Winter Brews Festival In Concord January 25

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The 5th annual Winter Brews Festival, produced by the Brewing Network, will be held this year on Saturday, January 25 from Noon to 4:00 p.m. It will be held again in Concord, at Todos Santos Plaza, just two blocks from the Concord BART station. This year’s festival looks to be their best ever, with over fifty breweries confirmed to attend, including a few that we don’t often see in the Bay Area, such as Societe Brewing from San Diego, Jester King, from Texas, and our own Faction Brewing showcasing their beer at one of the first fest’s they’ve attended. Come give Rodger Davis a hard time; you know you want to!

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Tickets are currently on sale, and can be purchased online through Eventbrite. Here’s all the details from the press release:

The Brewing Network’s Winter Brews Festival returns to Todos Santos Plaza in Concord on Saturday January 25, 2014 from noon to 4pm to celebrate its fifth year as one of the best craft beer festivals in the Bay Area, and the only winter brews fest!

Nestled between the weekend of the NFL Playoffs and the Super Bowl, this event will showcase dozens of craft beer samples from more than 30 world class breweries; most of which call the Bay Area home. Attendees will enjoy unlimited tastings from breweries such as 21st Amendment, Faction, Firestone Walker, Jester King, Heretic, Ninkasi, Sierra Nevada, Societe, and Stone.

This year, the Winter Brews Fest will be bigger than ever—with more food, more music, and more beer! There will even be non-beer options such as world class mead from Moonlight Meadery out of New Hampshire. Sponsors of the event include the 21st Amendment and White Labs, and proceeds will benefit the local environmental non-profit, the Coral Reef Alliance.

Tickets are now on sale and are $35 pre-sale or $45 at the gate and include unlimited pours and a commemorative glass for the first 1,500 tickets sold. Designated Drivers get in free, however this is a 21 and over only event.

The event is conveniently located just two blocks away from the Concord BART station so mark your calendars for a craft beer infused day for a wonderful cause.

If you haven’t been to this festival before, it’s one of the better Bay Area beer festivals. Here’s some photos from last year’s event to give you a flavor for it.

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Food will also be available for purchase.

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Did I mention there will be music? This year Forrest Day and Lucas Ohio & the Shamblers will be performing.

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See you there!

How To Survive Oktoberfest

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Today’s infographic is still another poster about Oktoberfest, which began four days ago in Munich, Germany. This one is called How To Survive Oktoberfest with Your Liver Intact and was created by Accredited Online Colleges. It features a brief history of Oktoberfest and some tips for navigating the festival.

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Click here to see the infographic full size.

The Down-Low On Oktoberfest

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Today’s infographic is another poster about Oktoberfest, which began two days ago in Munich, Germany. This one is called the Down-Low on Oktoberfest and was created by Travel Insurance, which is an “online resource for travelers and people looking for more information on travel insurance.”

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Click here to see the poster full size.

Celebrator 25th Anniversary Party

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The closing event for SF Beer Week was again hosted by the Celebrator Beer News, who held their 25th Anniversary Party at the Oakland Marriott Convention Center on Sunday. Over 600 people attended the festival, which had a Mardi Gras theme, and 50 breweries were pouring their beer.

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The tap handle for the beer that a group of Celebrator writer’s collaborated on to celebrate our 25th anniversary at Sierra Nevada Brewing

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Some festival attendees really got into the Mardi Gras spirit.

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Though not everybody, as evidenced by the Beer Wench, Ashley Routson, and recent husband Angelo De lseo.

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Steve Altimari, from High Water Brewing, also made a special blended beer for our 25th anniversary celebration.

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The view from the Brewing Network corner.

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Midway through the festival, all of the Celebrator writers in attendance got up on stage and we drank a toast to craft beer, the brewers and our industry, and I introduced publisher Tom Dalldorf.

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Then Tom led us in a 25th anniversary toast.

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Del Grande, Bison Brewing owner, dressed as a bison, giving high fours to anyone who would lend a paw.

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Fraggle and a bemused Jen Muehlbauer.

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Rich Norgrove, from Bear Republic and Brian Ford, from Auburn Alehouse, bookending a friend who’s name I can’t remember, another brain cell casualty of getting old.

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Terence, from Sierra Nevada, with Natalie, from Russian River.

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The long and the short of it, with Sean Paxton, Nicole Erny and some friends.

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Don Gortemiller, from Pacific Coast, and Dave Heist, formerly of Hoptown, with a friend.

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More buffalo hijinks toward the end of the evening.

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Don Ericson and Tom Dalldorf raise a toast to our 25th anniversary. See you next year.

Toronado Barleywine Festival 2013

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Yesterday was the 20th annual Toronado Barleywine Festival, the original SF Beer Week event, that predates our beer week by fifteen years. I arrived a little late, sad to say, because Porter had his little league tryouts in the morning, but for at least the fourth year in a row, my luck held. When I arrived, it was already in full swing.

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Luckily, I found Sean Paxton holding down Matt Bonney‘s table near the front of the pub.

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The table already had a full compliment of all forty barley wines. Since Sean was looking to go roaming himself, I graciously agreed to take over table babysitting duties, which allowed me the opportunity to try every one of this year’s barley wines.

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There were some very good, even great, ones, of course, and a number of decent beers, and a few that weren’t as good as one might have hoped.

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But over all, I think my favorite barley wine of the day was Mad River’s John Barleycorn, which in many ways has become the epitome of an American-style barley wine for me, and seems to get better every year. Other stand-outs included Heretic’s Dead Weight, Moylan’s Old Blarney, Drake’s Jolly Roger and Anderson Valley’s Horn of the Beer. I also enjoyed Bear Republic’s Old Scoutter’s 2010, Berryessa’s Cliff’s Fiscal and Widmer’s Old Embalmer.

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The back room, which is normally only used for special events (and Washoe’s) was configured in a new way this year, which seemed to allow more people to taste, with one side having long picnic tables and the other a place to stand and try the beers with a long table running the length to hold multiple barley wines. This also made the middle wider and easier to traverse than in previous years.

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All in all, another great beer festival, with some spectacular barley wines. But if you didn’t get a chance to go on Saturday, don’t dispair, the barley wines will be there at least until Monday, and some will probably be hanging around a little longer, until they run out.

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Firestone Walker Invitational Tickets On Sale February 1

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Tickets go on sale in a few minutes for the second annual Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Festival, scheduled to take place June 1, 2013. Beginning February 1, you can buy tickets online for the festival, one of the highlights of last year’s festival season. Check out my write up from last year’s inaugural event. It was a really great event last year. If you didn’t make it, consider attending this year’s festival. I’ll see you there.

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From the press release:

Top brewers from around the nation and world will once again turn wine country into beer country with the return of the Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest in Paso Robles June 1, 2013—featuring 40+ craft breweries, rare beers, live music, local chefs, brewer Q&A sessions and more.

Tickets will go on sale on February 1, 2013 via www.firestonebeerfest.com. The event is hosted by Firestone Walker Brewing Company and held at the Paso Robles Event Center in partnership with the Paso Robles Pioneer Day Committee. Proceeds from the event benefit Pioneer Day, a local community celebration established in 1931.

“The Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest was born from a dream of creating a world-class festival featuring not only the best brewers in the world, but brewers whom we feel are leaders in the craft beer revolution,” said Matt Brynildson, Brewmaster at Firestone Walker Brewing Company. “This is a day where we can all put down our sales and marketing pitches and simply commune and share our beers and stories with people who are truly interested in craft beer.”

Last year’s inaugural fest sold out quickly and was widely praised as one of the nation’s can’t-miss craft beer events, with attendees embracing the casual open-air setting, access to rare beers and opportunity to hang out with leading brewers.

The lineup for the 2013 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest is still being finalized, but attendees can expect 40+ breweries, 20 restaurants and three bands. The event will run from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Last year’s participating breweries included Three Floyds and Sun King from Indiana, Founders and Bells from Michigan, Mikkeller from Denmark, Yo-Ho from Japan, Dogfish Head from Delaware, Southern Tier from New York, and several California breweries, including Russian River, Stone, Lost Abbey, The Bruery and Golden Road.

Each participating brewery will pour one “sessionable” beer registering less than six percent alcohol by volume, as well as one rare specialty beer. Brewers will be on hand to talk to attendees about their beers.

The cost is $75 per person, and attendees must be 21 years or older. Admittance includes complimentary tastings of beer and food while supplies last, as well as a logo snifter glass. Ticket availability is limited.

“The brewers really go all out at this event,” Brynildson said. “You will recognize some of the beers, but you can also expect the unexpected.”

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