Outside Lands: 5 Craft Beers You Must Try at the Festival's New Attraction, Beer Lands

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Beer Lands at Outside Lands 2012. Photo: Wendy Goodfriend
Beer Lands at Outside Lands 2012. Photo: Wendy Goodfriend

You'd pretty much have to be living under a rock to not be aware of Outside Lands this weekend. But sorry, unlike previous years, there are no last minute tickets to nab. So if you are one of the lucky few thousand who is actually going, the festival has a few new attractions worth investigating. But the one I've really looking forward to is Beer Lands!

Heineken Sponsor at Outside Lands

For one, there are quite a few tasty breweries featured at the event but even more importantly, Heineken is still a sponsor. I love that clash. One has to wonder how you have such a large brewery sponsor the event and still create a craft brew presence. Can Outside Lands even pull that off?

The answer is yes!


For one, the craft brew scene at Outside Lands was no fly-by-night operation. David McLean, the owner and brewmaster at Magnolia Pub and Brewery, let on that it was quite difficult selecting only 15 breweries to showcase at the event. "This story could have been told any number of ways," he admits, letting on that maybe some breweries that he wanted to feature just didn't make the cut.

Beer Lands

The criteria for pouring at Outside Lands was far beyond just good beer, but that was a very important one. They had to be California-based craft breweries. He also wanted a good mix. So there are newer craft breweries and older ones too. Because Outside Lands is so much about the local Bay Area, local establishments were favored but not exclusively. "I really tried to balance it," explains McLean while enjoying a pour of Firestone Walker's Pivo Pilsner.

Of course, this has numerous challenges.

For smaller breweries, attending Outside Lands is not an easy task. The festival has just a few attendees and having your beer on tap is quite a commitment. "While it varies depending on the demand for each beer, you're looking at a commitment of around 20 kegs or so for each beer," says McLean.

That's a drop in the bucket for Heineken but not for the others.

Kegs at Beer Lands. Photo: Wendy Goodfriend
Kegs at Beer Lands. Photo: Wendy Goodfriend

Serving up beer at Beer Lands. Photo: Wendy Goodfriend
Serving up beer at Beer Lands. Photo: Wendy Goodfriend

5 Craft Beers You Must Try

  • Sierra Nevada's Outside Lands, Saison
    What makes Sierra Nevada's Outside Lands Saison one of my picks it that, for one, you can only get it at Outside Lands. That is rarely a selling point for me but since the beer is pretty darn tasty, I'll let it slide.
  • Firestone Walker's Pivo, Pilsner
    Firestone's Pivo is brand spanking new and definitely worth a try. The beer is a gorgeous yellow with a clean and spicy flavor.
  • Pacific Brewing Labs Squid Ink, Black IPA
    Squid Ink is a fun (and tasty) twist on the West Coast IPA with a slightly roasted flavor from the darker grains. It also has notes of citrus so while it is extremely dark, it is might brighter on the palette.
  • Linden Street's Burning Oak, Black Lager
    Burning Oak is kinda like a campfire. It's roasty, slightly sweet, but light bodied. I could drink a lot of this beer.
  • The Bruery's Mischief, Belgian Golden Strong
    Bruery's Mischief a dry Belgian beer with a lot of citrus and melon, and a dash of pepper. It's quite refreshing and the beer to turn to if the weekend heats up.

Beer Lands. Photo: Wendy Goodfriend
Beer Lands. Photo: Wendy Goodfriend