As much as I love Beer Week, I only wind up attending maybe a few of the 900 or so events each year.
Cuz, you know, I have a job. Believe it or not, this blog doesn’t pay any bills. Or provide benefits.
But let’s just assume for the sake of argument (and this post) I have all 10 days free, and room on my credit card for all the Lyft rides. Which events would I hit?
My dream Beer Week itinerary follows. But first, for those not used to such a vigorous drinking schedule, a few tips:
- The cliché is true — this is a marathon, not a sprint. PACE YOURSELF! With about 100 events on an average day, ain’t nobody making it to all of them. Me, I can do maybe three in a day, tops, depending on how they’re structured.
- If you’re worried too much about overdoing it, you might consider pay-as-you-go events, as opposed to ticketed ones which usually include unlimited pours.
- Also, HYDRATE! Most places offer water stations, take advantage of them. True, you’ll need to make more trips to the bathroom. But trust me, as the day wears on, you’ll be steadier on your feet. Besides, you can use the extra steps anyway, amirite?
- Along with water, keep some food in your stomach. Doesn’t have to be a ton, but you want enough to help absorb the booze and not get too woozy.
- And always, always, always, have a driver or use mass transit or Lyft. Don’t be dumb.
All events listed below are pay-as-you-go unless otherwise noted.
This being the first day of Beer Week, there’s of course only one event on the agenda — the Opening Gala ($80, $125 VIP), maybe the most highly anticipated event of them all. More than 120 breweries are set to pour some very special Beer-Week-only elixirs. And if you need a bite, food is available to buy. Be there, or wish you had.
And if you don’t feel like hitting transit late on a Friday night to get home, consider the Stanford Court Hotel on Nob Hill. Their Beer Week special includes a special rate, $25 dining credit, and a 4-pack of Seven Stills beer.
And, bonus, Seven Stills has an outpost IN the hotel. So if you’re about to wind down the evening and want a last beer or maybe some hard stuff (Seven Stills is also a distillery), it’s all stumbling distance from your room.
After sleeping the previous night off in my comfortable room, it’s time to start the remaining 9-day gauntlet.
There’s always the Double IPA fest at The Bistro in Hayward ($55). But, it’ll probably be pretty packed, and after the night before, I’ll probably want something a little lighter-octane.
I’ll venture back to my native East Bay and get some exercise with the Jack London Square Beer Walk ($59). Stops at Original Pattern Brewing and Heinold’s (AND a pretzel necklace!) are included. It’s gonna be a good day when you can check the scene at Last Chance.
Depending on timing, I’ll either stay in Oaktown and head to The Good Hop for their Tahoe Mountain takeover. Or I’ll venture up to Berkeley’s The Rare Barrel for a NorCal vs. SoCal throw down. Tasters order flights of 2, not knowing which is which, and vote on their favorite. With breweries like Almanac, Armistice, Alvarado Street, and Cellarmaker representing the Bay, we should have this thing pretty much covered.
Boatloads of watch parties are on hand for this Super Sunday. But I think I’ll head to where the game isn’t the featured attraction. (Who needs to watch the Patriots again, anyway?)
I think it’s time to get my Brunch on.
The Big Beer Brunch at 21st Amendment’s SF pub with Drake’s, Cleophus Quealy, and Three Weavers sounds amazing. Don’t see Three Weavers up around these parts very often, so that alone would be worth it.
I’ll need to work off all that food, so it’s back across the Bay to Alameda for some pinball action. (Pinball’s good for cardio, isn’t it?) The Pacific Pinball Museum in Alameda hosts Pinball & Pints. $45 gets you unlimited tastings of 20+ beers and all the pinball you can handle. Tournaments! Prizes! Fun!
One of the (many) benefits of Beer Week is the chance to try beers from breweries not usually found here. To that end, first stop will be City Beer Store for Finback Brewery, direct from Queens, NY! They’ll have beer on tap, and to go!
Time for some education. Malt education, specifically. Admiral Maltings’ “Meet the Malt” series today features beers made with Gallagher’s Best, a pale ale malt. Order full pints or create a custom flight. Plus, since this also falls on T-shirt Tuesday, you can get a limited-edition shirt and a pint for $20!
I typically don’t like to start my drinking days too early, but I’ll make an exception for the Henhouse Big Chicken release at Concord’s Hop Grenade. Yes, it’s an all-day event, but I plan on getting there sooner rather than later because, you know, Big Chicken.
I’ve never been to Speakeasy, so it’s good day to scratch that off the list. They’re releasing Blind Tiger Imperial IPA for the first time in cans. Great time to check out the refreshed operation and take home the good stuff.
Keeping the love in the East Bay, I’ll wander over to Paulista Brazilian Kitchen & Taproom in Oakland’s Glenview neighborhood, where all 24 taps will be all Oakland, all day. Think you can name all of Oakland’s breweries? You might be surprised…
Another new spot I want to check out is Redding’s Wildcard Brewing taproom in Albany. Tonight they’ll feature street tacos from 310 Eatery, paired with their beers.
Tour time! Let someone else plan the itinerary for once.
Rich Higgins, one of only 18 Master Cicerones on the planet, is bringing his famous European Beer Immersion tours to the City. For $175 (might seem pricey, but look at what you get), you’ll visit Magnolia Dogpatch (with lunch), 21st Amendment, Harmonic, Triple Voodoo, Public House (with snacks), and even a tour of AT&T (soon to be Oracle) Park!
Now THAT’S a day.
(BTW, Mr. Higgins is running a different Beer Immersion tour the previous day, of Alameda, via ferry from the City!)
For me, this day’s all about the Celebration of Craft fest, at Trumer Brewery in Berkeley. Continuing the tradition of Celebrator Beer News’ anniversary parties, more than 30 breweries will be on hand pouring special Beer Week releases ($60, $15 for DDs). Kudos to the California Craft Beer Association for filling the void and keeping the unofficial closing party alive.
Most likely that’ll be my only event of the day. But, if I did venture out for a little pre-gaming beforehand, I’d probably stop by Tigers Taproom in Oakland. Since I’m sure there will be no shortage of IPAs at the festival later that day, Tigers’ Non-IPA Tap Takeover might be just the ticket.
A couple of possibilities to close out Beer Week, depending on my mood (and health).
Or, if I’m completely beered out after nine days, I might travel to Monk’s Kettle for Cider Sunday. I gotta admit, as much as I love beer I’m pretty ignorant of the world of cider. This might be the perfect way to start my education.
So that’s it. 10 days of more beer than most humans can handle. As always, I’ll leave you with one final tip.
If you hate crowds but love beer, check out a venue a day or two AFTER an event. Odds are, there’s still gonna be some special stuff on tap.
The same goes for the week after Beer Week. Most participants (and revelers) will be partaking in what’s unofficially called Salad and Water Week. Which means, in addition to the possibility of drinking some unique, limited-edition beers, you’ll probably have a lot more elbow-room in which to do it.
Happy 2019 Beer Week! Cheers, y’all!!