SF Beer Week gets bigger and bigger with each passing year, offering a dizzying, ever-growing array of events to boggle the mind and confound the liver. With opening night approaching on Friday, we've chosen 15 events in SF and the East Bay that we think are going to be really special, but that leaves out hundreds of others sure to delight beer geeks, especially given the insane number of breweries, beer bars, brewpubs, and beer restaurants that have opened in the past year. Even those who aren't confirmed members of the Church of Beer should consider checking out one or two events this week; it's a great way to get to know what beer's all about, meet the people who make it, and compare different styles, some of which aren't available in the Bay Area at all outside of this one magical week. Many of these gems will sell out quickly or draw huge crowds, so be prepared to fight the hordes for that special glass of suds.Read More
The 15 Best Events of SF Beer Week 2014
2/8: It's impossible to choose a perfect event at Mikkeller (and many of them are already sold out), but we're most intrigued by the night of Oregon beers from Gigantic, Heater Allen, Logsdon, Cascade, and Commons, most of which don't often make it to SF. Other notable events: Basically everything.
The Fairmont San Francisco
2/8: Almanac's day of Beer Talks is an opportunity to get to know some of the major players in the field, discussing everything from brewing with brettanomyces to the history of Anchor Liberty Ale to how to pair food with IPAs. And of course, each lecture in the day gets its own beer pairing-- not bad for $25 all-in.
City Beer Store
2/8: CBS' "house party" at Mission Yoga offers the most beers for the buck, 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, Beachwood BBQ, and Cascade to up-and-coming Sante Adairius and Calicraft to stalwarts like Stone, Dogfish Head, and Firestone Walker offering rare aged options.
2/8: Sour beer fans will delight in Monk's Kettle's United Sours of America event, featuring an all-domestic lineup of killer drafts from locally rare Crooked Stave, Logsdon, Cascade, Craftsman, and Prairie, as well as the best of the best from locals like The Rare Barrel, Almanac, and Moonlight. It'll also be the debut of their patio. Other notable events: beer pairings with Societe and Prairie (2/11 and 2/13), and of course, the annual insane charity tapping of Pliny the Younger on 2/12. Get there early.
Speakeasy Ales & Lagers
2/9: A party at Speakeasy is pretty much a guaranteed good time, especially when it comes equipped with pints of their new Metropolis Lager and brunch from the Front Porch (chicken and waffles, chili, pulled-pork biscuits). Other notable events: A rare vault tasting (2/11) and trivia night (2/12).
The Abbot's Cellar
2/10: Fancy pairing dinners might be Abbot's main line, but their burger and IPA bash is a more accessible take, with killer burgers from Nopa, Tacolicious, Merigan, and Craftsman & Wolves' chefs ($15 each), paired with a host of IPAs. All proceeds go to charity, too. Other notable events: A weekend of international sours (2/7-9) to counter Monk's Kettle's domestic offering, with Cantillon, Drie Fonteinen, Freigeist, and more.
2/11: For those still getting started on their beer education, Beer Rev's 40-tap NorCal tasting will offer a crash course in the area's best breweries and beers. Other notable events: A 56-tap takeover from Sierra Nevada (2/8), and one from Firestone Walker (2/9), plus sales on aged bottles and special fourth anniversary beers all week.
SoMa StrEat Food Park
2/13: Taste the local brewers of the future at the Hops For Housing event, featuring Euphemia Ales, BrewLab, Gone Boating, Comrades, Artisan, and other up-and-coming homebrewers. They'll have tons of food trucks, and all the profits will go to support the SF Tenants' Union. (Bonus: Get $5 off with the code "eatersf.") Other notable events: A Calicraft and Heretic tap takeover (2/9) and a yeast science session (2/12).
2/14: Italy is becoming one of the hottest properties in craft beer right now, and La Trappe's Valentine's Day tasting offers a chance to sample some of the best from Del Borgo, Baladin, Del Ducato, Grado Plato, and more. Or come in the evening for an Italian beer-pairing dinner.
2/15-17: 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. Other notable events: An all-'tion night of Russian River brews (no Younger) on 2/11, and a similar night for Firestone Walker on 2/8.
2/15: The Trappist and Umami Mart are teaming up for a tasting of 10 unique Japanese beers (no Asahi or Sapporo here, thanks), complete with a pastrami ramen collaboration between chef Michael O'Brien and pop-up ramen mastermind Conrad Seto. Other notable events: A collaboration beer release and tap takeover from Drake's and Beachwood (2/14).
2/15: The Bay Area is home to two of the handful of Master Cicerones (beer sommeliers) in the entire world. One of them, Rich Higgins, will be spearheading a beer and food pairing class, a perfect way to set the stage for enjoying beer every day long after Beer Week ends. The other, Nicole Erny, will offer an off-flavor tasting course and brunch (2/11), great for identifying what might be wrong with your homebrew or the taps at your local dive.
Cerveceria de Mateveza
2/15: Who wants to drink Bud in a week with so many interesting brews available? Well, maybe you, given that MateVeza is brewing up a Citra dry-hopped Bud, a black Bud, a Bud on nitro, and more. Other notable events: They're once again brewing a beer start-to-finish over the course of Beer Week (watch it made on 2/8 and drink it on 2/15), and doing a Salted Caramel ale collaboration, complete with floats, with Bi-Rite (2/11).
The Hog's Apothecary
2/16: Learn more about the nuances of barrel-aging with one of the geniuses of the form, FiftyFifty's Todd Ashman, who'll offer tastes of Totality (his base beer) and three versions of his barrel-aged Eclipse over lunch in order to highlight the characteristics barrels bring to the party. Other notable events: A Cellarmaker-Berryessa collaboration party and tap takeover (2/13) and a dinner with Drake's and Henhouse (2/11).
2/16: Costs can add up quickly during Beer Week, so for those willing to play "brew-lette" on its final day, The Sycamore and sister bar The Willows are offering an all-day happy hour to kick all those specialty kegs they've amassed from Dogfish Head, Goose Island, Hitachino, Drake's, and more. Other notable events: A Massachusetts beer night with locally rare Pretty Things, Clown Shoes, and Cambridge Brewing, plus clam chowder (2/12), and a Goose Island tap takeover at The Willows with tons of aged bottle pours (2/8).