Vegan Oktoberfest 2015
Last weekend Alex and I were lucky enough to attend the 2nd Annual Los Angeles Vegan Oktoberfest! Last year when we went (you can read about that here) we had a very different experience. Not better, for sure. Last year the event was held in Santa Monica, basically on the strand, and was kind of a disaster. People had trouble parking, the event was really overcrowded and hot, and tickets were oversold so the fire marshall ended up capping the number of people allowed inside the gates and people who paid for tickets were getting turned away. A lot of people were mad about it, but I can understand the logistics of assuming it would be a relatively small event and being way overwhelmed. It was their first time! Plus, we got in and had a blast, so I hold no grudges. This year, we weren't sure exactly what to expect, but it ended up being a THOUSAND times better. The people behind Vegan Oktoberfest definitely heard last year's complaints and made an effort to prevent all of last years problems and prevent any new major issues. This year they moved the event to the much larger LA Center Studios in Downtown LA, which had tons of paid parking around to use and a much larger space capacity for people. Last year we waited in line for an hour to get in, but this time we strolled right in. There was a decent crowd when we got there, but not overwhelming. We showed up pretty early on in the event, but it never seemed to get overwhelmingly busy at any point this year. It was actually really nice to be able to stroll around with Alex and hear each other talk, and since the lines weren't very long we were able to spend more time hanging out and less time waiting in separate lines for food and beer.
Our first stop was to one of all-time faves, the Sage Truck! Sage has three locations plus the food truck, and they all serve up some of the yummiest vegan food EVER. We shared a pretzel with sriracha mayo + honey-free mustard and an order of the Chili Cheese Fries, and Alex used his first drink ticket to fill up his mug with his fave alcoholic ginger beer, Royal Jamaican. I don't really drink, so my mug was mostly empty, but Alex was able to try a few beers as we walked around. It was of course nice to see my home state of Maine represented with both Shipyard AND Seadog Brewing in attendance!
Our next food stop was at the Blode Kuh cheese booth. We're good friends with Doug + Maxie, the couple who runs the vegan cheese company, and we were so happy to catch up with them for a few minutes. They were selling an ah-maz-ing traditional Bavarian cheese platter with 3 different cheeses (including BEER CHEESE!), homemade brown bread + potato salad. I love eating little bits and being able to try smaller portions of more foods, so this plate was perfect for me. Plus, the gals at Blode Kuh wore traditional Dirndl dresses which was super cute and festive! There were at least 20 food vendors, and while we definitely didn't stop at every place, we definitely felt like we ate a TON. We tried to go to new places and get our very favorites rather than trying to squeeze something from every single place in.
Our last big savory food stop was at Broke Hungry Vegan's booth for a Seitan Bratwurst with housemade kraut and grilled onions. It was Alex's favorite stop and I was alllll about that kraut. They did an amazing job recreating a traditional sausage, and I love that they didn't shove it in a huge bun, you could really taste all the great flavor! Plus, I finally met Brittany, the face behind BHV, and she is totally rad.
We were ready for sweet treats after so much delicious and filling savory food, so we hopped in line at Divine Dips for a small cone of their Rastaberry (raspberry) flavor. It went with the whole t-shirt theme AND tasted amazing and refreshing after a lot of heavy, fried foods. Next time I NEED to try that Maple Cardamom flavor...YUM!
We finished off the event with a slice of German chocolate cake (naturally) + maybe the best jelly-filled donut I've EVER had from Ridiculous Baking Company, and of course grabbed a few take-home donuts from Donut Friend, including my absolute fave the 'Custard Front Drive'. We had met up with tons of vegan blogging friends and eaten our respective weights in fried foods and ice cream, so we headed home about an hour before the event ended. I think overall this year was way more effectively planned and executed, and I hope that now that they've proven they can do it, more vendors will come back. We had a blast either way + can't wait for next year! Keep up with the latest news from Vegan Oktoberfest, including details on next year's event on Facebook, Instagram + at VeganOktoberfest.com!
Last Saturday, October 4th, we were lucky enough to be hanging out at LA's first Vegan Oktoberfest! It was amazing. Rows of beer tents, adorable tasting steins, German-inspired vegan food, and THOUSANDS of other vegans. A place I wish I could hang out ALL the time, frankly. We're pals with the folks who ran the event and they hooked us up with preferred parking so we could get in early and munch, meet, and photograph everything.
After a warm but not overly unexpected 20 minute wait in line upon arrival, we got our tickets scanned and were given our adorable 4-oz beer-tasting stein. We entered the gates and were amazed. So many vegans in ONE PLACE! And so much BEER! Seriously, paradise. We would've been happy with the food options alone! Your beer stein could be filled (presumably) an unlimited amount of times, all you had to do was wait in line. The food lines were considerably longer and slower-moving than the beer lines though, so often one of us would wait in line for food and the other would run around getting beer samples.
There were several food trucks (including the Grilled Cheese Truck & the Green Truck) selling Germain faire like veggie brats & sauerkraut-filled sandwiches, and a number of booths selling baked goods, non-dairy cheeses, vegan ice cream, lemonade, pretzels, and fried dough.
They're were some awesome outfits to be seen at the 'fest, both homemade and otherwise. These cute couples were adorable AND willing to let me photograph them. They rocked. And seriously- coolest outfit ideas!
We tried the 'Sloppy Otto' jackfruit, sauerkraut, and grilled onion sandwich, a Field Roast veggie sausage with spicy mustard and pickles, some 'bierocks'- ground Beyond Meat sausage crumbles cooked with carrots and onions and seasoned, plus some seriously AMAZING 'beer cheese' from Nary Dairy. For dessert we noshed an apple cinnamon raisin roll with glaze from Life is Sweet Bakery and some dairy-free blueberry ice cream from Kind Kreme. Oh, and a lot of beer- but after so many taster cups, I vowed to not even try and remember which one had been which.
And in case you couldn't tell from our Homemade Chick'n Salad recipe, we LOVE LOVE LOVE Beyond Meat. They're an awesome company making amazing meatless meats, and they're pretty damn friendly too. We met up with our friend Justin, head of their Twitter account, and ate some of their beer-soaking bierocks, a puff pastry filled with faux meat crumbles (pictured above). They were handing out coupons and chatting up visitors, and we were happy to have stolen a minute of Justin's time to hear about some new products they've got in the works. All we can say is...GET READY. Beyond Meat is about to take it to a whole new level!
After all the beer and food, we were stuffed. Though there ended up being a bit of an oversold ticket problem, the people in charge offered refunds to anyone affected promptly. And just look at all those beer-drinkin' vegans! Our only suggestion for next year? A bigger venue. LA has so many people willing to come eat delicious food and drink delicious beer, imagine how crazy awesome an extra couple thousand people would be?! SO MUCH good vegan press! All we can say is...PROST!! For more on the event and next year's ticket sales: VeganOktoberfest.com.