Beer Week: The Barfly's Answer to Restaurant Week

by  Ben Keene | Feb 14, 2013
Beer / Ridofranz/iStock

Most cities offer plenty of reasons to visit. Whether it's fine art or great food, window shopping or bar hopping, there's something to entertain just about everybody. At times the number of options might actually seem overwhelming to tourists and residents. For years though, multi-day cultural festivals and restaurant weeks have successfully promoted urban exploration, encouraging people to take a fresh look at a familiar town. More recently, spurred on by the non-profit Brewer's Association and motivated hop heads, beer weeks have started to pop up around the country, too. In essence, a celebration of American-made ales and lagers, these events tap in to the excitement surrounding the current craft beer boom. And it doesn't matter if you can't distinguish a Gueuze from a Gose. Above all, beer weeks are supposed to be fun.

New York: New York City's Beer Week (Feb. 22- Mar. 3) for instance, unofficially begins with a night of comedy hosted by Eugene Mirman at the Jewish Museum. Beverages will naturally be provided by the Schmaltz Brewing Company, makers of He'Brew, the "chosen beer." But, expect more than beer humor in the days that follow; restaurants such as Hospoda and BLT Fish Shack will host pairing dinners matching dishes like smoked salmon carpaccio, shaved baby turnips, and carrot vinaigrette with Kelso of Brooklyn's crisp, grassy pilsner. Across the East River, a cornhole tournament at the Brooklyn Brewery promises a cash prize along with beer, and at tap takeovers in Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan, small producers will pour pints from their diverse lineups, including rarities like a cask of the Bronx Brewery's black pale ale with mangoes and jalapenos.

New Hampshire: Further north in New Hampshire, ten days of beer-related happenings in Portsmouth range from special releases at places like the Thirsty Moose Tap House to a beer-themed art show and even a ShakesBEERience—a free dramatic reading of Romeo and Juliet at a venue selling snacks and pints of local ale. Plus, the Portsmouth Beer Week (Feb. 23- Mar. 4) offers attendees the opportunity to meet some of the Granite State's new nanobreweries.

Coastal cities aren't the only ones having fun with beer though. Omaha, Nashville, Pittsburgh, and Cleveland also have their own celebrations. At this point, you can find a beer week in almost all 50 states.

California: Out west in California, the fourth annual Sacramento Beer Week (Feb. 22- Mar. 3) gets started with a sour beer night at two different locations, Hot City Pizza and Samuel Horne's Tavern. A few days later, armchair mixologists can choose from a number of different beer cocktails on "Bootleg Tuesday" at Mix Downtown. Another option is the Sacramento Beer Train, a three-hour scenic ride accompanied by ten samples from four local breweries. And if you think you already know everything about beer, prove your smarts during beer trivia night at the East Sac Shack. Just remember, whether it's trains or trivia that leads you to your new favorite drink, the idea is to support the home team. Try that imported brew another time.

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