Jester King flight with cheese pairing at Øl Beer Cafe and Bottle Shop, in Walnut Creek (CA) on Sunday.
Category: Festivals Page 1 of 2
On Friday night I attended the San Francisco Beer Week Opening Gala for the first time, courtesy of the Bay Area Craft Brewers Guild, and the first descriptor that comes to mind is “Wow!”
With nearly 130 breweries represented, and almost 400 beers on offer, the Gala is an amazing experience. As very brewery brings their best beers, many of them brewed specially for Beer Week, the event is truly a showcase not only of the breadth of the Bay Area’s craft brewing community, but of the quality and skills that make it a leading force in craft brewing nationally.
I was, of course, happy to find my friends Luis Castro, owner and brewer at Del Cielo Brewing Company, and Matt Sager, head brewer at Danville Brewing Company, pouring their beers side by side. Another friend, Craig Danielson, head brewer at Shadow Puppet Brewing Company, was also nearby.
Luis was pouring one of the IPAs that he makes so well, along with Guava Dreams, a kettle sour, and Coffee State, a coffee-infused blonde stout.
Matt was pouring three beers that I really like a lot: his GABF medal-winning Chux double IPA, Tres Diablos, a triple IPA brewed specifically for Beer Week, and his amazing Oatmeal Raisin Cookie. I swear that that one tastes just like the oatmeal raisin cookies my mom used to make!
Craig, for his part, shared Livermorium, a really nice collaboration IPA produced at Shadow Puppet by brewers from all the breweries in Livermore.
Although all the big-name players in Northern California craft brewing were, of course, represented, and I did sample some very tasty beers from them, after a while I opted for hitting the booths of smaller breweries and ones I was unfamiliar with.
That strategy led to some pleasant highlights.
One such was finding Blue Oak Brewing Co., from San Carlos, present and serving their excellent Cordilleras Kriek.
A nice discovery was Ocean View Brew Works in Albany. They’re a fairly new brewery, and were having a great time at the Gala. They poured me a very tasty brut IPA, Mosaic Fizz. The brewery’s first anniversary will be celebrated with an event on Feb. 10th.
Another pleasant discovery was Woodfour Brewing Company, from Sebastopol. Woodfour was pouring bottles of their Sour Farmhouse Ale. John Roberts, the brewery’s Bay Area sales manager, explained that the beer is produced via spontaneous fermentation in oak barrels that are not isolated from the external environment, and then blended in what he described as a “reverse solera” method. He also pointed out that they are producing other beers in open-topped wood foeders, and are the only brewery in the region that practices spontaneous open fermentation year-round.
All in all, having attended, it amply clear why the Gala is one of the most anticipated beer events in the local beer calendar and why people come in from all over the country to attend it and SF Beer Week.
Last weekend, on my way to Dobbins for the Northern California Homebrewers Festival (NCHF), I stopped for lunch at Sutter Butter Brewing, in Yuba City.
Founded in 2011 in downtown Yuba City, Sutter Buttes is, as far as I can discern, that city’s only commercial brewery, and I know it to be a frequent stop for homebrewers and beer geeks on the way to Chico or to NCHF.
The tap room is pleasant, if a bit dated in its decor style, but it’s got it going on where it counts. The staff is pleasant and friendly, the food is good (try the Reuben sandwich), and the beer is spot on.
I ordered a flight and let my server choose the beers for me. She selected the hefeweizen, Annie’s Almond Brown, Riley’s Red Ale, and Franklin DIPA.
The hefe (5.5%, 10 IBU) was quite good. It had everything one expects and looks for in hefeweizen. Riley’s Red (6%, 55 IBU) was also very good. The brewery’s blurb says it “has all the best features of an American craft red ale, but still grounded with Irish style”. I’m not that familiar with the style so I’ll have to take their word on it, but I can say that I liked it and you’d not go wrong in ordering it. The Franklin DIPA (8%, 100 IBU) was also very good. Not as malt-forward as some DIPA’s but also not a face-puckering hop bomb. It’s a DIPA that one could easily drink several of. As for the brown (5.5%, 20 IBU), a beer “dry hopped” with local almonds, it was tasty, but honestly, I was not able to detect any almond notes.
The star for me, however, was the glass of Blackie Ford’s Hop Riot. Named after the leader of the Wheatland hop workers strike of 1913, it is an 8.8%, 90 IBU, imperial black IPA.
It is strong, hoppy, and dark-tasting, if that’s a thing, but without the roastyness of a stout or a porter. I can’t say that I’m super keen on black IPA’s as a style, but Blackie Ford’s is solid example of what can be achieved with the style.
Sutter Buttes Brewing
421 Center St
Yuba City, CA
The San Francisco Brewers Guild has set the dates for the 11th edition of SF Beer Week: February 1st through 10th.
It’s February, and February in the Bay Area means SF Beer Week!
SF Beer Week is California’s premier beer festival. Over the course of a week it features hundreds of official beer-centered events (623 at last count for this year!) and dozens of unofficial and “warm up” events, throughout the nine Bay Area counties, and beyond.
This year’s Opening Gala –which officially opens Beer Week on February 9th– alone has more than 12o breweries confirmed to pour their best, most special, and rarest beers.
With this being it’s 10th anniversary, the organizers predict that this will be the most epic Beer Week thus far.