping liberally with insouciance; tranced in Exotica music; and flirting unabashedly with anyone in their proximity . This was Firkfest 4.0, but cask-conditioned craft beers in this field of dreams were the drink of choice.

Here are some photo highlights.

Everyone was decked out in colorful leis; flowers tucked behind the ears; Hawaiian shirts; and suave Panama hats. Sadly, no coconut bras were witnessed on display.

Notice all the sacks of ice atop the firkins. Cask ales are not refrigerated and best served at cellar temperature of 55F.  Craft breweries included: Bottle Logic, Noble Ale Works, The Bruery, Bootlegger’s Brewery, Barley Forge, Beachwood Brewing, Anaheim Brewery, The Good Beer Co., Karl Strauss, the late Valiant Brewing Co., and more.

Tasting Notes from Locale Magazine:

(Because I couldn’t drink that day.)

Anaheim Brewery | Coconut Hefeweizen!

Light and refreshing with a slight touch of toasted coconut and banana. Like a great wheat beer, it had a wonderful, hazy look to it that poured out so beautifully when untapped. It was so pretty, we almost couldn’t drink it.

Los Angeles Ale Works | Bluume

Pineapple foam atop notes of passionfruit. Get out of town with that wonderfully sour and sweet combo. This Bluume deserves all the flowery awards as it literally bloomed in flavor! The only things missing were a tiny paper umbrella and a pool floatie to send us off on our South Pacific fantasy.

Barley Forge | The Patsy

This beer has those deep chocolate and coffee tones we adore in our stouts, but garnished with hints of smoky roasted coconut. What a dream The Patsy is – chocolate covered, coconut flavored dream.

Thankfully, this brew wasn’t a one-off. It’s a staple at Barley Forge. Get your growler filled and ready yourself for delicious candied coconut evenings – or afternoons.

Mikkeller Brewing San Diego | Beer Geek Tiki-Land

The stouts at Firkfest got us like whoa: fruity, deep, and smoky. The perfect tropical luau in a drink with a mango and pineapple combo that had our taste buds reeling while the coconut offered a deep, toasty taste that we can’t stop thinking about.

Good Beer Company | Wubalubadubdub

When we want to talk sours on a sunny day, we’ll head over to Good Beer Company and talk to them about their whimsically-named and made-just-for-Firkfest brew and how we wish it were a mainstay. With hints of cinnamon and vanilla, they’ve got us wanting more.

Barley Forge | Wedding Tackle

Bright, flowery, and wowzers – the berries! All around lovely, the Wedding Tackle was perfect for warm weather, a picnic, and giant Jenga.

Riip Beer Co. | Riipbiscus

An IPA with floral, hibiscus tones, this beer was hoppy, wonderfully light, and perfect for our next romp through the tropics!

Chef Cody Storts of Salt & Ash 

Chef Shachi Mehra of Adya

Whether they hold it in March or on April 28th, Firkfest is a gathering that I’m always thrilled to attend. I appreciate all the hard work put into the stadium arena brewfests, but those massive crowds are just not for me. Even though Firkfest is always sold out, that means I’m only traipsing amongst 500 beer fans and not tripping over those in the thousands. Make sure you get your tickets early for 2018 when they pop up and cash me ousside, how bow dah.


Corky Nepomuceno

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