The Breweries of Tomorrow nanobrewing festival was one of my most anticipated events of SF Beer Week. Organized by Brian of All Over Beer and Bay Area Craft Beer and held at Social Kitchen & Brewery, the point of this event was to highlight my very favorite trend in craft beer: nanobrewing.
"Breweries of Tomorrow" was a particularly clever and spot-on name for the event. These are breweries led by homebrewers on speed. People like me roll into Brewcraft every few months and get a couple pounds of malt extract - people like them write business plans and design logos. These are homebrewers who are really, really good at it. Having nine of them showcased at an event is so exciting because it means within the next few years, we're going to have at least nine new full-scale production breweries to fawn over.
A great aspect of SF Beer Week is how many events are centered around meeting brewers. There are people behind your beer, friends - smart people who love beer the way you do, they just get paid to make it. The new nanobrewing trend is exciting not just because they're going to upgrade to microbrewing soon enough, but because you get to watch that whole process happen. These breweries are evolving and changing ten gallons at a time. The beers showcased last night are results of trial-and-error, and by this point they're all nearly perfected.
When I ran into Brian at the gala on Friday, he expressed concern that there might be a really sizable crowd. He was right.
I arrived half an hour early and was about the twentieth person in line. By the time the doors opened at 5:00, the line had gotten completely out of control. I know a lot of people ended up coming by and weren't able to get in - when the place hit capacity, it became one in, one out. It was certainly crowded, but by no means unmanageable. The setup worked really well - three tables, three brewers at each table.
Pours were... let's say, "generous". My word, there was a lot of booze. As a result, though, people needed to visit tables far less frequently, so getting a beer was never a problem. There was a steady flow of people moving at all times from what I could tell, but I never waited more than a minute to get a beer. Step up, get a beer, find somewhere to post up for a bit while you drink your beer.
This was, by far, the best deal of Beer Week. $15 gets you a commemorative glass, two beer tickets for the Social brews, and access to all the nanobrew you want. With the generous pouring, $15 scored a really, really ridiculous amount of beer. I don't know a single person that walked away unhappy (or sober). Oh, and there were water kegs! Dear, sweet water kegs. Thank you for being there for me.
Reviewing all the beers seems a little silly, because what everyone should really do is look up times when these brewers open their doors and go visit to talk to them about what they're making and where they're going. I will say that standouts included Daddy's Chocolate Milk from Elizabeth Street Brewing, Pacific Brew Labs' Hibiscus Saison, Local Brewing Co's Sutro Tower Stout, the Belgian Strong from Beltane and the Bitter from Bosworth. Those being singled out, however, I didn't have a thing all night that I disliked.
I really hope this trend continues. I hope this event happens every year, and I hope we see new nanobrewers stepping up to join in. The nanobrewing trend has felt a little cultish up to this point - you're in the know or you aren't. Breweries of Tomorrow provided great publicity for the little guys and hopefully gave all nine brewers a push to get those distribution licenses even faster. Seriously, we love your beer. Let's see it on shelves.