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For Rawi Nanakul, beer photography is more than just snapping an image of suds in a glass and calling it a day. The commercial beer photographer and director of Sacramento’s upcoming Art of Beer event aims to capture the people behind the brew, the brewery’s unique style and the process behind the product.

"When I photograph a brewery, you know who it is based on the style," Nanakul said. "The goal is for people to intimately know the brewery without ever having visited… that you are able to get to know the faces of the people making the beer, and the equipment used and the oddities of the brewery."

Some of Art of Beer event director Rawi Nanakul’s photography work, which will also be on display during the event.

"It’s more than beer in a glass – it’s the dreams of 10 to 20 people getting that beer to you."

Nanakul is bringing those dreams and more to Sacramento, with the second Art of Beer event, which combines beer, food, art and charity. Set for the evening of Friday, Feb. 1, it’s a bit premature to be included in Sacramento Beer Week, but instead kicks off California Craft Beer Month.

It will be held from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., at the Fusion International Arts Center – at 501 Arden Way – and tickets are $40 before the event, and $50 at the door. Click these links for a complete listing of the breweries and food vendors that will be on tap. 

And it’s grown since its debut in 2012, says Nanakul. This year there will be 24 breweries (both local and from way out of town), at least eight food vendors (again, from Sacramento and beyond), 15 artists and specially-designed beer lounge areas. The drinks (which are unlimited) are paired with food, which is paired with art.

Using neon lighting that’s typically seen in beer label wall displays, Eric Affanso re-imagines its use.

Sounds like a beer and art lover’s wildest dreams realized, right? That’s pretty much the point, but the bigger picture includes kids’ charities, specifically Ales for Autism and Stanford Youth Solutions. A percentage of the proceeds from ticket sales will go toward the charities, and all money raised through a silent art auction will support Stanford Youth Solutions’ expressive art and play therapy program.

Other highlights include:
• Local brewery Track 7 will be partnering with a local glass blower, and will have glasses for sale.
• Local chef Adam Pechal of Tuli Restaurant Group will be there serving food.
• San Francisco’s 21st Amendment Brewery will have a 1930s-style lounge, featuring concept drawings that track their beer labels’ evolution.
• Paso Robles’ Firestone Walker Brewing Company will also have a lounge, which will feature brewery photographs, paraphernalia and an artistic arrangement of barrels used to make the beer.

Some of the artists include Jim Shepherd, Jack Von Stone, Elizabeth Simpson, Patrick Mooney, Jared Konopitski, Shannon Crooks and more. 

The event is a re-imagining of how beer is enjoyed – with the added bonus of food pairings, similar to wine and food pairings – but without the upward tilt of the nose that can accompany such events, Nanakul said. "This is the same thing, but with beer," he said. "We want to challenge what people’s perceptions of beer are."