The first Oktoberfest was held 1810 as public celebration for a royal Bavarian wedding. In the ensuing two hundred years it has morphed into what’s been called the largest secular celebration on Earth. Its growing popularity has been fueled by pork, potato pancakes, the chicken dance, and lots of beer. As with other holidays, we Bay area residents put our own spin on the festivities.
President Obama ushered in a lot of firsts. Besides being the first African-American president and the first president to openly support marriage equality, his is the first administration to have beer brewed in the White House.
Summer is nearing its end, and Oktoberfest is around the corner, which means we’re in that blink of a season for wet-hopped beer. The end of August and early September marks the usual harvest season for the flowering cones of the hop vine. These catkins are normally kiln dried and packaged immediately after harvesting for later use when brewing. But traditionally, brewers with ready access to fresh– or “wet” – hops would sometimes make small batches of “harvest ale” with just-picked hops for personal enjoyment.
The late Michael Jackson (the Beer Hunter, not the pop music icon) once dismayed that Saison style beers were becoming scarce to the point of vanishing altogether. He would be heartened to learn that this classic beer style has not only been revived, but is thriving in ways he could hardly imagine–particularly in San Francisco.
We San Franciscans like our craft beers big and bold: High in alcohol, aged in oak, wild and sour, and enough piney west coast hops to strip the enamel from the teeth of lesser beings. But during the long days of summer, it can be challenging to down three or four IPAs in an afternoon and then pop up from the picnic spread to play Frisbee. What we need in the summer are “session beers.”
On Saturday, July 14, one of the Bay’s longest running beer events will take place at Fort Mason. Over 50 breweries, mostly local, will be pouring at the 12th annual BreastFest Beer Festival.
Summer is one of the best times to enjoy the outdoors in Northern California and taking beer along to a picnic, barbecue, or to replace those precious bodily fluids at the end of a bike ride or hike is an absolute must.
But until recently, making the buying decision at a beer cooler involved choosing either a tasty craft beer in heavy, breakable bottles or selecting an industrial-style brew in lighter and more packable cans. Thankfully, more and more brewers are resolving this dilemma by packaging their craft beers in cans.
Wooden barrels are usually associated with aging wine and until recently only a few brewers used them and then primarily to inoculate their beer with friendly bacteria to create lambic or other sour styles. But in the ever expanding world of beer flavors, an increasing number of brewers are reusing wine and spirit barrels to add flavors to their beer batches. Bourbon barrels, for example, used to be sawn in half and sold for planters. Now brewers in the US and around the world are snapping them up and using them to age and flavor various beer styles.
With more daylight hours and the occasional afternoon of fabulous weather, the best place to have a beer in late spring is outside. We’ve assembled a list of ten of San Francisco’s best outdoor locations to enjoy a cold one, but feel free to share your own favorites in the comments.
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