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7 Elusive Beers and Where to Find Them During SF Beer Week

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Venture beyond Pliny

Allagash Brewing company/Facebook

You’ve probably heard about the phenomenon of Russian River Brewing Company’s Pliny The Younger by now. The original triple IPA brings devout followers from all over the state who camp out overnight in front of the Santa Rosa brewery, waiting for a taste of the white whale of craft beer. Just another day in lines for San Francisco food and drink.

But there are other fish beers in the sea that are worth lining up for — especially during SF Beer Week, happening right this very second, a time when hunting them becomes a little easier.

With that in mind, here are seven beers that are worthy of adventuring for, before beer week ends on Sunday. Some of these are local and some are from as far out as the East Coast. So take a look and discover a slew of the most sought after beers in the country, that all happen to be in the San Francisco Bay Area right now.

Goose Island Rare Bourbon County Stout

While we’re all surely tired of Chicago-based Goose Island’s flagship beers, their barrel-aging program remains top-notch. The bourbon barrel-aged Bourbon County Stout (BCS) series of ales is nothing short of iconic. Now, different vintages of the BCS are starting to circulate including a “Rare” version of the Imperial Stout. The Rare BCS is aged in barrels that sat for over thirty years with whiskey from Heaven Hill Distillery and then for another two years with BCS. Get the 14.5% nectar at The Willows on 2/15 at 5pm. You can “settle” for 2014 BCS at Monk’s Kettle’s Stouts Through The Years event on 2/15 or get a whole lineup of other BCS variations at Harry’s Hofbrau’s Bourbon County Tap Takeover in Redwood City on Friday 2/17.

Alpine Nelson IPA

Alpine’s wonderful Duet IPA seems to be readily available these days. Heck, I bought a couple bottles at Costco a short while back. But the San Diego brewery’s Nelson IPA has gotten incredibly hard to find and makes very few appearances in the Bay, usually only at beer week. “THE Nelson” is an essay in the New Zealand Nelson Sauvin hop character and it’s smoothed out with European Rye for a Golden complexion. Oh, it has a 100 rating on RateBeer. Best Rye IPA in the world? It just might be. There’s a limited supply at Hogwash’s Alpine/Green Flash Meet The Brewer/Take-Over on Friday the 17th and could possibly appear at Giordano Brothers Alpine/Green Flash event on Saturday 2/18.

Trillium Congress Street IPA

New England-style IPA’s are not rare, but here’s an actual New England IPA from Boston’s Trillium Brewing — and one of the best ones at that. Trillium’s Congress St is one of the beers that have inspired the entire NE IPA movement that’s currently sweeping through what feels like every damn brewery in the Bay. No shade to fine ales from breweries like Barebottle and Fieldwork, but this is the real deal, and for one night only you can get your very own Trillium Congress St IPA at The Rare Barrel’s Trillium Tap Takeover in Berkeley tonight, February 16 from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Berryessa Cactus Fruit Sour Saison

This was a major highlight at the SF Beer Week Opening Gala, but it might be gone for the foreseeable future. What the mildly sour 4 percent brew gave up in tartness, it made up for in the gorgeous flavor of cactus fruit. Berryessa says it’s out of this stuff for now, so we can’t really tell you where to go to find it per se. But this is a fine example of what deserves to be a local cult beer. Berryessa’s Winters-based taproom has a rotating sour program, so this is likely your best bet for now, or a future update from us…

Pliny The Younger by Russian River Brewing Company

There’s no way to not mention the beer that inspires craft beer crazies to wait in hour-long lines for a 12-ounce pour. This year’s iteration of brewmaster Vinnie Cilurzo’s crown jewel triple IPA is an eight-hopped, 10.25 percent ABV demigod in a glass and dank as ever. The hype is worth it for this one, and it’s flowing all over the Bay right now. You can go to Toronado in the Haight every day through Sunday, where a pony keg is tapped at 11:30 a.m. each morning, and you can consult this map for your best bets for finding Pliny The Younger at SF Beer Week 2017.

Contact Barrier from Sante Adairius Rustic Ales

While bottles of Sante Adairius (SARA) are slowly becoming more prevalent in SF and Oakland, Beer Week is the perfect opportunity to discover one of the best young barrel-aging/blending operations in the country without making the drive to Capitola. And luckily, it’s on the lineup tonight, February 16 for the Almanac & Friends incredible Save The Whalez Rare Sour Beer Fest at Fort Mason.

Allagash Golden Brett

Allagash’s incredible Golden Brett Ale may be perfect. The funkiness of Brett yeast-conditioned beers yields a natural tartness, which render the beer absolutely crushable, and Allagash has been mastering the craft before most, with beers like Golden Brett. Get it for sure at Public House’s Allagash Night on Friday, February 17, and likely at Pi Bar’s Allagash Night on Thursday, February 16.

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