The 10th annual SF Beer Week is in full swing: Last Friday’s Opening Gala saw more than 120 breweries from the entire Bay Area pouring fresh, cold, delicious beers. The long week’s event slate continues through next Sunday (February 18th), and hundreds of events are going down every day — here, for the record, are 25 great ones.
While many drinkers are happy to stand in line outside Toronado for a chance to taste the yearly batch of Russian River’s Pliny the Younger, these days, Pliny is just one of many sought-after special beer releases timed to SF Beer Week. This year, these seven beers are well worth seeking out — here’s why, and where to get them. Happy hunting.
New Glory - Dank Juice
How to encapsulate all beer trends into one name? Dank Juice! Laugh it off and drink it up though, cause this is killer stuff from the Sacramento brewery. Hopped with Simcoe, Mosaic, and Eukanot, it’s unfiltered, but doesn’t have the milky haze you’d expect of a beer bustling with juicy papaya and melon notes. Also available in sweet 16 oz can four packs.
Get it at: Hazed & Confused at Liquid Gold on Friday, Feb 15th
St. Florian’s Brewery - Mutual Aid (Collaboration with Bear Republic)
Drinking this New England Style Pale Ale that’s “slightly hazy, such as the light, wispy smoke that hung in the Sonoma County air during the 2017 Tubbs Fire,” is nothing short of an emotional experience. It’s a benefit beer for fire survivors and everything about it is beautiful. From the firefighter-owned St.Florian’s Brewery behind it, to the dry-hopped character modestly enveloping a humble beer with a big purpose. They said it best: “So much love went into this beer, it’s like a big hug in your glass.”
Get it at: All week at St. Florian’s Brewery in Windsor.
Cellarmaker - Brainskillzzz
A taste of what’s to come for when Cellarmaker fully launches their 2nd, sour/barrel-aging location, this mixed culture saison was the best beer we had the pleasure of trying at the SFBW Opening Gala. A collaboration with LA’s fantastic Highland Park Brewing and SD’s Automatic Brewing, it’s aged six months in used red wine barrels from Treasure Island’s Oro En Paz winery. The result is a bright golden colored beer with a citrusy, earthy finish and just the right amount of Brett yeast tartness.
Get it At: Maybe at Cellarmaker’s Tap Room this week. Consult Cellarmaker’s SFBW events here and throw a dart.
Woods Beer Co - Divine Origins Fiano and Divine Origins Merlot
Woods Beer Co’s Divine Origins Series is comprised of beers made with wine and wild yeast that also incorporate the spirit of winemaking. The white wine grape Fiano beer uses the grape skins to ferment the ale and comes across rather funky and slightly tart. While the red wine grape Merlot, might be the best expression of a wine beer I’ve ever had. It drinks like a beer, but the tannins are noticeable on your palette and the Merlot varietal is clear in the flavor profile. Well done Woods.
Get it at: Divine Origins Release at all five Woods Beer locations on Sat, Feb 17th.
Laughing Monk - Coffee & Cream Ale
Laughing Monk Brewmaster Andrew Casteel captures the Deli cream sodas that are a staple of many East Coast youths in his beautiful Coffee & Cream Ale. After a long hiatus, it’s back for SFBW, ready to transport you to a ferris wheel on Coney Island in your mind. Sidebar: Laughing Monk’s Evening Vespers Dubbel might be the most agreeable Belgian dubbel in town, and it’s available in bottles at select shops like Healthy Spirits
Get it at: Laughing Monk’s Larger Than Life Drag Show on Friday, February 16th.
Local Brewing - Galactic Strata
It’s a big Hazy Double IPA at 9.2%, dry-hopped with Galaxy and Strata hops (duh) but also bursting with kiwi and mango notes. It’s about about as crushable of a DIPA as you’ll get and it’s a fine display of haze.
Seven Stills - Kahuna Shake
This “Pineapple Mango, IPA Milkshake” (LOL) used 700 pounds of tropical fruit in the batch. And what else? It uses lactose to give the beer a distinct milky quality. Say what you will about this resembling a pina colada in a can, but you gotta try this beer in what Seven Stills calls their “hype can” series, for its sheer audacity and to experience the “Milkshake IPA” fad while it lasts.
Get it at: Seven Stills Lawton Taproom or Bayview Brewery: Seven Stills Beer Week Events here.