Make the Most of Your SF Beer Weekend

Like a colossal wave of awesomeness, San Francisco Beer Week is now washing over the Bay Area. According to their site, this weekend alone is dominated by no less than 155 separate events from the Peninsula all the way up to Sonoma. It's a little overwhelming, to be sure. Dripping with fanfare, the country's greatest celebration of suds attracts visitors from around the globe. Consequently, many of the hottest tickets have been sold out for weeks — we're looking at you, Opening Gala! But fret not, here's a look at several city-based happenings that are equally enjoyable and even more accessible. 

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A standout Beer Week event ought to contain a small degree of education. Nothing too academic, of course, but a little schooling helps all that tasty beer go down. To wit, Bartlett Hall in Union Square hosts “Meet Our Brewmaster Chris Wike” from 7-9:30 p.m. on Saturday. A straight-forward title for a no-nonsense evening discussing some of the techniques that distinguish the beers at this nascent brewpub. For folks interested in plunging into the exciting world of homebrewing, it promises to be a worthwhile affair. Everyone else will be rewarded with Wike's newest release, a red rye wheat, which he'll unveil that night, along with a special food pairing menu, and house beer flights. Pricing is a la carte and patrons are encouraged to stick around for live entertainment from local musician Sean Carscadden, featuring an eclectic tapestry of Funk, Folk, and Blues.

For something decidedly more foreign, Nombe — the Mission's veteran Izakaya — offers a night of Beer Umami with Michelin-starred chef Hiroo Nagahara. The five-course menu pairs local favorites like Almanac Golden Gose and Pac Brew Labs Imperial IPA with unctuous, protein-rich Japanese fare. Nombe Chef Mari Takahashi's showstopping Oyster Ramenburger, topped with bacon and shiitake mushrooms, could itself be worth the $75 price of admission. Okay, the beer helps.

Nothing like a little hair of the dog to kickstart Sunday brunch. 21st Amendment has ample ABV to spare, as they celebrate their Strong Beer Month with a 10 a.m. meal, pairing high-alcohol ales and barrel-aged sours with heaping portions of breakfast meats assembled specifically for the occasion. And since it's not even spring training yet, you're likely to tie down a table at every Giants fan's most cherished brewpub.

The Dogpatch is vying for the title of the City's microbrewing epicenter. Sunday night bolsters the claim, with two competing beer dinners hosted within blocks of one another. Triple Voodoo Brewery tapped Left Coast Catering to craft an exclusive menu to plate alongside their house-brewed Belgian-style ales. Smoked trout potato chips, green garlic soup, braised pork and creamy polenta punctuate the locally-minded fare. Limited tickets are yours for the taking at $70 a head.

Just up Third street, Smokestack @ Magnolia Brewing has invited the owners of Southern California's esteemed Firestone Walker Brewing for a three-hour extravaganza, beginning at 6:30 p.m. The $80 family-style dinner includes a special tapping of Firestone's tequila barrel-aged Velvet Añejo Merkin, exclusive to this event. Magnolia follows suit with a few limited edition barrel-aged offerings of their own. And, oh yes, there will be BBQ. Heaping mounds of it, prepared fresh by Chef Dennis Lee. Get your tickets here.

Nothing suiting your fancy? There's only 150 more where these came from…

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