With SF Beer Week looming just weeks away, Joanne Marino seems remarkably calm.
In 2016, her first year as executive director of the Guild, Marino wrangled some 850 events crammed into nine days. She also had to cope with the inconvenience of rescheduling Beer Week due to the Super Bowl, which was held in the Bay Area. “Last year because the dates changed, it was a little bit confusing. Getting back to our regular dates this year has been more familiar for everybody,” Marino says.
Tighter Guidelines for Events
As the number of SF Beer Week events continues to grow, Marino and the Guild are looking for the right balance of quality and quantity. “Venues want to make sure that their events are well attended, and if there’s like a thousand events it can be a challenge,” she says. “For the consumer, having a thousand events to choose from can be overwhelming. I’m less concerned about how many events we have than the quality of the events.”
The Guild is also trying to eliminate some of the “gamesmanship” of venues trying to secure a higher listing placement by misrepresenting their event. For example, a venue that announces that a brewer will be on hand must verify that the brewer will actually be there and state how long the event will last. “We’re trying to make sure that the information about the event is accurate and that it’s really a special occasion, and not just somebody trying to get people in their door,” Marino says.
More Diversity in the Guild
Beer Week and the Brewers Guild are barometers for the state of the industry. “This is a maturing industry and people are becoming more specialized in the products they’re offering and the customers they’re trying to appeal to,” Marino says.
“Of course, it all starts with making a great beer. But it’s reached a point where everyone is making great beers. So how am I different and how do I differentiate myself? What are my passions and what do I want to focus on? The market demands that you define who you are and what you’re offering to people,” she says.
Among the 32 breweries that comprise the SF Brewers Guild, several of the newer members are establishing a specific niche:
• Barebottle, a Bernal Heights brewery that incorporates recipes from home brewers.
• Sufferfest, which makes gluten-free beer.
• Seven Stills, a brewery that makes whiskey from the craft beer they brew.
• Black Sands, which offers hands-on home brewing education.
• Ferment, Drink, Repeat, a combination brewery and home brewing supply store.
The newcomers are having an impact on the Guild, says Marino. “All of these businesses have unique personalities, which is reflected in their tap rooms and business models, and how they approach producing their product. And they’re also very supportive of each other,” she says.
“It’s true that there’s more diversity among the members, but that means that there are also more members to help each other, too. And they can help each other in a specialized way,” she says. “There’s not just one brew pub out there by itself; there’s a lot of brew pubs. It’s not just one person doing gluten-free beer, but a lot of our members are looking at gluten free beer and are supporting each other in that process. Old Bus is a good example. A lot of their beers are near gluten free, but a lot of people don’t know that,” says Marino.
The Beer Week collaboration beer is a good example of the Guild’s community spirit. “Nearly all of our members were in attendance for the collaboration beer brew day and there was great camaraderie,” says Marino. This year’s collaboration beer is a “post-modern Kolsch,” brewed at Fort Point. “It’s a nod to innovation in some of the techniques used to extract flavor from the ingredients,” Marino says. The beer is flavored with Douglas fir tips and satsuma mandarin juice.
Planning for Beer Week
Even though Beer Week is still a few weeks away, it’s not too early to sign up for some of the more popular events, especially those that highlight the synergy between beer and food. “Beer and food events show another dimension of beer for people who are less familiar with craft beer to see how the flavors mingle,” Marino says.
Check out the SF Beer Week page for a full list of events.
The Opening Gala
Beer Week kicks off with the Opening Gala, which will be held at Pier 48 on Feb. 10.
Pouring at the Gala will be 125 breweries from the Bay Area and beyond (see the full list below). This event always sells out, so get your tickets ASAP. You can purchase them here.
21st Amendment Brewery, Almanac Beer Co., Anchor Brewing Co., Barebottle Brew Co., Barrel Head Brewhouse, Bartlett Hall Brewing, Beach Chalet Brewing & Restaurant, Black Hammer Brewing Co., Black Sands Brewery, Cellarmaker Brewing Co., Ferment. Drink. Repeat, Fort Point Beer Co., Harmonic Brewing, Headlands Brewing Co., Holy Craft Brewery, Laughing Monk Brewing Co., Local Brewing Co., Magnolia Brewing Co., Old Bus Tavern, Pine Street Brewery, San Francisco Brewing Co., Seven Stills Brewery & Distillery, Social Kitchen & Brewery, Southern Pacific Brewing Co., Southpaw BBQ, Speakeasy Ales & Lagers, Standard Deviant Brewing LLC, Sufferfest Beer Co., Sunset Reservoir Brewing Co., ThirstyBear Organic Brewery, Triple Voodoo Brewery & Tap Room and Woods Beer Co.
Alameda Island Brewing Co., Ale Industries, Altamont Beer Works, Auburn Alehouse, Benoit-Casper Brewing Co., Berryessa Brewing Co., Bison Brewing Co., Black Diamond Brewery, Calicraft Brewing Co., Cleophus Quealy Beer Co., Diving Dog Brewhouse, Drake’s Brewing Co., E.J. Phair Brewing Co., East Brother Brewing Co., Eight Bridges Brewing, Elevation 66 Brewing Co., Epidemic Ales, Farm Creek Brewing Company, Federation Brewing, Ghost Town Brewing, Heretic Brewing Co., High Water Brewing, Hoppy Brewing Co., Knee Deep Brewing Co., Lucky Devil Brewing, Mare Island Brewing Co., New Helvetia Brewing Co., Novel Brewing Co., Ol’ Republic Brewery, Pacific Coast Brewing Co., Rubicon Brewing Co., Ruhstaller Brewing & Taproom, Schubros Brewery, Sudwerk Brewing, Tahoe Mountain Brewing Co., Temescal Brewing Co., The Rare Barrel, Track 7 Brewing Co., Triple Rock Brewing Co., Trumer Brauerei and Working Man Brewing Co.
101 North Brewing Co., Anderson Valley Brewing Co., Bear Republic Brewing Co., Cooperage Brewing Co., Eel River Brewing Co., Fogbelt Brewing Co., HenHouse Brewing Co., Iron Springs Pub & Brewery, Lagunitas Brewing Co., Lost Coast Brewery, Mad Fritz Beer, Mad River Brewing Co., Moonlight Brewing Co., Moylan’s Brewing Co., Napa Smith Brewery, North Coast Brewing Co., Old Redwood Brewing Co., Petaluma Hills Brewing Co., Plow Brewing Co., Russian River Brewing Co., Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., Sonoma Springs Brewing Co., St. Florian’s Brewery, Stumptown Brewery, Third Street Aleworks and Woodfour Brewing Co.
Alpha Acid Brewing Co., Alvarado Street Brewing & Grill, Armstrong Brewing Co., Blue Oak Brewing Company, LLC, Camino Brewing Co., Campbell Brewing Co., DasBrew, Inc., Devil’s Canyon Brewing Co., Discretion Brewing, El Toro Brewing Co., Firestone Walker Brewing Co., Freewheel Brewing Co., Golden State Brewery, Half Moon Bay Brewing Co., Hermitage Brewing Co., Hop Dogma Brewing Co., Loma Brewing Co., New Bohemia Brewing Co., Palo Alto Brewing Co., Santa Clara Valley Brewing, Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing, Strike Brewing Co., Tied House Brewery & Cafe and Uncommon Brewers.