Brooks on Beer: SF Beer Week

Sounds like FUN!- The Professor

Guest brewer Christian Kazakoff, left, of Iron Springs Pub & Brewery in Fairfax, Calif., toasts patrons of the newly-opened Beer Revolution bar in the Jack London Square neighborhood of Oakland, Calif., Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2010. Kazakoff brought samples of his Belgian Dubble style beer as part of San Francisco Beer Week. (D. Ross Cameron/Staff) ( D. ROSS CAMERON )

Written by Jay R. Brooks for mercurynews.com

In other parts of the country, February is traditionally one of the sleepiest months. But here in semi-sunny San Francisco, it’s just the opposite. Yes, I’m talking about SF Beer Week, now in its third big year.

I’m not just a big supporter of SF Beer Week, I’m also a co-founder and organizer — and this showcase for the Bay Area’s beer culture and community is near and dear to my heart. Last year, more than 225 events took place over the 10 days of SF Beer Week. This year’s festivities, slated for Feb. 11-20, promise more than 250 diverse events of every possible variety — specialty tastings, talks, beer-pairings, dinners and even beer brunches.

Join us for opening day at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, where more than 35 Bay Area breweries will be pouring unusual, rare and collaboration brews from 5-9 p.m. There will be live music and food booths as well.

From there, the festivities move around the Bay Area with three marquee events scheduled in Hayward, San Francisco and Berkeley. The Bistro in Hayward will host its 11th annual Bistro Double IPA celebration Feb. 12, pouring more than 60 Imperial IPAs for lovers of big hoppy beers.

The Toronado Barleywine Festival, in its 18th year, is the following Saturday. San Francisco’s Toronado Pub will offer samples of roughly 60 barley wines from around the country. The doors open at 10 a.m., but if you want a good seat, come early. The line to get in stretches farther down the block every year. And Celebrator Beer News will hold its annual anniversary party on closing night at Berkeley’s Trumer Brauerei.

The remaining events encompass a dizzying array of happenings, including dozens of beer dinners and brunches, a scavenger hunt, beer ice cream social, and special food pairing events featuring cupcakes, oysters, cheese and chocolate. There are meet-the-brewer events, homebrewing classes and workshops, beer tasting classes and tutored pub crawls. There’s even a chocolate and beer contest with former chocolatier — and Pete’s Wicked Beer founder — Pete Slosberg.

And Anchor Brewing is opening its doors for a special invite-only, 140th- anniversary party Feb. 16. Admission is free, but only lucky ticket holders can attend. Sign up at 7×7 Magazine’s website (www.7×7.com) today and Feb. 9.

For details on all 250-plus events, including tickets prices, visit http://sfbeerweek.org, or download the free iPhone and iPad app at iTunes.

Strong beer

The other February Bay Area institution is Strong Beer Month, now in its ninth year. Two of San Francisco’s most prominent brewpubs, 21st Amendment Brewery & Restaurant and Magnolia Gastropub & Brewery, once again will brew up six special beers each. Try all 12 beers during the course of the month and you get to keep the commemorative glass. There’s an annual T-shirt, too — and the 2011 version features a beery spoof of Jimi Hendrix’s “Are You Experienced” album cover.

Both breweries will be making old favorites and a few new beers, too. Magnolia, for example, will have fresh batches of Old Thunderpussy Barleywine and Tweezer Tripel, along with a new beer, Rye Rye Rocco. 21st Amendment will bring back its Lower de Boom barley wine and Two Lane Blacktop, and will debut Twenty Rock, a new collaboration beer done with Rodger Davis, from Berkeley’s Triple Rock.