I sure do love being in the Bay Area for SF Beer Week. An oft-overlooked aspect of all the frivolity is that it often spills well outside of San Francisco proper into surrounding areas. This past weekend was a perfect example as the East Bay was clearly the place to be.Saturday marked the 13th annual Double IPA Festival at The Bistro (1001 B St.) in Hayward. Although the restaurant and craft beer bar is located some 25 miles outside of San Francisco, it never fails to attract city-sized crowds. In fact, the quasi-block party grows appreciably each year. Organizers shut down a whole downtown street and dedicate an entire afternoon to live music and ample tastings of the world’s hoppiest heavy hitters. The event now even features a triple IPA category. And even though a lot has changed during the festival’s continual expansion, certain things seem immutable; like the perennial success of Kern River Brewing Company’s sensational Citra Double IPA. The Southern Californian specialty crashed the party yet again, taking home the coveted People’s Choice prize for the third consecutive year. The judges, however, decided to go with The Roustabout from Societe Brewing for the official Double IPA prize. As for the Triple IPA category the title unsurprisingly went to Russian River’s universally-lauded Pliny the Younger.
On Sunday, Berkeley presented the perfect counterpoint to all those heavy hops from the day before: Sour Sunday. Hosted by Triple Rock Brewing in conjunction with Jupiter brewpub, the afternoon showcased some of the world’s finest and most exclusive lip-puckering libations. The event was broken down by location, with Jupiter pouring the local sours from around the Bay Area while Triple Rock offered some of Europe’s funkiest flavors.
Jupiter’s ever-lively and always-lovely outdoor beer garden was the perfect setting for sipping on special releases like Bison Brewery’s My Funky Valentine–a cloudy, semi-sweet affair brewed in collaboration with Gail Ann Williams of Beer By BART. The lactic sour was actually produced using organic dried cherries, red plums and whole wheat pasta. Drake Brewing’s Midnight Run was another standout–a full-bodied Imperial Stout aged in Bourbon barrels.
As dusk approached on the revelry and the kegs began tapering out, it was clear to all that San Francisco would have to share the spotlight this week with their Bay Area brethren.