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APR/MAY 2005 | FEATURES | EXCURSIONS & TRAVEL

Beerapalooza 2005 : Beer Takes Center Stage in San Francisco Bay Area
By Tom Dalldorf

The crowd enjoys beer, music and food.

This year's Beerapalooza, a week-long focus on craft beer in the San Francisco Bay Area, got off to great start with the Double IPA Fest at the Bistro in Hayward on February 12.

A stellar selection of hop-monsters provided an irresistible attraction for hop-heads from up and down the West Coast and introduced a lot of new people to the joys of hop excess. Drake's Denogginizer from San Leandro, Calif., took the top award. Judges included Alan Moen, editor of Northwest Brewing News, who came down from Washington state for the event.

The following Monday, a Chocolate and Beer dinner featuring "Cocoa Pete" Slosberg was held at Rogue Ales Public House in North Beach. The turnout attested to the great attraction of chocolate AND Rogue's wonderful beers.

Wednesday featured a beer dinner with brewers Vinnie Cilurzo of Russian River Brewing Company and Matt Brynildson of Firestone Walker Brewing Company leading the discussion at Barclay's Jack London Square. Barclay's chef Bill Foley did a wonderful job of pairing these wildly different beers with his cuisine.

Outside the Bay Area, Valley Brewing Company's Steve Altimari in Stockton held a beer and whiskey dinner, and Kelley Brothers Brewery in Manteca featured Mike Long hosting a special tasting of strong ales.

Thursday featured the Homebrew Invitational Fiesta at Lanesplitters Pub in Berkeley. John Palmer, author of How To Brew, and Brewmaster Matt Brynildson, Firestone Walker, treated East Bay homebrewers to a discussion of homebrewing and Matt's masterful ales during a homebrew competition for stouts and IPAs.

The Celebrator Beer News writers.

Additionally, the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Page dedicated the front page and several inside pages to the joys of beer and cheese. I met with the Chronicle's cheese authority, Janet Fletcher, at the Rogue Ales Public House in North Beach to see if beer really was the best choice to pair with cheese.

Janet brought 10 farmhouse cheeses, and I suggested 15 different beers to try with them — half of which came from the Rogue taps. The results got tongues wagging in the food and wine community when the Wine Page hit the street. Beer was superior to wine for most selections!

Friday, the beer spotlight shone brightly upon San Francisco's Beer Hotel, where brew chef Bruce Paton orchestrated a Chocolate & Belgian Beer Dinner at the Cathedral Hill Hotel, featuring chocolate from "Cocoa Pete" Slosberg. The exotic menu included entrees like Pan-Seared Skate with Sonoma Foie Gras and Chocolate Balsamic Brown Butter served with Bosteels Triple Karmeliet. Oh yeah, baby! And all of the courses with accompanying beers were equally wonderful.

The 12th annual Toronado Barleywine Festival kicked off early Saturday morning with a double-elimination judging of some 57 entries — all of which were available for tasting at the Toronado bar. The final panel judging was a challenge, given the high quality of the beers being judged.

Schooner's Grill & Brewery in Antioch, Calif., walked away with top honors in a very distinguished group of contenders. Second, third and Honorable Mention were in exactly the same order as the Great Alaska Beer & Barley Wine Festival held a month prior: Alaska's Midnight Sun, Kona Brewing in Hawaii and Alaskan Brewery!

That night, the Anchor Brewing Company hosted the Maltose Falcons from Southern California, who were voted Homebrew Club of the Year in November 2004. The invitation-only event featured representatives from most of the homebrew clubs in California.

21st Amendment and Magnolia breweries featured strong beers all month, while Thirsty Bear Brewing Company featured Belgian and Belgian-style ales.

And, to cap off the week of intensive beeriness by the bay, the Celebrator Beer News celebrated its 17th anniversary on February 20 at the Trumer Brauerei in Berkeley, Calif. Over 600 people attended one of the biggest gatherings yet for America's premier beer news magazine.

The Rolling Boil Blues Band performing their set.

More than 16 breweries poured their favorite brews to an appreciative audience made up of beer enthusiasts, Celebrator writers and beer-industry luminaries, including pioneer figures in the craft-beer movement. Three caterers provided ample high-quality food while five beer-industry bands served up a variety of rock, rhythm and blues music!

Breweries pouring included Anchor Brewery, Anderson Valley, BridgePort, Chimay, Deschutes, Fuller’s, Lagunitas, North Coast, Ommegang, Pacific Coast, Pyramid, Samuel Adams, Schneider, Sierra Nevada, Triple Rock, Trumer and Widmer.

The industry "Battle of the Brewery Bands" was a featured part of the festivities and included performances by the Hysters (Anchor Brewery), the Sierra Nevada Band, Roots Blues from Lagunitas Brewing, the Maltose Falcons (Homebrew Club of the Year) Band and the industry-staffed Rolling Boil Blues Band.

A complimentary shuttle bus, sponsored by Trumer Brauerei, picked up guests from the Hotel Durant and the downtown Berkeley BART station and took them to the brewery and back after the event.

Work of Art Catering (woacatering.com) provided a 100 percent recyclable event, including the biodegradable tasting glasses. For more information on that, go to Nat-ur.com. Emergency BBQ (emergencybbq.com) set up a grill and provided tasty BBQ tri-tip.

Trumer Brauerei proved to be an incredibly gracious host, donating its facilities for the occasion and providing parking and personnel to make the event effortless. The brewery staff put in many extra hours before and after the event to make it happen. Proceeds from the event went to the California Small Brewers Association, a legislative advocacy group assisting all California breweries.

The Celebrator Beer News is indebted to all the breweries, musicians and loyal fans that made this event truly memorable! Check out our special on the event here.

Tom Dalldorf is publisher and editor of the Celebrator Beer News.

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