Muster the craft brewers from the San Francisco Brewers Guild aboard the historic WWII Liberty ship SS Jeremiah O’Brien docked at scenic Pier 45 on Fisherman’s Wharf, add live music and food trucks, and what do you have? The answer is, one hell of a party.
The 12th annual Brews on the Bay from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 24, promises to be bigger and better than ever, with 24 San Francisco breweries pouring more than 60 beers, up from 18 breweries a year ago.
The guild recently confirmed that music will be provided by country/Americana bands Slow Motion Cowboys and Assateague. Food will be available from Korean BOBCHA (Korean and Asian Fusion), Kabob Trolley (cheesesteaks, Middle Eastern, halal and gluten free), Subs on Hubs (sandwiches, gyros and Italian), and Street Fusion (Vietnamese, healthy food, organic and gluten free).
This year’s event honors the 50th anniversary of the Grateful Dead and the spooky spirit of Halloween.
Brews on the Bay is a rare opportunity to sample beer from San Francisco craft breweries all in one place and to celebrate the people who make it. San Francisco brewers took home five medals from this year’s Great American Beer Festival, including Social Kitchen’s Kim Sturdevant, who won a gold medal for his English-style pale ale, Mr. Kite.
New executive director
Along with the new breweries, the San Francisco Brewers Guild is welcoming a new executive director. Joanne Marino might be new to the guild, but she’s no stranger to beer or San Francisco. Marino co-produced Austin Beer Week and she’s lived in San Francisco since 2012. Marino also has a technology background. She’s been a partner at Skematic, a consultancy focused on startups and early-stage businesses, since 2002.
In a recent interview, Marino noted the similarities between starting a tech business and opening a brewery. “At the heart, that spark of creativity that both a tech startup and a startup brewer brings to the table is passion,” Marino said. “That’s what motivates people and hopefully that’s there for both industries: to continue to run on passion and make something that’s useful and loved by the community.”
Brews on the Bay is one of the three pillars of the San Francisco Brewers Guild, along with San Francisco Beer Week and the monthly meet the brewer events at San Francisco breweries. “The meet the brewer nights are not just for the public,” said Marino. “They’re a way for the brewers to get together and support eachother. The leading statesmen in the guild are ready to answer technical and business questions. It’s structured to be supportive of what can be an overwhelming process: getting a new business off the ground and running it successfully.”
Beer Week starts early
Because San Francisco is hosting the Super Bowl, SF Beer Week will begin earlier than usual, with the opening gala on Jan. 22, 2016, at Pier 35. Expect 100-120 breweries.
In conjunction with SF Beer Week, the guild is organizing a friendly competition between teams of brewers from the north side of Market Street against their counterparts to the south. Team NOMA and Team SOMA will each brew a collaboration beer that will be released at the opening gala. Craft beer fans will be invited to share their comments about their favorite collaboration beer.
A few tips for enjoying Brews on the Bay:
• Don’t drive. Take public transportation, such as the historic F car, or walk along the Embarcadero.
• Hydrate. Drink a glass of water for every beer you have. Even though the Jeremiah O’Brien is not scheduled to leave the dock, your legs can get wobbly after several beers.
• Request half pours. The servers will likely be generous with their pours, but if you plan to sample a lot of beers, ask them not to fill your glass (pouring out in buckets is OK, too).
• Don’t forget to eat. Make sure not to drink on an empty stomach. The alcohol by volume in beer is relatively low compared with spirits and wine, but the alcohol still adds up after a while. Food is available from the trucks on the dock.
• Make conversation. Meet the brewers and ask them about their beer. You’ll be amazed what you might learn. Also, talk to the volunteer crew that maintains the beautiful ship. They are a treasure trove of information.