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Beer brings cheer to Claremont

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UCLA student Andrew Velas­quez works at Democratic con­gressional candidate Russ Warner’s booth at the Califor­nia Beer Festival in Claremont on Saturday. Warner is running for Congress in the 26th District against incumbent Republican David Dreier. / photo by Christopher Guzman

Tennille Wright
Staff Writer

Inebriated, smiling people were everywhere Saturday during Claremont’s Califor­nia Beer Festival. Like kids in a candy store, a cup was in every hand as laughter and music blared from the stage.

Nearly 1,600 people came out and filled the Claremont Village area at First Street and Indian Hill Boulevard. The $40 admission bought participants unlimited beer, with more than 30 brews to choose from.

“I’m having an awesome time,” said visitor Damian Raffele. “I love being able to taste so many different beers.”

For non-drinkers and designated drivers, admission was $25 and included a bottle of water and a buffet meal ticket.

Proceeds of the Festival benefited the Dyslexia Awareness and Resource Center.

“I’m having lots of fun, but I wish food was included in the price,” said Chris Palmer, who also attended the event.

The event had pleny of food for purchase from vendors.

Some California breweries donated the beer, using the festival as a promotional tool.

“We’ve been open two years and this is the 10th festival we have been to,” said Justin Richards of the Inland Empire Brewing Company.

The Hip Kitty Jazz and Fondue Lounge, also a participating vendor, had no plans of ending the party at 5 p.m. The club hosted an after party immediately following the Beer Fest.

“We’re here to promote,” said Darlene Luna, Hip Kitty Jazz and Fondue Lounge bartender. “We are located right … here and the response today has been positive.”

The Hip Kitty offered anyone with festival wrist bands discounts on drinks and featured live music into the night.

Participants bounced from one vendor to the next refilling their cups. Several vendors had run out of beer even before the festival was over.

“Everyone is enjoying themselves so much I ran out about 30 minutes ago,” Richards said.

Participants ranged in age from barely legal 21-year-olds to 90-year-olds in wheelchairs, all eager to taste the variety of beer and meet new people.

“It’s a small gathering but nice to see people of all ages,” participant Tiffany Snow said.

“Its great to be around people who love the same thing you do,  beer,” Gracie Hayes said.

Some of those who participated are already planning to attend next year’s festival.

“I’m totally here if they bring the festival back to Claremont.”

Tennille Wright can be a reached at

Andy Dale, co-owner of the Dale Bros. Brewery of Upland, was happy to enlighten Stefanie Burgos of Claremont about the glass of California Black Beer that she was sampling. The Black Beer was one of the Dale Bros. gold medal craft beers that were available on tap. / photo by Christopher Guzman

Genevieve Lunt and Sandy Mao joined Claremont resident Lara Christensen at the California Beer Festival. / photo by Christopher Guzman

John Melkanian, owner of Heroes and Legends in Claremont, and John Verboys were the only servers with Guinness and Sam Adams on tap. / photo by Christopher Guzman

Bo Jaxon hosted the California Beer Festival in Claremont, Saturday October 16 while festival mascot, Burt the Bear, walked the event and posed for pictures. Jaxon is a radio disc jockey from Ventura. He is the host of the Bo and Friends Morning Show on B95.1 FM and was also the host of the first California Beer Festival that took place in the Ventura. Jaxon noted that because of the event’s success in both cities, promoters would like to see it happen every year in Ventura and Claremont. / photo by Christopher Guzman

“Blue” Baron Phelps of the Blue Baron Band got the crowd moving early at the California Beer Festival. The Blue Baron Band was one of four groups to perform for guests. / photo by Christopher Guzman

Randy Levinson and “Wild” Bill Cheny, members of Claremont rock band the Has-Bins, enjoyed their drinks at the California Beer Festival. Cheny is a graduate of the University of La Verne College of Law. / photo by Christopher Guzman

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