Head to the East Bay for SF Beer Week
If the Bay Bridge and the Transbay Tube magically disappeared for all of February, those stranded in the East Bay could still have an epic SF Beer Week. Heck, they might not even notice.
The sunny side of the bay has less name recognition than San Francisco, but the region has its fair share of award-winning beer bars and up-and-coming breweries. It’s an exciting time to have a pint here. Definitely explore the entire schedule at sfbeerweek.org, but here are some ideas to get you started.
Saturday, February 9
The Double IPA Festival used to be the opening party for SF Beer Week back when you could count the week’s events on your fingers. Times have changed, and this once-humble gathering of hopheads now takes over an entire city block. The taplist is a who’s-who of huge IPAs…more than 60 of them. Good luck.
Ale Industries may be best known for a certain orangey wheat beer, but its barrel program has been quietly kicking butt. Now they’re releasing their sour blonde fruit ale, Unity As in Edward, in bottles for the first time at their Concord taproom (Unit E, get it?). AI release parties are always good times, and this one includes the Fists of Flour pizza truck, an artists’ market, and plenty of non-sour beers, too.
Sunday, February 10
11:30am until the beer runs out
Every year, Triple Rock throws a great house party for its friends Brettanomyces, Lactobacillus, and Pediococcus — and non-sour barrel-aged beers are invited, too. In recent years, it’s gotten big enough to spill down the street into Jupiter, which this year will be focusing on American releases while Triple Rock handles the imports. The two venues will take turns bringing out sought-after beers every hour on the hour starting at 1pm.
It’s common knowledge in Oakland that Beer Revolution goes totally over-the-top during beer week, often hosting multiple meet the brewer events in a single night. They might have reached new levels of beery excess by asking Sierra Nevada to take over all 48 of their taps. There are so many rarities on that taplist you’d have to work at Sierra Nevada to have even heard of them all. Don’t blink, most of the taps will be different the next day.
Tuesday, February 12
The birth of Creek Monkey was an instant elevation of the beer scene in and around Martinez, but it has remained a bit of a locals-only place. That’s going to change dramatically when Stone’s head brewer Mitch Steele drops by. Homebrewers might want to seize the opportunity to ask a hop question or two while he’s signing copies of his book “IPA: Brewing Techniques, Recipes and the Evolution of India Pale Ale.”
Thursday, February 14
Meet the brewer? How ‘bout meeting a dozen brewers? Pyramid is getting the neighborhood together for its second East Bay Brew Fest, a fun night that also raises funds for the Northern California MS Society. In addition to being a great overview of the beers in our backyard, this event is affordable and approachable. Bring your friends who don’t understand why you love beer so much — they’ll figure it out. Advance tickets are available here.
Friday, February 15
If you didn’t know there’s yet another beer spot within a stone’s throw of Triple Rock and Jupiter, correct that ASAP by visiting Bobby G’s during beer week. IPA lovers may want to stop by on Friday, when they’ll be tapping their Pliny the Younger keg. It’ll go fast, but don’t overlook other fresh, hoppy delights like Auburn Alehouse ZZ Hop and Iron Springs Casey Jones.
Saturday, February 16
Supposedly Livermore has some good drinks made out of grapes or something. It also has outstanding beer bars. Livermore Saloon has several intriguing events planned, like the SoCal Tap Takeover. Expect treats like Bootlegger’s Knuckle Sandwich double IPA, Ballast Point Habanero Sculpin, Lost Abbey sours, Green Flash, Alesmith, and a few barrel-aged versions of Ballast Point Victory at Sea.
Bad news: Drake’s insanely popular Sau & Brau event is sold out. Good news: there’s another chance to check out most of their SF Beer Week specialty brews in a more mellow and less pig-intensive environment. Head to Drake’s Barrel House and sample from a menu of their regular line-up, seasonals, and barrel-aged beers.
Sunday, February 17
The Celebrator’s birthday party has been closing out SF Beer Week since year one. This year’s promises to be extra-festive as the beer magazine marks its 25th anniversary. Try beers brewed for the occasion and learn some beer history at the section of the fest dedicated to breweries more than 25 years old. This festival comes with buffet-style dinner that makes an awesome beer mop. Tickets at the door cost $20 more, so buy in advance if interested.
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