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True North Bay Beer

When the North Bay wildfires swept through the rolling hills and into towns in October, breweries of the region and beyond acted together immediately to take care of one another and to support the less fortunate in their still-recovering region. Happily, the best way to pitch in now may be to come, play and have a beer. All of the North Bay breweries are open, their mash tuns full and their beer release schedules overflowing. It’s the perfect time to schedule a beer-cation from anywhere — be it Denmark or Daly City — and pick up your beer passport. 

Yes, the Visit Santa Rosa beer passport program, valid during the entire month of “FeBREWary,” is designed to encourage you to adventure around as you enjoy the city and its thriving brewing scene. Get yours at any of the participating breweries, have it stamped and turn it in for a collectible opener or stein. 

Many of the area’s exciting breweries will be rocking out just pouring their latest and stamping those passports, but some have special Beer Week activities in store.

Hoppy Birthday To Ya

In Windsor, St. Florian’s Brewery — named for the patron saint of firefighters — invites you to their 5th Anniversary Celebration on 2/10. The co-owner and brewer is a full time fire captain who donates a portion of the brewery’s profits to community causes. He and his wife and business partner are hard at work pulling together the live music, inviting food trucks and getting ready to pour plenty of their fresh beer in a family-friendly celebration of heroes.

Meanwhile, Fogbelt Brewing Co. of Santa Rosa is throwing their Fourth Anniversary Party, where you can enjoy new beers and roast pig in the beer garden. (2/10) This is only the beginning of a full week, including a Beer Nerd Trivia night, a daily Bacon & Beer Pairing — matching up treats like Almond Vermouth Glazed Slab of Bacon next to Immortal Barleywine — and an epic all-day End of Beer Week Brunch on (2/18)

Later in the week on Feb. 27, Woodfour Brewing will hold their 3rd Annual Fragaria Day, when their highly limited Wild Strawberry Beer will be released as well as an opportunity to get your hands on a magnum of Fragaria, one of the many Sonoma Pride fundraising brews released, thanks to the organizing efforts of Russian River Brewing Co.

Because Beer

North Bay brewers are passionate about beer ingredients. Swing by Larkspur on Beer Week Monday, where you can Meet The Maltsters at Marin Brewing. In what is shaping up as the year of malting differently, Marin Brewing Co.’s Brewmaster Arne Johnson hosts Admiral Maltings’ working maltsters for a casual fresh local malt tasting matched with beers made using that very grain. (2/12)

At the Beers and Brats Special Release Party, coming to Santa Rosa’s much-awarded Third Street Aleworks on 2/10, meet the Double Standard, a burley Double IPA now released once a year during SF Beer Week. Celebrate in the pub with brats specially prepared to show off this ale, originally designed as their 15th Anniversary beer.

At Grav South Brewing Co. in Cotati, the oak-aged French Vanilla Porter Release is on the horizon. This favorite brew will be poured all Beer Week long, but the release party, on 2/10, promises to please all the senses – with live acoustic music featuring the former lead guitarist with the Gregg Allman Band.  

The Armistice Tap Takeover at Cadet Wine & Beer Bar, in Napa, will be more than a brewery’s visit to a retail outlet. Read why the siblings who started Armistice Brewing Co. in Richmond say hanging out up at Cadet saved their lives. Explore the brewery’s beers at the beer drinking spot its founders love most. (2/15)

You can bet your Fat Tuesday that Napa’s newest brewery has big plans to celebrate Mardi Gras @ Trade Brewing on 2/13! Dress New Orleans festive, or pick up some beads at the taproom. Enjoy Cajun-style dishes and check out the fresh Trade Brewing Co. beers.

Ready to burn some calories during Beer Week? The REI Sufferfest is a 10K Trail Run through the sweeping vistas of the Marin Headlands. If health and nature isn’t enough motivation, the Sufferfest Beer Co. will greet you at the end of the trail with a taco and a cold one! Lace up your shoes near Sausalito on 2/17.

Virtually There

You can also encounter North Bay breweries around the entire region. Take Seismic Brewing Co., for example. Still in their first year of operations, and without a public taproom at their production premises, this Santa Rosa brewery is releasing Entropy, their inaugural Double IPA, at multiple locations such the Creek Monkey Tap House release party in Martinez and the Devil’s Slide release party in Pacifica, so you have lots of chances to check out what this new brewery is all about.

Besides stopping in at one of Bear Republic Brewing Co.’s brewpubs in Rohnert Park or Healdsburg, you’ll also discover events featuring their harder-to-find beers popping up south of the Golden Gate. For example, in Los Altos, Armadillo Willy’s BBQ is throwing a Bear Republic Night and in SF, find a Bear Republic Tap Takeover at Richmond Republic Draught House. Then again, that new brewpub is on a lake.

Getting Any Younger?

Time to talk about the Roman scholar in the room. The most famous beer release of the North Bay is unquestionably Pliny the Younger, the original Triple IPA. You will find it in its home, the Russian River Brewing Co. pub in Santa Rosa, where you should expect to meet plenty of friendly people while you wait in line. 

(Sipping slowly at the Monk’s Kettle)

If you don’t get to the pub, you’ll find Younger at certain events (such as the SF Beer Week Opening Gala on 2/9) and quietly popping up at certain establishments during SF Beer Week. Likely events include Russian River at the Hop, in Oakland on 2/16, where “rumor has it that a certain sexy beer just may make an appearance” next to other gems arriving at The Good Hop.

At The Monk’s Kettle, in SF, along with other compelling events, the Triple IPA Love Fest on 2/14 promises a tapping of Younger, the reveal of -30- from Drake’s Brewing Co., and a vigil for the arrival of the Big Chicken from HenHouse Brewing Co. All in the name of love of hop mastery on Valentine’s Day.

HenHouse Brewing Co.’s annual Big Chicken Imperial IPA release is a big deal in their Santa Rosa brewery itself, but it also extends way out into surrounding communities. The idea is to keg, can and deliver in one day for the sake of freshness.  Find it paired with — drumroll please — chicken — at Big Chicken Love and Winner Winner Chicken Dinner, both in Oakland.

Or pair with compassion by enjoying beers from both Cooperage Brewing Co. and HenHouse at the Cooperage & HenHouse Fundraiser when SF’s Liquid Gold celebrates the Santa Rosa beer scene and sends some community love north. (2/14)

More Fire-Related Fundraisers

On 2/17 the North Bay Fire Beer-nefit at the Spark Social food truck park will offer a ticketed selection of beers from the North Bay in support of community charities in the areas still impacted by the fires.

Step up to help first responders recover from past and future fires, at the Drink SF-Brewed IPAs for Firefighters event at SF’s Local Brewing Co. on 2/13 by simply relaxing and enjoying a line-up of fresh IPAs delivered from breweries all around town. And thank you.

Cheers to real life heroes!