SF Beer Week kicks off February 1st - we got your excuses to make the trek

31 January, 2019

For northern California locals it’s almost hard to grab a pint someplace and not be in the midst of a SF Beer Week event in the first week of February at a bar, taphouse, brewery or restaurant. For out-of-towner’s and beer fans there’s no better time to come visit. February boasts brisk, yet sunny mid-60’s low 70’s sunny days, cheap rates on flights and hotels and off-season breathing between the end of year and summer tourist seasons.

SF Beer Week is well known for several things; the Opening Gala, Russian River’s Pliny The Younger release and door wide open access to brewers and breweries hosting creative and exclusive events daily for ten consecutive days.


The Opening Gala

The annual kick-off Gala held at Pier 35 in San Francisco is a mini-version of GABF (Great American Beer Festival) featuring the brews from the SF Greater Bay Area breweries. This year five special collaboration brews will be debuting, all created with California grown, floor malted grain from the Alameda Island gem Admiral Maltings, lending unprecedented local terroir to each brew. The beers include:

SF Beer Week Collaborations

The beer list is published and it’s mind blowing. A lot of limited releases, first timer’s and infamous fans favorites. Even if you’re not going to the Gala you need to check out the beer list. You can even mark “favorites” on the list and save it as a 2019 “to-do” in your beer quest.


The Pliny Frenzy

The release of Russian River’s Pliny the Younger, the unofficial mascot beer of SFBW, draws records crowds and record revenue to the North Bay town of Santa Rosa signaling the annual beer buzz news frenzy. This year there will be two locations serving the coveted release, the original Santa Rosa pub and the gorgeous new brewing center and restaurant in nearby Windsor.

pliny the younger

There’s always haters who proclaim “it’s all marketing” but in reality it’s the great marketing that clouds the beer which is actually very well done. Is it worth getting up at 5am or standing in line at the Gala for 2 hours while hundreds of other great beers are a minute away? No. But if you get the chance to try it, don’t scoff at it and enjoy a legend.


The Events

Each year SF Beer Week seems to invade new tap houses, breweries, bars and restaurants, each upping the game in creativity and exclusive offering events. Rare tapping's, collaboration releases, anniversary parties, fun runs, food pairings, the list goes on. This is also a chance to visit marquee Bay Area beer locations including the Trappist, Beer Revolution, The Bistro,

If you want the full exhaustive list of what going on check out the SFBW Event Calendar. A couple crazy highlights:

  • The Hazy Train - San Francisco Hazy IPA Tasting Tour (starting at Cellarmaker - SF)
  • 18th Double IPA Festival at The Bistro (Hayward)
  • Beerunch at the Public House (at AT&T Park - SF)
  • The Oater Limits Can Release: Drake’s & Cellarmaker Collaboration (Drakes Brewing Company, San Leandro)
  • 6th Annual Barrel Aged Beer Fest at the Trappist (Oakland)
  • Bay Cat California Ale Release at Ale Industries (San Leandro)
  • Gears and Beers: Classic Car Meet Up at Gilman Brewing (Berkeley)
  • Landmark Bike Tour with Fort Point (San Francisco)

Ok, honestly, just visit the event calendar and scroll, it’s amazing!


The Travel

February weather in northern California is a sneaky perfect time of year to visit. When the Sun’s out it’s a great jeans and a t-shirt day. Flying into Oakland (OAK) is a one of the easiest airports to get in and out of and is in the heart of all the action and usually correlates to lower airfare than flying into SFO.

Like several cities, February in the SF Bay Area is home to traditionally lower hotel room rates and lower rental car rates. The traffic won’t be any lighter anywhere in the Bay Area but just plan your road travel between 10am and 2pm and stay wherever you’re at until 7pm and you’ll barely feel the pain. Uber and Lyft are rampant out there so there’s no need to drive anywhere.