Here comes Winter Brews Festival 2014 already

It’s that time of the year again, only different.  The nights are long and dark, but starting to shorten visibly. It’s not cold outside, thanks to the freaky ridge of high pressure over the Pacific, and a deepening drought that could spell trouble for local people and beer, but currently the outdoor conditions are delightful in the Bay Area.

Happily, we have a tradition that fits beautifully with this freaky weather.   The Brewing Network, an on-line beer radio website, will be hosting its fifth annual Winter Brews Festival on January 25th at Todos Santos Plaza in Concord.

The festival is distinguished by being the first one after a much needed break in the beer event cycle after the holidays.  It tides us all over until SF Beer Week.

picture from last yearIn addition, since The Brewing Network is at its heart a homebrewers’ podcast network and a virtual brewing club, there has always been good-to-excellent homebrew poured along with the latest professional creations.  The quasi-legality of this excellent arrangement has caused a bit of stress until this year, but now we can all relax.  The California ABC has ruled that “501C3” official charity events can now pour donated homemade wine or beer with no pushback from the state enforcers. (NOTE: Since this was written, some curious unintended side effects of the new law have become evident. Revision is needed. To help protect all-homebrew festivals and competitions, get involved.)

This fest exemplifies the enduring relationships the Brewing Network, with its often highly technical and highly rowdy style, has forged with respected pro brewers.  Societe Brewery (San Diego) joined the pouring list after one of their beers, The Harlot, was selected as the beer of the year on the Sunday podcast.  A casual on-air remark that “The Harlot” would be an interesting name for a new brewery resulted in a mock cease-and-desist letter from the young brewery, along with a promise to attend the Fest and bring that beer.  (Arriving in a homemade “The Harlot Brewery” tee shirt would probably neither get you free entrance nor your own hilarious friendly trademark infringement cease-and-desist letter, sadly.)

In terms of listing all the pro brewers who will be pouring, there’s nothing better but to point to the frequently updated list on their signup page.  Advance tickets are advised.

Walking to Todos Santos Square from BART is simple once you get across the very large parking lot.  Detailed directions for figuring out how to get to the park are in the listing for the adjacent EJ Phair pub.   

Explore Beer By BART; use our list of some of the San Francisco Bay Area’s best beer places with detailed transit info, so you can get out there to enjoy without driving.

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