Don Bauder 6:30 p.m., Jan. 20
Last call for Mission Valley Craft Beer & Food Festival
Sunday's MVCBF will be the last, but The Handlery's not done with beer
It’s the end of an era, albeit a relatively short era. After hosting the Mission Valley Craft Beer & Food Festival for the past four years, the crew at The Handlery Hotel (950 Hotel Circle North, Mission Valley) are pulling the plug on the edibles and quaffables affair. Early on, the festival was criticized for coming across as poorly planned. And early on, those criticisms were valid. Beer ran dry and certain breweries didn’t show up to man their booths.
But even back then, at the heart of it all, there was a great deal of passion by people who really care about craft beer and its symbiosis with food, and desperately wanted to expose people to what can happen when the two are thoughtfully paired.
Last year, the MVCBF improved by leaps and bounds by significantly expanding its footprint at The Handlery and adding seating so guests could comfortably enjoy the pairings. were key improvements. The event finally found its footing and made fans of former critics, which makes it all the sadder that organizers GM Gus Thompson and chef Karl Prohaska of The Handlery’s Postcards American Bistro will no longer be pouring their energy into a glass that went from half empty to near full.
The duo note the growing number of beer-and-food festivals in the county and their lack of ability to compete with those operations while staying true to their visions of avoiding “cattle call” events featuring seemingly endless lines of ravenous event-goers more into indulgence than appreciation and exploration of quality beer and food.
Fortunately, there will be one more go-round before the sun goes down on this noble experiment. The 2013 edition of the MVCBF will take place this Sunday, March 24 from 1 to 5 p.m. and feature beers from 30 breweries as well as food offerings from 20 chefs including Hanis Cavin of Carnitas’ Snack Shack, Olivier Bioteau of Farmhouse Café, Colin Murray of Brooklyn Girl, Rich Sweeney of R Gang Eatery, Matt Richman of Table 926 and Jeff Rossman of Terra. There will be live music from a trio of bands and proceeds will benefit Wounded Warrior Homes.
Though this is the end for MVCBF, Prohaska and company are by no means finished supporting and getting the word out about the local brewing industry. They intend to continue holding smaller events as they have in the past. Those include a festival highlighting recently opened operations called New Kids On The Block, and special food-and-beer pairing dinners and banquets such as an upcoming low country boil event with Societe Brewing Company on April 21. There are also plans to take Postcards in a new direction that would highlight local craft beer.
San Diegans may have seen the last of the MVCBF, but this is nowhere near the end for The Handlery where America's Finest suds are concerned.