By DOUGLAS W. MOTLEY – Senior Writer
Although the numbers were slightly less than last October’s final Corks & Hops wine and craft beer walk, more than 200 advance tickets for the June 3 event were sold online, in addition to nearly 100 last-minute arrivals who purchased tickets at the check-in station at the Arrowhead Credit Union parking lot on Lake Drive.
Needless to say, most local merchants were quite pleased with the turnout and the boost in sales, which had been sluggish of late due to continuing winter-like foggy and drizzly weather throughout the month of May.
Fortunately, the return of blue skies and sunshine, with afternoon temperatures in the mid-70s, encouraged local residents and tourists to venture outdoors to the streets of Crestline, just in time for the inaugural Corks & Hops event for 2023.
New for this year were the required wristbands, which had 10 peel-off tags, each good for one pour of craft beer or wine at each of 10 pour stations located along the Lake Drive business district and the west end of Crest Forest Drive in Top Town Crestline.
This reporter’s first stop was at Hearth and Sage, where I sampled their Hazy IPA craft beer, which had a pleasant but mellow fruity flavor. While sipping my first craft beer of the day, I encountered lifelong Crestline resident Joe Remmers, who was sampling an IPA. “It’s citrusy and not too heavy on hops.” Remmers remarked. Meanwhile, his accomplice, Lisa, was enjoying a rosé. “It has a fruity flavor; I like it!” she exclaimed.
Next stop was at The Old Rustic Cottage, where another lifelong Crestline resident, Laura Hewey, was enjoying some June Lake Seltzer with Bang Sauce, while her friend Kristin McChesney from Oak Hills was tasting a red wine. Both were seated outside, listening to local musician and record store owner Steve Taylor entertaining with his guitar while singing soft rock songs. Of the June Lake Seltzer, Hewey commented, “It has a huckleberry flavor, not too sweet, and it’s very refreshing on a warm day.”
Our staff writer Rhea-Frances Tetley and I hopped on Mountain Area Transit’s free shuttle bus for a ride down to Lake Drive to continue our exploration of wine and beer pour stations. The shuttle was one of two transporting participants between pour stations in Top Town and the Lake Drive business district.
Upon arrival at Encompass Antiques, we listened to the very talented local Little Bear Valley Blues Band and munched on some excellent jerk steak tacos from the Jerk Grill pop-up vendor. Mine were washed down with another craft brew, while Rhea, who was my designated driver, chose ice water.
Wandering up Lake Drive, we made stops at The Trinket Trader, Bizzyland and the Stockade, which was another official pour station, where we stopped to listen to the Sunset and Vinyl Band play on the Stockade’s outdoor stage. Stockade owner Chip Anzalone was very busy assisting the wait staff and quite pleased at the huge crowd that showed up for dinner. Anzalone was one of many local merchants who told us they appreciated the extra customers they were getting from the Corks & Hops event.
Our final stop was at Molly Collins’ art boutique, farther up Lake Drive. Although it was not a pour station, it was a free shuttle stop, which brought her a large influx of shoppers. As dusk approached, Rhea and I hopped back on the shuttle back to Top Town, where we had parked several hours earlier.
The next Corks & Hops is scheduled for Saturday, July 8, followed by Saturday, Aug. 5, Saturday, Sept. 2 and Saturday, Oct. 7.