Brew Fest to bubble up for first time at Expo Center 

It’s frosty. It’s bubbly. And it’s coming to the Peninsula.

The San Mateo County Expo Center will host its first-ever event devoted to beer, the Bay Area Brew Fest, this weekend. One of a handful of such events around the Bay Area, the festival will tickle the taste buds of thirsty brew-hounds looking for another way to enjoy beers made locally and around the world.

More than 60 breweries have signed on to participate, including San Francisco’s Speakeasy and Beach Chalet, local favorites such as New Belgium and Rogue, and Peninsula and coastal brewpubs, including Half Moon Bay Brewing Company, Santa Cruz’s Seabright and Santa Cruz Mountain Brewery, according to Geoff Hinds, fairs and festivals manager for the Expo Center.

Founded six years ago, the Half Moon Bay Brewing Company has made a name for itself by going to events like the Bay Area Brew Fest, according to marketing manager Wayne Meyer.

"Anytime we can reach out to the local marketplace and get them to taste our beverages, it’s good," Meyer said. Doing that is especially important while Devil’s Slide is closed for repairs, he said, because it raises awareness for one of the brewery’s personal campaigns: the Devil’s Slide tunnel. The brewery created two beers in honor of the Devil’s Slide project: Tunnel Vision, which has since sold out, and CalTrans Brown. "It moves slowly," Meyer explained.

The brewing company will bring a handful of its beers to the festival, including the crowd-pleasing Maverick’s amber ale.

In addition to the brews, the event will offer barbecue and other food, a NASCAR race simulator and live music. And yes, patrons will be allowed to drive the cars after they’ve been tippling.

"We would prefer they simulate driving rather than actually drive," Hinds said. "It’s a way for them to race their friends and figure out how reduced their reaction times are."

Local music acts It’s a Whale, Ride the Blinds, Diamond Late and INQ will perform throughout the day — and probably do their fair share of tasting, according to INQ drummer and San Francisco resident Cole Berggren.

"I plan on visiting the Anderson Valley booth and asking them why they discontinued their hefeweizen," Berggren said. "I cut my teeth on that beer."

The Bay Area Brew Fest takes place Saturday from noon to 6 p.m. at the San Mateo County Event Center, 2495 Delaware St., San Mateo. The entrance fee — $20 in advance, $25 at the door — includes a tasting glass and 15 tasting tickets, although morecan be purchased separately. For more information, call (650) 574-3247.

bwinegarner@examiner.com

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Beth Winegarner

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Wednesday, Dec 17, 2014

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