The Art of Beer kicks off California Craft Beer Month

The second annual Art of Beer brought together great craft brews and art at the Fusion International Arts Center on Friday night. The event highlighted the more artistic aspects of beer – the fermentation tanks, the wort and simply the love of beer.

This year 24 breweries were present, some of them serving up to five types of beer to the 500 guests present. Absolutely delicious bites were everywhere – as long as you came early. Tuli Bistro and Roxie Deli, in particular, were very nearly attacked each time a plate of sandwiches, apps or pizza was set out.

The art on display ranged from crystal clear pictures of the brewing process by Rawi Nanakul to a piece by Eli Trujillo illustrating the undeniable draw of Pliny the Elder. Supporters of the event – both sponsors and attendees – helped Ales for Autism and Stanford Youth Solutions, both tremendous organizations that certainly know who to put first. Ales for Autism has another big event coming up Feb. 15, the Black & White Beer Ball in Santa Rosa, Calif. The next big thing for Stanford Youth Solutions is Vintage 2013 on April 25.

@theend by Eli Trujillo

The Barrelworks Lounge, occupied by Firestone Walker, was a great spot off to the side to grab a table and chat with friends – new or old. Nearby, 21st Amendment Brewery had its own lounge. The area was handsomely arranged and festooned in 1930s décor. An exhibit illustrating the creative process for the brewery’s distinctive labels and boxes adorned the wall. While most mingled the evening away, the unique lounges provided a place to sit for a minute out of the path of the crowd of buzzing attendees.

Near the front stage where a silent auction took place for much of the night, Sierra Nevada was serving up the newly introduced Ovila Abbey Quad with Plums, a top pick of the evening.

North Coast Brewing Co. always brings their best for dark beer lovers. They poured Brother Thelonious and Old Rasputin. Anderson Valley was another essential stop. They were pouring Brother David’s Triple. They also have something new on their beer list, a Wild Turkey Bourbon Barrel Stout. Mad River Brewing Co. had great taps as well.

For the cider lovers out there, Two Rivers Cider Co. had two on tap, a Dry Macintosh Cider and a Blood Orange cider. The latter had a pink tinge that brought a little extra excitement to the glassware circulating the room.

Cypress Grove Chevre had cheese on hand for tasting, and the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op and The Pasta Queen had lines all night and the supplies to keep the people snacking. The porcini and truffle egg ravioli, topped with blue cheese fredo sauce and roasted hazelnuts was enough to warrant a virtual shopping trip to their site. They paired the dish with Berryessa Brewing Co.’s Belgo Dark – just imagine.

To really make the most of the night, it was best to alternate beers and chatting up brewers with talks with the artists in the room. Shannon Jane Morgan of Girl Glass Studio, paired with Track 7, had plans for an Art of Beer Glass class. Participants will be making their own beer glass and later, Morgan will buy them their first beer.

Track 7 paired up with Knee Deep Brewing Co. and created a fresh, citrusy double IPA for beer week that attendees got a chance to taste. At 100 IBUs and 9.7 percent ABV, this one’s going to be sought after during beer week. Another stop for IPA lovers was Rubicon, where they were pouring Hopsauce.

Track 7 had a great double IPA on tap.

Sustainability was a key word at The Art of Beer this year. Almanac Beer Co. poured “Farm to Bottle Beer” and Sierra Nevada handed out pamphlets highlighting their sustainable practices in all areas.

Magnolia Pub and Brewery, which has five casks on tap and makes a commitment to the slow food movement, seems like a great place to stop during San Francisco Beer Week, coming up next week.

Sustainability has become a buzzword among regional breweries.

Sacramento’s Digital Town Square Forum was present for the event as well. You can replay the evening’s discussion, “The Art of Beer… and ZOMBIES!” online.

It was great to see so many breweries, artists and restaurants come together with local establishments like Brew Ferment Distill (BFD), Hook & Ladder Manufacturing Co. and Sacramento365, among many others, to put on such an enjoyable and worthwhile event.

This year, The Art of Beer served as the kickoff for the first ever California Craft Beer Month. Judging by the enormous crowd, we should continue to expect more from this event for our annual fix of art, music, discussion, goodwill and beer. With so much creativity on their side, it’s clear that this event will just keep getting better.

Old Hangtown’s Ale Camino

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