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BY STEFANI DIAS Californian assistant lifestyles editor firstname.lastname@example.org
Although Budweiser bills itself as the "King of Beers," it's no match for a god. Coming down from the heavens (of Lengthwise Brewery), Zeus Imperial IPA will make its debut Saturday as part of the first-ever Bakersfield Craft Beer Festival. And by now, it may take divine intervention to land a ticket.
The VIP tables are gone and only a few dozen tickets remained as of Tuesday for the unique event, the brainchild of three local businesses known for their support of craft brewing: Imbibe Wine & Spirits Merchant, Eureka! Gourmet Burgers & Craft Beer and Moo Creamery.
"At the other beer events in Bakersfield, there is really no focus on craft beer at all," said James Brown, Eureka assistant general manager. "It's a location for people to go and drink as much as they can. This (festival) is going to be only craft beer. We're trying to make it a classy event. ... Beer tasting rather than beer drinking."
More than 20 breweries from California and beyond will staff their booths with representatives well-versed in the seasonal and other brews they will serve.
"We wanted it (the festival) to be about education and exposure," said Tamera Dobbs, co-owner of Imbibe. "I think the most significant difference (from local beer events) is having reps from the breweries on site. It's not just go fill up your glass. They're talking about the beers and the brewery's philosophy. That ability to ask questions to someone that knows the answers, compare styles from one brewery to another."
When asked what beers she's interested in tasting, Dobbs named the offerings from Tioga-Sequoia Brewing Co. out of Fresno and Hangar 24 from Redlands, Chasin' Freshies IPA from Oregon's Deschutes Brewery and, of course, the newest Lengthwise brew.
"I love them all, but I really love the local guys."
Zeus Imperial IPA -- an India pale ale with a Centennial Ale base brewed primarily with Zeus and Citra hops -- makes quite an impression, said Lengthwise co-owner Jeff Williams.
"It came out at 10 percent alcohol by volume. It's balanced really well. It's deceiving, smoother than you would think a 10 percent beer would be. The Citra lends a passion fruit and citrus overtone to it, (which) overwhelms the beer at first and finishes very smooth."
Along with Zeus, Lengthwise will have three other experimental beers, which use the brewery's Centennial Ale as a base and branch out with distinct aromatic hops.
"We hopped them at a level you can tell what hop we used," Williams said. "Sorachi Ace uses a Japanese hop with unique tones of lemon and dill, melon and pepper too. Nelson Sauvin, a New Zealand hop, (adds) a wine-like element to both the aroma and the taste. Motueka, a New Zealand hop as well, has hints of passion fruit ... overwhelming aroma and tastes a little earthy as well."
Other breweries serving their craft beers on tap include Kern River Brewing, Bear Republic Brewing Co., Lost Coast Brewery, Clown Shoes and Firestone Walker Brewing Co., which is serving its 805 ale.
"Their 805 blonde ale is really delicious," Brown said. "Really crisp and clean flavor, perfect for summertime. A really good one to start off with."
Firestone will host a booth exclusively open to VIPs, who will be seated in an area near the stage. That will give them the best vantage point for enjoying musical acts like bluesy rocker Trey Tosh as well as Velorio and Soulajar.
VIPs will be served a dinner of Original Eureka burgers and chips. The burgers will be sold in the general area as will sliders, french fries and ice cream from Moo.
With such a lineup, it's not surprising that tickets are almost gone. Dobbs, who was handling the earlier online ticket sales, recommends people check at Imbibe for any remaining tickets. (Eureka, Moo and Lengthwise Brewery also have limited tickets for sale.)
She also had some advice for future festival attendees, whom she encourages to buck the Bakersfield trend of waiting until the last minute:
"Buy your tickets early next year."