Great drinks, good food, and live music—these are the universal languages that sibling team Scott and Robin Jones of We Love Long Beach use to connect people to their neighbors. Specifically, it is the formula for the weekend Scott envisions at the Long Beach Homebrew Festival.
This Saturday, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., We Love Long Beach will host its third annual Homebrew Fest, featuring local breweries, food vendors, live music, and 25 homebrewers, all in a rustic backyard setting in the Virginia Country Club.
“Some people have been doing homebrewing for years and some are going at it for their first time. What matters is that you’re trying and there’s a sense of comradery and just cheering everyone as you’re going around,” Scott said. “I mean, what brings us together more than alcohol, good food, and some music? To me, that’s like a trifecta of a fun time.”
Having a good time and making connections is We Love Long Beach’s mantra. It’s a nonprofit that started after a community breakfast Scott and Robin hosted in their Belmont Shore home 10 years ago.
“I don’t think we’d ever had a meal with a neighbor before, that was a foreign concept,” he said.
About 50 people showed up to that first breakfast. Then, 100 people came to the next. They later held a barbecue, and 500 people came.
“We learned that people want to be more connected and belong, not just ignore each other and kind of do their own private individual life,” Scott said. “I think there’s a longing to be connected more than we were experiencing in Belmont Shore at the time.”
Soon after, We Love Long Beach starting hosting citywide events and expanding into areas all over Long Beach to help create communities.
“We see ourselves more as just coming alongside people and giving them an on-ramp to start [connecting] if they haven’t... it’s harder to connect people who speak different languages and have different cultures as well. That’s the makeup of our city now,” Scott said. “So the challenge is, how do you break down barriers and allow people to figure out what they have in common? Which is everyone likes food and drink and music and parties.”
This is the spirit that fuels the Homebrew Festival, one of We Love Long Beach’s citywide events and its only fundraiser. General admission tickets are $40, earning guests a commemorative glass and two tokens to vote for their favorite beer. VIP tickets are $55 and allow guests access to booths by local breweries Beachwood, Ten Mile, Long Beach Beer Lab, Ambitious Ales, and Liberation Ales, which is moving into the space previously occupied by a 99 Cent Store on Atlantic Avenue.
“It seems like Long Beach is becoming a lot more beer-friendly with our brewers and a lot of these guys that are pro brewers started off as home brewers,” Scott said. “These are local people who are passionate about beer and they get to highlight their creations and show them off to their friends and community.”
Previous years have sold out with the event housing 250 to 300 guests. Scott says there are still tickets available, joking that many people are last-minute planners when it comes to these things. So there’s still time to avoid missing out on this event. For tickets and additional information, visit www.welovelb.org/long-beach-homebrew-festival.html.
“The goal is just a fun event,” Scott said. “And then all the money goes back into the neighborhood, every neighborhood in the city that wants to connect with their neighbors.”