2/04/2013 04:47:00 PM

SF Beer Week: An Insider’s Day-by-Day Guide for Geeks and Aficionados

San Francisco’s Beer Week begins this Friday and runs through February 17th, and the array of suds-centric events to chose from are daunting. San Francisco has the largest concentration of certified Master Cicerones (beer sommeliers) in the world (there are only six total, five in the U.S.), so who better to ask for a strategy to wade through all the options than our own 30 Under 30 honoree Nicole Erny, who not only manages the rigorous certification program, but also was the first woman to have passed.

Erny confesses that there are so many remarkable events taking place during the 10-day beer bacchanalia that it was hard to just pick one a day. So she’s designed two day-by-day itineraries: an all-out beer education plan for geeks and industry folks and a twin track for avid aficionados. Pick the itinerary that best fits your level of interest (and yes, you can jump between tracks.) Be sure to also check out our not-to-be-missed food-centric beer events round-up as well.


Friday, February 8  
Geeks and Aficionados: Regardless of your beer acumen, everyone will want to kick off the festival by attending the Opening Night Gala. Meet the brewers, publicans, cicerones and all of the folks that make the Bay Area beer business happen at the opening gala while they are still fresh and unspoiled by countless nights of beer week debauchery (620 7th St, Concourse Exhibition Center, 6-10 PM).

Saturday, February 9
A must for hop lovers, this fest in usually sunny Hayward is a who’s-who of the brewing world. Don’t be afraid of “Hay-weird,” it’s just a quick jaunt on the Fremont BART line ($50, 1001 B. St; Hayward, 11 AM-6PM).
Brains and beer really do mix: Taylor is a yeast-master and is sure to give a ton of insight into how beer flavor emerges A can’t miss for home brewers and serious foodies (3-5 PM, City Beer Store, 1168 Folsom St).

SundayFebruary 10
Stroll downtown Berkeley for a wild collection of beer! Sour Sunday never disappoints ($30, 11:30 AM-7 PM or until the beer is gone, 1920 Shattuck Ave; Berkeley).
Ever wonder who assigns those big blue ribbons and medals to homebrew and commercial beer? Come to this seminar to learn about the merits of beer judging ($30, session 1: 12-1:30 PM; session 2: 2:30-4 PM, 901 Gilman St, Berkeley)

MondayFebruary 11
Drop by Alembic for a beer cocktail. Magnolia’s sister restaurant has a cocktail (and beer) program that will not disappoint. You’ll see beer and beer ingredients in a new light. FYI Each night of the week, it'll showcase a different beer and cocktail (pay as you go, 12 PM- 2 AM, 1725 Haight St).
This Portland brewery is often left underrated in the Bay Area, but Widmer is bound to roll out some fantastic beer at this great restaurant - and you can’t beat the price ($65, 6:30 PM, 342 Howard St).

TuesdayFebruary 12
You’ve been meaning to visit this iconic Berkeley foodie haven anyway. Make a reservation for yourself upstairs at the café for lunch or dinner during beer week for a special beer list with your meal (a la carte, 151 Shattuck Ave).
Shameless self-promotion alert! I’m teaching a class with It’s Not You It’s Brie author Kirsten Jackson. We’re going to get at the root of those over-used, misunderstood words: farmhouse and farmstead ($60 for 18 Reasons members, $70 for non-members, 7-9PM, 3674 18th St).

WednesdayFebruary 13
You won’t want to miss the 3rd annual Drake’s Sau and Brau, SF Beer Week’s most unpretentious beer dinner!  Oakland’s Chop Bar cooks up a whole pig and you get to sample a wide swatch of Drake’s beer. It’s a grubbing good time ($50, 6 PM, 1933 Davis St; San Leandro)
Jamie Floyd of Ninkasi will talk about tasting beer with a sensory analysis perspective. Jamie’s flavor intelligence is matched only by his personality and good looks, so watching him speak is sure to be enchanting ($18, 6 PM, City Beer Store, 1168 Folsom St).

ThursdayFebruary 14
Cerveceria  de Mateveza will be unveiling a new beer made with brettanomyces and showing a Mr. Ed marathon. It’s a great chance to check out Mateveza and their thoughtful bottle shop. Grab a couple empanadas and beer to go for your honey (5- 9PM, Cervecería de MateVeza, 3801 18th St).
I normally don’t advocate drinking non-Bay Area beers for SF Beer week, but we’ll make an exception for Alesmith. Alesmith’s concise, yet diverse lineup will be sure to pair well with every cheese offered (pay as you go, 1AM–7:30PM with Alesmith guys onsite from 2-4 PM, 734 Valencia St).

FridayFebruary 15
Stop by Monk’s Kettle for a little flavor from SoCal: Automatic Brewing. Lee Chase’s beers rarely show up in the Bay Area, and they are notable indeed (a la carte pricing, 2-5:30 PM, The Monk's Kettle, 3141 16th St).
Venture to the South Bay for a highly unusual chance to taste various single barrel aged beers that went into the final blend for Firestone’s latest anniversary beer. You’ll learn about blending and have a new respect for the perfect balance of all of Firestone’s barrel aged beers (a la carte pricing, 6-11PM, 390 Saratoga Ave; San Jose).

SaturdayFebruary 16
Beer and donuts. Do I really need to say more? Shake off your Friday night beer hangover with the true breakfast of champions, donuts made with the seasonal brewer's farm-to-bottle ales. Look for Saison, Extra Pale and Biere de Chocolat laced donuts, malted frostings and hot coffee (priced individually and available throughout the week from 8AM–4PM at both locations: 110 Yacht Road and 2760 24th St).
The only way to make a beer festival better is to pair it with a chocolate festival. Take that, put it in one of the most beautiful indoor venues in the Bay Area with breathtaking Bay views, add great music and you have one not-to-be-missed good time ($15 online; $25 at the door which includes entry only, beer and chocolate sold individually, 12-6 PM, Craneway Pavilion, Richmond Marina, 1414 Harbour Way South Richmond).

SundayFebruary 17
This is going to be a big one! Celebrator’s anniversary bash moves back to the Oakland Convention Center for the final SF Beer Week hurrah. Expect costumes and great beer from around the country. Best of all, there’s no need for a designated driver as the conventional center is located steps from the 12th street BART station ($55 for online general admission; $75 cash at the door, $80 for VIP early entry, 4:30-8PM, 1101 Broadway, Oakland).
For costume-free revelry at the highest level of refinement, end your beer week with a four-course dinner at St. Vincent. Certified Cicerone Sayre Piotrkowski will offer masterful pairings with outstanding Bay Area beer ($85, 5:30-10 PM, 1270 Valencia St).
This special annual beer tasting event is a bonus track just for the ladies.  Leave the Y chromosomes home for the night and test your own mettle along with likeminded women as brewery owner Kristiann Garrett runs you through a blind tasting of more than eight beers ($30, 6-9PM, 111 Industrial Way #7, Belmont)

For more info on SF Beer Week, include the week’s full calendar of activities, an interactive map and deets on the MySoberDrivers service to get you around safely, visit http://sfbeerweek.org/ or follow them on their Twitter or Facebook pages.

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