There aren’t really a whole lot of things I can point to in my life and say, “I did that well. There’s no way I can really improve on that. That’s an accomplishment I can be proud of.”
My marriage is one of them.
To tell you how absolutely freakin’ cool my wife is, for my birthday this year, she bought me a VIP ticket to Sierra Nevada’s Beer Camp Across America, San Francisco edition.
And she hates beer. She got herself a designated driver ticket.
I will never, EVER, for the rest of my days, come up with a gift as great as that.
I tried my best to make sure this was at least a passable day for her, so she wasn’t completely bored. Since the festival was at Pier 35, and we live not too far from Vallejo, we took the ferry to Pier 41.
Best. Decision. Ever.
Could not have been easier. It was a leisurely, scenic, hour-plus ride across the bay, complete with stunning views of the Golden Gate, Alcatraz, and the San Francisco skyline. Easily the nicest way ever to get into the City.
And if you ever want a primer on how to put on an event, especially one as massive as this, Sierra Nevada knows how it’s done.
We arrived about a half-hour before opening, after a quick 10-minute walk from the ferry terminal. The early-admission line already stretched down the block. But, they started letting people into a large “holding area” about 15 minutes before showtime. That way, the VIP people were already inside and off the street, and everyone else wasn’t wandering around all confused about which line to get into.
Once the clock struck Noon, we were free to wander. And let me tell you, Pier 35 is such a massive space that the 120+ breweries (!) fit in easily, along with food trucks, a stage, and seating. Plenty of room to roam and sip beers at your leisure.
When you were ready for a bite, the trucks had you covered with everything from Mexican and Korean, to Chicken and Waffles, to Wood-fired Pizza.
And Grilled Cheese.
I had the most awesome sandwich ever from the Grilled Cheez Guy. Cheese, bacon, and basil on huge planks of crusty bread. Outstanding, and a great way to soak up some beer. If you see these guys at an event, run there.
If you wanted to get away from the people and noise, just step outside onto the pier. Sun, bay breezes, and remarkable views everywhere.
Regarding the beer, being the lazy guy I am, I didn’t take notes. Never even used the handy app Sierra Nevada provided. Nope, just wandered around and sampled what I wanted.
I tried to make a point of hitting places I haven’t tried before, either because they aren’t available here or I simply haven’t yet made it there. Almost all were very good to great, only a couple were “meh.”
There was one, however, that simply blew me away — Morgan Territory’s Motorboatin’ IPA. Finest IPA I’ve tasted in quite some time. Piney hops, nice pepper, total balance, and smooooooth. Just amazing. And my parents live in Tracy, so you can bet I’ll be stopping by on my next visit.
I even tried another Gose, and actually liked it. It was Sierra Nevada’s Otra Vez, poured by the man himself, Ken Grossman. I thanked him for his hard work some 36-odd years ago, and getting the ball rolling on this movement.
He smiled and simply said “You’re welcome.”
BTW, if I ever have destinations in the northern reaches of the City, I will not hesitate to take the Vallejo ferry again. Plus, it has the added advantage of having the Mare Island Brewing Company RIGHT THERE.
Although, I did not take advantage of that this time. Having my wife wait around for me while I sucked up suds for several hours was one thing, but going to a brewpub for dinner afterwards?
I pretty much used up every favor I’ll ever ask for again with this trip. No way was I going to push it THAT far.