Craft beer fans flock to San Francisco each year to sample rare beers and culinary pairings that celebrate the rich Bay Area brewing culture. From Feb. 1 to 10, SF Beer Week features a full calendar of beer geekdom with hundreds of events at breweries, taphouses and restaurants from Monterey Bay to Sonoma County. Guests can hobnob with renowned brewers at the opening gala in San Francisco Feb. 1, check out the double IPA fest in Hayward Feb. 2, learn all about malt in Alameda Feb. 6, try taco and beer tasters in Albany Feb. 7, and tour neighborhood beer haunts with a brewmaster in San Francisco Feb. 8.
Sounds great if you have a designated driver, but you don’t actually have to travel far because Sonoma County hosts some of the best SF Beer Week events right here, including tap takeovers, brewery dinners and celebrations of our craft beer epicenter. Then there are the handful of San Francisco events that feature our local brews, which are worth the trip south.
Feb. 1-14 Russian River Brewing Company.
All hail the Pliny! It may be single handedly responsible for buoying tourism in Sonoma County in winter months, but Russian River’s Pliny the Younger is a beer worthy of long lines, even in the cold. The brewery celebrates its 15th year of the famed triple IPA release, available until it disappears at both the Santa Rosa taproom (725 4th St.) and the Windsor brewhouse (700 Mitchell Lane) starting daily at 11 a.m. If you haven’t checked out the new Windsor location, potentially shorter lines for Pliny may tempt you out of your zip code. Limits apply, of course – only three glasses per imbiber. (For more immediate gratification, McNear’s Saloon in Petaluma and other Bay Area taprooms often get a keg or two of Pliny).
Cost: Pay as you go.
More info: russianriverbrewing.com
Feb. 2-9, The Roost by HenHouse
This one is centered in San Francisco’s South Park neighborhood at Picnic on Third (493 Third St, San Francisco), but makes our top list for culinary beer matches with a Sonoma County connection. HenHouse Brewing Company (Santa Rosa, Petaluma) highlights SF Beer Week with creative mash-ups featuring top chefs and local craft beers. Nightly pop-up beer dinners at Picnic on Third afford talented culinary minds an opportunity to showcase their chops with changing ingredients. Each night a different chef puts together a new menu with an individual twist, centered on HenHouse’s freshly made beers. If the happy hour menu is any indication of the tasty surprises to come, we were piqued by chicken chicharrones with smoky hop salt, Trinidadian fry bread with guava jelly and farmers cheese, and the jerk chicken empanadillas with cilantro stem aioli. The dinner line-up includes:
Saturday, Feb. 2, Chef Priya Gaiha introduces beer fans to Euro-Indian fusion.
Monday, Feb. 4, Chef Christina Alexis plays with West Indian and Southern cuisine.
Tuesday, Feb. 5, features Chef Diego Felix mixing sustainable eats with South American flavors.
Wednesday, Feb. 6, join Chef Seti Shay to sample Persian influenced cuisine.
Thursday, Feb. 7, welcomes Chef Geoffrey Reed, a McKinleyville native who introduces diners to sustainable and foraged foods with a Japanese flair.
Friday, Feb. 8, Chef Anna Voloshyna, a blogger and epicurean, will inspire guests with creative Georgian flavors.