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2016 Oktoberfest Events in and around San Jose and Silicon Valley

2015 Mountain View Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest in Munich takes place from September 17 to October 3 this year, and I’m sure there are many like me who wish they were going but won’t be.

Fortunately, there are a number of local, Oktoberfest-inspired events and celebrations taking place throughout San Jose and nearby, providing plenty of opportunities to enjoy German and German-style beer and food in a festive atmosphere. Many of the Oktoberfest celebrations will also feature live entertainment and family-friendly activities.

Below is a roundup of this year’s local Oktoberfest events listed by date. I’ll add to it as new ones come to my attention. Please let me know if I’m missing any. Prost!

Fri., Sep. 9 – Sun., Sep. 11: Redwood City Oktoberfest

What: For 3 days, downtown Redwood City will celebrate their 3rd annual Oktoberfest. There’ll be a huge tent with lots of seating, music (AlpinersUSA), dancing, contests and lots of beer, beverages, food and more. An entrance fee ($18-$20 and $10-$12 for kids & designated drivers) includes a commemorative stein and 1 drink ticket.

Where: Courthouse Square, Redwood City

More info.: www.redwoodcity.org

Fri., Sep. 9 – Sat., Oct. 29: Teske’s Germania

What: German fare and special Oktoberfest evening celebrations on Fridays and select Saturdays from Sep. 9 to Oct. 29 featuring music from The Family Gruber Band and The Internationals.

Where: 255 N. 1st St., San Jose

More info.: http://teskes-germania.com/

Sat., Sep. 10: Jack Rose Libation House

What: 4th annual Oktoberfest from 4pm-9pm with live music from The Family Gruber Band plus German food and German beer. Admission to the beer garden is $10 for ages 21 and over, $5 for ages 13-20 and free for 12 and under. Feel free to come dressed in your best Lederhosen or Dirndl.

Where: 18840 Saratoga Los Gatos Rd., Los Gatos

More info.: http://jackrosebar.com/

Sat., Sep. 10: Gourmet Haus Staudt

What: Annual Oktoberfest celebration. Doors open at 11:30am. $5.00 entry fee. The Internationals start playing at 3pm.

Where: 2615 Broadway, Redwood City

More info.: http://www.gourmethausstaudt.com/

Fri., Sep. 16 – Sun, Sep. 18: Naglee Park Garage

What: Annual Oktoberfest from Sep. 16-18. They’ll be serving German beers plus a special German menu and be hosting  musical guests all weekend. Come casual or dressed in your most authentic German outfits and celebrate.

Where: 505 E. San Carlos St., San Jose

More info.: http://nagleeparkgarage.com/

Sat., Sep. 17 and Sat., Sep. 24: Ludwig’s German Table

What: Get out your Lederhosen and Dirndl and join Ludwig’s for Oktoberfest on Sep. 17 and Sep. 24 from 2pm-10pm. They’ll be turning their restaurant into a traditional Munich style festival ground with live music and special Beer Garden & Restaurant ($28) and Hall ($35) tickets.

Where: 261 N. 2nd St., San Jose

More info.: http://www.ludwigssj.com/

Mon., Sep. 26 – Sat., Oct. 29: Faultline Oktoberfest

What: Oktoberfest festivities at Faultline Brewing Company kick off Mon., Sep. 26. This year, Fautline will feature an Oktoberfest beer release, a German-inspired menu and more to be announced.

Where: 1235 Oakmead Pkwy., Sunnyvale

More info.: http://www.faultlinebrewing.com/

Thurs., Sep. 29: Geektoberfest

What: The Tech Museum of Innovation presents Geektoberfest 2016, an annual event where brewers and scientists will explore the biology of beer with talks, demos and tastings. In conjuction with Geektoberfest, Content Magazine will host a Beer LAB event on The Tech’s private rooftop terrace, featuring music, food and beer tastings available only to Beer LAB guests. Ticket prices vary from $18 to $100. Local participating brewers include DasBrew, FireHouse Grill & Brewery, Gordon Biersch Brewing Company, Half Moon Bay Brewing Company and Santa Clara Valley Brewing.

Where: 201 S. Market St., San Jose

More info.: http://www.thetech.org/geektoberfest

Sat., Oct. 1 – Sun., Oct. 2: Mountain View Oktoberfest

What: 4th Annual Oktoberfest – taking place Oct. 1 and Oct. 2 – presented by Steins Beer Garden & Restaurant, Tied House and the Mountain View Chamber of Commerce. They’ll be taking over a part of Mountain View’s Dana St. and Bryant St. with the parking lot, promising to be bigger and better than the previous years. There’ll be German beer, good food and family friendly entertainment.

Where: Parking lot at Dana St. and Bryant St., Mountain View

More info.: TBA

Sun., Oct. 2: OktoBRAfest

What: The 3rd Annual OktoBrafest takes places at the San Jose Woman’s Club from 3-6 pm. $25 tickets include a buffet of sausage, potato salad, sauerkraut, bread, dessert and one beer, cider or wine. Additional beverages are available for a suggested donation of $5.

Where: 75 S. 11th St., San Jose

More info.: http://www.sjwomansclub.org/

Sun., Oct. 9: San Pedro Square Market

What: Their 4th annual Oktoberfest celebration – their longest running event – returns with a new name – Oktober Beer & Music Fest – and promises to take things to a new level, featuring 3 bands this year and activating the entire Market instead of only the Sidewalk Cafe. The event will have games in different areas throughout the Market. Early bird tickets are $30 and will score you 3 beers instead of 2, but tickets do go up the longer you wait. From 2pm-8pm.

Where: 87 N. San Pedro St., San Jose

More info.: http://www.sanpedrosquaremarket.com/

Sat., Oct. 15: Peninsula Oktoberfest

What: From 11am-4pm, enjoy the annual Peninsula Oktoberfest at Hiller Aviation Museum. There’ll be music (San Mateo Elks Band and Bayern Maiden), German beer and food trucks. There’ll also be beers from Devil’s Canyon, Voodoo Brewing and Anchor Steam.

Where: 601 Skyway Rd., San Carlos

More info.: http://www.hiller.org/event/oktoberfest-2016/

Sat., Oct. 15 – Sun., Oct. 16: Campbell Oktoberfest

What: Campbell Oktoberfest is hosted by the Campbell Chamber of Commerce, and it’s an entire weekend of live music, tasty food, arts & crafts, a kids zone and – of course – beer. Featuring 4 stages of live music and dozens of food vendors. Oktoberfest dress encouraged.

Where: Downtown Campbell

More info.: http://campbellchamber.net/Oktoberfest/

San Jose Area 2012 Oktoberfest Events and Activities

Munich, Germany, July 2012 - the site of the annual Oktoberfest celebration
Munich, Germany, July 2012 – the site of the annual Oktoberfest celebration

[Updated Fri., Oct. 12, 2012]

The third weekend in September is when Oktoberfest starts every year in Munich, Germany. Its popularity has sparked Oktoberfest-inspired festivities all over the world. Los Gatos Brewing Company already celebrated their Oktoberfest in conjunction with their 20th anniversary on September 15. But thankfully, there are more ongoing and scheduled Oktoberfest events in San Jose and the South Bay.

San Jose

Thurs., Oct. 4, 2012, 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.: Jack’s Bar & Lounge in Japantown offers up an Oktoberfest Pint Night. 167 East Taylor St., 408-287-5225. Per their Facebook page: “Oktoberfest! This Thursday for Pint Night we’ll have two uber kegs [Gordon Biersch über keg of Marzen. Unfiltered and unpasteurized] with 1 liter steins! There is only a limited supply so be sure to come early!”

Thurs., Oct. 4, 2012, 7 p.m. – 12 a.m.: The Tech Museum of Innovation hosts their monthly After Hours (for those 21 and over) with an “Oktoberfest Meets Science” theme featuring Gordon Biersch Brewing Company. 201 South Market, 408-294-8324.

Thurs. – Sat., Oct. 4 – 6, 2012: Naglee Park Garage celebrates their 6th annual Oktoberfest. 505 East San Carlos St., 408-286-1100. According to the Facebook event page: “Oktoberfest at Naglee Park Garage is upon us! Please join us… (October 2 – 6) as we celebrate our 6th annual Oktoberfest with a week-long special menu. Plus, Thursday, October 4th, we’ll be starting a three day run of great beer featuring Hofbräu Munchen and festive music with Jessica Rose & Six Gun Rhythm, The Champions and The Bang all running through Saturday night on the patio…get your steins and your friends ready!”

Sat., Oct. 13, 2012: Wine Affairs celebrates Oktoberfest all day. 1435 The Alameda, 408-977-0111. According to their weeky newsletter: “In lieu of tastings next week, we will be celebrating Oktoberfest all day Saturday, 10/13, featuring discounted wine, beers, and special menu items. From 6 p.m. – 8 p.m., we will have a joint beer/wine tasting of German wines and Oktoberfest beers. The tasting is free for members or $12/person. Prost!”

Ongoing – Sun., Oct. 21, 2012: Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant continues the spirit of their Oktoberfest-themed party back on Sep. 11 celebrating the tapping of their seasonal FestBier (an “amber lager with a slightly sweet toasted maltiness, balanced by… spicy German Hersbrucker hops”). Until Sun., Oct. 21, enjoy items from their seasonal fall menu with this Oktoberfest-style FestBier.

Sat. – Sun., Oct. 20 – 21, 2012, 12 p.m. – 4 p.m.: Left Bank in Santana Row commemorates Oktoberfest with their fourth food and beer pairing event of this year, this time featuring Gordon Biersch Brewing Company. Details and complete menu provided at the Left Bank events page.

Thurs., Oct. 25, 2012: Harry’s Hofbrau hosts their Oktoberfest event. From their Facebook page: “Some of you may be asking, ‘Hey Harry! Are you going to do an Oktoberfest event or what?’ To that we say, ‘Javol!’ October 25th we are having our annual Schneiderweiss takeover – Aventinus, Edelweiss, Original, (the amazing) Hopfenweiss hoppy wheat, new this year Eisbock (12%!), and finally a very limited release keg we are going to keep a secret. Prost!”

Ongoing – Fri., Oct. 26, 2012: Teske Germania has Oktoberfest activities featuring musical acts performing Fridays and Saturdays, beginning at 6:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. Teske Germania offers an extensive German menu as well as German beer offerings.

South Bay

Fri. – Sun., Oct. 12 – 14, 2012: BYR of Belgium in Campbell celebrates Oktoberfest with the following specials per their Facebook page update: “Starting at 7 p.m. tonight till Sunday evening, 25% off pitchers of beer and all bottle beers!”

Sat. – Sun., Oct. 13 – 14, 2012: Downtown Campbell celebrates Oktoberfest along Campbell Avenue. For event details, click here.

Sat. – Sun., Oct. 13 – 14, 2012: Downtown Campbell’s Liquid Bread Gastropub hosts an Oktoberfest soft opening. 379 East Campbell Ave., 408-370-3499. Per an earlier Facebook update: “Can’t wait for Oktoberfest on Sat. & Sun., Oct. 13th and 14th. We will have a soft opening selling a bunch of German beers & delicious brats! Come say hi! Official opening to follow shortly…” For a previous article on the soon-to-open Liquid Bread Gastropub, click here.

Ongoing – Fri., Oct. 26, 2012: Sunnyvale’s Faultline Brewing Company Oktoberfest celebration continues until Fri., Oct. 26, having started Sep. 24.  From their press release: “‘This year, we plan on having an extensive specialty menu that has more than 15 traditional Bavarian and German dishes with a Californian twist. Everything from sausage platters, potato-beer soup, schnitzel and soft pretzels will be available. Guests can buy Oktoberfest items like limited edition T-shirts and liter steins,” [Christa] Shaw [of Faultline] said. During Oktoberfest, the San Jose restaurant is featuring traditional German music from Thursday through Saturday nights, and the facility will be decorated from top to bottom in Oktoberfest-related decor. ‘We will have our award-winning Oktoberfest brew that won a gold medal at the LA County Fair and a silver medal at the Sacramento State Fair! We will also have other German styles of beer like Hefeweizen, Dunkel Weizen and Kolsch,’ Shaw said.”

Sat., Oct. 27, 2012, 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.: Steak Out Biergarten in Mountain View hosts Oktoberfest – Beyond Bavaria, presented by the German International School of Silicon Valley. 383 Castro Street, 650-209-0383. “Authentic German, Austrian and Swiss foods. Huge selection of European and local beers. Live entertainment from one of the largest German speaking communities in California. Plus raffle and silent auction!”

And Beyond

Sat., Oct. 13, 2012, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.: The third annual Peninsula Oktoberfest takes place in Redwood City with several South Bay breweries participating.

As events and beer lineups may change from time to time, please do check with the establishment directly, especially if you are extra excited about a particular event and/or beer.

[This post was shared on Examiner.com.]

A Brief History of Craft Beer in the South Bay

Meet the Brewers at Hermitage Brewing Company, Feb. 19, 2011
Meet the Brewers at Hermitage Brewing Company, Feb. 19, 2011

It was the second annual Meet the Brewers beer festival held in Feb. 2011 at San Jose’s Hermitage Brewing Company that provided more than just a memorable beer experience. Truth be told, my wife and I had originally gone mainly for the food trucks, but when in Rome…

I tried a refreshing Tied House Brewery wheat beer which served as a prelude to the Campbell Brewing hefeweizen with its inviting combination of sweetness and bitterness. My wife, who is from Bavaria, heartily approved.

After talking with the pourers about their beers – many of whom were the actual brewers – I opted next for unfamiliar-to-me beer styles.

The Uncommon Brewers organic brown ale had flavors of roasted barley and pleasant, light bitterness. Seabright Brewery’s oatmeal stout poured black and smooth with flavors suggesting dark chocolate. Finally, there was the Faultine Brewery porter, a dark beer that smelled and tasted of roasted coffee beans.

The beers were tasty and paired well with our Korean tacos and burritos that we got from one of the aforementioned food trucks.

We left relatively early and did not sample any more beers from the other breweries, but thanks in large part to this beer festival, I gained a new hobby – to learn more about beer and its wide range of styles while checking out the local beer scene.

We began complementing our already existing wine rituals with beer exploration. I’d go online and learn about solid examples of various beer styles and match that information with the selections at nearby stores that sold craft beer.

I stayed up-to-date with Peter Estaniel’s BetterBeerBlog to see if there was anything new going on in the South Bay.

In April 2011, the first KraftBrew Beer Fest – organized by Naglee Park Garage – took place at the historic San Jose Woman’s Club, and we tried a larger selection of different styles of domestic and international beers.

Some beer styles we enjoyed from the first sip (IPA for my wife), while others we grew to appreciate over time (IPA for me).

Events like the Meet the Brewers beer festival and the KraftBrew Beer Fest not only provided opportunities to discover the wide variety of beer styles, but they also showed that there are plenty of folks in the area interested in good beer.

For the next year-and-a-half, our appreciation for beer and the local beer scene would continue to grow, and for me, in particular, would become a passion as I started blogging and writing about the local beer scene.

Local Craft Beer Boom

As recently as late 2008, William Brand wrote that the South Bay was a craft beer desert, but from our ventures out to local beer spots, stores and events, we learned that Brand’s observation was surely evolving.

Beer enthusiasts no longer had to routinely drive at least 45 minutes to try the latest touted, hard-to-get beer. There were establishments that made and carried great beer right here, from Morgan Hill through San Jose to Palo Alto.

We observed first hand the growing demand for – and distribution of – good beer, a relatively recent development according to a number of longer-term South Bay beer fans. The various, possible reasons for why the South Bay was such a latecomer continue to be discussed (and might perhaps be a topic in a future write-up).

Fortunately, such discussions these days often end on a positive note; many beer drinkers throughout the South Bay are enjoying the current craft beer boom and imagining the potential for the local area.

Craft Beer Movement and the South Bay

“Craft beer” – as defined by the Brewers Association – refers to beer made by a “small, independent, and traditional” brewing company. Such definitions illustrate the contrast between local and regional craft beer brewing companies and the giant, macro brewing companies that still dominate the overall beer market.

But according to recent numbers released by the Brewers Association in March, overall beer volume sales are down while the U.S. craft brewing industry continues to grow in volume and dollar sales. More beer drinkers are trying craft beer and learning about the various aspects that make craft beer more compelling compared to macro beer.

This nationwide growth within the craft beer segment reflects the growing interest and demand for craft beer here locally. A number of recent developments highlight the increasing popularity of craft beer within our region – from the popular and successful beer festivals to the growth of local brewing companies like Hermitage and Strike, as well as a new San Jose brewery that is in the works.

Greg Filippi - Lead Brewer at Hermitage Brewing Company, May 18, 2012
Greg Filippi – Lead Brewer at Hermitage Brewing Company, May 18, 2012

The Bay Brewers Guild, a collective of brewers representing the South Bay and nearby Santa Cruz and Monterey areas, continues to take shape, while the spotlight on the beers made at our local brewpubs – and the brewers who make them – grows bigger and brighter.

More establishments are offering craft beer in the South Bay and taking care to ensure that their staff are knowledgeable enough about beer to be able to make just the right recommendation to both beer enthusiasts and newbies alike.

Restaurant James Randall in Los Gatos has joined California Café (both the Palo Alto and Los Gatos locations) in hosting a growing number of beer-and-food-pairing events.

With craft beer’s growing popularity, it’s no surprise that more folks are interested in homebrewing and joining homebrew clubs. “We receive several inquiries a month from new homebrewers… where even just a year ago inquiries were much more infrequent,” says Derek Wolfgram, president of the homebrew club Silicon Valley Sudzers.

And there is a growing list of craft beer-centric businesses that have just opened or are set to open this year.

In downtown San Jose, the list includes craft beer bars Original Gravity Public House and ISO: Beers, and restaurant Blackbird Tavern.

In Campbell, there is Liquid Bread beer bar. In Mountain View, there are Jane’s Beer Store, South Bay’s first specialty beer store, and Steins Beer Garden + Restaurant.

History and Emergence of the South Bay Beer Scene: Breweries

Even hardcore South Bay beer fans might be surprised to learn that the valley had its share of early breweries, as cited in the 1992 book The Bars of Santa Clara County: A Beer Drinker’s Guide to Silicon Valley co-written by Bay Area beer scribe Jay Brooks and Karen Knezevich.

These breweries produced predominantly German-style beers and included Eagle Brewery (San Jose, 1853), Fredericksburg Brewery (San Jose, 1856), and other San Jose breweries opening between 1875 and 1905, including San Jose Brewery, Louis Krumb’s Brewery, and the St. Claire Brewing Company. After breweries such as these closed, there were no local South Bay breweries until the mid-1980s.

Breweries like Winchester Brewery and Palo Alto Brewing Company would come and go, but not before making their impact.

In 1986, Pete Slosberg launched Pete’s Wicked Ales in Mountain View thanks to Palo Alto Brewing Company and Bob Stoddard, of whom Slosberg refers to as “one of the first, true pioneers” in craft brewing.

Stoddard would later open his eponymous Brewhouse & Eatery in Sunnyvale in 1993 (now FireHouse Grill & Brewery) and in Campbell in 2002 (now Campbell Brewing Company/Sonoma Chicken Coop).

Mountain View’s Tied House Brewery opened in 1988, and later in the same year Dan Gordon and Dean Biersch opened the first Gordon Biersch brewery restaurant in Palo Alto.

The second Gordon Biersch opened in downtown San Jose in 1990, replacing a brewpub that had closed in four months, proving in part that South Bay native Gordon – “Born in San Jose. Grew up in Los Altos,” he shares – had a strong case of South Bay pride. Gordon would go on to open a brewery and bottling facility in San Jose in 1997.

Dan Gordon, June 26, 2012
Dan Gordon, June 26, 2012

Los Gatos Brewing Company opened in 1991 with their downtown San Jose location opening in 2010.

El Toro Brewing Company started in 1992 with the opening of their Morgan Hill brewpub in 2006.

Additional breweries and restaurants would open, including Sunnyvale’s Faultline Brewing Company in 1994.

“We have breweries here in the South Bay that have been around for a while, and it’s nice to see people appreciating beer more,” states Campbell Brewing’s brewmaster Jim Turturici.

Steve Donohue, currently brewing at Hermitage while working on the initial stages of opening Santa Clara Valley Brewing Company in San Jose, asks that people give South Bay breweries a chance: “I think they’ll be pleasantly surprised.”

Steve Donohue and Peter Licht (Brewmaster at Hermitage Brewing Company), June 22, 2012
Steve Donohue and Peter Licht (Brewmaster at Hermitage Brewing Company), June 22, 2012

San Jose – and South Bay – Craft Beer Bars and More

Moving along the local craft beer landscape, every beer region has its share of go-to hangouts for good beer. Since last year, Harry’s Hofbrau in San Jose has become a destination for the South Bay craft beer community.

General manager Kevin Olcese has earned a solid reputation for his beer knowledge and passion, for bringing in hard-to-get beers on tap, and for informing customers via Facebook of the latest beer arrivals.

Kevin Olcese, June 26, 2012
Kevin Olcese, June 26, 2012

Olcese, however, is quick to give credit to Palo Alto’s Rose & Crown Pub and San Jose’s Wine Affairs – “They’re huge,” he simply says – for helping to pave the way in the beer scene, contributing greatly to the American and micro/craft beer knowledge base among local beer drinkers.

Kasim Syed took over the Rose & Crown in 2006 with an immediate goal to bring better quality beers along with beers that other places didn’t have. His second goal was to get people to try these different beers and get his customers to change their tastes. On a moment’s notice, he would drive to Santa Rosa to pick up a single keg of the latest Russian River Brewing Company offering – all to get more people to try different styles of beer.

As for the growing number of local beer spots, Syed says, “It’s not a competition. It’s about giving people choices; there’s more fun with more choices. These are happy times right now.”

Kasim Syed, June 27, 2012
Kasim Syed, June 27, 2012

Owner Diane Chang-Laurent remembers opening Wine Affairs in November 2007 with only five Belgian beers in bottles. But the customers, including mostly homebrewers at the beginning, would constantly request various beers from particular breweries. The beer focus really took shape in 2009.

Chang-Laurent says, “All the credit goes to the customers. They pushed me, and I listened.” As for the growing number of beer spots opening up in the South Bay, she says, “The more, the better. Plus, competition is always good.”

Diane Chang-Laurent, June 28, 2012
Diane Chang-Laurent, June 28, 2012

In downtown San Jose, Ryan Summers opened Good Karma Vegan Café in 2006 and has worked quietly yet diligently on bringing and maintaining a quality rotating craft beer selection – currently 15 beers on tap – for Good Karma’s loyal following.

According to Summers, the new beer-centric establishments will “create a draw for everybody and help us take the customer experience even further as each of us continues to think about how to stand out.”

Ryan Summers, May 17, 2012
Ryan Summers, May 17, 2012

The craft beer focus began in 2008 for Bobby’s Liquors in Santa Clara thanks to Sukhjeev Singh, better known as Dee to his customers. Among the varied bottled craft beers in stock, Bobby’s offers a well-regarded collection of hard-to-get bottled sour ales.

Look for Dee and his wife to open ISO: Beers in downtown San Jose later this fall, which he says is “a beer bar and tasting lounge that will offer about 2,000 refrigerated, bottled craft beers and feature 50 to 60 craft beers on tap starting out.”

San Jose’s Naglee Park Garage and Jack’s Bar & Lounge, while providing respectable craft beer offerings, are coordinating large-scale South Bay beer events, like the Garage’s upcoming Summer KraftBrew Beer Fest (their third KraftBrew installment), taking place in downtown San Jose on Saturday, July 21. Event goers will get to enjoy a variety of beer styles along with great food and music in a festive atmosphere.

The next South Bay Beerwalk hosted by Jack’s (their third beerwalk) takes place in Campbell on Saturday, August 11, providing the opportunity to check out downtown Campbell while sampling beers from Northern California.

South Bay Craft Beer Scene Going Forward

Having been born and raised in San Jose (and still living here), I have seen various communities spring up over the years, communities bonded by a myriad of cultural facets, like art, music, food, sports and technology.

We can now include the craft beer community.

Co-owner Dan Phan of Original Gravity Public House notes, “Beer is the universal beverage that has been bringing people together on common ground for thousands of years.”

Dan Phan and Johnny Wang, April 9, 2012
Dan Phan and Johnny Wang, April 9, 2012
Dan Phan and Johnny Wang, June 28, 2012
Dan Phan and Johnny Wang, June 28, 2012

The late esteemed English writer and journalist Michael Jackson wrote in his 1997 book The New World Guide to Beer, “The world always knew that beer was a noble and complex drink, but, for a moment in history, that was forgotten. Now it is being remembered.”

Indeed, many folks, including Dan Gordon, have felt the momentum for good beer building in the South Bay ever since the 80s and 90s.

Fast forward to today, and there is no doubting the momentum.

Notable Bay Area beer editor and writer Mike Pitsker agrees that the South Bay beer scene is on the up-and-up.

And brewer Steve Donohue adds the capstone comment, “We’re just scratching the surface.”

[An abridged version of this post was shared as the cover story in the annual Metro Silicon Valley beer issue.]

Highlights of the Winter KraftBrew Beer Fest 2012

Outdoor area of the Winter KraftBrew Beer Fest 2012
Outdoor area of the Winter KraftBrew Beer Fest 2012

The Winter KraftBrew Beer Fest 2012, organized by Naglee Park Garage owners Chris Esparza, Louis Silva, and Brendan Rawson along with the Giant Creative Services team, took place on Sat., Jan. 28, 2012.

This beer festival, scheduled so early in the year, was an indicator that 2012 could be a very good year for San Jose craft beer enthusiasts. Well before the 3 p.m. start time, a long line had already formed outside the entrance to the Landmark Ballroom at the San Jose Women’s Club, stretching a number of blocks down 11th Street.

The front of the line at the Winter KraftBrew Beer Fest 2012
The front of the line at the Winter KraftBrew Beer Fest 2012
Eager attendees waiting in line
Eager attendees waiting in line

This was the second of the KraftBrew beer festivals, the first one taking place at the same location in April 2011. The attendance at the inaugural KraftBrew Beer Fest was excellent, but the turnout for this Beer Fest seemed to dwarf the attendance at the inaugural event.

Also, though last year’s festival was organized and well run, the four main parts of the beerfest – the food, music, beer education station, and the pouring stations – were fine-tuned just that much more this second time around.

More than a few folks, deterred by the long line, decided to go elsewhere. But once inside, most if not all festival goers had the pleasure of enjoying good food, music, and beer.

Of note was the growing involvement of the South Bay craft beer community, including Faultline Brewery and Kelly’s Liquors.

Many already know that good music and beer make for a great experience. Add to the combination a community that is thirsty for good beer, and something even better is bound to occur. Such was the case at the Winter KraftBrew Beer Fest 2012.

The next Kraftbrew Beer Fest

Soon after the January 2012 KraftBrew Beer Fest took place, the date for the Summer KraftBrew Beer Fest was announced for Sat., July 21, 2012 at a larger, outdoor space in downtown San Jose. For updates, like the KraftBrew Beer Fest Facebook page and be sure to check out the Naglee Park Garage website on an ongoing basis.

More pics from the Winter Kraftbrew Beer Fest below.

Peter Estaniel (left) of BetterBeerBlog.com and Andrea Lee of San Jose at Winter KraftBrew Beer Fest 2012
Peter Estaniel (left) of BetterBeerBlog.com and Andrea Lee of San Jose at Winter KraftBrew Beer Fest 2012
Already a large crowd at the beginning of the Winter KraftBrew Beer Fest 2012
Already a large crowd at the beginning of the Winter KraftBrew Beer Fest 2012
Pouring stations at the Winter KraftBrew Beer Fest 2012
Pouring stations at the Winter KraftBrew Beer Fest 2012
Kelly's Liquors and Faultline Brewery at the Winter KraftBrew Beer Fest 2012
Kelly’s Liquors and Faultline Brewery at the Winter KraftBrew Beer Fest 2012

Winter KraftBrew Beer Fest 2012

Fun times at the Winter KraftBrew Beer Fest 2012

The outdoor area of the Winter KraftBrew Beer Fest 2012
The outdoor area of the Winter KraftBrew Beer Fest 2012

Great turnout at the Winter KraftBrew Beer Fest 2012

Waiting for a pour at the Winter KraftBrew Beer Fest 2012

Mrs. and Mr. BetterBeerBlog and Kevin Olcese of Harry's Hofbrau in San Jose at the Winter KraftBrew Beer Fest 2012
Mrs. and Mr. BetterBeerBlog and Kevin Olcese of Harry’s Hofbrau in San Jose at the Winter KraftBrew Beer Fest 2012

[This post was shared on Examiner.com.]

Naglee Park Garage at it Again with the Winter KraftBrew Beer Fest 2012, Plus Q & A with Co-Owner Luis Silva

Glassware from the first KraftBrew Beer Fest
Glassware from the first KraftBrew Beer Fest

Naglee Park Garage (505 East San Carlos Street, San Jose) will host their second San Jose KraftBrew beer festival coming up on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012, 3pm-9pm in the Landmark Ballroom at the San Jose Women’s Club (75 South 11th Street).

Like their first San Jose beer festival last April, admission is free with gourmet food and craft beer available for purchase. They “will be pouring some fantastic Winter Spiced Ales, Porters and Stouts. Delicious menu to be provided by Naglee Park Garage. Come by for some excellent brews, live music, and good food.”

The Facebook event page has a list of the menu items, including ale-poached smoked brat and polish dog, cocoa-braised beef stew, dark strong ale-braised pork ribs, beet and green bean salad, home fries with smoked porter ketchup, and Winter vegetable lasagna.

There is also a list of the craft beer offerings, ranging from American ales, porters, and stouts, as well as Belgian and other imports from many well regarded craft breweries. The KraftBrew Beer Fest Facebook page further provides daily updates spotlighting a particular beer and brewery.

KraftBrew Festival Driving Forces

The driving forces behind the KraftBrew festivals are Chris Esparza and Louis Silva, part owners of Naglee Park Garage and craft beer enthusiasts.

Louis, born and raised in San Jose, is also the executive chef, having worked for over 20 years in a number of restaurants and bars. Despite his hectic schedule, he took the time to answer some questions about his connection to craft beer, his take on the San Jose area craft beer scene, and the genesis of the KraftBrew Beer Fests.

When and where did your passion for craft beer start?

Always drank beer, but really started to appreciate the actual art of beer when I was a cook at Gordon Biersch. The smell of water, malt, yeast and hops was very cool. Not to mention how so many flavors, colors, smells and alcohol percentages could come out of four ingredients. Very intriguing.

Naglee Park Garage opened in late 2005. Did you start offering craft beer right away, or did the offerings evolve over the years?

When the Garage first opened, we had a mix of both standard American beer and American craft beer. But the days of Lucy are gone, and we are completely standing upright with craft beer. This year we are pushing a new beer menu, and it should be fun.

What’s your take on the current craft beer scene in the San Jose area? Do you have a sense of the history of the craft beer scene in San Jose and the South Bay up to today? How has it changed over the recent years? Where do you see it going?

The craft beer scene in the San Jose is like a drag racing car, but the gas mixture is off. Get the mixture right and it’s ready to go. In other words, it’s here but there aren’t enough establishments supporting it. I would love to see a beer renaissance happen.

Great place to get a bite and some great craft beer is Good Karma (37 South 1st Street, San Jose). We need more places like that.

How did the first Kraftbrew Beer Festival come about?

Kraftbrew was conceived from our Oktoberfests. Every year we do Oktoberfest, it gets bigger, which made us think about trying to do a beer event on a larger scale.

We felt doing a beer event where you could spend $5, $10 or $20 instead of one price would bring a broader audience. This worked exceptionally well for our first event.

Those who attended the first Kraftbrew Beer Festival last year really seemed to enjoy it. What was your take on it? What was the feedback like?

We were elated by how successful the first Kraftbrew fest was. You’re always nervous when you put on an event for the first time. There are so many question marks. Sometimes you have to follow your heart and gut. Between actual execution and the positive feedback, it was a great learning experience.

Winter KraftBrew Beer Fest 2012 and Naglee Park Garage information

  • Event: Winter KraftBrew Beer Fest 2012
  • Date: Jan. 28, 2012, 3pm-9pm
  • Address: San Jose Women’s Club Landmark Ballroom, 75 South 11th Street, San Jose, CA 95112
  • Admission is free – just pay to taste.

For more information on this KraftBrew event, click here.

For more information on Naglee Park Garage, including their menu and hours of operation, visit the Naglee Park Garage website.

[This post was shared on Examiner.com.]

Taking Inventory of the San Jose and South Bay Craft Beer Establishments

Campbell Brewing Company
Campbell Brewing Company

The following establishments are the prevailing sources for craft beer in the San Jose and South Bay areas. By visiting them, you get to experience quality beers and help support local businesses.

For hand-crafted beer, check out the websites of the following San Jose area breweries and brewpubs (as well as a meadery) for overviews on their respective craft beer offerings:

  • Tied House Brewery & Cafe/Hermitage Brewing Company. 954 Villa Street, Mountain View. 650-965-2739; www.tiedhouse.com.
  • FireHouse Brewery. Sunnyvale location: 111 S. Murphy Ave., Downtown Sunnyvale. 408-773-9500; www.firehousegrill.comNote: There is also a location in East Palo Alto.
  • Campbell Brewing Company. 200 East Campbell Ave., Campbell. 408-866-2699; www.facebook.com/CampbellBrewingCompany, Campbell. Note: Located inside the Sonoma Chicken restaurant, their beer offerings on tap (not listed on their website) include: Kolsch, Hefeweizen, Pale, ESB (Extra Special Bitter), Scottish Ale, and a seasonal Barleywine (10% ABV).
  • Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant. 33 East San Fernando Street, San Jose. 408-294-6785; www.gordonbiersch.comNote: There is also a location in Palo Alto.
  • Los Gatos Brewing Company. 163 W. Santa Clara Street, Downtown San Jose. 408-292-9928; www.lgbrewingco.com. Los Gatos location: 130 N. Santa Cruz Avenue. 408-395-9929.

These following locations make up the San Jose restaurants and bars that serve compelling beer:

  • Wine Affairs. 1435 The Alameda, San Jose. 408-977-0111; www.thewineaffairs.comNotes: Craft beer fans of this place know not to be fooled by their name. There are special beer tastings that occur on Monday nights.
  • Harry’s Hofbrau. 390 Saratoga Ave., San Jose. 408-243-0434; www.facebook.com/pages/Harrys-Hofbrau-San-Jose/143417649033860Note: Their “Thursday Pint Nights” featuring a particular craft beer/brewery have become increasingly popular, as this San Jose location has ramped up its craft beer offerings this past year.
  • Yard House. 300 Santana Row, San Jose. 408-241-9273; www.yardhouse.com/CA/san_joseNote: With this location opening earlier this year in April in Santana Row, this place continues to be very popular, thanks in part to the over 130 beers on tap.
  • Teske’s Germania Restaurant and Beer Garden. 255 N. First Street (at Devine), San Jose. 408-292-0291; www.teskes-germania.comNote: German dining featuring German draft and bottled beers.
  • The Naglee Park Garage. 505 East San Carlos Street (at 11th Street), San Jose. 408-286-1313; www.nagleeparkgarage.comNote: A small, respectable craft beer selection on tap.
  • Tee Nee Thai Cuisine. 1423 The Alameda, San Jose. 408-947-7927. Note: Their Yelp page offers the best online source of information for this place, which offers a quality section of Belgian beers in bottles.

Lastly, there is a cluster of San Jose area bottle shops and stores that carry an array of top-notch craft beer selections:

  • Bobby’s Liquors. 2327 El Camino Real, Santa Clara. 408-984-1120; www.bobbysliquors.comNote: For what it’s worth, they have a growing number of highly rated Yelp and BeerAdvocate customer reviews.
  • Artisan Wine Deposit. 400 A Villa St., Mountain View. 877-WINE-730 (Toll Free); 650-969-3511 (Local); www.artisanwinedepot.com.

[This post was shared on Examiner.com.]