Last year, Outside Lands sent a very clear message to the music festival industry: concert-goers can have nice things. The Bay Area won't settle for soggy fries doused in neon nacho "cheese." When we reach for crispy taters at one of the festival's many food-themed playgrounds, we'll take poutine topped with tangy sheep's milk cheese and roasted lamb from the Whole Beast, and when we want fried food, we're going with the battered-and-fried pickles at Fabulous Frickle Brothers. Outside Lands has become a pleasure dome of everything artisan — the food, beer, wine, and art installations complement the talent on the stage. When we toast to that notion at the festival, it won't be with the "champagne of beers," but with one of 45 local craft beers at the Beer Lands fixture.
Once again, this year's beery attraction was curated by Magnolia's Dave McLean, and offers 50 percent more brews than last year's already impressive lineup, including a number of rarities.
Anchor Brewing's Big Leaf Maple: This red ale brewed with maple syrup offers a toasty malt backbone and light bitterness complemented by a sticky maple sweetness. The aroma smacks of morning pancakes. Pair this brew with the sweet, smooth stylings of performer Jessie Ware.
Bear Republic's Cher Ami: This Belgian-style single is a light-bodied golden ale with a fruity, slightly spicy yeast character. This summer sipper with unique character will jive well with the sun-drenched acid rock of Wavves.
Drake's Brewing's Aroma Coma: This hop bomb features all-American hop varietals and reeks of citrus and pine. As a study in contrast, sip this aggressive beer while listening to the ear candy of Daryl Hall & John Oates.
Ale Industries' Cherry Kush: This Belgian-style Witbier is brewed with cherries, and offers a unique option for friends who need to transition away from boring macro beers. Hints of lemon, wheat, and chamomile play well with a distinctive, maraschino-esque cherry character. This candy-coated beer will pair nicely with the blissed-out sounds of the Grizzly Bear show, where you're certain to find another kind of cherry kush floating around.
Sierra Nevada's Outside Lands Saison: This saison, brewed exclusively for the festival, features a yeasty aroma full of black pepper with notes of cardamom and coriander. This traditional farmhouse style will mesh well with the barnyard indie rock of Band of Horses.