SF Beer Week 2012 Opening Celebration Photos

Photos © Brian Stechschulte

SF Beer Week commenced last Friday with a bang at the Opening Celebration inside San Francisco’s Concourse Exhibition Center. Sixty-eight breweries from all over Northern California poured their best beer to nearly 2,600 attendees. Newly minted nanobreweries were stationed alongside legendary breweries, live music was provided by the experts at Noise Pop and food purveyors like Wise Sons Deli satiated hungry stomachs.

Here’s a photo recap of the festivities. Click any image to enlarge it and use the arrow keys to move the slideshow. Below the photos is the list of participating breweries.


Participating Breweries:


21st Amendment Brewery
Ale Industries
Almanac Beer Company
Anchor Brewing
Anderson Valley Brewing Company
Auburn Alehouse
Beach Chalet
Bear Republic Brewery
Bison Brewing
BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse
Black Diamond Brewing
Blue Frog Grog and Grill
Butte Creek Brewing
Crispin Cider
Devil’s Canyon Brewery
Drakes Brewing
Dying Vines Brewing
Eel River Brewing
Elevation 66 Brewing
Firehouse Brewery & Grill
Golden Mongoose
Gordon Biersch
Half Moon Bay Brewing
Heretic Brewing
Hermitage Brewing
High Water Brewing
Hoppy Brewing Company
Iron Springs Pub & Brewery
Jupiter
Lagunitas Brewing
Linden Street Brewery
Lockdown Brewing Company
Lost Coast Brewing
Lucky Hand Brewing
Mad River Brewing


Magnolia Gastropub & Brewery
MateVeza
Marin Brewing Company
Mendocino Brewing Company
Moonlight Brewing Company
Moksha Beer
Moylan’s Brewery & Restaurant
Napa Smith Brewery
North Coast Brewing Company
Oakland Brewing
Pacific Brewing Laboratories
Pacific Coast Brewing
Pizza Orgasmica and Brewing Company
Pleasanton Main St. Brewery
Pyramid Alehouse/Breweries
Rubicon Brewing Company
Russian River Brewing
Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing
Shmaltz Brewing Company
Sierra Nevada Brewing
Six Rivers Brewing Company
Social Kitchen & Brewery
Sonoma Springs Brewing
Southern Pacific Brewing
Speakeasy Ales & Lagers
Strike Brewing
Third Street Ale Works
ThirstyBear Brewing Company
Tied House Brewery & Cafe
Triple Rock Brewery
Triple Voodoo Brewing Company
Trumer Brauerei
Two Rivers Cider
Uncommon Brewers


Give Some Beer Money to Charity During SF Beer Week

We’re one day away from SF Beer Week and right about now your itinerary is probably packed. Dinners, rare beer tastings and many other tempting festivities will have you zig-zaging across the Bay. The ten day marathon can be taxing on your body and bank account. Your hard earned money supports the growing craft beer movement, but could also help a local charity or non-profit during SF Beer Week thanks to the generosity of a few brewers and event organizers.

Here’s some events you should consider that are giving back to the community. You can have fun, try the latest and greatest beer, and feel like your making a difference at the same time.

2nd Annual Small Batch Big Thirst Beer Tasting Fundraiser 

A posse of brewers and food trucks will gather together to form a beer garden on February 11 from 12-4pm. All proceeds will benefit charities supported by the Night Train Swimmers.

3rd Annual Chocolate & Beer Festival

Chocolate and beer is a fantastic combination. Expect to find a few Imperial Stouts on hand at this event taking place on February 11 from 2-6pm at the Craneway Pavilion in Richmond, CA. Proceeds will benefit the Children’s Learning Center, which is a “comprehensive alternative educational program for exceptional children, who, because of their intense behavioral, social, emotional and educational needs are temporarily unable to succeed in the public school system.” Breweries on hand will include the Elevation 66 Brewing Company, Drake’s Brewing, Anchor Steam, Moylan’s Brewing Company, Lost Coast, Trumer, Marin Brewing Company, Triple Rock, Linden Street, and more.

3rd Annual SF Beer Week Beer Run

Burn some calories before slugging back some beer at Social Kitchen & Brewery on February 12th at 11:00am. It’s a friendly, non-competitive affair, that stretches for 5 miles through Golden Gate Park and returns to the brewery where you’ll get a $1 off beers. It should be noted that there’s an “optional” beer stop at Magnolia Pub & Brewery for those who wish to rehydrate. Post run prizes will be doled out and a raffle will benefit the Contra Costa Food Bank and Ales for Autism in memory of the great beer writer Bill Brand.

Chocolate Making Contest and Benefit with Pete Slosberg

Legendary craft brewer and chocolate maker Pete Slosberg, former owner of Pete’s Wicked Ales, will be turning 21st Amendment Brewery into a candy factory on February 13 from 6-8pm. Bring a “random ingredient” from home and the get your hands sweet and sticky in a fun-filled competition that could garner you a $100 gift certificate to the host brewpub. A special cask beer has been designed for the event and proceeds will benefit cancer research. (SOLD OUT)

East Bay Brew Fest

The Pyramid Alehouse is hosting the first edition of the East Bay Brew Fest on February 16th from 5-9pm. For an affordable price of $20, guests will receive a glass and unlimited beer tastings from Ale Industries, Bison Brewing, Black Diamond Brewing, Buffalo Bill’s Brewery, Drake’s Brewing, E.J. Phair Brewing Co., High Water Brewing, Jupiter, Linden Street Brewery, Pacific Coast Brewing, Pyramid Brewing, Triple Rock Brewery and Trumer Brauerei. All the proceeds from ticket sales will benefit the Berkeley Food & Housing Project.

Ales for Autism Presents the Black & White Beer Ball

Drink beer and help raise money for autism care in Windsor at the Mary Agatha Furth Center on February 17 from 6-9pm. For $35 per person, Ales for Autism will be offering up “endless pours” of black and white beers from Third Street Aleworks, Russian River Brewing Co., Firestone Walker, Widmer Brothers, Lost Coast, Speakeasy, and Hoegarrden in a complimentary tasting glass. Food will also be available from Santa Rosa’s BBQ spot while live music from the Nate Lopez Trio fills the air.

Head Brewer for a Day Dodgeball (S)Mashdown

Stretch your arm and prepare for battle if you want to be head brewer for a day at Pyramid Alehouse in Berkeley. The showdown begins on February 18 at high noon and goes till 4:00pm. All you have to do to enter is bring some items on the Berkeley Food & Housing Project’s wish list, which can be found on the Facebook event page (click “see more”). We expect this to be a highly popular event.

Meet the Can Van: Craft Beer Canning on Wheels

Jenn Coyle, Lindsey Herrema & Barley / Photos © Brian Stechschulte

Picture this: You’re a small brewery that’s looking to expand to stores and markets all across your area. The thing is, you don’t have a bottling line and filling bombers by hand is more of a pain in the ass than you pictured. Sure it worked when you were home brewing, but we’re talking barrels of beer here. What can you do? Jenn Coyle and Lindsey Herrema might have the answer.

Jenn and Lindsey (and their mascot Barley) run a mobile canning line, dubbed the Can Van, which just got off the ground right here in the Bay Area. They just got back from picking up their custom trailer in Colorado and I managed to track them down at Devil’s Canyon Brewing in Belmont where they were doing their first run of cans.

The Can Van concept emerged from their final semester at Presidio Graduate School where they, along with several other classmates, worked on a solid business plan as a class exercise.  While conducting research on the idea, they received very enthusiastic responses from the breweries they called, such as “That’s a great idea! When can I hire you?”  Needless to say, they were on a roll before they even got started. After numerous presentations and some fundraising, the Can Van became a reality.

“Cans you say? I thought there had to be minimum orders of 100,000 for can production?”  That’s true. If a brewery wanted to use cans with a design that’s printed directly on the aluminum, then a minimum order of 100,000 is necessary. Luckily Jenn and Lindsey have found a way to label the cans themselves, as they would appear on beer bottles. This means no huge orders and no pallets of cans just sitting around for a year waiting to be used. They just order the amount of cans needed and buy the labels. The rest is beer history.

With so much beer to process I was curious about the speed of the canning line. I’ve heard many brewers talk about how slow a canning line is compared to a bottling line. When Jenn told me they could process 36 cans a minute, that lingering doubt went out the window. In fact, they’re able to package 30 barrels in a single day at full speed. I wonder if larger breweries will simply hire them full time to can year-round?

The Can Van will operate much like the mobile bottling line that many local breweries utilize. While they want to stay near the Bay Area, if there’s another region of brewers that want to can their beer then they’re totally down for traveling where there’s work to be done. In fact, they’ve been eyeing a trip up to Oregon to help out a few breweries there.

It’s pretty amazing what they’re doing, taking the whole canning trend and building a solid business around it. Right now they’re just getting started with their first client, but they could easily have more demand then they can manage, just like many breweries that can’t make enough beer to satisfy customers. It’s a great problem to have and I wish it on them.

How to Spend SF Beer Week in the East Bay

It’s called “SF” Beer Week, yet the schedule is packed with happenings all over the Bay Area. If you were so inclined, you could spend the entire week ten days (another misnomer) in the East Bay. For the record, this was true even before the New York Times decided Oakland was hip.

Keep an eye on sfbeerweek.org for the most complete list of options, but the groupings of events below should help you narrow down your choices a bit if you live or work in the East Bay.

Chow Down

Drake’s Sau & Brau is probably the most talked-about SFBW beer and food event on the eastside, and I’ve heard only good things. It’s back in all its porky glory on February 16 with more Chop Bar whole pigs and a ton of Barrel House beers. Tickets are $45 and only available in advance online.

Other food fun:

  • Wine Thieves in Lafayette is repeating its successful Extreme Ale & Cheese event on February 14. (Click to read about last year’s).
  • Master Cicerone Nicole Erny is reprising last year’s Beer & Cheese of the British Isles event at the Commonwealth, with two sessions this year to accommodate more lactose lovers.
  • The Chocolate & Beer Festival is back at the Craneway Pavillion in Richmond on February 11. It’s family-friendly: kids under 9 are free and chocolate-only tickets are available.
  • Get some food in you before a long day on February 12 with the Beer Chef Brunch at Barclay’s in Oakland. Chef Bruce Paton has been throwing beer dinners since before some of you could read, so trust him.
  • Vegan-owned Beer Revolution will have non-animal-based food on certain nights, like a chocolate pairing with Stone and a sorbet pairing with Speakeasy on February 14.

Show Your East Bay Pride

You’ve got two beer week opportunities to let your local flag fly: the East Bay Brewfest at Pyramid and East vs. West night at Barclay’s. The Pyramid fest is a celebration of all breweries on this side of the Bay Bridge, with unlimited tastings for $20 per person or $35 per pair. Barclays will offer a la carte side-by-side comparisons of SF and East Bay beers.

Meet the Brewer

I’m biased (I work there), but Beer Revolution really outdid itself with brewery nights this year. Every day of beer week means meet-the-brewer events, sometimes with three or even five breweries in one night. Big names include Matt Brynildson from Firestone Walker, Fal Allen from Anderson Valley Brewing Company, and Terrence Sullivan from Sierra Nevada, but don’t overlook the fine beers and good folks of local breweries like Black Diamond, Firehouse, Marin, and Dying Vines. Some nights are still in the works, so check Beer Revolution’s events listings for the most up to date info.

More meet and greets:

  • Bobby G’s in Berkeley is another great spot to schmooze. Check their schedule for nights with Iron Springs, Ale Industries, and Auburn Alehouse.
  • On February 11, The Trappist welcomes Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø from Evil Twin Brewing, Brian Stillwater from Stillwater Artisinal Ales, and the owner/founder of 12% Imports – and they’re all collaborating on a special beer for the event. On February 17, the Trappist will host Firestone Walker’s Matt Brynildson and serve food made with his beer.
  • Get your whole family some pizza and chat with Morgan Cox from Ale Industries at Mountain Mike’s in Lafayette on February 13.

Focus, People, Focus

It’s fun to hone in on one particular style for the day. Saturday, February 11 brings us the 11th annual Double IPA Festival at The Bistro. There’s a blind judging before the fest with winners announced midway through, plus a people’s choice vote. You’ll never get to sample all of the 75+ beers on tap, but it’ll be fun to try. (Take BART!)

Other places to go deep:

  • The ever-popular Sour Sunday at Triple Rock and Jupiter is a very worthwhile event for fans of the funk.
  • On the 14th, Jupiter is having an Anti-Valentine’s Cask Beer & Blues Night with live blues and casks from Jupiter (duh), Drake’s, Triple Rock, Dying Vines, Magnolia, and Moonlight Brewing.
  • On Monday February 13, The Trappist is having a Cuvee des Jacobins Rouge blending seminar, where you’ll taste a young beer, an aged beer, and different ratio mixes of the two.
  • On February 17, enjoy a blind IPA tasting at Barclay’s and see if the most hyped-up brands actually are all that. The same night, Bobby G’s is focusing on strong IPAs, including tapping a keg of Pliny the Younger at 5pm (which I expect to be gone by 5:45, but plenty of other tasty beers will remain.)

Learn Something

If you’ve ever found yourself wishing you were better at picking out unwanted flavors in your homebrew or describing the great beer you just drank, Beer Judging 101 at Pyramid on February 19 may be for you. Get an introduction to evaluating and describing beer from Grand Master beer judge David Teckham and Master beer judge Brian Cooper. Both these folks guest-lectured at a BJCP class I took last year and have forgotten more about beer than most of us will ever know.

More geek-out opportunities:

  • Another local beer expert, Nicole Erny, will put you to the test with a blind tasting session at the Trappist on February 13. You’ll learn to describe beers and identify styles, and eventually you’ll find out what the mystery beers were.
  • On February 15, Bobby G’s popular Wednesday night trivia game is all beer trivia, with questions written by the Anderson Valley Brewing Company crew.

Burn Some Beer Calories

If you have a bicycle and $25, you can visit five breweries on February 12 at the Tour de Biere. The day includes tours of Trumer, Linden Street, and Pyramid, plus discounts at Triple Rock and Elevation 66.

More vaguely healthy activities:

  • Pyramid is throwing a “Head Brewer for a Day Dodgeball (S)mashdown” in Berkeley. Those who donate wish-list items to the Berkeley Food & Housing Project can participate in a dodgeball game, and two winners and their guests will get to shadow head brewer Simon Pesch on a future brew day. (Details.)
  • Uh…does walking from BART to the bar count as exercise?

Try a Brand-New Beer

Be on the lookout for beer premiers during SFBW. For instance, Ale Industries is turning the release of its sour cherry imperial stout into an all-day shindig at the brewery with food, music, and other limited-release beers.

More new kids on the block:

  • Triple Rock always releases its imperial stout Keyser Soze during beer week, and older versions are usually available for side-by-side tastings.
  • Black Diamond chose beer week to release its first barleywine in years. It was brewed during SFBW 2011 with eight local homebrewers, is 15% rye, and portions were partially aged in rye and brandy barrels then blended back in.

The Grand Finale

If you have any stamina left on Sunday, the Celebrator anniversary fest at Trumer’s Berkeley brewery includes all the samples you can handle, a BBQ dinner buffet, music, a free shuttle from BART, and a cheerful “we survived the week” vibe. San Francisco may start SF Beer Week, but Berkeley finishes it.