What the Ale! California’s Craft Beer Summit

Pinkies up! Natalie Cilurzo of Russian River Brewing at the CABeerSummit. Photos and story Greg Nagel

This, friends, is no ordinary weekend. To my left are Vinnie and Natalie Cilurzo of Russian River Brewing Co., chatting with one of the most decorated brewers in the world, Jeff Bagby of Bagby Brewing. To my right is Adair Paterno from Sante Adairius having a good laugh with Henry Nguyen from Monkish. Ken Grossman, founder of Sierra Nevada, passes by and smiles at me.

I’m at the CA Craft Beer Summit, an epic three-day weekend filled with educational seminars, an expo hall and food pairings. The summit is capped with one of the best beer festivals in America; imagine California’s best breweries, plus a few thousand of your best friends, lined up in front of the state Capitol.

CA brewers break for a quick bite on the State Capitol Lawn during the CA Beer Summit Festival

Of the more than 900 independent craft breweries in California, at least 170 are expected to participate this year, a new record. I asked Leia Ostermann Bailey, managing director of the CA Craft Brewers Association (CCBA), what’s new for the event’s fourth year. “We’ve created a new feature on the floor of the expo hall called ‘Brewed for Food’ that will explore the synergies between beer and food in a way that we’re excited about,” she said. “Twelve farm-to-fork restaurants in Sacramento have paired up with breweries to craft a pairing that highlights ingredients, flavors and creativity.”

Moonraker’s IPA at the summit festival

With 120-plus exhibitors, the expo is “a place to get business done, shop for new products or meet with distributors or suppliers,” Bailey said, adding, “We’ve created more experience-driven lounges and hands-on environments for all things beer!”

The CA Craft Beer Summit and Festival happens in various locations in Sacramento, Sept. 6-8. Tickets are available via californiacraftbeer.com/craft-beer-summit.

Bonus! Video I shot of the summit in 2017:

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