Experiencing SF Beer Week 2017

a woman leaning on a table with two glasses of beer

I’m starting to get into craft beer, so while my trip to the Bay Area might have been poorly timed for the weather, it was perfect timing to take advantage of SF Beer Week last week.

SF Beer Week encompasses the entire Bay Area in California and offers numerous and diverse beer themed events – everything from movie screenings to special brews to tasting menus. I appreciated the number of participating venues since I was staying in the South Bay which made getting into San Francisco during rush hour a daunting task.

Nom Burger in Sunnyvale was the closest so I visited them twice. The first was for beer floats made with Founder’s Lizard of Koz and SCV Brewing Loma Prieta Bourbon Aged Stout with Straus Organic ice cream. Thumbs up.a menu with a flag and text

two glasses with brown liquid and straws on a table
The next night was for Tap Takeover with Founders Brewery. This was a little less satisfactory as it turned out the price for the 3 5 oz pours was an outrageous $14.

a menu of a beerThe beer was good, but not that good, and the server mixed up the order of the flights.

a group of glasses of beer on a table

Silver lining? It turns out I can tell the difference between an old ale with oak finish and a woody American double IPA all on my own. 🙂  I’d give it a pass next time.

Friday I was up in the Berkeley area with a free afternoon, enabling me to catch three events.

Mikkellers Oakland

I was eager to try the touted “selection of ultra-rare, never before released in the US” Spontanales. I didn’t even know what a Spontanale was!

a black board with white writing on it
The experience wound up being a little disappointing compared to my other stops. I loved the feel of the small vibrant tasting room, but missed the warm welcome and knowledgeable input at other places. The small bar was manned by one person who mentioned that half pours were half the price, but no mention of the flights in the event description or any other suggestions on what to try.

two glasses of wine on a table
Turned out the Spontanales were high octane, delicious and pricey sour fruit ales. I couldn’t justify $21 for 6 oz to try their triple and quadruple Spontanales. I did try the sour cherry, the apple, and the chokeberry (which made me think of snozzberry from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory). All were good, even the Fieldwork IPA (and I’m not an IPA person), but rough on the wallet. If in downtown Oakland stop by, otherwise give it a miss.
Sierra Nevada Torpedo Room
The next stop was more satisfying – the Sierra Nevada Torpedo Room located on Fourth Street. Their special that Friday was more than a dozen Barrel Aged beers on tap and flights of 4 2 oz pours for only $10. Glad I had come with friends to share tastings!

a menu board with a sign on the wall

Definitely a bargain. The spacious tasting room was pretty full but the staff were friendly and informed which helped when picking out what to try.

a group of people in a room

a row of glasses of beer
All were interesting, and there were a few standouts including Islay Fog and the Saison with ginger + lemongrass. I didn’t think I was a huge fan of Sierra Nevada, but these Barrel Aged versions made me rethink.

The Rare Barrel
The most highly anticipated stop was The Rare Barrel located on Parker St. They had partnered with Wicked Weed in Asheville to create a blended sour ale and were offering more than a dozen Wicked Weed beers on draft for the release party.a group of people standing in a line under a white tent

The event started at 4 and there was a line out the door in spite of the rain. Not surprisingly, most were North Carolina folks.

a group of people sitting around a tableThe Rare Barrel has great space and the Happy Blending was a great beer. So were all the other Wicked Weed and The Rare Barrel drafts.

a menu of a bar

No food, but a sufficient and mediocre food truck showed up a little late to offer snacks.

Calicraft Brewing
While Wicked Weed event was the highlight of Friday, discovering Calicraft Brewing was the highlight of the week. Located in an office park in Walnut Grove, that weekend they were celebrating the release of some of their their sparkling ales done in a wine style.a building with a patio and umbrellas
Loved the tasting room vibe, the staff were friendly, and the beers were fantastic.

a group of people in a room with a bar and chairs

a row of beer taps with price tags

a group of glasses of beer on a wooden tableDidn’t love the normal beers as much as the sparkling ales, but all were at least decent and a few were true standouts. Check out the Sour Zinfandel, Sour Cab Sav and The City India Pale Ale.

Full Disclosure: I may receive affiliate credit from links in this post or on this site which will help fund my travels. Thank you for your support!

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  1. 3 5oz pours for $14 is less than $1 per oz, while 4 2oz pours for $10 is more than $1 per oz. There’s some value in getting to try more beers, but I’m failing to see how one would be outrageous while the other would be a bargain.

    That aside, glad you enjoyed it! It’s my favorite week of the year here.

    1. You make a great point. Outrageous is a bit strong, I was just shocked when the bill came. I’m not used to beer tastings running more than $10-$12 and since price and size was never mentioned I assumed 3 beers would be under $10. Guess I should know what happens when I assume 😉

  2. Those are some fine Founders beers that you drank. I’d argue that they are best in class of all the beers that you reported on.

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