For a lot of people, the holidays are but a fond memory. Christmas and New Years are long gone, the Super Bowl is over, the gopher saw his shadow, and Chinese New Years is winding down.
Take heart, beer lovers, the best is yet to come. Once again, it's time for San Francisco Beer Week, sponsored by the San Francisco Brewers Guild. Cynics might say that the Bay Area is awash in beer all year long, and that would be true. But Beer Week just keeps getting bigger and better with more beer, beer events and beer venues than ever.
“Beer Week,” admittedly, is a bit of a misnomer for the annual event, which takes place from Feb. 10-19. The kickoff is the Opening Celebration at the Concourse Exhibition Center on 8th Street and Beer Week staggers to the finish line at the Toronado on Feb. 19, with the Barleywine Festival. According to the SF Beer Week site, more than 60 breweries will be pouring at the opening event. Tickets are still available.
For the next eight days, you can indulge your beer self, enjoying beer by itself, mixed in cocktails or paired with food all over the Bay Area. There are so many events to choose from that it's a good idea to have a plan. Download the free SF Beer Week app for your computer, smartphone or iPad to fill out your itinerary.
Some general guidelines:
Don't drive. Almost all of the beer venues are accessible via public transportation. The SF Beer Week app includes a map, or check out Beer By BART to locate your destination.
Drink water. Lots of it. One glass of water per beer is a good rule of thumb. Some craft beers, like double IPAs, barleywines and imperial stouts pack a wallop.
Be courteous and respectful. Venues get crowded during Beer Week and there's bound to be a little jostling and bumping. Take it in stride. You're there to enjoy yourself. And tip your servers. These people work hard to make sure you have a good time.
Also, unless you plan to spend more time traveling than enjoying beer, it's a good idea when you plan your itinerary to see what else is within walking distance or a few stops away. For instance, if you're going to an event at Pi Bar in the Mission, check out Rosamunde, which is only a couple of blocks away. If you'll be at a brewer meet and greet at Beer Revolution in Oakland, you might find something at The Trappist nearby.
A few noteworthy destinations for the opening weekend:
The Double IPA Festival at the Bistro in Hayward on Saturday, Feb. 11 will feature some 75 double IPAs, more than enough to temporarily paralyze even the most experienced beer palate. For the first time this year, triple IPAs like Pliny the Younger and Dogfish Head 120 will be judged in their own category.
Also on February 11, Beer Revolution will host three consecutive Meet the Brewer events, starting with Jef Versele of Van Steenberge in Belgium at 2, followed by Matt Wells of Lost Abbey/Port Brewing at 5 and Firestone Walker brewer Matt Brynildson at 6. Pull up a stool and fasten your seatbelt for some amazing beers.
On Sunday, Feb. 12, you can check out any number of Beer Brunches, like the Beer-Chef brunch with Bruce Paton at Barclays in Oakland, Sunday Brunch with Drakes at 21st Amendment, Beerunch at Public House and Sunday Barbecue at La Trappe.
Also on Sunday, you can let Caltrain do the driving with Wet Your Whistles SF Beer Week Caltrain Pub Crawl. It starts at The Rose and Crown in Palo Alto and ends up at Grape & Grain in San Mateo.
Stay tuned to this blog, as well as bayareacraftbeer.com for more announcements.
And stay thirsty, my friends.