2013 in Review

Beers at Spring Training2013 has been a crazy beer exploration year for us. We visited 74 new breweries and drank numerous numerous new beers. This is our best attempt at “Top 10” lists….this was much harder than I thought. Hope everyone also had an eventful beer year!

Our Top 10 New Beers:

1) Dayman Coffee IPA – Stone Brewing Beatification

2) Parabola – Firestone Walker

3) Heady Topper – The Alchemist

4) Peanut Butter Milk Stout – Belching Beaver

5) Beatification – Russian River Brewing

6) Pumpking – Southern TierSam Adams Utopias

7) Hazelnut Porter – Rip Current

8) Syndicate No 1 – Speakeasy Ales & Lagers

9) Blueberry Ale – Cascade Brewing

10) Utopias – Boston Beer Co

Our Top 10 New Breweries:

1) Firestone Walker – Paso Robles, CA Rare Barrel

2) Drakes Brewing – San Leandro, CA

3) Belching Beaver – North Park – San Diego, CA

4) The Rare Barrel – Berkeley, CA

5) Heretic Brewing – Fairfield, CA

6) Rip Current Brewing – San Marcos, CA

7) Bike Dog Brewing – West Sacramento, CA Rip Current Brewing

8) Faction Brewing – Alameda, CA

9) Out of Bounds Brewing – Rocklin, CA

10) Discretion Brewing – Santa Cruz, CA

 

Our Top 5 Beer Moments:

1) Our first beer interview with the North Bay Bohemian for beer traveling!

2) Attending San Francisco Beer Week for the first time!

3) Meeting my two beer travelings favorites Chris & Meredith Nelson from thebeergeek.com and Maria Scarpello & Brian Devine from The Roaming Pint

4) Earning our 1000 Unique Beers on Untappd – getting closer to 2,500 now!

5) Visiting San Diego for San Diego Beer Week.

Wishing you the Best New Year!

– Sparklinglover & my fantastic husband

SF Beer Week Opening Weekend

SF Beer Week

The next morning was a bit tough, but after some much needed breakfast we were back to what we do best: beer. Our first stop was the Press Club in downtown Mikkeller Yeast Seriesto try the Mikkeller Yeast 2.0 Series. Each beer was made with the same malt, hops, mash time and temperature. The only difference is the yeast. The series included Lager, English Ale, American Ale, Saison, Brettanomyces Lambicus and Brettanomyces Bruxellensis. It was a great experience to see how much yeast determines flavor and was extremely eye opening.

The Press Club was also specializing in unique sours and had a list over over 30 sours. After only two days of “official” beer week they were already out of everything Cantillon and a few others. We ordered sours from France, Italy and the US. Only thing was nothing had a price and when the bill came it was over $100. It was a surprise, but totally worth the experience.

Then we were on to Speakeasy Ales Speakeasy& Lagers for their grand opening of their new tasting room. The place was packed and the tasting room was completely full. Very speakeasy style with dark secluded rooms. We hung out in their warehouse/brewery where all their Friday night events are. Speakeasy is always a great time. They have tons of local followers and always attract amazing food trucks. The staff is always great and the beers are top notched.

Smoked Beer Flight                                                      We then headed to the Mission district where it seemed there was a beer event on every corner. First was Southpaw BBQ & Southern Cooking where they were offering a smoked beer flight. Sounded awesome and the idea was great, but the follow through was terrible. Long story short: bad service and uneducated staff. Don’t post a beer week event if you are unprepared. Luckily, there was a Goose Island tap takeover a block down at The Sycamore. Their was no tap list prior, but I kept believing that Bourbon County Brand Stout would be there. Positive thinking = yes! The Sycamore is a small bar/restaurant and the place was insanely packed, but I squeezed in and got my first taste of Bourbon Countythe legendary beer. No joke the glass was probably 3 ounces, but at 15% it was all we needed. Hardest part was maneuvering through the crowd without spilling a drop. They have an awesome outdoor area with a huge screen. Strangely Planet Earth was planning which was a unique experience watching everyone sipping beer and watching seals eat penguins. We ended the night at 21st Amendment for their Strong Beer Month. One of our favorite San Francisco breweries.

Dynamo DountsThe last event we wanted to attend was on Sunday morning. Almanac Beer Co partnered with Dynomo Donuts to produce a Biere de Chocolate donut.  It was delicious and was a perfect end to the opening weekend of San Francisco Beer Week. If anyone ever gets the chance to attend some events, go for it! We attend 1% of events and had a fantastic time!

Cheers #SFbeerweek it was a grand time! – sparklinglover

SF Beer Week: Opening Gala

SFBeerWeek

Oh SF Beer Week….we had a fun time. Normally I pop into a few events, but this year we went “all the way”. We stayed for the whole weekend and tried so many great beers.

We Drakes Brewing took Friday off of work so we could meander our way into San Francisco. First, we headed to the East Bay to finally check out Drakes Brewing in San Leandro. I really love Drakes and am sad to say it took us so long to get there. As much as I wanted a fresh Hopocalypse (released the week before) we decided on some session beers to kick of SF Beer Week. We had a long way to go before the Opening Gala. We tried their Something Mild 3.9% with Mosaic hops & Quarter Century of Issues (collaboration with Stone) 4.5% with El Dorado and Centennial hops which were both very tasty. Drakes is really leading the way with “drinkable” and “flavorful” session beers that won’t bowl you over with alcohol. Their Alpha Session is one of my favorite beers and is much needed during baseball season where games can stretch 3-4 hours.

SFBeerWeekSignsIt was finally time for the Opening Gala. With a line around the building we knew we had arrived. I love beer fest lines chatting away with other beer lovers and planning which breweries to hit first. Always devise a plan first otherwise you will end up just walking around and missing a lot of great beer that goes fast. (aka: Pliny the Younger & Hopocalypse Black Label) Our plan was to hit Drakes first to see if they brought their Hopocalypse Black Label a Triple IPA, which had been sold out for a week. Ohhhh…yes they did and it was great to do a side by side with the Double IPA. Surprisingly loved the Double IPA more.

GreenDeathNext we made our way to the San Francisco Brewers Guild who always release a collaboration beer during SF Beer Week. This year’s was Green Death a “craft beer” version of a malt liquor that was popular before and after prohibition. A tribute to San Francisco beer history. It was very smooth and creamy for 7.75% with a bready characteristic. My husband feel in love with this beer and searched for it around town after the event. More info here.

The highlights of the night:

Knee Deep/Track 7- Knee Deep in Beer Week Drakes-Tree Beer

Ale Industries – Unity, as in Edward

High Water Brewing – Aphotic Baltic Porter

Bison Brewing – My Funky Valentine

Almanac – Barrel Noir

Almanac – Farmer’s Reserve No 1

Almanac – Farmer’s Reserve No 2

Heretic – Shallow Grave

Drakes Brewing – Tree Beer

SF Beer Week Group ShotPhoto Stand at Opening Gala

For our first time at the Opening Gala this event was completely overwhelming even with my print out of breweries. I never expected all the breweries to bring seasonals, limited  and rare breweries in addition to their standard lineup. I was a kid on Christmas running from one brewery to the next. This was also the event to catch up with beer friends. This is THE beer event to go to during SF Beer Week!

Cheers, Sparklinglover