THE GOLDEN STATE... is home to a fine brewhouse or two. Or make that two dozen, or even two hundred, given the fact that San Francisco and San Diego regularly rank in the top ten, and even top five, when the country's top craft beer cities are ranked. A lover of lofty libations would need to spend a couple of months zigzagging from Gold Country to Mendocino to Orange County and back up the coast to take in all of the IPAs and lagers that regularly win the big trophies, but there is a rather nifty, and easy-to-manage, solution: the California Beer Festival. Yep, it's the summertime soiree that brings the best of the Golden State's big brewhouse vats to the public in four different locations, two northerly, two to the south. The dates are out for the 2014 foam fete, and tickets for stop one went on sale on Tuesday, March 3. The place? Marin.
AND THE DATE IS... June 28. Santa Cruz, San Dimas, and Ventura follow -- Santa Cruz is the second weekend in August, San Dimas rolls on Saturday, Sept. 6, and Ventura lands over the first weekend of fall -- and the state's hoppy headliners'll make a strong showing. Some names on the taps? Firestone (look for the Union Jack IPA in Marin), Bear Republic Brewing Co., Altamont Beer Works, and Manzanita Brewing Co. Over 70s brews'll flow from the taps, each with their own crafty characteristics.
PLUS... food choices, barbecue, and bands complement the suds scene, so most people make a day of it, before catching a cab home or to their hotel. Consider it a daylong roadtrip to some of the state's buzziest brewhouses, all for one ticket. Now, we're in now way dissuading you and your buds from making such a roadtrip one day, but maybe the California Beer Festival can be the place where you pick the beermakers you must know better.