How to Survive & Get the Most out of the SFBW Opening Gala

22 Jan

Last year was my first San Francisco Beer Week, and my favorite event was the Opening Gala (and I took the week off of work, so I attended quite a few events!). No other event matched the amount of brewers and beers to try, as well as the excitement and enthusiasm of the attendees. Therefore, I thought I would provide some tips on how to survive and get the most out of the wonderful event for yourself.

  1. Pace Yourself! 

    The opening gala is a staggering 4 hour event! It is advisable not to go too crazy at the start and burn out only halfway through. Keep in mind that it would be impossible to try all of the beers at the event (with over 65 breweries pours, and each one likely bringing many beers! ). I would advise everyone to take their time and enjoy all of the beers they get to try. Even at a pace of 1 sample every 10 minutes, you will get to try almost 25 beers, which is not a trivial number for a single evening!

  2. Keep Your Stomach Full as Well

    Your focus will be on keeping your glass full, but too much beer on an empty stomach can make for an unpleasant evening (as I assume many of us have learned the hard way!). Try to grab something to eat before heading over to the gala so that you are not starting off the event hungry. Then sometime around the middle of the event, take a break and grab something to eat to help to keep yourself going strong!

  3. Water is Just as Important as Beer

    Keep in mind a you are at the event, that many of the beers are stronger than your average Pale Ale, and that will add up over the night. Make sure to mix in some water along the way to stay hydrated throughout the event. At the bare minimum, it will help you wake up strong the next morning to get a good start to the weekend festivities.

  4. Seek Out New Breweries

    Try to seek out some breweries that you have never heard of before or might not have the chance to try otherwise. For example, if you don’t plan to find yourself down in Santa Cruz anytime soon, try out Sante Adairius Rustic Ales at the event, and you will not be disappointed. The north bay is not often spoken of with such beer praise as San Francisco, but there are some guests including Belltane, 101 North, HenHouse, and Mill Valley that are doing their part to change that opinion. The other great thing about the newer breweries is that they will likely have shorter lines, meaning less waiting and more time to talk to the brewers. Just because you have never heard of a brewery, does not mean that they don’t brew your new favorite beer!

  5. Take a Moment to Take It All In

    At some point during the event, take a moment to appreciate how lucky we are to be a part of the Bay Area beer scene. The event really shows off the number of breweries, as well as the variety of beers that are available in the area. From pale ales and IPAs, to German beers, to Barrel Aged and Sour beers, we pretty much have it all! Not many other regions can put on event quite like this one, so take a second to take that all in.

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