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Hops + Malt + Yeast + Water — It's SF Beerweek

SF Beerweek kicked off Friday night and runs through Feb. 14 at various locations around the Bay Area.

The coming week is pretty much taste bud heaven for Bay Area hopheads, malty mavens, draught devotees, firkin freaks, stout studs and Belgian babes.

You get the pitcher ... er, picture.

It's SF Beerweek, a series of beer events all over the Bay Area, presented by the San Francisco Brewers Guild. All ale is about to break loose at your local taverns and brewpubs, many of which are hosting special events.

There are more than 100 beerweeks around the work, and San Francisco is quickly catching up with more established ones in Philadelphia, New York and San Diego in terms of industry buzz and craft beer goodwill.

"San Francisco is comfortably among the premiere ones now," said Jay Brooks, a Cotati resident who is a renowned beer blogger, certified beer judge and co-founder of SF Beerweek.

Brooks, a former editor at Celebrator Beer News, said the idea of a week's worth of connected beer events stemmed from an annual Celebrator event called Beerapalooza, which was staged in Oakland. Brooks teamed up with Celebrator publisher Tom Dalldorf and several award-winning brewers from the Bay Area and visited Philly Beerweek to observe how it all came together. When they got home, they met with another group and decided to start SF Beerweek.

"We got together at Magnolia (in San Francisco) and talked about this vision we had, and we felt that we should take Beerapalooza to the next level."

SF Beerweek has helped many beer businesses that are traditionally quite slow in the winter.

"As recently as five years ago, February was the slowest or second slowest month for them (in terms of revenue)," he said. "Now we're hearing it has become the biggest month of the year for them, which is quite remarkable. It's been a huge turnaround."

Brian Stechschulte, executive director of the San Francisco Brewers Guild, said the events are not just for nerds in the industry or uber-fans. The week is set up to be inviting for newbies willing to experiment, too.

"My advice to people who are unfamiliar with beer, or at least don't drink it that often, is to remain open minded and try new things," Stechschulte said. "If you don't like one particular, there are a lot more styles to choose from that may suit your palate. Beer dinners are a good opportunity to do this because a different beer is served alongside each course, and typically a nice variety is offered."

A gala kickoff event was scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday at the Concourse Exhibition Center in San Francisco. A full slate of events can be found at SFbeerweek.org.

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