With SF Beer Week starting up this Friday I figured it was time to ask my buddy Sayre Piotrkowski for a set of recommendations that fit my broke-ass price range. This is of course ironic since Sayre is pretty much the person in the Bay most commonly associated with folks spending TONS of money on beer.
Since I gave Sayre the now-coveted “Broke-Ass Stuart Bump” by appearing in this video, his career has predictably sky-rocketed. Eater.com named his “one of the country’s top beer sommeliers” and he has moved down Valencia St. from Monk’s Kettle to St. Vincent, where he serves as beer director for David Lynch the former wine director of Quince and Cotogna.
While I asked Sayre to keep his recommendations below ultra-afforbable, I would be remiss if I didn’t say that I’ve splurged and attended a couple of dinners that Sayre has put together in the past and found them to be worth every damn penny. If you are looking to go big at some point during beer week I would definitely consider checking out one of the “From The Seed To The Kernel” dinners that St. Vincent will be hosting.
Top 5 Affordable SF Beer Week Events: By Certified Cicerone Sayre Piotrkowski
Friday’s Gala at the Concourse Exhibition Center will mark the opening of this the fifth annual SF Beer Week. In it’s half-decade history SFBW has grown from a cool idea to a ten-day extravaganza with nearly 500 different events to choose from. For geeks like me this week is typically a time to go overboard, both when it comes to what we consume and how much we spend. Starting this weekend there will be beer-themed happenings all over the entire Bay Area. These will range from tasting seminars, and “tap take-overs” to visits from out-of-town brewers and paired beer dinners with price tags approaching $200 a seat. Still, while the next ten days will no doubt see several sycophants like me going a bit too big, the week also offers several more relaxed and approachable events.
Here’s a list of what look to me to be some of SF Beer Week’s most intriguing bargains….
1) Linden Street Tap Takeover Feb. 9th 6:00pm-9:00pm at Rosamunde’s new Oakland location 911 Washington St, Oakland, California 94607
Linden Street and Rosamunde are two down-to-earth independent enterprises that have been absolutely wrecking shop over the past couple of years. Last month Rosamunde added it’s 3rd location in the Swan’s Market complex just a short walk from the Oakland City Center BART station. Linden Street which opened only three-and-a-half years ago in the Port of Oakland, makes some of my personal favorite beers in the Bay and has already been called one of the Top Ten Breweries in the Country. The tap-takover at Rosamunde Oakland is a pay as you go event that will feature some of Linden’s most sought-after brews. Both LSB and Rosamunde keep their prices remarkably reasonable so bring a twenty-spot and you should leave well-fed and nicely buzzed. Should you want to keep the beer-themed party going, Rosamunde’s Old Oakland location is just steps from The Trappist and Pacific Coast Brewing Company. The easy BART access means no post beer-drinking driving is necessary.
2) “Unity As In Edward” Release and Artist Market Feb 9th 12pm-9pm – at Ale Industries 975 Detroit Ave unit e, Concord, California
Unity, as in Edward is a 6% ABV barrel fermented sour ale with peaches, plums, and cherries added mid-ferment. All of the fruit was which grown locally at Arata Ranch in Byron, CA. We were honored to pour a preview keg of this beer at St. Vincent a few months back. Even at that point it was drinking as nicely as any Bay Area brewed sour beer I have ever tasted. The release party will feature Fist Of Flour’s mobile pizza oven and desserts by The Punky Chef not to mention a host of local musicians. Still, I am certain that a chance to taste one of the most ambitious and impressive brews the Bay Area has ever produced will be the main attraction.
3) “Pliny The Younger” for La Cocina Feb. 13th 12pm-til the keg kicks – at Monk’s Kettle 3141 16th St. San Francisco, CA
Pliny The Younger is the most sought-after beer on the West Coast and likely the most coveted IPA style beer anywhere in the world. Frankly the fervor around it has started to get that cultish, obscene feel for me. This is not to say that the beer does not merit the hype. Pliny The Younger makes for a fantastic glass of excess that is for a perfect fit with SF Beer Week and Strong Beer Month. My issue is, why do we collectively decide to get all Bieber-feverish over one extraordinary beer when we live in a part of the country that is home to hundreds? That is partly why I find it is so refreshingly human that my former my bosses at the Kettle have decided to follow the lead of Monk’s Cafe in Philly and donate their proceeds from “The Younger” to a very worthwhile charity.
At noon on Feb. 13th the Kettle will tap their keg and start selling glasses until they run out. All of the money taken in will go to benefit La Cocina, a mission district charity that provides training and job placement assistance to those looking to enter the culinarily field. So, if you are one of the thousands of people gearing up to fight the crowds and get your taste of “Pliny The Younger” this year please consider doing so at Monk’s on the 13th. Here’s hoping that next year more Bay Area beer bars follow this example.
4) Drake’s And Cheese Feb. 11th 6:00pm at Mission Cheese 736 Valencia St. San Francisco, CA San Francisco, CA 94110
I love Mission Cheese. I am a firm believer that beer and cheese compliment each other much better in most cases than wine and cheese do. The beer list at Mission Cheese is always on point and it is clear that the staff has ample knowledge and enthusiasm when it comes to beer. On the evening of February the 11th the Mission Cheese crew will welcome one of the Bay Area’s most exciting bigger brewers, Drake’s. I’ll be honest, when I first came back to the Bay I was leary of Drake’s beer. They were always solid but they seemed to go through brewers pretty quickly and I could never get a sense for the persona or pallet behind it all. That has all changed since the brewery made the remarkably talented Alexandra Nowell as their lead brewer back . Today Drake’s core brands continue to get better and better while the brewery’s “Barrel-House” has been consistently offering a list of ambitious and experimental one-offs. On the 13th $30 we buy you five artisanal American cheeses expertly paired with some of the coolest stuff in the Drake’s catalog.
5) Sensory Evaluation Training Ninkasi Brewer/Founder Jamie Floyd Feb. 13th – 6pm at City Beer Store 1168 Folsom Street, San Francsico, CA
Here is one for the beer-geek on a budget. How often do you have a chance to sit for a serious guided tasting with one of the best brewers in the country? That is exactly what City Beer Store is offering for only $18 on the night of Feb. 13th. I have worked with Jamie Floyd in the past and I can attest to his ability to make the seemingly mundane scientific aspects of brewing and enjoying beer exciting to listen to. Participants will taste Ninkasi’s flaghsip “Total Domination” IPA, alongside several “doctored” versions. Jamie will teach the chemical and psychological variables one needs to stay aware of to get the most out of a tasting a beer.
6) …or One for the not-so-broke….
Farmhouse Beer and Cheese tasting with Nicole Erny and Kirstin Jackson – Tuesday Feb. 12th 7-9 PM at 18 Reasons 3674 18th St. San Francisco, CA 94110
Events like this one demonstrate why we are all so lucky to have a space like 18 Reasons available to us. 18 Reasons functions as Bi-Rite’s teaching space and is constantly presently worthwhile seminars and playing host to some of the most compelling people in the culinary world.
Back in 2011 I sat alongside some of the most prominent names in craft beer for the very same exam that Nicole passed to become the youngest and first female Master Cicerone on earth. I failed, as did every one of us not named Nicole Erny.
Kirstin Jackson and I have worked together on events, staff education and we relied heavily upon her in putting together the initial cheese program at Monk’s Kettle.
For me, getting to be in a room with people who are at the top of their field is almost always worth paying for. Kirstin and Nicole are both modest to a fault. A condition that makes it too easy to overlook the fact that they are also both uniquely gifted and knowledgeable. If you love beer and cheese so much that you are up for a serious wonky geek-out, this may be the SFBW splurge for you.