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Of Outside Lands, San Francisco, and Beer

Outside Lands 2014
Outside Lands 2014Outside Lands website

Outside Lands is San Francisco's premier music event. And don't let Jay-Z and Beyonce tell you otherwise.

Headliners Kanye, Tom Petty, and Macklemore will draw the usual huge crowds. But there are dozens of other acts worth seeing at this year's Golden Gate Park festival. That depth, that variety - that's what makes Outside Lands an amazing music festival.

But our annual festival is more than a music concert. It is a unique event that celebrates music, sure, but also manages to encompass the city of San Francisco within the leafy confines of Golden Gate Park.

The "Attractions" tab of the Outside Lands website grows year after year. The food is artisan and many of SF's best restaurants show up. Want wine? They've got over two dozen local wineries pouring. Chocolate? Try Chocolands. Yes, that's a thing. You'll also find local art, a culinary exhibition, comedy show, and more. For goodness sake, they have an urban gardening workshop. Doesn't sound like many "music festivals" that I've been to.

Of course, for any festival to represent San Francisco, it needs to have beer. Good beer. And with Magnolia's Dave McLean at the helm, Outside Lands will have just that.

Dave has spent the last two years curating the beer list at Outside Lands. Take a look at the brewery and beer list here, and you'll know we are in good hands. The focus is centered around Bay Area and California beers, as one would expect.

"I've always put SF and the Bay Area first at Beer Lands, in keeping with the awesome sense of place the festival manages to cultivate," said McLean, "So, it's a Bay Area-centric list (and all-California, even when not Bay Area) and then one that also tries to showcase the many faces of the current craft beer culture."

And boy are there many breweries and faces of craft beer culture. As Dave mentioned, "we have some smaller breweries, some slightly larger ones, some brand new and some legends or pioneers of the good beer movement." Specifically, he called out newcomers Faction and Fort Point, which are each located in beautiful places, Alameda and the Presidio respectively. Both breweries are bringing tasty, session-able brews to Beer Lands.

"I'm a little partial toward session-able beers," said McLean, "and they are a good fit for the festival environment, where people are on site for a long portion of the day...I think 10 hours of music calls for at least a good number of beers that aren't going to hit you over the head. Overall, though, I tried for as much balance and variety as I could come up with given the volume considerations."

You'll find Dave's done a great job. While there are plenty of session beers, you'll also find everything from double IPAs, to Belgian strong ales, porters, and more. You'll also notice a couple breweries are bringing gose beers (wheat beers traditionally brewed with salt and coriander) to Outside Lands. Both Almanac and Anderson Valley are doing their part to revive the old style, Almanac with their Golden Gate Gose, and Anderson Valley with their The Kimmie, the Yink and the Holy Gose. "I think it's pretty awesome to have two (gose beers) in this lineup," said McLean, "I love seeing the revival of once-esoteric styles like this and it has been especially cool in recent years to see some older German styles have a resurgence in interest."

He's right - it's awesome to see older beer styles come back into fashion. Especially if you stop to consider the venue. It's a small miracle that a popular music festival will be stocked with gose beers. There are many concerts where beer lovers still yearn for something that isn't a macro. And here we spoiled San Franciscans get nearly 30 craft breweries at Outside Lands, each pouring multiple beers with styles that range from lagers, to hop bombs, to goses.

Then again, Outside Lands is more than a music festival, it's San Francisco's festival, and it wouldn't be complete without a tap list for the ages.

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Beer of the moment: Prairie's Pirate Bomb!

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