Bay area beer events to enjoy this April
If you hurry, you may be able to catch a last-minute ticket for Brewsters’ monthly beer dinner, which this month features Sonoma Springs Brewing Co. on Thursday, April 4 (today) at 6:30 p.m. This beer-accented feast starts off with a farmhouse ale, little gems salad paired with Kölsch, Nashville hot chicken legs with IPA, pork tenderloin served with imperial IPA, and fruit dessert with Plum Drunk, Sonoma Springs’ barrel-aged fruit Belgian tripel. After attending Brewsters’ beer dinners, we found that hobnobbing with the makers and other beer lovers over incredible cuisine to be well worth the $65 price tag. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for tickets.
Beer Judging Certification Program judges are prepping their palettes to rate commercial beers behind the scenes at the epic Battle of the Brews at Sonoma County Fairgrounds, Santa Rosa, on Saturday, April 6. But all beer fans can buy tickets to Sonoma County’s largest beer festival and sample hundreds of craft beers from all over the world, paired with locally sourced food specialties. Last year, Sonoma County brewers took an impressive seven out of 11 awards (3 Disciples, Seismic, GravSouth and Barrel Brothers). For my money, this beer festival is the best way to test out Sonoma County local ales in a central location, with tastings from 101 North, 3 Disciples, Barrel Brothers, Bear Republic, Crooked Goat, Dempsey’s, Fogbelt, Grav South, Lagunitas, Old Caz, Old Possum, Sonoma Springs and Stumptown.
If you’re having trouble narrowing the field of thousands of choices, try these spring favorites: 3 Disciples award-winning hazy IPAs, Boulevard (Kansas) wheat, CaliCraft (Walnut Creek) guava fruit beer, Magnolia (San Francisco) Kölsch, Seismic (Santa Rosa) doppelbock, Trade (Napa) blonde and Stumptown (Guerneville) brut IPA. The VIP ticket gets you three hours of limited-release access to taste and tour before the general admission crowd arrives at 4 p.m. It always feels better drinking good beer for a cause, and Battle of the Brews helps Santa Rosa’s Active 20-30 Club raise money to buy school supplies, clothing, haircuts and dental checkups for 200 of our community’s youth. Tickets are $50 general, $100 VIP and available at battleofthebrews.com
If you’re hopped out after the Battle, turn to San Francisco’s sixth annual Cider Summit Saturday, April 13, 1-5 p.m. at the Presidio, San Francisco (Civil War Parade Ground, Main Post). Sample over 150 traditional French and Basque dry ciders, local heirloom and artisanal varieties, and apple cocktails paired with excellent regional cuisine. Make sure to check in on our Sonoma County local cider producers, including Ethic Ciders of Petaluma; Golden State, Goat Rock and California Caboose Ciders of Healdsburg; Specific Gravity and Horse and Plow Ciders of Sebastopol; and Tilted Shed of Windsor, in addition to French, English, and Polish traditional ciders. Tickets are $40-$50 and available at cidersummitnw.com.
If cider suits you, gain some home-fermenting skills at Beverage People’s (1845 Piner Road, Santa Rosa) free demo, “Making Classic Cider Styles of Europe and U.S.” on Saturday, April 6, at 10:30 a.m. (before Battle of the Brews). Drop by for this fermentation talk series presented by Joe Hanson-Hirt, no reservations required. You can also sign up for more of Beverage People’s introductory and advanced classes on cheese making, wine, beer and other crafts. Learn more at thebeveragepeople.com.
What’s brewing this spring?
Spring presents an opportunity to try seasonal varieties at home or on tap, especially strong, malty lagers from Germany like maibock, doppelbock and helles bock. Jamison’s Roaring Donkey, Speakeasy and Aqus are now pouring Lagunitas’ Secret Agenda, a mild, toasty-grainy pale bock collaboration with Moonlight Brewing crafted in the German tradition (find it in the bottle at Willibees, Charleys and Petaluma Market). Trader Joe’s surprisingly drinkable Josephsbrau Heller Bock is a malty powerhouse worthy of a spring fridge-stocking. Chili Joe’s on Petaluma Boulevard has Shiner Bock in the bottle, a favorite spring beer from Texas that is harder to find in California.