SF Beer Week is taking over our fair city February 10 to 19, 2012. This 10-day event is like Burning Man for beer, both of which are dedicated to community, self-expression and self-reliance. Beer Week has blossomed into the largest West Coast gathering since its debut in 2009. Over 60 Northern California breweries will participate in the 10-day event, promising a sobering amount of over 400 activities. Fans of the fermented beverage not only get to taste new releases, but will also enjoy food pairing dinners, meeting the brewer socials, even making their own beer. The key to a successful run is to bring a valid I.D., show up early and have fun.  There is so much to experience that the free SFBW app, available on iTunes, is highly recommended to keep one hop-ing from one activity to the next. Here is a preview of what’s in store.

SF Beer Week Opening Celebration

Concourse Exhibition Center

635 8th Street
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 490-5800

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Price: $65 Admission
Date: Friday, February 10, 2012
Hours: 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

SF Beer Week grows annually in size and scope, drawing over 10,000 attendees to Bay Area bars and restaurants. The festivities kick off in the Concourse Exhibition Center located in the SoMa District, chosen for the venue’s larger accommodations. Hosted by the SF Brewers Guild, beer lovers will be treated to newly minted nanobrewers, the latest sensation to hit the industry. These craft brewers, defined by their production of less than four U.S. beer barrels per year, will be pouring next to well-known and loved brewers such as Gordon Biersch, ThirstyBear and Beach Chalet Brewery, to name but a few. Remember folks, this is only day one, so pace yourself—your liver will thank you.

Related: Best Bay Area Events

(credit: Thinkstock)

11th Annual Double IPA Festival at The Bistro

The Bistro
1001 B Street
Hayward, CA 94541
(510) 886-8525

Price: $45 Admission
Date: Saturday, February 11, 2012
Hours: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Release the taps; this acclaimed street festival is a beer lover’s dream come true, featuring over 75 beers on tap. Wrap your taste buds around a triple IPA (pale ale or India Pale Ale) like Russian River’s Pliny the Younger or Dogfish Head’s 120 Minutes as professionals judge the best. Enjoy cheese tastings, BBQ and live music and take home a six-ounce commemorative glass for your troubles. Admission price gets you five pours with additional pours coming at you for just $2. This is a great event for groups and a perfect time to call in any designated driver favors you have saved up.

Cask and Quesos

ThirstyBear Brewing Co.
661 Howard Street
San Francisco, CA 94105
(415) 974-0905

Price: $35 Admission
Date: Saturday, February 11, 2012
Hours: 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Turn your evening into a culinary trifecta pairing cask ales with local and Spanish artisan cheeses and breads. Join all eight San Francisco Brewers Guild breweries at ThirstyBear for unlimited tastings and a special appearance promised by guest cask ales.

Chocolate Making Contest and Benefit with Pete Slosberg

21st-Amendment Brewery
563 Second Street
San Francisco, CA 94107
(415) 369-0900

Price: $20 Admission
Date: Monday, February 13, 2012
Hours: 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Pete Slosberg of Pete’s Wicked Ale is now  a chocolatier and founder of Cocoa Pete’s Chocolate Adventures, and will be heading to 21st-Amendment Brewery for a hands-on event benefitting cancer research. Join Slosberg as he teaches you to make chocolate with a random ingredient brought from your own home. The winner for the best chocolate creation scores a $100 21st-Amendment gift card.

18 Reasons

3674 18th St.
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 568-2710

Price: $20
Date: Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Hours: 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

For Valentine’s, take in the heartwarming film “For the Love of Beer” screening at community center 18 Reasons. A “Wheat-Field of Dreams,” filmmaker Alison Grayson celebrates the passion and commitment of craft beer’s female forerunners with Bend Brewing’s Tonya Cornett, Saraveza’s Sarah Pederson, Beer Goddess Lisa Morrison and Pink Boots Society Teri Fahrendorf. Grayson will be on hand following the screening to discuss the film while audience members are treated to chocolates from local TCHO and beer courtesy of Almanac.

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Beer from the Vault, Vol. 4

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Magnolia Pub & Brewery
1398 Haight St.
San Francisco, CA 94117
(415) 844- 7468

Price: Free Admission
Date: Friday, February 17, 2012
Hours: Begins at 11 a.m.

Award-winning Magnolia Brewery recently took home the silver and bronze medal from the Great American Beer Festival. They will go deep into the cellar and unearth vintage barleywines, tweeting about the discoveries during the week. Teasing old Old Thunderpussy Barleywines and vintage Smokestack Lightning, it’s best to arrive early because these aged beers run out once the kegs do.

Related: Haight-Ashbury Neighborhood Guide

(credit: sfbeerweek.org)

19th Annual Barleywine Festival

Toronado Pub
547 Haight Street
San Francisco, CA
(415) 863-2276

Price: Free
Date: Saturday, February 18 to Sunday, February 19, 2012
Hours: 10 a.m. to 2 a.m.

One of the biggest draws to Beer Week is the Barleywine Festival held in the famous Toronado Pub in the Lower Haight. This one takes a little stamina, endurance and know-how. Bring a snack and wear comfortable shoes. The Pub is a sea of bodies jammed with people looking to taste as many brews as possible. A wise move would be arriving early to avoid dry taps later in the day. Fun fact: 2010 second place festival winner Firestone Walker Brewery was just named 2011’s Mid-Sized Brewer of the Year at the Great American Beer Festival in Colorado. Can they pick ’em or can they pick ’em?

Craft Beer & Grilled Sausage Eating Contest

Rosamunde Sausage Grill
2832 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA 94110-3908
(415) 970-9015

Price: $12 Admission
Date: Saturday, February 18
Hours: 2 p.m.

Now celebrating three years at its Mission street location, Rosamunde, the definitive menu for sausage and craft beer, hosts a beer drinking and sausage-eating contest you don’t want to miss. Teams of two will compete for $100 in Rosamunde gift certificates by eating as many 1/2 sausages with as much beer as you need to get it down in 8 minutes. Everyone gets $1 off winner’s beer choice all day or $2 for the beer with winner’s sausage choice. All contestants score a Rosamunde T-Shirt.

Nerdy and Natural: Mid-City Beer Hike

Social Kitchen & Brewery
1326 9th Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94122
(415) 681-0330
Price: Free
Date: Saturday, February 18, 2012
Hours: Noon to 4 p.m.

Lest you think Beer Week is a sedentary affair, along comes the Nerdy and Natural hike sponsored by the Social Kitchen & Brewery. The 4-mile urban hike, led by brewmaster Rich Higgins, takes you on a journey through one of the world’s largest national parks, Golden Gate Park, to the summit of Mt. Sutro, then back to the beautiful Inner Sunset locale for a nice cold one (or two). Convenient for those looking to take public transportation, SKB is right off the N Judah line and easily accessible by MUNI.

24th Anniversary Celebrator Beer News Brew

Trumer Brauerei Berkeley
1404 4th St.
Berkeley, CA 94710
(510) 526-1160

Price: $50/Advance, $70 Cash at the door
Date: Sunday, February 19, 2012
Hours: 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Beer Week 2012 goes out with a bang at Trumer Brauerei. Celebrator Magazine, America’s Premiere Brewspaper, throws its annual anniversary blowout at the Berkeley brewery. As last hurrahs go, this party is the most fun for all involved, whether mustering up the last ounce of energy or keeping it laid back. It’s a nice opportunity to reflect on all the great food, beer and events that went down during the week. Over 30 breweries pour their favorites while guests enjoy live music, munch on delicious BBQ and make plans for Beer Week 2013.

Robyn Chelsea-Seifert is a freelance writer living in San Francisco. Her work has appeared in The Miami Herald, Creem, Hit Parader, The South Florida Sun-Sentinel and International Musician. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.

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