What to Drink at Outside Lands

'Ye Ol' Beer Lands at Outside Lands 2015

It's August in San Francisco. Which means it's time for the annual urban ritual that is Outside Lands. On the eve of its ninth rendition, it's a festival above the rest: a premiere destination for all things food and drink. And, oh yeah, the music ain't too shabby, either. Golden Gate Park's Polo Field reimagines itself this weekend as one gigantic house party, serving some of the Bay Area's best beers, wines, and cocktails to some 70,000 lucky guests. Here's what to expect, from a few of the fine folks putting it together.

[jump] The viticultural playground known as Wine Lands offers as impressive an array of fermented grape juice as you'll ever encounter at a music fest. This year, the main tent is supplemented by a satellite location known as The Wine Club, on the opposite end of the Polo Field, adjacent to a miniature golf course in Hellman Hollow. This should alleviate some of the traffic at the perennially congested primary site.

Even with over 120 wines on pour, curator Peter Eastlake still had to turn away countless producers. “I try to achieve a balance of known and unknown wineries,” he explains. “I'm always conscious of letting WL reflect a wide range of brands so that it feels inclusive and not too in-the-know and nerdy. There's room for Menage a Trois and Wind Gap.”  Check out the rosé from his own label, Fount. Refreshing, crisp, and eager to please. Lovers of full-bodied reds will appreciate cabs from vaunted winemakers such as Chateau Montelena and Deerfield Ranch. And for those decidedly less serious about their wines, there'll be a Tropical Tiki Wine Bar

Over at Beer Lands, Dave McLean of Magnolia returns, helming the program for his fifth consecutive year. This time around he assembles 30 breweries from the wide world of craft, littered with names to make the geeks go giddy. “What is particularly notable,” McLean explains, “is that with the growth of the local beer industry, the list at Beer Lands is now 100% Northern California and skews more than ever toward SF and Bay Area breweries, which I think dovetails perfectly with the very local sense of place the festival cultivates.”

“This is our third year pouring at Beer Lands,” proclaims Jesse Friedman of Almanac Beer. “This year we're pouring Saison Dolores and our Craft Pilsner. Both are specifically brewed to be enjoyed outside.” When it comes to recommended pairings, Friedman suggests his peppery Saison alongside Duran Duran, and predicts the pilsner will be best-suited to LCD Soundsystem's headlining set on Friday night. 

Additionally, you'll get grog from local legends such as Anchor — which just debuted a line of fruit-forward pale ales — and 21st Amendment, a dependable producer of crushable summertime suds. If you're into the sours, seek out High Water Brewing's tart and tangy Calambic Series, or the Regatta de Blanc, a kriek style ale from Harmonic, the brand new brewery in the Dog Patch. 

OSL 2016 also features the debut of Cocktail Magic, a melding of mixologists and magicians hidden in the woods of McLaren Pass, dividing the Polo Field from Hellman Hollow. Head here for mixed drinks from some of the city's marquee bars, including 15 Romolo, Elixir, and Trick Dog. As for the tricks the magicians have up their sleeves, that's anyone's guess. 

If you're like Eastlake, perhaps you have your own OSL routine by this point. “I'm a creature of habit,” he admits. “Del Popolo pizza and a glass of Rose for lunch. At least two Lobster rolls over the weekend, lots of oysters, and fried chicken and waffles on Sun before the Park fills up. I also love having Sake in the mix. Beerwise, Magnolia Kolsch is a must for me.” Not a bad lineup. Just save some room for the music. 

View Comments