it’s all a blur. at least it is now. 10 days of SF Beer Week came and went. keep in mind that SFBW is surrounded by Strong Beer Month.
there are a few things that we learned in the 3rd year of this event: it’s impossible to get to everything, it’s easy to get tired, and everyone wants to be part of it. the new thing this year were lines. long ones. every single place and event that we attended was packed. it didn’t matter that it was Monday or Tuesday the world was out wanting to try beer. meaning the SF Brewers Guild did an excellent job of getting the word out.
we met lots of people who came in specifically for the week. like the guy from the East Coast (sorry, your card got lost) who planned his vacation around the week. or the couple that drove in just to try Pliney the Younger. and our friends that braved the line for Barley Wine.
lots of these events are over attended because of the echo chamber effect. that is because everyone is talking about the events everyone shows up. they’ve out grown their venue to the point of needing a new place because of the crush. but a venue change will also make the event change radically. imagine the Barley Wine festival with 10X the attendance. even in a bigger place it would still be a sea of people. changing the organic feeling of an event might push away the passionate beer geeks. there are lots of examples of festivals that we don’t go to because of they corporate vibe and the dick-ish nature of the attendee.
the other surprise this year was how some events were too popular. the Nano tasting at Social Kitchen was the best example. the line was so long that the organizers started turing people away. the buzz on Twitter about that was not kind. we started to make our way there but changed our destination baed on this buzz. hopefully organizers will remember this kind of problem for next year.
our strategy for surviving the week was simple. get there early or get there really late. most of the beer that we wanted to try was still pouring late into the night. often we got the next to last pint of whatever or we got the last last glass that was half full. this year we skipped the big beer dinners which are mini marathons in the bigger marathon. we like these dinners but we’d like to see them all year round and not just big events during beer week.
Valantines day massacre ‘Tion Fest, Strong Beer School, rare flights, one keg of Younger, meet another brewer, all of the Sierra Nevada 30’th beers, barrel aged something something, sour OMG this is sour, Barley Wine lead up to the Celebrator Party on Sunday where exhaustion had set in. it wasn’t that we didn’t want another beer but what specific beer we wanted. having tried so many things during the week it was kind of nice to have a half a pint of the freshest Trumer Pils on the planet. even if it was in the wrong glass it was just the thing for the end of the week. we poured beer for a while. and then it was over.
it was clear just how much work the organizers, brewers, and everyone else put into the week. it’s not something that “just happens” although it seems like it is while being part of it. see you next year!