SF Beer Week has been over for a week now, but I sense some of you are still recovering, so I don’t feel bad that I’m still recapping. It’s okay if you pour yourself a glass of water while we do this.
Let’s talk about Sau & Brau 5. With food from one of the few New Oakland restaurants as delicious as it is cool (Chop Bar) and beer from a brewery with a little something for everyone (Drake’s), you know you’re going to have a nice night.
(Disclosure: I’ve paid my way into Sau & Brau in the past and found it totally worth it, but I got offered a media pass this year and I’m not dumb.)
Drake’s didn’t invent the pig roast, but they sure have gotten the formula down to a science over the years. This event is so good I’ve seen a pregnant woman go for the pork and a vegetarian go for the beer.
Both of them, and many others, also go for the people. Sau & Brau has become somewhat of an SF Beer Week staple for many. It brings out the old-timers you hardly ever see at a beer event and the barhoppers you see at seemingly every beer event, as well as newcomers discovering how good a time they can actually have in increasingly beery San Leandro. It sells out faster and faster every year.
Sau & Brau also gets bigger every year, partially because Drake’s keeps expanding. Employees get in the pig line last, but they do (except for the vegetarians) enjoy the swine along with you. Not a bad job perk.
I hesitate to say it also gets better every year, because it’s always been pretty damn good. But I’m running out of superlatives here. Whole hogs, good veggie sides so you can feign healthfulness, and a huge variety of beer…what else do you need to know?
Here’s the advice you should refer to next year if you decide to go:
Bring some cash: Your entry to the event is pre-paid, but you do want to tip your bartenders, right? Right.
Relax: Get in line when your section is called and don’t bother trying to sneak into line early — there will be plenty of food to go around. I totally neglected to get a table this time so I got in line late with employees. It was fine. There were three pigs this year and I saw staff putting away leftovers at the end of the night.
Also, unless you have a hollow leg, don’t go too nuts trying to get your money’s worth from the unticketed first hour of the event. Every year, there are people trying to give away excess beer tickets towards the end of the night. You’ve got Hopocalypse and barrel-aged beers available, you may not need as many tickets as you think.
Drink water: There was plenty of palate-cleanser available, along with clean cups, and the bathroom situation was as good as a beer week bathroom situation is going to be. (There were two indoor bathrooms available and extra portapotties outside for those who valued speed of access over indoor plumbing).
If you want to make sure you get tickets next year, follow Drake’s on Facebook or Twitter (which you should probably be doing anyway) so you can see when they go on sale.