The annual Planned Parenthood fundraiser shows guys and girls love a good beer

By Kat Thomas

The crew at Chaya Venice turned out strong for Food Fare Photo by Michael Aushenker

The crew at Chaya Venice turned out strong for Food Fare
Photo by Michael Aushenker

As Benjamin Franklin once said, “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” And there was nothing happier than drinking local brew in support of women’s health last Thursday at Planned Parenthood Los Angeles’ 36th annual Food Fare fundraiser at Barker Hangar in Santa Monica.

Curated by the Santa Monica-based The Beer Chicks, the beer garden featured samplings from nearly a dozen California craft breweries alongside various gourmet noshes from some of the 100-plus Los Angeles restaurants that participated.

Westside culinary scene-makers lending flavor to the event included Brooke Williamson and Nick Roberts of Playa Provisions and The Tripel, James’ Beach’s James Evans and Daniel Samakow, Nick Liberato of the newly revamped Venice Whaler, Café Röckenwagner’s Hans Röckenwagner, Joseph Miller of Bar Pinxto and Joe’s Restaurant,

Food Fare began with a simple cooking demonstration from Julia Child in 1979. Over the past three decades it has grown to become one of the most celebrated culinary events in Los Angeles, highly anticipated by food lovers as an opportunity to sample some of the best food and drink L.A. has to offer.

This year’s diners had the opportunity to travel the hop world with samplings from breweries including Angel City Brewery, Craftsman Brewing Company, Fireman’s Brew, Golden Road Brewing, Ladyface Ale Companie, Modern Times Beer, Omission, Smog City Brewing Company, Strand Brewing Company, Wolf Creek Brewery and the Westside-born Venice Duck Brewery.

The Beer Chicks — Christina Perozzi and Hallie Beaune — have been at the heart of the booming craft beer revolution. Widely regarded as the top female beer specialists in the country, their books “The Naked Pint” and “The Naked Brewer” are top sellers on Amazon and have schooled craft beer neophytes and beer lovers alike.

It was all smiles at the Joe’s Restaurant and  Bar Pintxo table Photo by Michael Aushenker

It was all smiles at the Joe’s Restaurant and
Bar Pintxo table
Photo by Michael Aushenker

The Beer Chicks met while working together at Father’s Office gastropub in Santa Monica and became fast friends over the bond they shared with their one true love: craft beer. After a long night of tending bar and answering the same questions over and over again, they decided to write a book that explained beer in an accessible, irreverent way.

Venice Duck Brewery was concocted by two Venice Beach bartenders, John Binder and Christian Warren, who had a shared love of good beer. With years of experience at places such as Hal’s Bar & Grill and James’ Beach, in 2013 they set out to create a beer that really represented Venice. The name was inspired by the local legend of a guy who went to a party in the Venice canals and woke up the next day on the sidewalk covered with ducks, ostensibly keeping him warm through the night as he slept it off.

This year’s Food Fare found “the Ducks” pouring their Dogtown Duck IPA and Stoner Duck Hemp Brew.

Dogtown Duck, the contract brewery’s first concoction, is a West Coast IPA that comes labeled as a balanced blend of, “pine, citrus, the ‘70s, salty air and attitude.” Its malty backbone is the perfect amount of structure to support the plethora of hops that dominate the palate. There’s an initial pungent flowery flavor before hitting you over the head with a lingering mouth-watering bitterness.

Since I’m not a huge hops fan, their Stoner Duck Hemp Brow was more up my suds ally. This is an easy drinking, nut-brown ale with just the right dosage of organic hemp. One sip transports you to an organic co-op with aisles of caramel, chocolate and malt. American hops and a tea-like aroma from an addition of hemp seeds give this beer a nuttiness that reminds you of walking the Venice Beach boardwalk at sunset on a Sunday night.

Torrance-based Smog City Brewing Co. poured its Little Bo Pils, an unfiltered pale lager focused on subtlety and balance. Honey, spiciness and the flavor of the end crust of a perfect sourdough loaf created a taste that was crisp while still maintaining that bitterness that beer lovers adore. Smog City Brewing Co.’s other sampling was Sabre-Toothed Squirrel — a medium-bodied American amber ale that balances a solid hop profile with a light caramel and toasty malt character. The finish was like a grass sandwich on toast: balanced, clean and fresh.

And lest you forget, all of this beer-sipping was for a great cause.

Food Fare is hosted by the Planned Parenthood Los Angeles Guild, a group of some 170 women that over the years has raised more than $8 million and provided additional volunteer support for Planned Parenthood Los Angeles. Last year alone, PPLA provided health care and education services — including cancer screenings, birth control and STD testing — through more than 270,000 patient visits throughout Los Angeles County.

And thanks to The Beer Chicks, patrons got the chance to get hoppy while helping others.

Kat Thomas is a novelist, visual artist and burlesque dancer. She blogs about travel and food at