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Sunday Serendipity
San Francisco Beer Week

By Stephen Eliot

Somewhere once in our past electronic ramblings, I believe Charlie called me “omnibibulous”. Just to set the record straight, Mr. Olken, “ombibulous” is the word, and I admit this particular shoe with but one qualification does indeed fit. Coined by the late, great H. L. Mencken, as keen an observer of the American mind as has ever picked up a pen, it is not a word that you will find in the Oxford English Dictionary, but it is, I think, a good one by any measure. “I’m ombibulous. I drink every known alcoholic drink and I enjoy them all”, he proclaimed and would regularly confirm his high-proof convictions with such reminders as the one found in a letter to Upton Sinclair…“as long as you represent me as praising alcohol, I shall not complain.” Now, my little caveat is simply that the alcoholic drink in question must have some quality in its crafting, and, while wine may my tipple of choice and fine spirits will involve in their own special ways, I must confess to enjoying a good glass beer as the occasion and meal may require.

My own odyssey to real appreciation for the brewer’s art has been a long one. I have always enjoyed a mindlessly gulped glass sitting behind home plate with a hot dog in hand, and nothing would so well slake the thirst brought on by any random physical exertion on a hot summer day. But, beer as something that actually had depth and interest and do I dare say complexity, well for me that is a revelation only arrived a handful of years back. Now, I am both intellectually and hedonistically fascinated by the differences among a myriad of top-fermented ales and bottom-fermented lagers and by the limitless options of yeast, hops and mash afforded craft brewers as they pursue their searches for self expression. I am not abandoning wine; I am a not convert. I have, however, become in all ways a wholly rapt fan.

The point of today’s confession? Yes, there actually is one other than pushing words around on a page, and that point is to raise fair warning of a remarkable Bay Area event on the horizon. The San Francisco Brewers Guild is set begin SF Beer Week with a Gala Opening event at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on February 11, 2011. Beer Week officially runs from February 11th through the 20th (I know, apparently beer people cannot count or they are simply loathe to limits themselves to a mere seven days.) During that “week”, there will be a great many events celebrating beer in the city that arguably provided the spark for the craft beer revolution with the establishment of Fritz Maytag’s Anchor Brewing way back in 1965. The Opening Gala will this year bring together over thirty specialty brewers from Northern California, many of whom will be pouring exclusive, special release brews in addition to their well-known bottling. There will be a goodly number of local food purveyors hosting special food and beer parings, and a number of “celebrity” brewmasters are slated to attend. Last year’s event sold out quickly, so those who think fine beers and ales are something worthwhile would be advised to take notice, and, until January 31st, the Brewers Guild is offering early-bird discounted admission…and you know, the less you spend on a ticket, the more you can spend on beer.

You will find all the particulars at

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