San Francisco Beer Week 2015: Events Not to Be Missed

The 2015 edition of San Francisco Beer Week is just days away, and it promises to be the most action-packed iteration to date. The official site currently lists no less than 550 events over the 10 day period. There are so many stand-out suds to sample and only so many hours in a day. Plan accordingly. Here's a handy guide to help you make the most of it. 

Like a fine Belgian ale, SFBW seems to only get better and more complex with each passing year. The Opening Gala, for example, the annual kick-off held on the first Friday of beer week was moved to the Herbst Pavilion in Fort Mason this year to accommodate larger crowds and more breweries. Despite this, the $75, four-hour event still sold out in record time. With 82 of the west coast's most reputable microbreweries on tap, it might be worth your time to head towards the Marina around 6 p.m. on the evening of February 6 just to see if any extras magically materialize. 

On Saturday February 7, beer week shifts into high gear with dozens of celebrations, pairings, and beer dinners scattered across the Bay Area. Making a trek down to Hayward might seem extravagant, but then again so is everything about The Bistro's Double IPA Festival, now in its 14th go-around. Tickets are sold at the door for $55 and include access to over 50 double IPAs and 30 triple IPAs on tap, as well as cheese tastings and live music. For those tortured souls spending the week chasing the Pliny the Younger dragon, this is a solid opportunity to savor a pour. Doors open at 11 a.m. Come early, it gets crowded. 

Back in the city, Nojo in Hayes Valley hosts Brewer Meets Chef, a five-course menu paired with special selections from Fort Point Brewing Company. The Japanese-influenced fare will feature smoked sake marinated cod and beef tongue gyudon — a beef bowl served with simmered vegetables and rice. Seating commences at 5:30 p.m. All inclusive tickets are priced at $70, or $50 without the beer.

Start Sunday off right with MateVeza's Beerunch at Public House in AT&T Park. The event showcases seven “morning-friendly brews,” matched with inventive breakfast offerings like smoked bacon pancakes with salted caramel sauce. Okay, say no more. Just take my $49, right now. The three-hour brunch begins at 11:30AM. But save room for a trip across the bridge and an afternoon in Berkeley. This is Sour Sunday, folks — and it's sensational. The annual fiesta of funk is split between two locations; Triple Rock dishes out the international selections, while Jupiter's tranquil outdoor beer garden provides the backdrop for an afternoon of sipping on some of America's most celebrated wild ales. Sours surely aren't for everyone, but with such a diverse selection at your disposal, it's a great environment for the novice to acclimate to the dark art of tart. Tickets are sold at both locations and are good for pours between noon and 5 p.m.

Wrap up an epic day of imbibing with Triple Voodoo's Belgian Beer Dinner at their tasting room in the Dogpatch. Left Coast Catering crafted a special four-course menu to work with half a dozen Belgian style ales brewed right on site. The $70 dinner culminates in a milk braised pork with creamy polenta set against Triple Voodoo's ester-enriched Ultra Violet Dubbel. A vegetarian alternative is also available.

Monday arrives with some difficult decisions; three noteworthy beer dinners, all within city limits. If the combination of sour ales and Southern cuisine catches your fancy, consider the $75 Almanac Beer Pairing Dinner at Hops & Hominy. A five course evening featuring six exciting releases from one of Northern California's innovative craft producers commences at 6:30 p.m. Only 30 seats total, and it will most certainly sell out quick. Get on it. Or consider the gourmet offerings of Traci Des Jardins paired along Tahoe's favorite microbrewery at the Fifty Fifty Beer Dinner at Jardiniere. The three course prix fix menu is available for $55 throughout the night. For a less formal affair, roll up your sleeves and head to the Barrel Head brewpub for their Beer Week Crab Feast. Tackle all-you-can-eat crabs and as much of their tasty house-made craft beer as you can reasonably consume for a $65 cover.

Throughout the week, Schroeder's German beer hall in the Financial District is hosting a World Cup of Beer, with pours of four priced at $20. The 'battle flights' consist of specific German offerings pitted against their local(ish) stylistic counterparts. Order a round and select a side in this on-going rivalry. But don't overthink it, because Tuesday brings yet another evening of overlapping beer dinners scattered across the city. ThirstyBear, the SoMa's only organic brewpub, dishes out their award-winning beer along Spanish flair with the annual Paella Fest. At just $35 for bottomless house-prepared paella, unlimited organic brews, and live Flamenco music, it might be the best bargain of SFBW. The three hour soiree starts at 6PM and sold out last year, so consider locking down tickets soon. For the wild game enthusiasts, Southpaw BBQ has something special in store with their Mad Hatter Dinner Party. The $75 seven course pairing promises alligator tenderloin, buffalo frog legs, and turtle meatballs. And that's all before the wild boar popsicles come to the table. If it's knowledge your thirsty for, bring an appetite to 21st Amendment at 7PM when the popular brewpub hosts Strong Beer School, a $50 beer dinner led by Peter Baker from Cleophus Quealy Brewery

afternoon is all about the annual Shrimp Boil at Anchor & Hope. Two hours of endless unpeeled, seasoned shrimp with corn on the cob, boiled potatoes and unlimited draft beer. Seatings—one from 5-7, and a second from 7:30-9:30 p.m. — can be reserved ahead of time, online, for $35 a head, plus tax and gratuity. If you finish early, you might make your way to the Outer Castro to enjoy Mama Ji's Belgian Beer Dim Sum Pairing. Full-flavored European imports pour behind Sichuan specialties at this $50 dinner that goes until 8:30PM. Another eclectic assortment of dining options will be plated at The Hall on Market starting at 7PM. Their Beer Dinner with Half Moon Brewery boasts five restaurants under one roof, all slinging their worldly fare for $70, including beer. Enjoy local seafood, Indian curry, and Vietnamese noodles with brewmaster James Costa as he discusses the fine art of finding the right beer to complement any meal. 

Proving that San Francisco can't have all the fun, Pyramid Alehouse in Berkeley continues a charitable tradition with their East Bay Brew Fest on Thursday night. $25 tickets include unlimited pours from 17 local breweries and a souvenir glass from which to drink them. The three hour event starts at 6PM and all proceeds benefit Project Open Hand, a local non-profit providing meals to seniors and the critically ill. 

Still with us? Well we've only gotten to the end of the first week. Stay tuned for continued updates as well as a preview of what to hit during the closing weekend. Pace yourself, folks. SFBW '15: it's a marathon, not a sprint. 

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