Unfortunately this year, I was not able to go to nearly as many of events as I did in years past. This was a record-high year for them, with over 600 events, and it always seemed to be expanding. This year, I was not able to enjoy Pliny the Younger, go to any new brewery tap rooms, but I did manage to make it out to the Opening Gala. This was my first time attending this event, and WOW. I was amazed by the venue, and how big, and well placed everything was to make it feel like there were not thousands of people in one building drinking together.
I did not wait in line at Russian River, or for Black Label Hopocalypse from Drake’s, and maybe I should have. However, this is where the all of the people lined up to, and left plenty of opportunities to try so many beers, and talk with staff, and network. I really enjoyed meeting Colin from Henhouse in Marin County, and loved seeing friends from High Water Brewing, and Devil’s Canyon.
Some of my standouts from the night were Almanac’s Wild Sourdough Ale, a beautiful opaque golden colour, with a yeasty, full body flavor with a hint of sour…just like the bread! I also finally tried Henhouse, and I just loved their saison! It was funky, unfiltered, but overall, the earthy notes were very balanced. Damn. So good. I also loved the new Bison Brewing releases such as their IIPA, Kermit the Hop, which reminded me a lot of NBB’s Rampant, a higher ABV, light amber colour, but incredibly easy to drink. I cannot wait to try their new hibiscus saison! It unfortunately did not make it in time for SFBW14.
Overall, we had a fabulous time running into friends from breweries, podcasts, and from my bar! The beers were amazing, and with plenty of food there, it accumulated into a great evening.
If you want to learn more about the Opening Gala, check out the Perfect Pour Podcast, where Mikey and Producer Becky came to the gala, and interviewed myself, and my K, as well as some other friends and colleagues. Listen to it here!