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Navigating Sacramento Beer Week 2013

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There is no more exciting time in the Sacramento craft beer scene than right now, a mere five days before Sacramento Beer Week. Starting Friday, SBW will consume bars, restaurants, breweries and tap rooms in the area and bring in new SBW brews, rare treats and more. The fourth annual week of fun will continue until March 3, when the week will conclude with a delicious brunch after a full Saturday at the Capital Beerfest on March 2 at Cal Expo. Come from noon to 5 p.m. for beer and food tasting and 2 to 5 p.m. for beer tasting only. Tickets are $75 and $45, respectively.

Like last year, the number of events scheduled on the official SBW calendar is in the hundreds and continuing to grow. Who could have imagined just four short years ago that the beer scene in Sacramento could have grown to such a tremendous level – with so many breweries, bars and local brews to be proud of.

As always, the tough part is deciding which events to choose, which beers to try and how exactly to make the most of what SBW has to offer. While there will be no shortage of hopportunities this year, there are a couple of key terms that you should certainly keep your eye on, specifically, tap takeovers and vertical tastings.

A vertical tasting is a tasting that includes several of the same beer from different years – vintages, you might say. This allows a beer enthusiast to experience, in one sitting, how a beer evolves over time by tasting multiple vintages in succession. Rubicon’s Old Stock Ale vertical tasting is already inked in on my calendar for Wednesday. They will be pouring North Coast Brewing Co.’s Old Stock Ale from ‘04, ‘06, ‘08, ‘10 and ‘12.  Along with cheese, charcuterie and grapes – it is simply not to be missed. Vertical tastings typically include dark, rich and barrel-aged beers. A high-ABV doesn’t hurt either.

If you are a newborn hophead and don’t see any vertical tastings to your liking, be understanding rather than disappointed. IPAs, and especially double and imperial IPAs, are best served fresh – very fresh. A year-old imperial IPA would be a waste; hop aromatics just don’t last. There’s a reason Pliny the Younger is only available two weeks a year.

A tap takeover is when a proprietor changes all their taps to one brewery or type of brew. This type of event is especially prevalent this beer week. What’s great about a tap takeover is that the brewery comes to you – or better yet, to your favorite local watering hole. Worthwhile tap takeovers include Green Flash at the Pourhouse, Deschutes Night at Hot City Pizza, Ruhstaller at Old Soul at The Weatherstone, or for those feeling like a night of luxury, Allagash Brewing Company at Pangaea Two Brews Café.

The 2012 Capital Beerfest

Be Beer Curious 

Knowledge will be in plentiful supply this beer week, so be sure to get out and chat. Ask Dr. Charlie Bamforth of the University of California, Davis questions at New Helvetia Brewing Co., watch a brewing demonstration at The Brewmeister in Roseville or attend a class on tasting and describing at Pyramid with David Teckam, a Grand Master III level judge (Beer Judge Certification Program).


Each year there seems to be one brewery or establishment that really shines. Last year, Ruhstaller was everywhere, and in 2011 Lagunitas was the star. So far this year it looks like Rubicon Brewing Company has snatched that title. They will host some quite notable events – let’s just hope their aesthetically perfect patio has enough space available. Their events are varied, but each shines in a special way. Firkins kick it all off on Friday, followed by Craft in a Can Fest on Sunday. On Monday, hopheads and Deadheads unite while Vincent Sterne spins some Grateful Dead at the release of a collaboration with Two Rivers Cider.

On the food front, brunches will be held at The Shack, Low Brau and The Porch. They all look so delicious that it is impossible to even make recommendations. Beer dinners are more than plentiful as well, although you should be sure to get tickets early because they tend to fill up. The Oskar Blues Beer Pairing dinner at The Porch on Friday, March 1 is just one mouthwatering possibility.

Gubna. Enough said.

A beer enthusiast celebrates his love hops and malt at the Capital Beerfest in 2011.

Support your local breweries at River City Brewing Company’s kickoff event on Friday, where they will be pouring beers from seven local breweries. You’ll get even more local taste at Final Gravity’s Local Brewery Total Tap Takeover the next day.

Besides the giant, 90-brewery Capital Beerfest, the 2nd annual Sour Fest

at Hot City Pizza and Funkfest

at Samuel Horne’s Tavern in Folsom are both worth checking out.

Every single day more events show up on the SBW calendar, so don’t rule anyone out. Join the SBW mailing list or follow them on Twitter to stay informed.

Do it up right for nine days, making sure to take advantage of the aged, the new, the rare and the paired. Morant’s Sausages are just the beginning, and that’s saying something.

If it seems like it’s all too much, Extreme Pizza is having its own brewery tourReserve a spot on the bus and see three or four great local breweries in one day.

The Sacramento Beer Writer will now be posting columns on The Sacramento Press site twice a month – the date varying depending on the events in the spotlight and whether I am at home and free for the typing or out on the town at an unbeatable event. Check back for beer week coverage and return next month for advice on how to survive your beer week hangover. You can sign up to have the Beer Writer delivered directly to your inbox.


Editor’s note: Every Thursday we deliver a local event guide straight to your inbox, right on time to make your weekend plans. Sign me up.

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