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Northern California isn’t all wine tasting. We also take time to appreciate craft beers and have some amazing breweries around here. While folks may have heard of Lagunitas in Petaluma, CA and Anchor Steam in San Francisco, CA it’s really the smaller local breweries that get their chance to shine during SF Beer Week’s 300+ events that went on from February 10 through 19th.

Last year my husband (and parents) went to our first event at a local brewery, Devil’s Canyon Brewery, because our wedding chef was cooking at the brewery where there was live music and beer. This year, same brewery, but I went to two separate events. I justified it because obviously it’s supporting a local business and the craft beer industry. The first event was a Ladies Beer Tasting and Appreciation event at Devil’s Canyon Brewery.

We had a blind tasting of 11 beers and because it was women only, it was an environment that encouraged  questions and learning. The brewery is owned by a couple and the wife of the couple was there to teach us about beers and guide us through our tasting.

The beers ranged from a very light and slightly sweet beer made with champagne yeast through toasty ales and bitter IPAs. The idea was that we would taste everything and be able to pick which ones we liked best with no prejudices that we had always held.

See that unfiltered beer in the middle of the shot above? It smelled like bologna. Seriously. And really, it wasn’t that bad to drink. I thought it would be disgusting and it turned out better than I expected even though it wasn’t one of my top two favorites.

My lady friend, Susan, and I made it through all 11 beers and then had a sip of the brewery’s rootbeer before heading home. My favorite, hands down, is their Barrel Aged Full Boar Scotch Ale. It’s outstanding. Currently they only serve and sell beer in Northern and Southern California (where you can request that they be carried in your local bar or store).

Two days after this tasting my husband and I returned with friends to enjoy beers from nine local breweries and some of a whole hog. Yes. Head and all. It was roasted all day and was soooo delicious.

How do you support local businesses in your area?