Just 10 minutes past 6pm on Saturday, April 27th the line to enter the San Francisco International Beer Festival had quickly extended from the main festival pavilion entrance along the waterfront, all the way back to the street entrance at the corner of Marina Boulevard and Buchanan Street, a length stretching about a mile long. Eager festivalgoers braved the windy weather, and anxiously entered the festival pavilion filled with hundreds of different breweries, and many local restaurants providing unlimited samples.
From the get go the feeling of the crowds excitement was impossible to ignore; every few minutes everyone would hold up their mini sample mugs and holler loudly throughout the pavilion. Many came dressed with beer hats, themed t-shirts, and even balloons tied to their clothing. Festivalgoers stated that they come ready with balloons attached to their clothing, as a form of a ‘buddy system’ to avoid loosing one another.
The entire festival is put together by forty parent volunteers of the Telegraph Hill Cooperative Nursery School, the cities’ oldest co-op nursery school where parents are involved in fundraising, assisting, and being actively involved with the school. “Parents have a blast, and feel really proud of our little community of 22 families for putting on such a huge event,” says Heather Rothert, a parent volunteer. The event brought in close to $150,000, which allows the school to have the most affordable preschool tuition in the city.
SFIBF began in 1984 at which time only 5 different breweries sampled off their work, the parents brought in food potluck style, and about 100 people attended. This year, the festival brought in 150 different breweries, 19 food vendors, and nearly 4,000 people attended. Dolores Park Café has attended SFIBF for the past five years. “This event is a great cause to be a part of, we support education, and believe in community giving,” said Rachel Herbert from the Dolores Park Café group. Chef Tu David Phu showcased his signature dish, made from scratch buttermilk biscuits, served in two delicious ways, one with apple butter, and the other with a chocolate sauce and strawberry jam. “Everything is made from scratch, down to the apple butter, because that is what we believe in, and it’s just tastes better when it’s made from love,” said Chef Phu. This melt in your mouth perfection along with other tasty biscuit creations are served regularly at their weekend brunch.
Rodenbauch, a brewery now owned by Palm Breweries has supported the beer festival for the past nine years. This year the company invested in the VIP area, a second floor area of the pavilion with select beer options, to help contribute more for the fundraiser. Coleen a team member of the brewery said, “It is always an amazing event, a lot of people come out for fun, as well as to learn about different types of beer.” The company has seen direct profit results from participating. “Many people ask for where they can find our beer sold, we will definitely be back next year,” said Coleen.”
SFIBF has come a long way in 30 years, and has continued to grow in popularity. For the past two years, tickets to the event sold out in just 5 minutes. So what makes it so great? And why are people so eager to attend? Ellie Seo lives in San Francisco, and says that SFIBF has become a tradition amongst her friends, and has been coming for the past three years. “ I actually enjoy beer, and not just getting drunk, it’s a great way to try a lot of different beers, I definitely will come out again next year.” Some festivalgoers were in the loop that all proceeds raised go towards a good cause, and expressed that ‘drinking responsibly’ made the event that much better. “This is my third beer festival, I enjoy coming with friends, trying all the different variety of beers, and helping out a good cause,” said Paul a festivalgoer from Berkeley.
The beer samples ranged in brands, taste, type, flavors, and much more. There were certainly recognizable brands such as Samuel Adams and Modelo, as well as other less know brands such as Coronado Brewing and Batch 19. Each brewery offered at least two different types of their beers to try, a dark and light ale option. Flavored beer was a big hit with options such as ginger and apricot wheat. Maria from San Jose, came out for the first time this year with friends, “This is a really fun event, the ginger beer is amazing, I will definitely come out again next year, “ said Maria.
Other food highlights included corn dogs, meat and goat cheese with vegetables empanadas, pretzels, and Pizza Orgasmica who continued to pump out delicious warm pizza slices up until the very end. A stumbled upon great find was That Takes The Cake bakery, who brought 2,000 made from scratch mini cupcakes, this delectable treat tickled the taste buds and was a great treat amongst the other food options. The bakery was recently acquired by new owners who decided to carry on the tradition and attend. “We are more than happy to be a part of this event, we are having a great time, and believe in helping out this great cause,” said Jody a member of the bakery’s team.
The festival was a terrific success both for the people who attended, who filled their bellies with great food and beer options, as well as for the Telegraph Hill Cooperative Nursery, as they were able to raise a significant amount to help their school. As the crowd expressed this year in their steady hollering throughout the entire event, there is no question that SFIBF will continue to grow. Just remember to get your tickets for next years event right away, by then it might sell out even quicker than five minutes. Don’t miss out, this one is a definite must-do in San Francisco.