Beers ‘n’ bites

Illustration by Mark Stivers

Tickets to the California Craft Beer Summit and Summit Festival, as well as the California Craft Beer Dinner at the Summit, are now on sale. Visit for more information.

Every September, brewers and suds lovers from across the state gather for a three-day celebration of all things beer here in the capital. Packed with brewer “tap talks,” educational sessions and opportunities to meet the makers of your favorite Cali beers, the California Craft Beer Summit offers an in-depth look at how the industry operates to bring you the perfect pint. Oh, and you get to drink it too.

While the event has often included some food and beer pairing (still haven't forgotten the time I gobbled down chocolate and beer for breakfast in the name of research during the 2016 summit), this year they're leaning into the foodie aspect with a new “Brewed for Food” area. On Thursday and Friday, attendees can taste the unique pairings of bites and beer created in collaboration between 17 restaurants and 17 breweries, which were paired up at random.

“Pairing beer with food is such a natural step for people that love beer,” said Leia Ostermann Bailey, managing director of the California Craft Brewers Association, which hosts the summit. “Once you taste beer and food together it's really amazing how it changes the flavor of both.”

While the festival culminates in Saturday's Summit Beer Festival—a popular event at Capitol Mall that features unlimited tastes from more than 150 breweries statewide, these exclusive food and beer pairings will only be available during the Summit Thursday and Friday. Some restaurants plan to include these pairings on their menu, so patrons may also have the chance to taste the results of these collaborations.

“Food is what makes beer come to life,” said Lauren Zehnder, general manager at Mraz Brewing Company in El Dorado Hills. “It opens up people to new styles of beer,” they may have never tried otherwise.

The association is also bringing back the California Craft Beer Dinner at the Summit—a five-course dinner at Mulvaney's B&L that will include specialty beers from Firestone Walker, Sierra Nevada, Three Weavers and other breweries paired with courses prepared with California chefs.

“Beer is the king of pairing; there's so much potential there.” Ostermann Bailey said. “As beer has matured and it becomes more of a vibrant industry, it's a natural progression that it would start linking arms with food.”