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SF Beer Week comes to the Peninsula

By Kelsey Williams | 9 Feb 2011

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The Rose and Crown in Palo Alto is hosting a full week of beer specials. (Photo: Kelsey Williams)

Great news for Peninsula beer lovers! SF Beer week, the annual festival celebrating the simple pleasure derived from combining water, malt, hops and yeast, isn’t just limited to the big city. Several South Bay drinking and dining hot spots are getting in on the fun.

The Rose and Crown, located at 547 Emerson Ave in Palo Alto, will be highlighting different beer styles and breweries every night of the event, starting Friday, Feb. 11 and lasting until Sunday, Feb. 20.

Last year, as part of the first annual SF Beer Week, the Rose and Crown hosted a different brewery each night.  But this time around they have decided to focus less on breweries and more on the beer style, according to manager Kasim Syed.

Some of the events on the Rose and Crown’s line-up include a vintage beer night, a sour beer night and an imperial stout night. The vintage beer night will highlight different beers that have been aged for four to seven years, giving each a unique flavor.

Sour beer, a very old Belgian style that is just starting to catch on again in craft breweries across the country, is made with certain kinds of yeast strains to have a sour, tangy flavor and sometimes a funky smell. “A lot of people who don’t think that they would, like sour,” Syed said, “It’s really crisp. Refreshing.”

The imperial stout day, Thursday, Feb. 17, is the event that Syed said he is most looking forward to. Imperial stouts are full-bodied beers with high alcohol content, giving them a robust flavor that is strong, and at times, fruity and sweet. One very special offering on the imperial stout night is a Drake’s Brewery Jolly Rodgers scotch ale that has been aged in a Jack Daniels barrels, and the Rose and Crown will be serving one of only three kegs in existence. The other two will be premiered at other SF Beer Week events in the area, and all three will be tapped at 6 p.m. that night.

Each event will be an all-day affair, with the special beers of the day available from opening at 11:30 a.m. until either the beer runs out or the bar closes.

The Rose and Crown is located at 547 Emerson Ave, Palo Alto. (Photo: Kelsey Williams)

Unlike many of the events associated with SF Beer Week that charge for tickets to elaborate tastings and beer dinners, the Rose and Crown is keeping it simple. There are no cover charges for any of the events, and the reason to stop by is the opportunity to try some unique and fairly rare beers not just in the bottle but on draft.

“Most of the beers with the exception of the vintage beer night, will be available on draft,” Syed said.

That’s not to say that the pub won’t have some interesting accompaniments to their special beers on some of the days. At 4:20 p.m. Feb. 13, the bar will host the brewers from Lagunitas to talk about their limited-release beers that the Rose and Crown will be highlighting that day. Offerings include a bourbon barrel aged stout, the Fusion 5 beer and the radically hopped SF Beer Week beer, said to be 250+ IBUs.  IBUs, which stands for international bittering units, are a measurement of the bitterness of a beer. An India Pale Ale, one of the more bitter common beer types generally has between 40 and 60 IBUs and an American pale lager (think Budweiser and Coors) has between 10 to 15 IBUs.

On Valentine’s Day, the Rose and Crown will host Chef Barry Stiles, formerly of Bistro Elan. He will be pairing three styles of Moules Frites (mussels and belgian-cut fries) with three complimentary beers, including a classic Saison, which Syed said they have not chosen yet. Other offerings will be La Cuvee de Trolls, a full bodied Belgian blond beer that brewers just recently started exporting to the area, and Pete’s Support, an award winning Belgian-style IPA from Firehouse Brewery in Sunnyvale.

On the last Friday of the event, the Rose and Crown will go old school, breaking out firkins to serve several special beers. Firkins, are essentially old-fashioned kegs. They will stand on top of the bar and pour beer from a spout. Unlike kegs, the beer in firkins is not pressurized with carbon dioxide. Instead, it relies on yeast added to the beer to naturally and lightly carbonate the brew.

For those just starting to educate themselves about beers, the Rose and Crown will definitely deliver some great choices to try, but Syed suggests coming earlier in the day if you think you’ll have lots of questions. “As long as its not crazy busy, our staff is always willing to walk people through,” Syed said, “So, long as there is time to speak, we’re willing to educate them and help them pick something that they’ll like.”

Many of the bartenders will help customers select a beer and allow them to taste a sip before committing to a glass.

Lastly, a warning to the penny pinchers, the Rose and Crown’s specials are not like happy hour specials. Many of the beers it will feature are one of a kind or high in alcohol content, which generally means a higher price. The point of their events, and indeed of many SF Beer Week events, is to give locals the chance to experience the new techniques and interesting styles of brewers from around the area and around the world, and those beers don’t come with discounts.

And now for the full line up… The Rose and Crown’s full events for SF Beer Week include:

Friday, Feb. 11 – Vintage Beer Night

Saturday, Feb. 12 - ”Sour Roses” Sour Beer Day

Sunday, Feb. 13 - Lagunitas Limited Release Beers – Lagunitas representatives will be at the bar from 4:20 p.m. onward with expert knowledge of their limited beers.

Also, the Caltrain Pub Crawl event will stop in to the Rose and Crown this day. This event starts 1 p.m. at the Firehouse Brewery in Sunnyvale and hits the Tied House in Mountain View, the Rose and Crown, and the British Banker’s Club in Menlo Park.

Monday, Feb. 14 – Moules Frites and Beer Pairing with Chef Barry Stiles, formerly of Bistro Elan. The food will only be available until about 9 p.m.

Tuesday, Feb. 15 – Sierra Nevada Camp Beer Day – Sierra Nevada holds a special camp where brewers can come to learn more about brewing and create their own special concoction. The Rose and Crown will feature several of the camp’s brews which are normally only available at the camp or with the beer’s creator.

Wednesday, Feb. 16 – Pliny the Younger and Firestone Walker Abacus Beers: Pliny the Younger out of the Russian River Valley is an increasingly cult favorite among self-appointed beer nerds. The Rose and Crown got its hands on one of the coveted kegs and will serve it until it runs out. Fair warning, if you want a taste, come early.

Thursday, Feb. 17 – Black Thursday Imperial Stout Day

Friday, Feb. 18 – Firkin Friday – Bartenders will line up firkins along the bar for patrons to taste this style.

Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 19, 20 - Scraps and Leftovers – After a week of beer goodness, the Rose and Crown will dole out what it has left of the featured beers from throughout the event.

Several other Peninsula businesses will host events for SF Beer Week as well, including a Brewmaster’s Dinner at the California Cafe in Palo Alto for $45 per person on Feb. 17 and several brewery tastings at the Gourmet Haus Staudt in Redwood City. Check out the full list of SF Beer Week offerings in the Peninsula.

For more Peninsula food blogging from Kelsey Williams, click here.

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