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Our 2012 SF Beer Week Preview

Our 2012 SF Beer Week Preview

Photo by Jennifer Yin

Happy Beer Week! SF's craft beer community has had a big year, with the recent launch of Southern Pacific Brewing (the city's first new brewery in over a decade), and huge community support for up-and-coming suds superstars like Almanac, Local Brewing Co., and Pacific Brewing Laboratory. As usual, the SF Brewers' Guild and their counterparts around the Bay have put together a dizzying lineup of 300-plus events at over 140 venues that are sure to please the palates of both seasoned drinkers and beer neophytes. With ten days of wall-to-wall good drinking, it was hard to choose just a few events to highlight, but these six seemed particularly appealing.

Opening Celebration

Friday, February 10, 6-10 pm, at the Concourse Exhibition Center (635 8th St.)

If you can only choose one Beer Week event to attend, go for the opening party: with over 60 breweries represented (more than double 2011's number), it's the best way to sample the full spectrum of California craft brews. Worried about overbooking after last year's opening-night debacle? Don't fret: the Beer Week crew has booked the sizable Concourse Exhibition Center, which has more than enough room to accommodate the nearly 2,000 people expected to attend. Tickets are $69, and can be purchased here.

Anchor Brewing's "One-Off" Beer Night

Monday, February 13, 5-8 pm, at Zeitgeist (199 Valencia St.)

After decades of producing a more-or-less stagnant lineup of beers, SF's (and the world's) first craft brewery is taking a new direction, with a line of limited-release suds that are specifically made for events like Beer Week. First up in the series is the California Lager. Other limited-release events of note include Triple Voodoo's launch of its grand cru and two collaboration beers at Church Key (February 15), Healthy Spirits' release of its barrel-aged bottle collaborations with Ale Industries and High Water Brewing (February 11 and 15), and Speakeasy's lineup of special Beer Week brews at the Sycamore (February 12), Blackbird (February 13), and Noc Noc (February 14).

An Evening of Beer & Soul

Monday, February 13, 6 pm, at Bar Tartine (561 Valencia St.)

If you'd been meaning to get to Oakland's Hibiscus to try chef Sarah Kirnon's famed fried chicken, you're out of luck; she recently departed the restaurant for good. But she'll be popping up with a bunch of soul food-inspired favorites, chicken included, for one night at Bar Tartine. Monk's Kettle cicerone Sayre Piotrkowski will have eight beers to pair with Kirnon's food, centered around the theme of yeast-- each course will feature one beer that's traditionally fermented, and the same beer's "alter-ego," fermented with a different yeast or bacteria. The cost for three courses and all eight brews? A mere $49. Call Bar Tartine at (415) 487-1600 to make a reservation, or book a spot on OpenTable.

Mikkeller Single-Hop IPA Tasting

Saturday, February 11- Sunday, February 19, at Press Club (20 Yerba Buena Lane)

Danish "gypsy" brewer Mikkeller doesn't have a home base; instead, their brewers roam Europe, Canada, and the U.S., using other brewers' equipment to produce limited-quantity suds that have a cult following among beer geeks. One of their most ambitious projects was brewing the same IPA with the addition of only a single hop, making it easier for serious drinkers to learn and identify the flavors each variety contributes to a finished beer. All Beer Week long, Press Club is offering a rare flight of nine varieties in 2.5-ounce pours; for just $15, drinkers can sample the entire lineup and build their tasting knowledge.

Under the Table: Brewlab's Unofficial Beer Week Homebrew Party

Thursday, February 16, 7-11 pm, at Beatbox (314 11th St.)

While this event isn't officially affiliated with SF Beer Week, beer nerds who like being on the cutting edge won't want to miss the opportunity to taste over 15 beers concocted by Brewlab's talented lineup of local homebrewers. A $30 glass gets you access to unlimited tastings, while DJ KidHack will provide beats and a food truck will sell bites. Since it's a private party, tickets are invite-only and only sold in advance; request an invitation at their Eventbrite page to get hooked up.

The Three Ring Circus: A Brewer's Dinner and Sideshow

Wednesday, February 15, 6 pm, at Elks Lodge No. 3 (450 Post St., #3).

It's a testament to how much Beer Week has evolved over the past few years that it can now field the ambitious combination of serious beer dinner and circus. "Homebrew Chef" Sean Paxton will serve up nine circus-themed courses to pair with 13 brews from Speakeasy, Shmaltz, and Ninkasi; as dinner unfolds, circus performers will entertain the crowd. The night wraps up with the debut of Three Ring Circus, a collaboration between the three brewers that fuses a nut-brown ale with dulce de leche, popcorn and peanuts. Oh, and did we mention the hopped cotton candy? Tickets are $120, including tax and gratuity, and can be purchased here.