If there was a most-improved award to give for a food festival, The Santa Clarita BBQ & Beer Festival would win hands-down, and walk up to the podium with a standing ovation. This event, which just saw its second year, pulled off a remarkable transformation that brought together a fun, festive crowd with excellent food and drink.
Big names and craft breweries alike gathered for endless pours. Stella, Lagunitas, Goose Island, Shock Top, Fireman’s Brew, Coronado Brewing Company, Wolf Creek Brewery and Angel City Brewery were just a few of the many labels present. A slew of ciders joined the party as well, with Angry Orchard, Common Cider and others adding a sweet touch to the festival. Twisted tea [yes, hard iced tea] made for some additional fun.
BBQ was ever-present, as promised, with groups like Black Sugar Rib Company, Our Place BBQ and Taste of Soul on Wheels smoking up all kinds of ribs, tri-tip plates and pulled pork nachos. Admittedly, food prices were a little steep across the board and staff members weren’t too quick with orders at times, but this is all light years apart from the lines of last year.
The concert stage presented tasteful live entertainment for an hour or so, followed by an old-school DJ that turned it up toward the end of the night. The party was rocking up until the event’s end at 9:30.
Returning guests were extremely thankful to be rid of painfully long lines [really, though, it took more than an hour to get food at the inaugural 2016 event]. A significant increase in vendors was a big help, as was the festival’s extended hours [5:30 – 9:30 p.m. as opposed to closing at ~8 p.m. in 2016]. People are hoping for the Santa Clarita BBQ & Beer Festival to continue its momentum going into next year.
This Friday ‘grand tasting’ was the first part of a three-day event. Saturday and Sunday were both family-friendly gatherings that also featured live music and plenty of BBQ, as well as a kids zone, though no beer was served. For more information, visit BBQandBeerFestival.com
Benjamin Brown is a seasoned restaurant writer and hospitality consultant, serving up SoCal's hottest food news and reviews.