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.
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
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