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San Francisco Beer Week in February

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SF Beer Week
SF Beer Week, scheduled for February 8th through February 17th, 2013. Those with basic calendar skills will note that this week actually lasts nine days. But those two extra days are necessary to accommodate a festival that’s actually a collection of more than 300 events -- dinners, seminars, tap take-overs and the like.

And all of this in a city with an excellent craft beer scene.

As the San Francisco Brewers Guild relates, this is nothing new. San Francisco's history is deeply entwined with beer, since the city was a magnet for beer-loving immigrants, many drawn by the California Gold Rush.

The 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, better known as Prohibition, messed with this beer tradition from 1920-1933, as it did with many alcohol traditions throughout the United States. But Anchor Brewing Company, originally founded in San Francisco 1896, resumed operation after Prohibition ended. The brewery went through several owners and near-death experiences until then owner Fritz Maytag began bottling Anchor Steam Beer in the 1970s, followed by a porter, a barleywine ale, and others. This is generally credited as the beginning of the microbrew/craft beer scene in both San Francisco and the United States.

There are a now a number of well-regarded breweries in the Bay Area, an astonishing number of emerging very smell breweries (nanobreweries, if you will) and beer bars, many of which feature into the festivities surrounding San Francisco Beer Week.

The best way to get an overview of said craft beer scene is to attend the SF Beer Week's opening event.

It's held on February 8th, 2013at the Concourse Exhibition Center in San Francisco, where close to 80 breweries will be pouring samples. You get a glass, of course, and there’s music and nibbles, and the ticket costs $75. Note that there are no designated driver tickets, and attendees are strongly encouraged to take public transport. Buy tickets here.

After that, it’s a matter of just deciding whether you’d like to play beer bingo, pair beer with chocolate, with cheese, with oysters, taste IPA’s blindly, taste only sour beer, participate in a five mile beer run (actually running, although there’s beer at the end), attend a Elvis-themed beer night at Ale Arsenal in San Carlos, featuring Ale Industries’ "This is the Shit That Killed Elvis" Strong Ale on draft and peanut butter & banana paninis, meet brewers, taste new releases and so on and so forth. In 2012, there were 325 events to choose from, and more than 350 events are expected in 2013.

To quote the SF Beer Week Blog:

"San Francisco Beer Week offers the best imaginable way to feel absolutely confused and frustrated while having as much fun as can be had with a beer glass in your hand. No matter what event you go to, you will be missing out on twenty others. There is even a chance that you’ll arrive for an event and find it sold out or too crowded, and you’ll have to pull out your print-out or your SF Beer Week phone app and re-boot. Nobody can fix that for you, but there are ways to make getting around to the places you choose as painless as possible."

Resources for creating a plan of attack:

  • How to Survive and Enjoy SF Beer Week
  • Navigating SF Beer Week Without Driving This is a critically important piece to read, considering that in 2012, at least 450 different beers were poured for 2,600 attendees, totaling over 1,300 gallons of beer. You don't have to do the beer-per-attendees math to know that this will certainly make driving inadvisable.
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