Returning for its 15th year, Outside Lands will include a quintessentially NorCal approach to getting your drink on: wine-forward and hyper-local.
But it’s not only grape juice that gets the love in the three-day music celebration. The festival will also highlight an expansive array of boozy beverages at Wine Lands, Beer Lands and Cocktail Magic.
“The days of waiting in two separate lines for food and cocktails are in the past,” said Tanya Kollar, food curator for Outside Lands since 2017.
You’ll also have the opportunity to drink what could be the last kegs of Anchor Steam, given the company stopped production on July 27—along with pints from 29 other breweries.
Beer Lands returns to Outside Lands for its 11th round and continues to be helmed by Magnolia Brewery founder Dave McLean, who thought the music festival deserved a craft beer component to go along with its stellar wine and food offerings.
The space has doubled in size since it first began and this year will feature two tents and 30 beer stations south of the Polo Field in Golden Gate Park.
“It’s a perfect crossroads,” McLean said. “A little oasis on your way from one stage to the next or just walking around.”
The beer sponsors of the festival—Sierra Nevada and Heineken—will cap the ends and then McLean curates the other 28 brewers in between, which include cideries and a kombucha maker, all while keeping the local approach that is endemic to Outside Lands.
“As the beer industry really exploded over the last decade, it became a lot easier to make it not just California but primarily Bay Area and NorCal-based,” McLean said.
Brand new purveyors to the festival include BrewBilt out of Grass Valley and Moonlight Brewing near Santa Rosa, which has a cult following for its Death & Taxes black Pilsner and Reality Czeck pilsner, both of which will be on tap at Beer Lands. There will also be signature collabs, like clear and hazy IPAs from Laughing Monk, a cannabis-inspired orange IPA from Heretic and a cider from Far West made just for the festival—with botanicals from the flora and fauna of Golden Gate Park.
But the station that could see the longest line? That might be Anchor Steam, the storied local outfit that has stopped making beer. Brewer HenHouse will also be pouring one out for the San Francisco legend—it’ll be at the festival with its own version of a steam beer, a nod to the now-shuttered Potrero Hill brewery.
Wine Lands has been part of Outside Lands since the festival began, but this year it will look a bit different. Instead of a big Bavarian tent with up to 40 wineries, the vintners—25 in total—will be in a wooded location by McClaren Pass. Wine Lands Reserve, a separate section in the VIP area, will have 10 wineries participating.
“I'm really looking forward to this location up in the woods because it’s more of a thoroughfare between the two big stages,” said Peter Eastlake, who has been organizing Wine Lands since its start. “We're going to see a lot of foot traffic up there.”
Returning this year is a designated sparkling wine bar that “always gets crushed,” according to Eastlake, as well as Berkeley-based Broc Cellars, which has been part of the festival since its first year and specializes in on-trend natural wine. Eastlake plans to meet the rage for natty wine with producers like Martha Stoumen and Deux Punx.
Most of the wineries—all from California with the exception of a French box wine called Ami Ami—will be pouring their vintages less than 100 miles from where the grapes are grown.
“It’s a really special confluence of Wine Country being such a part of San Francisco and culture in the Bay Area,” Eastlake said.
The only exception is the sake, some of which comes from Japan (the headlining band the Foo Fighters have its own sake brand available at Wine Lands Reserve). Wine Lands has included the rice wine in its offerings from nearly the beginning, and it only grows more popular every year, Eastlake said.
Taking over the space that used to be dedicated to the big tent of Wine Lands, Cocktail Magic returns with an expanded footprint in Lindley Meadow across from the Sutro Stage.
Doubling its numbers from three to six bars, Cocktail Magic has plenty to choose from: Low ABV options abound at Less Is More, and you can get your martini on at Shaken Not Stirred. Buttery Tipple stirs up over-the-top concoctions with a 1970s vibe, SilverGirls95 brings the Golden Girls back to life and Everybody’s Tavern runs with inclusivity. All of the themed bars will feature a nonalcoholic cocktail, too.
With more than 25 cocktails to choose from, you might have a hard time deciding—and there’s even a bar for that. Sidle up to Spin the Wheel, a game show-themed bar where you can allow fate to pick for you among variations of the Old Fashioned or Daisy.
Programming will include some classic SF turntablism from Invisbl Skratch Piklz & Friends, Gasolina and Smoked Out Soul, said Kerry Black, co-founder of Superfly and curator of Cocktail Magic.
“Last year at Cocktail Magic, we sold over 10,000 cocktails,” Black said. “Should be a lot more this year with new placement and so many new offerings.”
Julie Zigoris can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org