March 4, 2013
Sacramento Beer Week wrap-up: long lines, big business for festivities

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Sacramento Beer Week, a celebration of all-things ale that brought significant boosts to many area businesses, wrapped up Sunday with long lines and a few logistical challenges.

More than 76 area businesses participated in the 10-day event, offering a selection of happy hour specials, beer dinners and tastings geared towards enthusiastic hopsheads. Dylan Mauro, owner of Samuel Horne's Tavern in Folsom, was surrounded Monday morning by tapped kegs left over from Beer Week. He said that business doubled during the event, including a line 100 deep for a "Hop Rodeo" event on Saturday featuring coveted craft beers.

"It's our biggest week of the year by far," said Mauro. "We're busy from the second we open until we close our doors. It all went smoothly. We were staffed up to make sure we could handle it."

Capital Beerfest, a large-scale companion event on Saturday at Cal Expo, was attended by more than 3,500 beer fans - a 20 percent increase over 2012 - and featured more than 90 breweries.

Organizers scrambled to provide enough food for Capital Beerfest attendees who bought special $75 tickets that combined beer and food tastings. That food shortage left some patrons with a bitter taste.

"We paid extra money for food and they were not delivering," said Bill Colldeweih of Folsom. "Volunteers were scrambling to put something together. I ended up getting some tiny finger sandwich things and a plate of Spanish rice. We said, 'Where's the rest of the food?' and they said, 'We're out.'"

Dan Scott, executive director of Sacramento Beer Week, disputes that vendors ran out of food. However, he acknowledges that organizers were overwhelmed and could have been better prepared.

"There were also small groups of people being greedy and grabbing as much food as they could," said Scott. "It was our fault in our execution that we allowed it to happen. We've definitely heard feedback on this, and will take care of that next year through better planning and organization."

Though he was left far from full, Colldeweih stayed for the duration of the Capital Beerfest. Even with the large turnout Colldeweih liked that beer lines were fairly short.
"Everything else went pretty smoothly," said Colldeweih. "There wasn't any trouble or unruly behavior. We closed the place down."

Many Sacramento Beer Week events required a sense of patience, especially when Pliny the Younger was concerned. This triple IPA from Russian River Brewing is regarded in some circles as the world's greatest beer, yet produced in such small amounts that it's tough to get a taste.

Some waited hours during Beer Week to get a sample. Midtown's Pour House went through their Pliny the Younger keg in just 19 minutes, and flare ups erupted at Burgers & Brew at 14th and R streets when some people tried to cut in line.

Other local businesses were simply slammed, including Hot City Pizza in east Sacramento.

"The waits for service were probably not what attendees would like," said Scott. "But it's been amazing for business. This isn't just about beer. It's about getting people into pubs and eateries, and given them an infusion during what's traditionally a slow time of year."

Sacramento Beer Week organizers aren't taking much of a break. They've already started planning for the 2014 event.

For Mauro, the business spike from Sacramento Beer Week and rising overall interest in craft brewing leaves him hopeful - if not exhausted.

"I'm pretty beat up by the end of the week," said Mauro. "I wouldn't trade it for anything."

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