How to Survive & Enjoy SF Beer Week
Are you relatively new to craft beer? Does someone keep telling you how awesome SF Beer Week is and you don’t have a clue? Maybe you happen to be in the Bay Area during all or part of the event and have no idea what this means or what events you should go to? Is the SF Beer Week website leaving you confused by the countless festivities that everyone and their mother is hosting? It’s an ultra-marathon and you need to know how to enjoy and survive its excesses. The first step is to take a deep breath and relax.
You Can’t Attend Them All
It would be awesome if you could, but there’s just too much stuff going on and teleportation hasn’t been invented yet. Remember, it’s ten days of awesome beer events and sprinting through them misses the whole point. You have a whole week to enjoy yourself. Relish it. The SF Beer Week website allows you to create your own itinerary and map out your schedule. A mobile application will also be available in January. You’ll be able to interact with the schedule, add events to your itinerary, locate them on a map and share photos. Use it.
Don’t Ever, Ever, Drive
If it’s not within walking distance of BART, Muni, Caltrain, AC Transit, the Ferry or any other source of public transit, take a taxi. You might not think you’re going to get inebriated, but you will. Walk, bus, subway, taxi, sail, Para-glide or take a train around the Bay Area. You can still get a DUI on a bicycle. Reminder, BART shuts down just after midnight, so don’t get stuck on the wrong side of the Bay and NEVER fall asleep on the last train of the night. If you miss your stop, have fun paying serious cash to escape the Pittsburg/Bay-Point Station.
Pick What’s Interesting & Some Fan Favorite Events
Consider the SF Beer Week Opening Celebration, The Bistro Double IPA Fest, the Celebrator Beer News 25th Anniversary Party, and the Drake’s Brewing Sau & Brau, just to name a few. Those usually stand out each year and attract big crowds
Don’t forget the little guys too. Small events sometimes attract rare beers. Some places even keep awesome beers secretly on tap, and the only way to find out is to show up or use social media (see below). Also, take advantage of being able to rub shoulders with brewmasters and brewery owners in these intimate settings, it doesn’t happen often.
Themed beer nights are also a great way to learn and kill a ton of birds with one stone. Some bars will focus on individual styles, such as Sour, Black IPA, Imperial Stout and more. If the beer list is published, check it out before going (do your research!), so you don’t waste time and money on a venue that only has two taps.
Drink Water Like It’s Going Out of Style
For every beer you consume, drink a glass of water. That’s the rule. You’ll already be running to the bathroom every 15 minutes. So why drink water then? You need to stay hydrated. It’s worth it. Drink Gatorade, chug Pedialyte, whatever your hangover trick is, USE IT. You’re in this for the long haul. Don’t crash halfway through. Also, bacon does wonders in replenishing your salts.
Use Social Media
If you were worried about beer spam filling your Twitter or Facebook feed, perish that thought. Follow every brewery participating in SF Beer Week as well as local beer bloggers and online beer personalities. That way you can find out even more about what’s going on and get insider tips. Social media is a wonderful tool. Use it! For starters, follow SF Beer Week on Facebook and Twitter, and they’ve setup a handy Twitter list of Northern California breweries, bars and restaurants.
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About the Author
John Heylin is President of the Bay Area Beer Bloggers, lives in the hippie/hick town of Canyon, CA (you’ve never heard of it) and is an avid curler. He’s also the owner of Chirp, a food company that aims to introduce insects into the American diet.