East Bay In Bloom
Signs that SF Beer Week will arrive soon are sprouting up across the Bay, where the annual blossoming of posters and coasters proclaims our regional beer connoisseur holiday week. And while the entire SF Bay Area’s craft beer creativity is on full display during SF Beer Week, it’s been these past few years that the eastern shores have bloomed as never before.
Craft Beer, East Bay Style
How best to take in the overall East Bay beer-making scene? Local breweries will no doubt be front and center at the East Bay Brewer’s Festival in Oakland, hosted at Drake’s Dealership.
Appropriately enough, this all-East Bay brewery event is in the heart of a decidedly beer-savvy neighborhood. In addition to Drake’s new outpost, nearby stops include The Good Hop & Bottle Shop, Lost & Found Beer Garden, Telegraph Beer Garden, Diving Dog Brewpub and Woods Beer Co. — each sporting amazing beer week events of their own.
To zero in on the ingénue brews of the area’s charming freshman breweries, check out Pacific Standard’s Baby Brewery Night in Berkeley, continuing a local tradition of showcasing new practitioners during Beer Week. Enjoy Livermore’s pub scene as their four nearest breweries take over the downtown for a hyper-local brewing showcase and food-drive.
Seeking out more of that down-to-earth East Bay community feel? How about a friendly book-swap at Oakland’s new Novel Brewing Co. on 2/15, complete with an open-mic if you want to say something about the book (or beer) you recommend. (Look for Novel, Drake’s, Temescal Brewing Co. and others as part of the newly formed Oakland Ale Trail.)
Or go DIY with the Woods’ homebrewer appreciation event, where you can fill a free container of unfermented wort while you sip their finished beer on 2/13. Or just soak in the spectacle when the Ale Industries production facilities are transformed into an eye-popping industrial circus space on 2/17.
Learning about the sensory side of beer? Whether you are an attentive hedonistic beginner or an expert industry pro, there is a guided tasting event for you in the East Bay. On 2/16, at Three Sheets Craft Beer Bar, in Dublin, you can explore off-flavors with Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. to learn what fresh styles can and should taste like, while back Berkeley at Sierra’s Torpedo Room, a Beer Science Night awaits.
Delve into the subtle artistry of traditional styles with Sayre Piotrkowski as he explores Old Republic Brewing Co.’s classic beers at an uptown Oakland beer garden. Start your own preparation for the Cicerone tasting exam with an official course in beer defects at Drake’s Dealership.
The World Comes to Town
Lest the East Bay scene seem exclusionary, check out some of the breweries coming into the area to pour, collaborate or just send their good wishes and rare beers. In San Leandro, The Cooler hosts the Bay Area debut of Silva Brewing out of Paso Robles — alongside other impossible-to-find beers on 2/12.
The Good Hop Bar & Bottle Shop brings an enticing SoCal Sour lineup. A long-anticipated sour collaboration between Wicked Weed Brewing Co. and The Rare Barrel Beer Co. will be released in Berkeley on 2/17. And don’t forget about The Bistro’s style-defining annual Double IPA Festival in Hayward, which draws hoppy double and triple entries from around the state and the country.
In the heart of downtown Oakland, The Trappist continues to be a standard bearer for quality events. Their Japan Beer Fest is an annual highlight, and while details are forthcoming, a Mexican Craft Beer Fest on 2/18 is expected to feature over 20 beers never released in the Bay before (to be posted soon).
Hungry? Most SF Beer Week events will have food available, from popcorn to full menus. Some take it further and deeper into themed dinners and artisan pairings, such as this session featuring Fieldwork beers matched up with cheeses that were sourced by Whole Foods Market. Sate your brunch lust at Hog’s Apothecary with Belgian foods matched to the best local interpretations of Belgian-style beers. Invite somebody to share the fun as you learn to cook with beer in a class hosted by Pacific Coast Brewing Co.
Or check out this IPA evening complete with foods designed to work the bitterness at Albany Taproom’s Bitter Valentines Day, the cynics! For a Valentine’s gustatory adventure on an entirely different trajectory, venture to Øl Cafe for a pairing flight of sweet beers, sour beers and dessert bites, looking for the perfect match.
Remember to check out the schedule often as last-minute events continue to be posted. To combat the frustrations of choice overload, why not pre-select your week’s itinerary now? When new events come in or if friends propose a different agenda, you can always shift your plans. Having a rough draft of the week early makes planning simpler as we count down to SFBW, and can even help you find nearby fall-back events if your favorites are too crowded or sold out. Get on board for the best SF Beer Week ever!