In one month SF Beer Week will commence. Beginning on February 8th and lasting through February 17th, the fifth edition of SF Beer Week will include hundreds of events held all throughout the Bay Area in celebration of craft beer. Since inception in 2009, the number of events has doubled in size from 150 events to over 325 events scheduled for 2013. SF Beer Week has inspired over 100+ beer weeks in other cities all around the world.
As an SF Beer Week veteran (attendee in 2011 and 2012), I offer the following advice on how to approach SF Beer Week to make the most of your experience.
Research – The best source of information for SF Beer Week is the SF Beer Week website www.sfbeerweek.org, which includes a detailed listing of events and other information. The website is regularly updated, so be sure to check for new events added. Other valuable sources of information include brewery and event venue websites, Facebook pages and twitter feeds.
Plan ahead – With hundreds of events throughout the Bay area, it is important to plan ahead. Focus on key breweries and/or beers you’d like to check out. Many of the breweries have multiple events, offering a range of options to taste the brewery’s beer on various days. Keep in mind the location of the events – events are held across the Bay area from Santa Rosa to Santa Cruz. Maximize beer tasting time, minimize commuting.
Talk to others – Some of the best information I have obtained in previous SF Beer Weeks was through talking with others. Most are likely attending other events. Talk to them, get information. What beers have they tried and what beers do they recommend? What events are they attending? As the SF Beer Week website is updated frequently with events, there may be an event or special offering you hadn’t heard of.
Meet the Brewer – Many events provide the opportunity to meet the brewer. Do you have questions about a particular brewery or beer? Talk to the brewer or brewery representative and ask him or her your questions.
Take notes – Chronicle your beers, listing what you enjoyed and why or why not. Many beers are offered at multiple events. Keeping track of what you have tasted allows you to consider new beers you haven’t already tasted or revisit a favorite.
Eat, drink and be merry – As SF Beer Week lasts for 9 days, it is important to eat a solid meal before attending events and drink water throughout the day. After all, you want to be in best shape for events toward the end of the week (such as the Toronado Barleywine Festival).
Get started on your schedule at www.sfbeerweek.org/schedule.
A few events getting a lot of buzz are listed below. Note that I have not listed any specific brewery events as I’m waiting for a few more events to be posted. Please check the SF Beer Week website www.sfbeerweek.org/schedule for further details on each event.
SF Beer Week Opening Celebration – February 8th, 6-10pm – Concourse Exhibition Center, San Francisco – An excellent way to kick off SF Beer Week, find out information about upcoming events, and taste great beer from local breweries. Over 65 breweries from Northern California will pour new, rare and classic beers. Pliny the Younger has been known to make a guest appearance at previous Opening Celebrations. If you are interested in attending, get your ticket now – admission is $65 before January 15th. Admission includes a commemorative glass and unlimited tastings.
Brewpublic & Beer Revolution Present: Wine Barrel Aged Tastival – February 9th, 2-11pm – Beer Revolution, Oakland – Tap takeover of beers aged in wine barrels. A few of the breweries featuring beer for this event include Bear Republic, The Commons, Drake’s, Pacific Brewing Laboratory, Ale Industries, Upright, Lompoc, and much more. Pay as you taste.
All IPA All Day with Pliny the Elder and Pliny the Younger – February 15, 11am – 11pm – Harry’s Hofbrau, Redwood City – The first event to formally mention Pliny the Younger will make an appearance. Harry’s Hofbrau will feature 28 drafts of IPAs. Information has not yet been released on when Pliny the Younger will be tapped. Pay as you taste. Be sure to check out other Harry’s Hofbrau events at both the Redwood City and San Jose locations – including tap takeovers with Ballast Point, The Bruery, Dogfish Head, Firestone Walker, and Stone.
Rare Beer Tasting – February 17, 5-7pm – Fat Angel, San Francisco – An opportunity to taste extremely rare beer for the chosen few (limited to 28 tickets total). The lineup is as follows: Russian River Brewing’s Temptation Batch #005 (2009) in 3-liter format, Stone Brewing’s Double Bastard 2005, 2008, 2011 in 3-liter format, Russian River Brewing’s Damnation Batch #44 (2008) in 3-liter format, Stone Brewing’s 10th Anniversary IPA (2006) in 3-liter format, Alaska Brewing’s Smoked Porter 2005, 2007, 2011, & The Bruery’s Melange #3 (Blend of White Oak Sap wheat wine, Anniversary Series old ale, and Black Tuesday imperial stout). In addition, for the extremely lucky, a Reserve Tasting will include Three Floyds Dark Lord vintage 2007 & 2008, Westvleteren XII, & Russian River’s Toronado 20th Anniversary. Ticket information has not been released, other than the regular tasting is limited to 28 tickets and the reserve tasting is limited to 10 tickets. If you are interested in this event, stay tuned as tickets are expected to go quickly.