SF Beer Week is back, folks. That means that from January 22nd through the 31st, the Bay Area will again be awash with world-class suds, beer and food pairings, and a cornucopia of beer-related events. With more than 750 events and counting, from Santa Rosa to Santa Cruz, this year's liver-crippling festival is on track to be Beer Week's biggest yet.
Things get going with the soldout January 22 opening gala at Pier 35, themed around football to coincide with that thing called the Super Bowl (it's coming to Santa Clara on Feb. 7, in case you haven't heard). More than 110 breweries—the most in the gala's history—will be onsite pouring brews, in addition to the debut of two Beer Week special editions created in the competitive spirit of the big game itself.
"With the Super Bowl rolling into town, a football theme was practically mandatory," says Joanne Marino, executive director of the SF Brewer’s Guild, whose members collaborate each year on a special commemorative brew. This year, the Guild drew a figurative line along Market Street to create two teams, SoMA and NoMA, who would go head to head in a friendly brewing competition.
"We now have two completely different beers, one immersed in the current season—a coffee porter from Team SoMA—and one looking ahead to the coming season—a citrusy saison from Team NoMA," Marino says. The two beers will be on tap at the opening gala, and at events throughout the week. Drinkers will be able to vote for their favorite, and Whole Foods will donate $5,000 to the winning team’s charity of choice. (You can see the team rosters and ingredients for their beers here.)
In case you didn't manage to get tickets to opening night, there's plenty more Beer Week to go around. Marino recommends a couple of "insider" events for anyone dying to mingle with the local craft beer community: On Jan. 27, Battle of the Guilds will pit SF against San Diego and Los Angeles in a beer battle to the death (just kidding!) at Sessions in the Presidio and on Jan. 30, the beer news magazine Celebrator will toast its 28th anniversary with a bash at Trumer Brauerei in Berkeley.
Expecting beer drinkers from across the Bay Area, the Brewers' Guild has teamed with Hotel Zelos to offer a discount (code: BEER) to prevent any drunken drives home back to Oakland.
Or, for anyone wishing to celebrate Beer Week on their own time from the comfort of home, check the festival's website for Featured Lists of beer picks from various industry players. Have fun! // SF Beer Week, Jan. 22-31 (various locations), sfbeerweek.org