Next week, thousands of beer enthusiasts nationwide will participate in American Craft Beer Week, the Brewer's Association's annual celebration of fine beer-making in the United States. This year is shaping up to be the biggest one yet, with events registered in all 50 states for the first time to date.
You'll be glad to know that plenty of events are planned at bars, restaurants and taprooms across the Bay area. I thought I'd be helpful and provide a sample itinerary, just in case you need any assistance with your American Craft Beer Week calendar.
Monday: The rise of craft beer can be attributed largely to the hobby of home brewing. Ask any micro-brewer where they got their start and you'll be regaled with tales of homemade brews, crafted in a kitchen, garage or backyard. On Monday, the Ale and the Witch will host Home Brewer Night, featuring samples of local homebrews, and discussions of various styles and brewing techniques, followed by live music courtesy of Mojokiss. It's 7 to 9 p.m. at 111 Second Ave. NE, St. Pete. No cover. (727) 821-2533.
Tuesday: The Brews With Attitude Craft Beer Fest at the T. Pepin Hospitality Centre will feature more than 100 craft beers to sample, as well as live music, food and a home brewing demonstration. In addition to the range of beers currently distributed by the event's host, Pepin Distributing, a few "mystery beers" that are not yet available in Florida will also be on hand. It's $20 advance, $25 at the door, from 6:30 to 10 p.m. at 4121 N 50th St., Tampa. pepindistributing.com.
Wednesday: Hopheads unite! The Independent is serving up hop-heavy brews at both locations, including IPAs, double IPAs and other extreme brews. If you rate beers in IBUs or just need to revive your tastebuds after sample overload from the Brews With Attitudes Fest, you'll be in hop heaven. A 10 p.m. raffle will feature craft brew gift baskets with beers, glassware and apparel. There are two locations: 29 Third St. N, St. Pete, (727) 820-9514; and 5016 N Florida Ave., Tampa, (813)341-4883.
Thursday: Tampa's wine club, Uncorked, will go carbonated for American Craft Beer Week by holding a beer sampling at Florida's newest microbrewery, Cold Storage Craft Brewery. The brewery will be showcasing its Florida Avenue line of beers along with snacks, brewery tours and Q&A sessions with the brewmasters. Proceeds from the event will benefit a local charity. It's $20 advance, $25 at the door from 7 to 9 p.m. at 4101 N Florida Ave, Tampa.
May 20: Cigar City Brewing is hosting a public brew session, with brewer Ben Romano walking a group through a batch of the Tampa brewery's pilot series of beers. Rest up, because this will start in the morning (at a time to be announced) and the brew day lasts six to eight hours. It's a great opportunity to see the process of one of the country's up-and-coming craft brewers firsthand. Space is limited, so contact firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve a spot. 3294 W Spruce St., Ste. A, Tampa. (813)348-6363, ext. 206.
May 21: You may as well pitch a tent outside Cigar City, because its collaboration with Danish brewer Mikkeller will be unveiled Saturday: an Imperial Sweet Stout made with raisins and aged in rum barrels. Have fun pronouncing "Neilsbohrium," which will come in bottles and in a very limited draft run. Considering Mikkeller's recent output, it's safe to assume that this one will be a winner, as well as a great toast to continuing innovation and excellence in American (and local) craft brewing.
May 22: Take the day off - if your schedule looks anything like mine, you'll need it!
Remember, this is only a small sample of the week's festivities, so check with your favorite beer joint and see what they have lined up. Regardless of where you end up, make sure to kick back and enjoy a cold, delicious American craft beer!