SF Beer Week has, for this pandemic era, transformed into California Craft Beer Week for this year only, and it's a statewide celebration of great beer from all corners and counties.
"It’s time to lift each other up," the organizers say. "Craft beer has never been just about a product. If it were, we wouldn’t have been crushed when our favorite indie breweries were bought by multinational conglomerates. Independent brewers do what they do out of love for community and love of craft... Especially here in California — home to the most breweries of any state, and world-renowned for its breweries and beer scenes — craft beer matters here, because community matters here. Let’s get that sense of community back."
SF Beer Week managed to happen in the pre-pandemic days of February 2020, and the organizers say that it will return in a similar form in 2022. Despite the name, the ten- or eleven-day celebration of craft beer grew quickly into a regional affair, encompassing much of Northern California — and the annual kickoff tasting event brings in breweries from the Sacramento and Tahoe areas as well as from Santa Cruz and Paso Robles, as well as the entire Bay Area.
For this year, though, Bay Area beer geeks can celebrate — at least virtually — alongside their counterparts from SoCal, and the arguably more famous beer scene in San Diego.
The festivities start with a virtual toast and a series of live panel discussions that everyone can enjoy for free on the official website, starting at 6:30 p.m. Friday (Feb. 12). The opening toast will be hosted by Russian River Brewing Co. owners Natalie and Vinnie Cilurzo, along with beer writer and SF Beer Week co-founder Jay Brooks.
The "headliner" discussion this evening will be about "being a rebel" in the beer industry and California's international influence, featuring Greg Koch of San Diego's Stone Brewing, and David Walker of Firestone Walker Brewing Co. in Paso Robles.
Whole Foods is sponsoring a beer-and-cheese tasting discussion, and you can learn more about that and print a $5-off cheese coupon here.
And San Francisco's own Dave McLean of Magnolia Pub & Brewery and co-founder of Admiral Maltings and Shaun O'Sullivan of 21st Amendment will be part of an open discussion panel on "Sharing & Staying Connected in an Outlier Year."
There are some limited in-person pickup and outdoor dining/tasting events, but California Craft Beer Week is focusing mostly on to-go stuff and online activities. Here's the full list of special beer bundles and other offerings that you order for pickup or shipping within California.
Here in SF, Woods Beer Co. is doing four beers crafted in tribute to the four San Francisco neighborhoods where they have brewpubs — The Castro (a hefeweizen with acai), The Haight (a pilsner dry-hopped with ariana), The Sunset (a toasted coconut porter), and Polk Street (a 7.8% ABV apple fritter cider with allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, meant to be paired with a Bob's Donuts apple fritter). They'll be releasing the beers on February 19, and you can purchase them here for in-store pickup or delivery.
Pine Street Brewery has a mix-and-match box of its beers that's on sale now, Almanac has a variety pack of cans that's available now, and next Saturday, Fort Point is doing a dim sum brunch for takeout, in partnership with Hong Kong Lounge, that includes six of its beers. (A vegetarian option is available.)
Sadly, if you were dying to taste some Pliny the Younger this year, you had to be on the ball a couple weeks ago — it became available for shipping in a mixed case from Russian River Brewing for the first time this year on January 28, and the cases sold out in minutes.
Check out everything else to do and purchase on the California Craft Beer Week website.