San Francisco Beer Week a Boon to Area Breweries

san francisco beer week

Now in its eighth year, San Francisco Beer Week has become an international destination for worldly drinkers. Moved a week earlier because of the upcoming Super Bowl festivities in February around the area, SFBW kicked off with its annual gala this past Friday with more than 110 Bay Area breweries, according to Joanne Marino, the Executive Director of the San Francisco Brewers Guild.

“There have been huge impacts in bringing a beer week in. It’s sort of a quiet time for San Francisco since it’s winter and not as many tourists around. That’s why doing it at this time of year makes sense,” she said. “Now it has become one of the biggest weeks of the year in terms of economic return for brewers. It’s gotten so big that brewers really have to go all out and just get out there and get events going and distributors are moving a ton of beer. It’s definitely a time to get their name out there and have a lot of people see them.”

Marino ventures that throughout this week and weekend that more that 200-plus breweries in the greater reaches of San Francisco will have an event to showcase their beers to locals and visitors. She counted almost 900 events will happen over the 11-day time frame.

Some, such as Berkley’s Fieldwork Brewing Company, are getting their feet wet officially for the first time this year. Co-founder Barry Braden said the brewery opened just in time to catch the tail end of last year’s SFBW, but this time it has prepared for the event.

Being named one of the top new breweries in 2015 by some media outlets, Braden expects a surge in customers that want to check out the 11-month-old brewery. “If there are people into seeing who the new kids on the block are and to find cool new spots, they will stumble upon us,” he said, pointing to the SFBW website that lists all the events. “We are excited about it. And there is a lot of energy around the city and greater Bay Area for the event.”

Braden said that the brewery is celebrating with six unique and limited bottle releases, including two wine barrel-aged sours, three dark beers, including an aged Russian Imperial Stout and a Brett IPA. With only 200 total bottles available, Braden hopes the response will be good.

“We are packed on weekends and very busy during the week,” he noted. “I am hoping that Beer Week adds to that incrementally and that opens us up to a whole group of people that may not know us.”

The same sentiment goes to Working Man Brewing Company co-founder Joel Pelote.

A brewery located 40 miles east of San Francisco, the almost 3-year-old brewery in Livermore, California sees this as a big week to get exposure and pick up some possible customers that didn’t know about them.

“It’s huge for us,” Pelote said. “You can’t pay for the exposure that it gets you. Lots of people in the city don’t venture out to the suburbs much and getting those eyeballs is great since there is a whole world of beer out there in the East Bay that is worth checking out.”

He added that he does see a bump in repeat customers to the taproom in the following months after a big event like SFBW. “This festival and others are the main driver for that,” he said. “It’s a good way to kick off the year.”

With the early start to the event, SFBW is pairing with SF Restaurant week to create quite the culinary treat with almost 30 percent of nearly 900 events having beer pairings as well.

This all ends up being an economic boon to area business, including hotels and transportation. Marino, who previously had worked with Austin Beer Week in Texas, points out that she personally had heard from people from Switzerland and South America that have planned to join the festivities.

“There are so many national and international visitors this week, it’s really a nice opportunity for brewers to showcase what they have done and sell a lot more beers to people that aren’t in the city normally,” she said. “There are so many good things around it. It’s an international occasion that people have now started to seek out.”


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