• colLAboration: The Whole is Greater Than the Sum of the Parts

    April 9th, 2011mr meanerLA restaurants, tony's darts away, vegan events

    When springtime hits LA, I find I want to be outside as much as possible. It’s perfect timing, then, that the vegan-friendly, inaugural colLAboration mobile craft beer garden event would be held today, one of the year’s first truly spring-like days. Warm sun, cool breezes off the Pacific and even cooler beers on tap combined to make the the event truly spectacular for all those who attended.

    colLAboration is, er, a collaboration of four of LA’s top beer bar owners: Ryan Sweeney of Verdugo Bar and Surly Goat (which happens to be our local hangout), Brian Lenzo of Blue Palms Brewhouse, Clay Harding of 38° Ale House and Tony Yanow of Tony’s Darts Away and soon-to-be-open Mohawk Bend. Collectively, they bring decades of experience not only of beer, but how to create an atmosphere in which to enjoy it.

    If you’ve ever been to any of the above establishments, you’ll know that these guys care about their beer and their bars, sparing no effort to make sure you have the best time possible. They’re also hands-on. I still think that watching Brian Lenzo tap a cask with such grace and expertise is something that should be required watching for all beer lovers!

    So, appreciating all of their bars as much as we do, we were beside ourselves with anticipation to see what they could achieve together. And we were not disappointed…

    These awesome dudes took a nondescript parking lot in the Valley and turned it into a haven for craft beer lovers. Many of our favorite breweries were very well represented, including Stone, Alesmith, Eagle Rock, Craftsman, Firestone, Eel River, Bootleggers, Sierra Nevada, Russian River, Ladyface and Nibble Bit Tabby to name but a few. There were also some limited edition beers that you’d be lucky to find anywhere else, including my favorite, Craftsman Four Cylinder unfiltered Real Ale on the hand pump. If it wasn’t for the weather, I’d feel like I was in London when I drank it! There was also a rare Habanero Ale from Sculpin which was apparently excellent as well as a good selection of sour beers to mix things up a little.

    The guys also made it easy to get to, and get into, the event. For just $10, you buy a special coLAboration glass, which is good for future events. You could pick it up at the door or at any of the bars listed above. Once you’re there, beer tokens are $6 each, or you can get 4 for $20 (a damn good deal). Pours are hearty, and reflect the strength of the beer: you get slightly less beer if you go for one of the stronger brews – a good thing, trust me!

    BEER TOKENS! They're worth more than you are.

    Back to beer. Every hour or so they tapped another beer, so the selection was changing throughout the entire seven-hours. I’d say this was one of the best selections of beer at any event, and would rival even the larger beer festivals: Yup, the colLAboration guys struck a perfect balance of quality and quantity having way more high quality beers on tap than I would have imagined.

    Not only was the beer selection to kill for, but they’d thought of many details that other places just miss out on. Everything from plenty of restrooms (I never saw a line to get in) to a “smoking pen” – a separate area for people who wanted to have a quick cigarette while enjoying the event. They had also reached out to ten local restaurants and arranged delivery service from them direct to the event – there were pizza and Italian options, as well as Indian and middle-eastern food so one could get on one’s curry or falafel while drinking away.

    Vegan food, anyone?

    For us, though, the highlight was delivery direct from Tony’s Darts Away – the best place on earth to drink and eat vegan food at the same time, which was fortunately only a block away. Tony’s team had pre-made vegan dogs, pretzels and sandwiches and was hand delivering them from the bar in hot delivery cases, rather like ballpark food where somebody comes up to you and asks what you want to eat. Yeah, there were not 20 vegan menu items (you’ll have to go to Tony’s Darts Away for that) but, as with the beer selection, the quality/quantity ratio was perfect.

    Vegan dog via Tony's Darts Away $7

    Vegan pretzel via Tony's Darts Away. $2

    I mean, how many beer events can you go to where somebody will stop by your table and sell you an awesome vegan dog? None. Except for this one. That alone has to be a huge draw for us vegans.

    There was plenty of seating and even when the event had sold out it wasn’t unpleasantly busy, and no lines more than 2-3 people deep for each serving area. Unlike other beer festivals (including the Drink Eat Play at Sony Studios, coincidentally held on the same day) everybody was well behaved, being more interested in tasting the beer and enjoying the vibe than getting wasted and puking all over themselves!

    Pour me a Pliny!

    I cannot WAIT until the next colLAboration event. I’ll be first in line again with my glass and wristband ready to drink up and eat up. Huge thanks to our friends Ryan and Tony and their friends Brian and Clay for putting on a truly memorable event. The whole thing was so well planned and organized that I have never had as much fun in a parking lot in the Valley. Well, maybe I did once when I was 16, but that’s a completely different story…

    For more information, check out the colLAboration website and follow them on Twitter!

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15 responses to “colLAboration: The Whole is Greater Than the Sum of the Parts” RSS icon

  • I can’t believe you posted on this while it’s still going on. I’m here right now! Looking for a vegan gal with a laptop… I’ll find ya!!

    XOXO for being so awesome.

  • QGQGQGQG! How can you post about this so fast. I’m in line for a beer right now and commenting from my Droid. UR amazing.

  • haha, thanks! couldn’t stay long. we got there at noon and had to drive, ya know?

  • i really should get up off my fat ass and go to events like this. looks amazing. i live within walking distance too. and i’m (mostly) vegan. i love tony’s darts away and those vegan dogs. why am i so lame?

  • I just got home from this. Need to lay down. Not feeling too good. Only myself to blame.

  • Yes, we need more vegan beer events in LA! I missed this one, but I love Tony’s so I will be sure to check out the next.

  • I got in but non of my friends got there in time for entry so we ended back at Tony’s DA for more beer, chips, vegan gravy and daiya fries and sausages. Sooooooooooooo full of vegan goodness.

  • I got there at noon and just got home. nap time!

  • i’m ready to drink now, let’s go!

  • Such a great day. Can’t wait for the next one!

  • what an awesome event. too bad you missed the knuckle sandwich!

  • Gauri Radha गौरी राधा

    Ohh looks fun!

  • I’m bummed that I didn’t get to see you guys. I was there from ~1 until almost the end! Needless to say I was wiped out. So many amazing beers; it’s too bad you guys couldn’t stay longer. It seemed like they brought out the best stuff later in the day, including a nut brown porter aged in brandy barrels. AMAZING. Despite the awkward parking lot setup, it was a great time. Good, friendly people, and very well run. Except for the tap area on the far right. While the other tap areas gave out a reasonable number of samples, apparently the guy at the other one yelled at the workers and said if they gave out any samples they would be fired. This was told to me directly from one of the workers. I was a bit shocked at that attitude.

    Which brings me to a slight bit of puzzlement about the event. Personally I’d rather be served half-pints so that I could try more beers. But apparently at least one of the organizers didn’t think the event was about trying beers at all. I hope that one blemish is rectified before future Collaboration events. Because overall, it was a pretty amazing event, especially for a first time out. A raised glass to Tony and all the rest of the organizers (except for that one dude).

  • omg soft pretzel porn yummm

  • Going to the one this Saturday? I had to miss the last one but I’m looking forward to this. Plus, it’s at Blue Palms, which is my favorite-est place ever.

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