Sorry I have been away, but I bring you a post of something new and exciting. Just a warning, I did not expect TributeFest to be the awesome vegan friendly event that it was, so I was not prepared at all to do a review. Also, I drank a lot of beer and probably missed tons of vegan awesomeness because of that. Keeping this in mind, forgive me for taking such awful pictures and just take my word for it that this was great.
TributeFest! What is that? I could explain it in my own words but really the website’s own description is tough to beat.
“Indio has Cochella. Chicago has Lallapalooza. Now Santa Clarita will have Tributefest. The inaugural event will bring together 8 tribute bands covering legendary bands including The Beatles, U2, Bon Jovi, Dave Matthews Band, Tom Petty, Aerosmith, Johnny Cash, The Who, and Sublime. In addition to the music, Tributefest will offer attendees over 30 beers on tap and dozens of food trucks.”
So here’s how it works; General Admission to the event in Central Park is $40. I noticed some early-bird deals for $25 is you jump on it a month or two in advance, but what you really want is the VIP ticket for $60. The VIP ticket/wristband is not like the VIP Coachella wristbands where you can go to a special, roped-off area and wait in long lines to drink small cups of heineken while Perry Farrell just cuts right in because security isn’t letting him into the artist lounge to steal beer from Smash Mouth’s trailer. Nor does it get you special access to hang out back stage with Petty Cash (a tribute to Tom Petty and Johnny Cash), because everyone is allowed back stage pretty much.
No, the VIP ticket is the awesome, red wristband that gets you unlimited 12oz pours of beer. YES, unlimited beer! I am not talking unlimited pours of Budlight, though it could be because they were pouring bud along with some other In-Bev beers domestic and imported. What I am really talking about is unlimited pours of some very tasty craft beers. Beers from the more well-known names like Sierra Nevada, Samuel Adams, New Belgium (Fat Tire) and Firestone Walker. In addition to the lesser known but still great breweries of Lagunitas, Speakeasy, Mission and Bootleggers.
If you know me, you know that I love craft beer. It goes beyond recreational enjoyment to obsession. I drink beer, I make beer, I study beer, I own lots of books about beer. I take classes about taste evaluation and breaking down the components of the ingredients of beer. I even go so far as to wear beer-themed tee shirts on occasion. It’s pretty bad, I know but I honestly do not drink a lot of beer. Usually only on weekends and not even every weekend. A lot of times I am only tasting beer with pours of a couple ounces for evaluation and trying out new commercial beers or homebrews at my monthly club.
Well, at TributeFest we were not getting tasters but full servings of beer. So, I drank the full cup of beer and went to get more beer. So many beers, though… I had to try them. It’s as if the beers were Poke’mon and I was going to catch them all. I did not catch all of them, but I got pretty close. Some of them I caught more than once/twice/thrice… I got there an hour into the festival and the thing goes for 11 hours. I never sat down, I just kept going from tent to tent. For 10 hours. I can’t remember all of the beers I tried, but of the ones I do remember: Lagunitas IPA, Speakeasy Prohibition Ale, Mission IPA, Mission Blonde, Hollywood Blonde, Bootleggers Hefeweizen, Firestone Pale 31, Firestone DBA, Michelob Shock top, Fat Tire, Wyder’s Cider (I wanted to see what all the girls were drinking), something with a yellow tap handle, and to end the night one of the beer reps graciously opened a 22oz bottle of Mission Double IPA that a few of us split. Actually, I might have drank the whole 9%abv bomber. Really, a fantastic IIPA and the perfect way to finally set down my glass.
Between pours I managed to get some food from the visiting food trucks. These are not the food trucks that you might see cruising avenue Tibbitts with suspect tacos and burritos that are sure to give you indigestion. The food trucks at TributeFest were top notch, restaurants on wheels serving simple menus with fresh ingredients built for the Los Angeles night crowed. Not only were some of the trucks vegan friendly but some even had VEGAN right on the menu.
First truck I tried listed vegan fries as one of their menu items. Frysmith had vegan chili fries with Daiya! For a buck or so extra you can bump up to sweet potato fries too.
The Fries were great, paired nicely with Laguinitas IPA. The extra hops tend to cut through the oil in the fries and cleanse the palate. Normally not something I would drink with chili but it worked nicely. After finishing my fries I went for more beer and met one of the guys from The Greasy Weiner Truck. I asked him about their menu because I noticed they had a veggie dog. He told me their Greasy Hippie dog is vegan and the buns are vegan. Also, their dogs are all deep fried but their vegan dog is fried in a separate fryer with the french fries while the meat is in their own fryer. COOL! So I stopped over there and grabbed a Greasy Hippie. By this time I was probably on beer number nine so I let the greasy guys pick the toppings for me.
The Greasy Hippie was very tasty, reminded me of Dodger stadium as a kid. The buns were very soft and fluffy, the dog flavorful the the crispness of the pickle and sauerkraut really made the whole thing. I Grabbed a Mission Blonde before making my way to the Greasy Hippie Truck. The Blonde Ale didn’t have the caramel notes or hop presence that would obstruct the delicate and sour crispness of the saurkraut. Instead flavor was enhanced when taking a drink and the slightly sweet, biscuity malt flavor mingled with the almost steamed hot dog bun and just melted in my mouth. Funny how I remember the beer stuff so well…
Speaking of beer, I drank a lot more before eating again. Earlier I saw a sign that I kept meaning to check out because they had “vegan” all over the menu. After the sun set I made my way over there.
Kabob N’ Roll was the highlight as far as food goes. See all those little red words next to the menu items? That says VEGAN and it’s up and down the whole menu!
By night time I decided on a falafel sandwich. I do not remember what I was drinking because I completely forgot about everything as this was far and away the best falafel sandwich I have ever had. Not that I have been to a ton of Falafel places but I have been to several and it’s not even the same thing. It’s like comparing falafels to oranges.
I am pretty sure I was walking around telling strangers to try the falafel. It was just beyond tasty. As far as food goes, that was all I ate. I am sure there were other vegan options, and lots of trucks i never even managed to visit. I was just too full after drinking 12 gallons of beer. On a side note, the Guy from Mission Brewery opened up their bottle of Double IPA near the completion of the festival. I talked him into it, or maybe he just wanted the loud drunk guy to go away. Either way I am now a huge fan of Mission as their ales are excellent and their IIPA is a fantastic beer.
So that’s what you can expect at TributeFest. Vegan food, great beer and a rare look at me completely sloshed. Also, there was music. The crowed was relaxed and security had a very easy time. Parking was a breeze (and free) and the bathrooms were even clean for hours.
To recap; Unlimited Beer, great vegan food, reasonably priced (considering how much it costs to go to the lame LA county fair? This was cheap!), local (Central Park!!! You can stay in the SCV and easily find a safe ride home), and they have music too!. Come by Next Year and make this thing an every year event in Santa Clarita.