Pyramid Brewery – New Bar is Complete!

A lot of breweries are under construction around the Bay Area these days.  Linden Street Brewery is expanding and opening a new restaurant and wine bar, Cellerman Brewery is opening in July down in SOMA, and Faction Brewing is opening up it’s doors in Alameda sometime this year.

One of the projects that has been completed is Pyramid’s brand new bar.  After 2 months of dealing with a temporary smaller bar, Pyramid’s bartenders are rejoicing to be finally back in front.

During Construction

pyramid bar oldComplete:

pyramid bar new

And while we’re at before and after shots:

pyramid table before

And start drinking!

pyramid table after

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SF Weekly DRINK 2013

SF Weekly Drink Event 2013

Last week we attended the SF Weekly DRINK event on top of the Metreon.  The venue was perfect, the sun was out, and we were pouring the good stuff.  Along with a number of other breweries, Golden Gate BrewTours, was an official sponsor of the event and we were serving local beers and giving away free tour tickets.

SF Weekly DRINK Event 2013

We were lucky to have a few local breweries generously donate their beer to the event.  Marin Brewing Company gave us a few bombers of their Bluebeery Ale, Pt Reyes Porter, and Marin IPA.  Rogue Ales gave us a variety pack including their Good Chit Pilsner, Dead Guy Ale, and Yellow Snow IPA.  Triple Voodoo had their refreshing Witopia and Lagunitas had their flagship IPA flowing.  Lastly,  Pyramid donated a few cases that included their Hefeweizen and Wheaton IPA.

SF Weekly DRINK Event City View

With over 1000 people in attendance, we were quite busy.  The original idea was that in order to get a beer you needed to play a quick game of beer pong.  Shoot for a cup and depending on which cup you made, you would get that cup’s respective beer.  While this started out well, we soon gave up and just poured beers.  We would often have to distinguish whether our guests preferred the hoppy stuff (Lagunitas IPA, Marin IPA) or wanted the lighter ones (Pyramid’s Hef, Witopia, Bluebeery Ale).

Lastly, we had an email sign up list for those who wanted a chance to win a brewery tour ticket.  We’re going to give away 2 free tickets and everyone who signed up on the list gets $10 of their brewery tour ticket.   We had over 75 emails to choose from, so the chances weren’t too good.  To be fair, we mixed up all of the names in a glass to select the winners by chance.

Selecting The Winners!

Selecting The Winners!

So…. CONGRATS to David H and Kadesha G!  They both won a free brewery tour ticket and any friends that they bring on the tour get 20% off.

We’ll be at many more beer events this spring and summer.   Hope to see you all out there!

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SF Beer Week 2013 Review

Golden Gate BrewTours made an appearance at quite a few official SF Beer Week events, including the opening night celebration.  We couldn’t make it to every event, but then again there were over 400 over them!

Opening Night!

sf beer week overview

Welcome to 75 Breweries!

Over 75 breweries attended the SF Beer Week opening night celebration.  While the well established breweries were serving crowd favorites (Russian River, Lagunitas, Anchor), the story of the night was the number of young breweries and gypsy breweries present.  Pine Street, 101 North breweries, and Maverick’s breweries made their debut appearance with a few flagship beers of their own.

SF Beer Week Triple Voodoo

Inception on the left, Kraken Imperial IPA on the right

Maverick’s brewery is the new face of Half Moon Bay Brewing Company.  Pete Slosberg, the craft beer pioneer who founded Pete’s Wicked Ale, is spearheading these new beers to appeal to a more active group of drinkers.

mavericks amber ale

Located right next to the Half Moon Bay pier and beach, these beers may be lighter in alcohol but they hold all the flavor as the best big beers around.  In fact, head brewer at Marin Brew Co, Arne Johnson, has helped Pete create some of these beers.  If you notice a resemblance between Maverick’s dark stouts, it’s because they were inspired by Arne’s famous Chocolate Airporter.

Collaboration Brew

Collaboration Brew

Moving on, gypsy breweries were a big hit.  In case you aren’t familiar with the term, a gypsy brewery is a brewery that does not brew out of it’s own facility, but contract brews out of other facilities.  The most common contract brewery in the area is Devil’s Canyon brewery which is the home to a few other breweries like Triple Voodoo Brewing and Pac Brew Labs.   For SF Beer Week, 8 craft beer brands joined together for a collaboration beer project.  The result was one of my favorite beers of the night, their Belgian Tramp.  This beer is big, sweet, and strong!

Representing Golden Gate BrewTours

Representing Golden Gate BrewTours

Triple Voodoo Brewing was nice enough to invite me to serve beers with them all night.  They had their flagship belgian ale, Inception, and they’re new imperial IPA, Kraken IPA.  These beers were very different so I enjoyed seeing which beer guests would choose.  The Inception is more widely known, but the intrigue of the new imperial IPA influenced many beer drinkers.

SF Beer Bus Shuttle

The next day, Golden Gate BrewTours hosted it’s second annual SF Beer Week beer bus tour with Triple Voodoo’s owner, Greg Kitchen.  Starting in downtown San Francisco, we headed to the Double IPA festival to taste some of the hoppiest beers ever made.  This year was also the second annual triple IPA festival as well, including beer such as Pliny the Younger, Knee Deep’s Simtra IPA, and Drake’s Hopocalypse Black Label.

Welcome to the Double IPA Festival

Welcome to the Double IPA Festival

The scene was wild and crowded as hop heads tasted each beer by asking for it’s number.   In all, there were 82 beers on the list, including Triple Voodoo’s very own Kraken Imperial IPA.  Although the people’s choice award went to Kern River’s Citra Double IPA, judges awarded 1st place to Societe’s Roustabout Double IPA, and 1st place to Russian River’s Pliny the Younger.

Which one should I taste?

Which one should I taste?

Nothing under 10% ABV?  That'll do just fine.

Nothing under 10% ABV? That’ll do just fine.

We made our way back over the Bay Bridge to the Foodtruck Picnic where Pac Brew Labs and Magnolia had their beers on tap.  We enjoyed live music and food while drinking Pac Brew Lab’s collaboration beers.

Beer, Bus, and a view like this.

Beer, Bus, and a view like this.

Our third stop was to check out the opening of the new Speakeasy tap room!  Definitely worth checking out if you can make it down to that area.  Golden Gate BrewTours plans on visiting Speakeasy more regularly given this recent installment of a bar.  Given that we had been drinking double IPA all afternoon, I enjoyed Speakeasy’s ligher White Lightning.

The New Speakeasy Tap Room!

The New Speakeasy Tap Room!

On the wall to the left it says, "Sshhh"

On the wall to the left it says, “Sshhh”

Our final stop was in North Beach at Church Key for Triple Voodoo’s 2nd anniversary party!  All of their beers were on tap and the turn out was strong with friends, old fans, and new fans of Triple Voodoo.  I’ve always enjoyed Triple Voodoo’s Inception so it was hard to pass up that opportunity.

Heading to Triple Voodoo's Party

Heading to Triple Voodoo’s Party

Triple Voodoo Logo

What a weekend!  Now back to more tours and upcoming beer events.  Drink local and keep an eye out for new breweries opening up soon in SF!

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The State of Beer

We have all heard about the craft beer boom and the possibility of a craft beer bubble, but I think it’s important to understand the context around our bubbling industry.

First, let’s understand that craft breweries only made up 5.7% of the U.S. beer market by volume in 2011, yet make up 97% of all breweries.  Craft breweries are slowing stealing market share away from the big guys, but there is a long way to go.  Also, although brewers such as Anheuser Busch brands have seen some of their brands decrease sales by over 25% in 5 years, the reality is that AB is still a giant and is only down 4% in barrels of beer shipped since 2002.  Let’s remember where AB stands compared to the other giant macro breweries:

Top Macro Breweries

Continuing with looking at our top beers in the U.S., there are a few beers that have been slipping into oblivion.  The beer brands that have lost the most market share are Michelob (down 72%), Michelob Light (down 66%), down Budweiser Select (down 60%, and Milwaukee’s Best (down 57%).  Here were the top major brands in 2011 (notice Bud Light’s dominance):

Top Macro Breweries in 2011Shifting the conversation to the growth in craft breweries, there are now 2,076 craft breweries in U.S., up 48% since 2007.   The initial rise of craft beer started in the early 1980s after President Carter signed H.R. 1337 in 1978 which allowed homebrewers to be exempt from taxation for beer brewed at home for personal or family use.  Before this was law was signed, there were only 42 brewery companies in the U.S.  Below is the recent craft brewery growth in the U.S.

Craft Beer Growth

Take a step back and you can recognize the significance of this rise in U.S.

Craft Beer Count

Lastly, I think it’s important to understand the scale that breweries like Anheuser Busch are producing beer.  Lagunitas and Pyramid’s brewing facilities seem like some of the largest brewing operations I have ever seen in person.  I see Lagunitas everywhere as well as Sierra Nevada and Deschutes.  Below are the largest craft breweries in the U.S.

Top Craft Breweries

From above, you can tell how far ahead Boston Beer company is ahead of the rest of the craft brewers.  In fact, Boston Beer company’s founder, Jim Koch, helped change the production ceiling for a craft brewery from 2 million barrels to 6 million barrels annually back in 2009.  Looking at these major craft brewers, you may recognize the majority of these brands.  The Craft Brew Alliance consists of Redhook, Kona, and Widmer breweries.  I see Lagunitas everywhere, along with New Belgium, Pyramid, Deschutes, and others.  However, even with great distribution, these brands come nowhere near the macro breweries.  Take Lagunitas vs. Bud Light for example:

Lagunitas vs Bud Light

That’s 162,000 barrels of beer to 39.8 million barrels.  Seems like we all have a lot of work to do for Lagunitas to get there beers in the hands of most Americans.  However, if there is one brewery that has been doing all they can to expand their distribution of beers, it’s Lagunitas.  They most recently finished expanding their brewing facilities at their brewery in Petaluma and finished the new bottling line last month.  They are the fastest growing brewery in the U.S. over the fast few years with over a 200% growth:

Lagunitas growth

So, after all of this where do we stand?  We have the most number of breweries in the U.S. since prohibition and there are no signs of it slowing down.  Perhaps local craft breweries will begin to compete next to each other for space in the stores and space on the taps, but at the same time there will be more space for these beers.  With more people wanting to drink better beer, there will be more craft beer stores and craft beer bars.

So go out and drink local over the holidays, you have a lot to choose from!

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4 New Breweries to Look Out For in 2013

More and more breweries have been getting their brewers license in the Bay Area, and a few of them are in the middle of building their new breweries as I write this.  2013 should be a very exciting year for craft beer fans in the Bay Area with more breweries to visit, more SF Beer Week events, and more beers to drink.  Here are 4 new breweries to watch in 2013.

4.  Altamont Beer Works

altamont beer works logo

I met these guys at the Oaktoberfest this year and really what they’re doing.  They have a great crisp sesssion beer, the Left Coast Session, as well as a crazy sour/tart light beer called the Cerveza Espumosa.  For the IPA fans, they have a Shelter IPA and a huge double IPA, the Hella IPA.  If you’re ever in Livermore I would highly suggest stopping by the brewery.

3. Magnolia’s new Third Street Brewery in the Dogpatch

Magnolia Beer

Magnolia has been trying to open this brewery and restaurant for 2 years now, but it’s still under construction.  It will be a 30 barrel system (one of the largest in SF) and will be a full production brewery.  Magnolia plans to finally bottle their beers and expand their distribution.  The head chef will be Dennis Lee from Namu, and it will be a barbecue restaurant.  In addition to this new large brewery serving as Magnolia’s main brewing arm, it may also be home to many gypsy brewers in the area, such as Pac Brew Labs.  Although not open yet, the owner Dave McLean believes it will be ready after the holidays.

2.  Faction Brewing

Faction Brewing

I met co-founder and co-owner of Faction Brewing, Claudia Pamparana, at the SF Brewers Guild event at 21st Amendment last week.  Claudia’s business partner is her husband, Roger Davis.  Roger was the head brewer at Triple Rock brewery in Berkeley, but left in February to pursue building Faction.  The equipment was shipped from New York and is being installed now.  The brewery is located in Alameda right on the edge of the bay, boasting a perfect view of San Francisco city and Bay Bridge.

Faction Brewing View(photos from

1. Triple Voodoo

Triple Voodoo Logo

I’ve known Triple Voodoo’s owner, Greg Kitchen, since their first SF Beer Week opening night Gala in 2011.  While they’ve been producing beers for about 2 years, 2013 may be the big year they’ve been waiting for.  Their most popular beer is their Inception, a refreshing Belgian style ale with subtle IPA characteristics.  With the Inception continuing to gain momentum in stores and on taps, the Triple Voodoo crew came out with 3 new beers this year.  Witopia is their lighter Belgian Witbier, at only  5.5% ABV(compared to Inception’s 8%).  They also just released the Kraken Imperial IPA, boasting a 9% ABV with hugh Cascade and Nugget hops.  The Kraken is finally in stores now and can be found at places such as Healthy Spirits, BevMo, and Whole Foods.

Kraken Imperial IPA

What’s most amazing about Triple Voodoo, is that they do all of this while being gypsy brewers!  They brew out of Devil’s Canyon brewery along with a couple other gypsy brewers as well (Pac Brew Labs for example).  With the momentum of these new beers, I believe Triple Voodoo may finally get the opportunity to open their own brewing facility in SF.  They are already a member of the SF Brewers Guild and have a strong following in the city.


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BrewTours’ Photographers

Although the Golden Gate BrewTours website has lots of photos on various pages, I’ve decided to go back through the past couple of years and put together all of my favorite photos on one page:

Many of these photos have been taken through my iphone or other low quality cameras, however we’ve also had the help from a lot of talented photographers.

Sally Yee –

Recently we were lucky to have friend and photographer, Sally, join us on a brewery tour.  She took some amazing photos which have been included on the website as well in the photo album.  I would highly suggest visiting her blog which includes interviews with many small business owners around SF.

Grains in Hand

Passing Grains on the Bus

Lagunitas Tap Room Sign

Welcome to Lagunitas

Lagunitas Beer Tastings

Lagunitas Beer Tastings

Scott Dow

Another photographer that took some of the best beer photos I’ve seen is Scott Dow.  A talented photographer, musician, and director, Scott has quite an impressive portfolio.  His brewtours’ photographs were done last winter when we were tasting Marin Brew Co’s Bourbon Barrel Aged Barleywine.

Marin BrewCo Pour

Pouring the Barleywine


Perfect Lighting

Patrick Nelson –

My first photographer was long time friend, Patrick Nelson, who is a graphic designer and photographer (   Not only has he helped BrewTours’ with photographs, but he has also worked on a number of promotional flyers for us.  Below are some photos and a sample from his branding project.

Growler Man

My favorite: the Growler

Lagunitas Kronik

Lagunitas Kronik Label

BrewTours' Classic Flyer

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What Google Search Trends Can Tell Us About Craft Beer

As a search marketing professional and general enthusiast of consumer trends, I’ve found Google Search Insights an amazing resource.  Some of you may have already assumed some of these trends, but I want to call attention to some interesting search behaviors.

Macro Beer Trends

1. Craft Beer – Only Going Up!

Craft Beer Trend

Craft Beer Trend – Peaking in May 2012

It’s obvious that the craft beer market is hot.  From 2010 to 2011, the number of craft breweries in the U.S. has grown by 25% (1,596 breweries to 1,989 breweries). Right here in SF seems to be the hottest market alone.  We’ve seen multiple new breweries open up over the last year and a half (Mill Valley Beerworks, Triple Voodoo, Southern Pacific Brewing, Pacific Brew Labs, and others).

2. California Breweries – Oh, it’s 2011? Let’s Start a Brewery!

California Breweries

California Breweries – What Happened in 2011?

Further proving my point is the search for ‘breweries’ in California.  It seems as though the hype spiked at the beginning of 2011 and is going to gain momentum.  I imagine this search trend increasing strongly over the next year.

3. Beer vs. Wine – Watch Out Wine!

Beer vs. Wine

Beer vs. Wine

First, I never realized how popular wine was as a holiday present – I imagine packages of craft beer beginning to be the new Christmas present and people researching the best beers online.  Second, the gap between wine and beer is shrinking and given the high number of new beers being produced, beer should surpass wine in search volume by 2013.

4. Brewery Tour – Summer Activity

Brewery Tour Search Trend

Good Thing We Offer Brewery Tours

What interests me most about this trend isn’t that it’s going up, but that people tend to search for brewery tours in July.  I figured summer would be the best season, but never thought there would be such a drastic difference winter and summer.  One thing for sure, don’t expect much tour business in November.  I also should be taking in consideration that this is looking at the entire U.S. and not everyone has weather like SF…

Styles of Beer

1. Hefeweizen – Summer Beer (June through August)


Hefeweizen – Your Summer Beer

2. Stout – Winter Beer (December through March)

Stout Trend

Stout Trend – Let’s Wait For the Cold Weather

3.  Porter – The Winter Friend

Porter Search Trend

Porter Search Trend – Friends with the Stout

4. IPA Trend – Hottest Beer since 2010

IPA Trend

IPA Trend

The fastest growing and most popular beer in the craft beer market is the IPA – especially in the Bay Area.  Beers like the Hop Stoopid, Pliny the Younger (and Elder), and the Big Daddy are a few examples of big hoppy beers in the Bay Area.  It’s an addiction on the West coast and everyone wants the hoppiest beer possible.  Please go to the Double IPA festival next year – those beers are unbelievable.


1. Lagunitas – One of the Fastest Growing Breweries in the US

Lagunitas Brewery

Lagunitas Brewery – Yeah, I Hear They’re Growing

In case you haven’t heard, Lagunitas is opening a new brewery in Chicago.  Another reason why this brand is trending on ‘the Google.’

2. Dogfish Head – Sam Calagione

Dogfish Head

Dogfish Head – Sam Calagione is a Crazy Dude

When I call Sam a crazy man, I mean that in a positive way.  Dogfish Head can attribute so much success to that one man.  He’s always pushing boundaries: changing state legislation so he could open the brewery, creating the most innovative beers, has a TV show, and is an author. Not sure what more he can do, but glad to see Dogfish head is still trending up!


  • Craft Beer is taking off and will continue to grow for the foreseeable future
  • Beer tours are the most popular in July
  • California breweries exploded in 2011
  • The worst month for beer is November
  • Hefeweizens are for the summer, Stouts for the winter
  • Lagunitas is the talk of the town
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