We San Franciscans sometimes like to revel in the trappings of pretension. We buy signature products, we eat "artisanal" everything, we wax poetic on the character of Napa wine (or we fake as much and hope to fly under the radar). The Bay Area Brew Festival is not such an affair; it's stripped down to the very essence and joy of beer-drinking.
Now in its fourth year, the festival offers an opportunity for novices and enthusiasts alike to sip specialty suds and relax with friends, and learn about local tastes from the brewmakers themselves. Participating breweries include Lagunitas, Anchor Steam, Speakeasy, Rogue, and Heretic. The 2013 festival follows last year's sold-out event and promises much more, with dozens of international and domestic beers, food trucks, music, and a photobooth. Admission includes three hours of unlimited samplings, a complimentary beer mug, and Fort Mason's historic waterfront view. Escape the usual Bay Area rigmarole early this year -- there's plenty of time for pretension come February.
The Bay Area Brew Festival starts Saturday, Jan. 5 at 2 p.m. at Fort Mason's Festival Pavilion, Marina (at Buchanan), S.F. Admission is $40-$50.