SF Beer Week is once again upon us, with the Opening Gala (already long ago sold out) ready to pop on Friday night. From February 6-15, the entire Bay Area will once again be awash in craft brews from points both local and national, with hundreds of events on the calendar. To help you plan, we've rounded up 15 of our favorite events, with an emphasis on unusual offerings like great out-of-town brewers, parties involving games (pinball!) and fun pairing dinners. Even if you rarely pick up a pint, this week is the time to step out of your comfort zone and try something fun and new. We guarantee you'll have a good time.Read More
The 15 Best Events of SF Beer Week 2015
Where to go to celebrate the annual beer bacchanal.
1. Cerveceria de Mateveza
2/7: The trio of Woods Beer Co. outposts (Cerveceria de MateVeza, Woods Polk Station, and Oakland's newish Woods Bar & Brewery) have become famous for trying just about anything in their kettle (they are the people behind Girl Scout Cookie beer, after all). This go-round: four beers designed to taste like different Jamba Juices (Aloha Pineapple, Mango-A-Go-Go, Razzmatazz, and Strawberries Wild, if you're curious). You can try them at all three locations on February 7, the same day that Cerveceria and Woods Oakland will engage in another Beer Week tradition—publicly brewing a beer to be served on the last day of the festival.
2. City Beer Store
2/7: CBS' "house party" at Brewcade, complete with Stillwater's brewer as DJ, is their most unusual event this year, but basically, if you have a spare moment, just go there; they've got a different amazing tap takeover on every night of Beer Week, from rarely-seen-locally Societe, Bottle Logic, and Alpine to up-and-coming Sante Adairius and The Rare Barrel to stalwarts like AleSmith, Lost Abbey, and Stone.
3. Pacific Pinball Museum
2/8: The only thing better than lots of good beer is lots of good beer and lots of pinball. For $25, you can have your fill at Alameda's Pacific Pinball Museum, complete with unlimited free play on all the machines and brews from New Belgium, Federation, and more. Will the booze improve your flipper skills? Only time will tell.
4. Mikkeller Bar
2/9: It's impossible to choose a perfect event at Mikkeller, which is having some heavy hitters drop in throughout Beer Week, but our top pick is the tap takeover from Oregon-based Cascade, known as one of the best producers in sour beer. They'll be serving their cranberry, gingersnap, and noyaux beers, among others, and it's not a ticketed event; just show up, order, and drink. The evenings with Crux, Firestone Walker's Barrel Works project, AleSmith, and a collective of L.A. brewers are also well worth your time.
5. The Hall
2/10: Honey is a hot addition to beer these days, and one of the things that makes it most interesting is how much it can vary (even within our 49 square miles). To prove it, Calicraft is teaming up with City Bees to offer a tasting of both local honeys and beers brewed with those honeys, including a heretofore unreleased line of sparkling mead and a special City Bees beer brewed just for that evening. Pretty sweet.
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6. Triple Voodoo Brewery & Tap Room
2/10: Sure, you've heard plenty of talk about hops, but how much do you know about the role yeast has to play in a beer's flavor? Bay Area upstarts Gigayeast will show you the way with a flight of four beers created in collaboration with Triple Voodoo. Each uses the exact same base beer, but a different yeast strain. A must for connoisseurs and wannabe connoisseurs.
7. MaMa Ji's
2/10-12: Since they've opened, Castro dim sum spot Mama Ji's has made a point of offering a better-than-average selection of mainly Belgian beers to accompany their top-notch Chinese dishes (including some spicy Sichuan numbers). If you're ready to branch beyond Tsingtao, there's no better time to check it out, with a pairing menu running a very reasonable $60.
8. Monk’s Kettle
2/11: If you absolutely must taste Pliny the Younger, the beloved February-only mega-IPA from Russian River that inspires crazy lines, here is your chance (to benefit charity, no less). Get there early; lines will stretch around the block, and we do mean that.
9. Elks Lodge
2/12: Your grandpa might curse you for drinking fancy-pants beer in an Elks Lodge, but Almanac's "Fraternal Order of Rare Beers" dinner is worth putting down your Schlitz for. The local heroes are teaming up with three amazing out-of-towners (Jester King, Modern Times, and Brasserie St. James) for a clubby pairing dinner cooked by Stag Dining Group. For $125, you'll get six courses each paired with two beers, plus a couple more welcome beers. Exercise caution, or you'll be weaving like a sailor on leave.
2/13: Taste the local brewers of the future at the Hops For Housing event, featuring Euphemia Ales, New Normal Brewing, Gone Boating, Comrades, Method, Poplar, and other up-and-coming homebrewers or breweries-in-progress (including SF's first cidery!). Folk-rock band The Sam Chase will play, and proceeds go to the SF Tenants Union.
11. Whiskey Train
2/13 & 2/15: Seven Stills, the SF-based distillery that puts out whiskey made from beer, is once again renting out an F-Market streetcar for the urban equivalent of a booze cruise. $60 buys unlimited stout, IPA, and whiskey, live music, and a catered BBQ spread (and bathroom break) when the train hits Fisherman's Wharf.
12. Beer Revolution
2/14: San Diego's Ballast Point is one of the best breweries going, and Beer Revolution is getting their hands on an absolutely absurd 31 taps, including stuff that rarely or never makes the cut in SF. With its 50-tap selection, Beer Rev is also the place to go for crash courses in lots of breweries' lineups, including Sierra Nevada, Bear Republic, and Marin.
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2/14: No Beer Week list would be complete without mentioning the big gun that started it all: the Toronado barleywine festival. It's utter mayhem, but you'll never try so many delicious (and alcoholic!) brews in one place. Also notable: A night of 20+ Russian River brews (no Younger) on 2/10.
14. Magnolia Brewery & Smokestack
2/15: If your liver manages to hold out until the end of Beer Week, consider saying a blowout goodbye with this massive bash at Magnolia, featuring whole roast pigs, BBQ sides, whiskey and whiskey cocktails, plenty of Magnolia brews, beer ice cream, and live music. It'll give you something good to remember the week by.
15. The Hog's Apothecary
2/16: Learn more about the nuances of barrel-aging with Hog's cicerone Sayre Piotrkowski and the team from Sierra Nevada, who'll have five consecutive years of their Bigfoot Ale available for your tasting pleasure. In general, they've got a solid lineup all week (Craftsman, Berryessa, and Societe are all highlights), so make some time to drop by.