Suffice it to say, as per usual, everyone who attended Friday’s kickoff grand tasting event for San Francisco Beer Week got pretty hammered. The annual shindig expanded to the Concourse Pavilion last year and this year featured beers from 78 Northern California brewers, from big players like Sierra Nevada to nanobreweries like the brand new Pine Street Brewery — which debuted its first beer, Atom Splitter pale ale, on Friday. And while it’s all well and good to chat about how "sessionable" this or that beer might be, the truth is most of the attendees tasted dozens of beers before they were done, many of which had alcohol contents of 8% or above, meaning those half glasses added up fast.
But, this being more of a beer-geeky crowd and not just a bunch of former frat boys, people kept themselves in check.
We started with a limited release beer from Lagunitas, a tasty Belgian-style ale they’ve dubbed Sucks, as in "I’ll have a Lagunitas Sucks, please."
Anderson Valley Brewing brought a mascot.
There was an immediate line, as always, for Russian River Brewing’s Pliny the Younger, which they quickly ran out of. It is, indeed, tasty, but we don’t get the mad following it has. We then opted for Devil’s Canyon Brewery’s Deadicated, which was a good, hoppy amber. Also, they have fun cans.
This gal from Berryessa Beer Co. had fun hair.
There was quite a crowd by 7 p.m. And yes, a lot of dudes.
Sacramento-based Ruhstaller is reviving a brand that was huge before Prohibition — opened in 1881, they were once the Anheuser-Busch of the West Coast. The signature brew on the new line, which uses all locally grown hops, is therefore called 1881.
Almanac Beer Co. for the first time had a full line of their "farm to bottle" beers to taste, including their great Extra Pale Ale, which is brewed with California barley and mandarin oranges and finished with American oak.
Another cult favorite was North Coast Brewing’s Grand Cru, a very delicious, limited edition, barrel-aged beer in a gold-labeled bottle that they ran out of before long.
Livermore-based Altamont Beer Works was pouring something called Ganja Juice. We’re still not clear on what’s in it.
These dudes were pretty pleased.
All photos by Stephen Bronstein.
Earlier: Top Ten Events to Hit at Beer Week