Celebrate SF Beer Week in the North Bay
When talking about craft beer in the San Francisco Bay region, it’s hard to not spend a lot of time north of the Golden Gate. New Albion Brewing opened in Sonoma in 1976 and helped kick off this great craft beer revolution. Since then, Marin Brewing and sister brewery Moylan’s, opened their doors in Marin County and have served award-winning ales for over 20 years. Sonoma County is also home to the Bay Area’s largest craft brewer as well as some of the most influential.
Lagunitas Brewing Company has outgrown its space in Petaluma and will be opening the doors to a new brewery in Chicago in the near future. Russian River Brewing will start lining the streets today in Santa Rosa during the release of Pliny the Younger.
Despite having less than half a million residents, smaller than many cities around the Bay Area, Sonoma County is home to over a dozen craft breweries with more opening every day. It’s for these reasons that the North Bay has to be included in any discussion about how to spend your SF Beer Week.
With so much to do, here are some suggestions to get you through a North Bay SF Beer Week.
Bring on the Younger!
An obvious stop during SF Beer Week is to drive into Santa Rosa and get a taste of the fabled Pliny the Younger. Released before SF Beer Week starts on February 1st, this beer will be portioned out to last for two weeks. Local advice will tell you to come up mid-day on a weekday and get your taste at the lunch hour. Long lines are common at the Russian River through the final weekend.
Spend Time with the One You Love
Any SF Beer Week veteran will tell you, Valentine’s Day falls right in the middle of our ten day celebration. While you could risk domestic strife, another option is to find something the two of you can share. Beltane Brewing of Novato will be releasing their Mon Coeur Chocolate Ale at the brewery as well as “one or two other special releases from our new brewery as well.”
If chocolate doesn’t get you in the mood, how about oysters? From noon until 5, Drake’s Bay Oyster Company will have BBQ and raw oysters as well as music and beer from local breweries. Be sure to sign up for their shuttles and carpools.
If your true love can be found in a pint, Barley and Hops in Occidental is featuring a special 3-course meal with brewery Jeff Barkley of Moonlight Brewing joining them to answer questions about the beers and the brewery.
Find a Seat and Wait it Out
The North Bay is home to some great beer bars but a couple have stood out thanks to their full schedule of SF Beer Week events. Whole Foods Coddingtown in Santa Rosa has a shack built inside the grocery store that serves as a pub. You can “hone your beer sensory skills” at the Seibel Institute Sensory Training on the 10th and 17th, taste through the lineup of New Belgium beers on the 13th, or dig through the pub cellared offerings for their Barrel-Aged and Sour Beer Cellar Release going on throughout Beer Week.
Further South in Petaluma, Taps shows love for beer near and afar. Start the beer week with brewery nights from Sierra Nevada (Saturday, 9th), Meet the Brewmaster with Grand Teton (Tuesday, 12th) and a Sucaba Release Party with Firestone Walker (Wednesday, 13th). Taps brings the beer back home with two Petaluma breweries on the last weekend. Lagunitas Brewing will be on hand for the 15th while Henhouse Brewing celebrates their Anniversary at the same place it got it all started on the 16th.
Be Down for the Cause
What better way to celebrate SF Beer Week than to drink excellent beer for a good cause. Ales for Autism’s Black and White Ball is exactly that and is a fun, unique festival in the Bay Area. Put on your best eveningwear and come rub elbows with other sophisticated beer drinkers. Part of the festivities will include the first public pouring of St Florian’s Brewery of Windsor. Lastly, while there’s no way to confirm it, it’s been reported that a keg of Pliny the Younger did make it to the Black and White Ball in 2012 for those who might not get a taste at the pub.
Of course, the problem with highlighting the events from an area that’s so in love with craft beer is that you always fail to mention something. Whether it’s sausages and Russian River beers at Pizza Antica, Dinner with Firestone Brewmaster Matt Brynildson at the new Hopmonk Novato or just a bowl of stew with your favorite brew at Brody’s, the selection of events and types of experiences is near endless.
Cheers to the North Bay and cheers to SF Beer Week.
About the Author
Mario Rubio is a freelance writer living in Santa Rosa and is owner of BrewedForThought.com. Additionally, Mario regularly contributes to RateBeer.com, Examiner.com and the Northwest Brewing News. Three nights a week you can find Mario promoting craft beer around Sonoma County through sponsored brewery nights, bringing new breweries and beers to craft beer lovers every week. When not at the pub with a pint in hand, you can usually find Mario at home with his wife and two daughters. Find Mario on Twitter at @Brewed4Thought or follow Brewed For Thought on Facebook.