Looking for some new beery adventures this spring? Keep an eye peeled for märzenbiers — March beers — and the first bock sighting, a traditional sign of the spring season. In many places, the release of the bocks is celebrated with a “Blessing of the Bock” ceremony, though I’ve yet to run across one here. Surely Oktoberfest can share the spotlight in March. Somebody needs to get on that.
Here’s what else is happening in Northern California’s beer world.
Stone heads to Napa: More new breweries are heading our way, including San Diego’s famous Stone Brewing. Stone is building a 10-barrel brewery in the Borrero, a historic 19th-century building in Napa. Set to open in May, the 10,000 square-foot space on Third Street and Soscol Avenue will boast Stone’s regular lineup of beers, plus several distinctive new offerings brewed on-site and made with indigenous wine-country ingredients.
The tap room will fill growlers, as well as serve a full menu of what they’re describing as eclectic comfort food, made with organic produce and other locally grown ingredients. Pick up picnic fare to go, or enjoy lunch or dinner there. The outdoor patio offers fire pits and communal tables with views overlooking downtown. It should be a great addition to Napa. www.stonebrewing.com
Spy sips: In San Jose, Clandestine Brewing had its re-grand opening on Feb. 10. The nano-brewery had outgrown its original space and spent the better part of a year searching for new digs. Now you can enjoy the usual IPAs and lagers, as well as less-common styles, including Clandestine’s take on maibocks, gose and roggenbier, a rye beer. Find the new brewery, which is open Thursday-Sunday, at 980B S. First St., San Jose; www.clandestinebrewing.com.
New wave suds: Oregon’s Rogue Ales has partnered with Portland’s beloved coffee purveyor, Stumptown, to create Rogue Cold Brew 2.0. Available in 12-ounce cans, it’s a blonde ale that’s blended with Stumptown’s cold-brewed coffee.
Firestone Walker Brewing has released its Luponic Distortion Revolution No. 9, the ninth in a series they launched three years ago. It’s always the same base beer, but the hops combination varies in each iteration. No. 9 was brewed with six different public-domain hop varieties — as opposed to proprietary hops privately owned by the hop developer — from the Pacific Northwest and Germany. The No. 9 has notes of tropical fruit, citrus and coconut, and is available in six-pack cans.
And last month, Firestone Walker put its tasty Merlin Milk Stout into nitrogen cans, which give you a smoother pour, especially if you follow the directions for the “surge pour.” You may be familiar with the Guinness widget can; this is a similar system.
Taco Bell beer: Boozy Taco Bells debuted in the Bay Area last year with the arrival of a Taco Bell Cantina in Berkeley — with a beer and wine license. Now they’ve upped the ante in Southern California. The Taco Bell Cantina that opened in Newport Beach in December is pouring a house beer brewed for them by Huntington Beach’s Four Sons Brewing. It’s an amber lager called Beach Bell. Amber lager is already a popular style in Mexico, so Beach Bell should pair well with that Chalupa Supreme.
Beer fests: Three beer festivals lie just around the corner, including the 23rd annual Fairfax Brewfest, which runs from 1 to 5 p.m. March 17 at the Fairfax Pavilion with plenty of beer, St. Patrick’s inspired fare and live music. Tickets start at $40; fairfaxbrewfest.com.
The Bay Area Brewfest, with its lineup of food trucks and more than 70 breweries, is March 24 at San Francisco’s Pier 35, with two sessions running from 12 to 4 p.m. and 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $45-$60; bayareabrewfestival.com.
And the Brewing Network’s ninth annual Spring Brews Festival runs from 12 to 4 p.m. March 31 at Concord’s Todos Santos Plaza. Tickets are $40-$55; www.thebrewingnetwork.com.
Contact Jay R. Brooks at BrooksOnBeer@gmail.com.
Stone Brewing heads for Napa