Belgium. It’s Nirvana for craft beer lovers who enjoy all the different Belgian style beers. Belgian beers are so popular, in fact, that countless U.S. breweries brew various Belgian styles as well (and many of them do a damn fine job of it). Having never been to Belgium myself, I only know the Belgian beers we’re fortunate enough to get here, either in the bottle or on tap, but I’d love to take a trip there someday.
If you’ve never been to Belgium either, but would love to make the trip, Ninkasi Brewing is giving you your chance. They’ve partnered with Zephyr Adventures to offer a beer trip to Belgium this September dubbed: “Over the Pond: Belgium Bound with Ninkasi Brewing Company.” The trip will feature 7 days and 6 nights of travel lead by Zephyr tour guides and accompanied by Ninkasi founding brewer and co-founder, Jamie Floyd.
Toronado is a craft beer staple in San Francisco and has become known throughout the World as one of the great beer bars in the United States. They first opened their doors back on August 5th, 1987, while the craft beer movement was still in its infancy. I was only 19 at the time, so I wasn’t able to visit Toronado myself until 1989. I can still remember the first time I walked in and how amazed I was at the vast selection. At the time, there was no other place I knew of with so many choices available on tap. I was hooked instantly and visited often. I was even at Toronado for their first ever barleywine festival in 1993. Back then, it wasn’t the crazy scene I’ve heard it’s become today (I haven’t been to Toronado since 1998 – something I need to remedy soon). Although I would imagine it rivals the crowd that shows up each year for the Hard Liver festival at Brouwer’s Cafe.
After an appropriate 21 years of success, Toronado opened their second location in San Diego on May 24th, 2008. Like the San Francisco original, Toronado San Diego has over 50 craft taps and, also like the original, they have become known as one of the best places to go for a great craft beer. I’ve never visited Toronado San Diego myself, but I’m sure I will the next time I get to Southern California.
Are you a fan of craft ciders? I’m far more of a craft beer aficionado myself, but I’ve been trying to make more of an effort over the past year or so to learn more about the wide varieties of craft ciders available here in the Pacific Northwest. Ciders are also a great choice for those with gluten tolerance issues, which can prevent them from drinking most craft beers. There are more cideries in the Pacific Northwest than I had realized, with more popping up all the time, and each has something unique to offer.
Back in 2008, a few friends (including Ian Roberts, Matthew Younts and Mike Baker) were wandering around the Great American Beer Festival in Denver and realized how many of the great beers they were seeing there were from the Pacific Northwest. That simple realization became the spark that helped them decide Seattle needed its own annual celebration of all things craft beer. Less than a year later, Seattle Beer Week was born.
Kicking off in 2009, Seattle Beer Week (SBW) has grown steadily each year. This year there are well over 300 different events, spanning 11 days. That’s incredible. The first Seattle Beer Week that I attended and covered was the 3rd annual, in 2011. That year, there were fewer than 200 total events – still a very respectable number for such a young festival.
With so much going on over the 11 days of Seattle Beer Week, from May 8th to May 18th, you’ll want to take a little time to look over the complete list of events on Seattle Beer Week’s website, and decide which ones you’d like to attend. If you’re entertaining notions of attending every single event, you can abandon them now. Unless you have the ability to teleport and/or replicate yourself, as well as the ability to drink more beer than any human being would likely be able to consume safely, then you’re pretty much out of luck.