Now that Sacramento Beer Week is over, we’ve gathered up all of our commemorative glasses and coasters and T-shirts, said a big thank-you to our loyal designated drivers and zeroed in on some of our new favorite beers, breweries and pubs, let’s take a look at the impact this year’s event has had.
Beer Week wasn’t big; it was huge. It wasn’t impressive; it was amazing. Tens of thousands of people participated. Breweries had lines like they’d never seen before. Specialty beer pubs set records for sales. And all of us had the chance to taste many tremendous craft beers.
Thanks to the vision of Beer Week founder Dan Scott, this is part of the exciting new personality for Sacramento that adds to our quality of life and makes the region a more appealing place for tourists and conventions. Mike Testa, senior vice president of the Sacramento Convention and Visitors Bureau, told me local beer is “part of the farm-to-fork conversation,” with a rich history dating back more than 100 years and an explosion of new breweries in recent years.
From my vantage point, no one embraced Beer Week better than Ken Hotchkiss, owner of Capitol Beer and Taproom, the craft beer pub and bottle shop tucked away near the corner of Fair Oaks Boulevard and Howe Avenue. Hotchkiss had special events all 10 days, and he has quickly become known for his exciting and ever-changing selection of beer on tap.
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During Beer Week, he had lines out the door. He tripled his sales. He wowed new customers, many of whom are sure to become regulars.
“It was fantastic. We had a great turnout the entire time. It gave us more visibility than ever before,” he said. “We had a ton of great events. We tried to do something special all 10 nights.”
Beer Week launched with the sold-out Brewers Showcase featuring 27 local breweries at the California Automobile Museum, and ended Sunday with the Capitol Beer Fest (and more than 90 breweries) downtown on the Capitol Mall. In between, there were hundreds of tap takeovers, beer-pairing dinners, themed beer selections, guest brewers and all kinds of related celebrations of good beer. Pliny the Younger, that world-class triple IPA, also made a few appearances. And while Pliny still attracts amazing lines, it no longer dominates the landscape. If anything, it served a benchmark by which we can compare and appreciate other fine IPAs.
Not everyone is into hoppy, big and bitter, however, and Julien Lux of New Glory Craft Brewery knows it. Lux is showcasing other styles of beer, including a superb take on a Belgian farmhouse ale dubbed “American Country.” His fledgling brewery got a tremendous boost during Beer Week, including a grand opening on Feb. 28.
“It’s just been amazing. We would have never expected that many people to come out. We had lines out the door all night long,” Lux said. “We can spread the word about what we are about.”
It’s no surprise that Bike Dog Brewing scored big with Beer Week. The West Sacramento nano brewery won the “People’s Choice” award for its special pale ale at the Brewers Showcase. And later, at its brewery, lines were up to an hour long for the milk stout tasting flights.
Said Bike Dog co-founder A.J. Tendick: “I’m exhausted, and I’m sure many of my peers are too, but it’s amazing! You can’t buy this type of publicity as a small brewery, so having this kind of focus is tremendous. Some amazing recent press and a win at the Brew Fest is just crazy over the top.”