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Friday, October 10, 2008

San Francisco Beer Week Promoted at GABF

The Great American Beer Festival kicked off yesterday in Denver, Colo. Before the official ribbon cutting there was a flurry of activity around town as brewers tried to snare the attention of the assembled beer press corps.

Things kicked off pretty early, with an event at 11 a.m. hosted by promoters of San Francisco Beer Week at the Falling Rock Tap House. San Francisco Beer Week will take place Feb. 6-15, 2009. Calling itself “America’s Original Craft Beer-Drinking City,” San Francisco is working to grab its share of the beer tourism market. Other “Beer Weeks” – most notably in Philadelphia – are popping up around the country as brewers and local economic development officials recognize the spending power of beer drinkers.

San Francisco Beer Week will feature more than 100 different events, including the Bistro Double IPA Festival, the Toronado Barleywine Festival and a museum exhibition looking at the history of brewing in the city and northern California.

At the Denver promotional event I was able to taste three brews that showcase the diversity of brewing in the Bay Area:

21st Amendment Bitter American: This might just be the ultimate session beer. You would never know that it is just 2.9 percent alcohol by volume, with its herbal hop nose, fluffy head and long lasting flavor that ends with just the amount of dryness to encourage another sip.

Magnolia Brewing Rosebud: This 7 percent brew starts off with an English grain bill and Belgian yeast, but takes a left turn along the way with poppy pedals, rose buds, monks pepper and the juice of 100 pounds of syrah grapes in a seven barrel batch. This is one of those beers that reaches your palate from several different directions, making it hard to give an accurate description of the taste. The wine is clear in one sip and then the floral and spice characteristics come through in the next.

Drakes Imperial Stout Experimental Beer: This thick, black brew put an exclamation point on this mini San Francisco tasting. Aged for five years in a port barrel, with whole blueberries added along the way, this beer was loaded with flavor notes that had hints of sourness and wine. Obviously a high octane beer, no one was aware of the exact ABV, but we agreed it was likely north of 10 percent.

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