The Sacramento region is so into beer that Sacramento Beer Week is actually 11 days long and replete with hundreds of events large and small. That’s a lot of beer and plenty to block out on your calendar.
What is Beer Week? Whatever you want it to be. But it’s best to look at it as at least two things at once: a celebration of local beer and an opportunity to promote the area’s beer community as a destination for visitors.
We have so many breweries now and so much good beer that people are beginning to look to Sacramento the way they do San Diego, Sonoma County and Portland – as a place for “beer-cations.” Yes, you can come here for a long weekend or a convention and, with a little planning, visit a slew of brewery tasting rooms and some of the best beer bars going.
While many of you may like to think that every week is Beer Week, there’s no doubt that this upcoming stretch is more intensely focused on highlighting what’s great about local beer. Watch for all kinds of cool collaborations among breweries and special releases of beers you’ve never seen before.
You can’t do everything cool and provocative during Beer Week, but here are some events we think you won’t want to miss.
Sacramento Brewers’ Showcase
March 2, 6-9 p.m. at the California Auto Museum (2200 Front St., Sacramento)
This is the all-local event that traditionally launches Beer Week, and it has expanded to reflect the rapid growth in craft beer. This year, 40-plus breweries will be pouring, scattered throughout the sweetest car collection in town. Here’s a chance to check in with your favorite breweries, try new ones and compare notes. Tickets are $40 and can be purchased online. Food trucks will be out in force, too. Some of the hot new breweries you may not have tried include Claimstake, Three Mile, Tilted Mash, Flatland, Crooked Lane, Big Stump and Big Sexy. Oh, and Moonraker. Maybe you’ve heard of it!
Craft Pioneers’ State of the Union
March 2, 6-9 p.m., at Sactown Union (1210 66th St., Unit B, Sacramento)
UC Davis brewing professor Charles Bamforth holds court with several prominent folks in craft beer to discuss the role craft breweries play in the community and the progress craft beer has made in the past decade. If you can’t make it to the Showcase (above), here’s a chance to get some perspective on the huge growth in craft beer.
Mraz All Sour Day
March 4, Noon to 11 p.m. (2222 Francisco Drive, Suite 510, El Dorado Hills)
If you’re a regular reader, you’ve surely seen me rave about Mike Mraz and his exquisite lineup of barrel-aged beers. We’re talking world-class sour beers served in an unassuming suburban shopping center. This event will feature 17 sour beers on tap, a new bottle release and three crowler offerings. I still hear from readers occasionally who say they “don’t like the taste of beer.” They apparently have not tasted sour beer. Mraz Brewing has created several of the best beers I’ve ever had.
Blind Beer Tasting
March 4, Samuel Horne’s Tavern (719 Sutter St., Folsom)
This is a really cool idea and a great chance to calibrate your palate without any hint of bias in terms of ownership and geography. There will be four flights, each consisting of two corporate-owned beers vs. two craft beers; or two local vs. two nonlocal brews. You taste the beers and take notes, and Samuel Horne’s reveals what you tasted the following day. There are some very well-made corporate beers, whether you like it or not.
Special barrel-aged beers
March 4-5, Capitol Beer and Tap Room (2222 Fair Oaks Blvd., Sacramento)
Here’s the catch. Sure, this is probably going to be an incredible event. It’s just that CapTap has an amazing lineup of beers every day it’s open. Your best bet: Follow this place on social media and stop by when you see something you like. If you had done this a couple of weeks ago, you would have been among the lucky few who got to taste the top three winners from the recent Bistro triple IPA competition – Pliny the Younger, Moonraker’s Extremis and Fieldwork’s Tundra Triple. Epic, but not unusual at this joint.
Track 7 Brewery Invitational + Competition
March 5, 1-5 p.m. (826 Professor Lane, Suite 100, Sacramento)
This could to be one of the most significant events of all of Beer Week. It’s a savvy, invitation-only festival and competition featuring some of the best IPA brewers on the West Coast. This is the kind of thing that will bring plenty of outside media attention and prestige to the Sacramento area. Plus, those lucky enough to snag tickets before they sell out will get to taste some terrific beers.
Fifth Annual Beer & Cupcake Pairing
Final Gravity, March 7, noon to 11 p.m. (9205 Sierra College Blvd., Suite 100, Roseville)
One of the premium beer pubs in the region (including the second location in Auburn) will have plenty of bigger, more serious events throughout Beer Week, but this one has staying power. Beer and cupcakes are definitely a thing (I once devoted an entire Beer Run to beer/cookie pairings) and it’s a fun way to play with pairings. It’s $20 for four small pours with four minicupcakes.
Empress Tavern and Berryessa Brewing flights and dinner
March 8, 4-6 p.m. (beer flights), 7 p.m. (dinner with beer flight)
I was just out at Berryessa and the beer is better than ever. There’s a reason many believe that the best brewer in the Sacramento region is in Winters. Brewmaster/owner Chris Miller will be on hand at Empress Tavern as the flights of five Berryessa beers are served. If you want to take it to the next level, get the dinner of fried chicken and smoked brisket and see how the food pairs with brews. Get tickets at Eventbrite.
Weird Beer Wind-up
Hot City Pizza, March 9, 2-10 p.m. (5642 J St., Sacramento)
This is the first time Hot City is doing this event, but everything at Hot City is already a little bit weird (and plenty wonderful), so we’re confident “Weird Beer” will be a winner. It’s basically a hole-in-the-wall pizza joint with an always-stellar selection of beers on tap and a great little fridge full of bottles and cans. The beer, the no-nonsense decor, the pizza and the people are all part of what makes Hot City a vital part of the Sacramento beer equation.
Barrel-aged beer night and pig roast with Mraz
March 10, Pangaea Bier Cafe (2743 Franklin Blvd., Sacramento)
Another Mraz appearance during Beer Week, this time at one of the top beer pubs in the area. Great barrel-aged beers and an entire pig roasted for hours. Need we say more? Keep up with Pangaea’s other events, including a Cellarmaker pairing dinner, a Sante Adairius night, and “Miller Time,” featuring East Bay Express newspaper editor and super beer enthusiast Nick Miller presenting brews from the East Bay on March 4.
Capitol Beer Fest
March 12, noon to 5 p.m. (Fifth Street Bridge in the Railyards downtown)
The event that closes the curtain on Sacramento Beer Week is in its seventh year. There will be 125 craft breweries, 15 food trucks and live music, with proceeds going to Runnin’ For Rhett Foundation, which inspires others to run, move and embrace a fitness lifestyle. Tickets are $65 for VIP access and $40 general admission and can be purchased online.
Sacramento Beer Week
When: March 2 to 12