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Straight to the Heart

Here comes SF Beer Week, true as an arrow, straight into the City where you leave your heart.

San Francisco stands at the bullseye of America’s first craft-beer loving region — where Anchor Brewing Co. and that ephemeral game-changer, New Albion Brewing Co., broke all the rules and launched a beer flavor revolution sipped ’round the world. The spirit of innovation in conversation with tradition continues today — and during SF Beer Week you can literally taste the creativity.

As we swing into full count-down mode for the SF Beer Week Opening Gala on Friday, Feb. 10, jump into the full nine-day schedule to find additional events that make your own heart sing. Here are a few that caught our eyes, but you’ll want to find your own. Beer is personal!

Saturday is a great time to get away to an island. Tucked away under the eastern span of the Bay Bridge, Woods Island Club will be releasing new barrel-aged elixirs that marry wine to beer with the blessings of wild yeasts. Come for the brews, stay for the view.

On the first Sunday of SFBW, my true love said to me, “let’s brunch!” Check out this gathering of brewing friends and fans at 21st Amendment Brewing Co.’s original pub: Join us for a special a la carte brunch menu featuring delicious food and Strong Beer pairings from 21A, Three Weavers and Cleophus Quealy on 2/12.

Later you could drop in at Drink Steam at Western Editions, where you will celebrate your DIY craft talents as you operate a vintage printing press and enjoy California’s first beer style, faithfully brewed by Anchor Brewing Co. to this day. Or opt for the pleasures of woodworking while you sip Anchor and craft a custom bottle opener.

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ThirstyBear’s organic beauties looking for their Valentine’s pairings.

Creativity runs through the craft beer community from the hopfields to the brewkettle and all the way to to the table. But what about the music? At ThirstyBear Organic Brewery, Flamenco dancers have worked with the chef and brewmaster to pair songs, dances, brews and tapas. How about squid ink paella with stone crab, citrus zest and celery leaf, to the tune of Alegrias de Cadiz, with a glass of fresh dry stout and the spectacle of twirling dancers?

Celebrate local art in public spaces with Fort Point Beer Company while sipping creatively, outdoors, at one of the City’s hidden gems, a little-known Privately-Owned Public Open Space high on a building downtown on 2/16.

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. will be hosting a series of events at their Torpedo Room in Berkeley. You can also enjoy rare and special Sierra beers at Zeitgeist in the City on the afternoon of 2/17, and then meet crew members in the evening.

Food and song come together on Saturday 2/18 when Laughing Monk Brewing hosts a Karaoke Luau with Huli Huli Hawaiian BBQ. Special tropical firkins and plenty of prizes are in the offing. Where did you stash that aloha shirt, anyway?

On 2/19, one of the SF Beer Week traditions returns to Public House. Beerunch, the beloved beer-and-food pairing brunch, featuring morning-friendly brews from Woods Beer, Moonlight and Fort Point, again brings thoughtful, unconventional pairings to the morning hours.

Please Beer My Valentine

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SF Beer Week has become one of February’s romantic traditions

Since when does a Tuesday night offer a cornucopia of sumptuous beer variety? This year during SF Beer Week, Tuesday becomes enchanted — or perhaps complicated — because February 14 is Valentine’s Day. Valentines beer events prove that all kinds of love — and plenty of cynicism about romance, too — are worthy of a good glass of beer.

The storied history of oyster shells in velvety black stouts inspired Magnolia Gastropub’s annual Oyster & Beer Valentine Extravaganza, an aphrodisiacal oyster fest featuring their latest Oysterhead Stout, brewed with bushels of whole Hog Island oysters in the boil. The chef gets into mood as well, presenting a variety of oysters from all over, both raw and cooked. Stop by to show your respect for the alluring bivalves or to enjoy a sumptuous date-night feast.

Prefer chocolate to seafood? Among the choco-centric events lined up for the day is a benefit at Old Devil Moon featuring eight thoughtful beer and chocolate pairings led by beer and chocolate pioneer Wicked Pete Slosberg. Skip dinner and celebrate with decadent dessert.

Meanwhile, Social Kitchen & Brewery brings out their Saison du Sauvignon and a select lineup of rare guest wine grape beers for Valentine’s Day, paired with couple-friendly snacks for sharing, if you’re in the mood. If not, share with the beer geek you’re with and talk grapes and grain with a brewer.

Almanac San Francisco offers a whole week of special and vintage beers at their new taphouse, setting aside 2/14 to feature their popular Valley of the Heart’s Delight sour, named for the classic agricultural name for the fertile valley now known as Silicon.

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Lining up samplers at Almanac SF

Or get your mind off romance and back on California beer creativity at Monk’s Kettle where Firestone Walker Brewing Co. opens the cellar to provide select verticals. Founder David Walker and barrelmeister Jeffers Richardson will drop by to talk about these rare examples of their beers.

The venerable Commonwealth Club and SFMade presents a San Francisco brewery panel including Fort Point Beer, Anchor Brewing, Magnolia Brewing, and Local Brewing. Perfect for those who like to think while they drink, this conversation about beer and brewing explores beer’s role in contemporary manufacturing in the City.

And if you would rather network around your career in beer on Valentine’s Day, enjoy a terrific beer lineup and meet up with the master, Nicole Erny, to talk Cicerone certification at Amnesia in the afternoon. (Later hang out with Nicole in the evening to talk beer, cheese and chocolate pairings and enjoy live music.) The next day, City Beer Store unties alumni bartenders, many who have gone on to put their own stamp on the craft beer scene.

A progressive tasting tour with free shuttle provides a great introduction to southside neighborhoods, highlighting newcomer Ferment.Drink.Repeat, with stops at The Ave Bar, Ocean Ale House, and The Dark Horse Inn. Just a couple of days before, The Ave Bar hosts an event showcasing new breweries that have popped up in that area: Laughing Monk, Barebottle, and Ferment.Drink.Repeat with a little Standard Deviant thrown in.

No matter which days you take to the town or what events catch your fancy, you’ll love what the region has to offer this year. As we approach SF Beer Week, the schedule is settling in. It’s not about numbers, but as we approach 800 events, the possibility that something simply perfect for you is on the list approaches a certainty. Build your own schedule for the week. Be sure to include a few backup events in case any unticketed destination you choose is more popular than expected. Get some sleep now, stay hydrated and be prepared for a week of jaw-dropping, glass-lifting, slow-sipping wonder.