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Sonoma County Gazette
Petaluma Perspective by Houston Porter

Get Ready for Home Brew

Sep 27, 2017
by Houston Porter


The Sonoma County Home Brewers Competition has turned into quite an extravaganza, and has moved locations in order to accommodate more activities and a large crowd. On Saturday, Oct 7, the gates will open at noon, on Scott Street, in front of 101 North Brewery Company. This new location is fitting because the winner of the competition will get a chance to brew their beer alongside the brewers at 101. After proper fermentation,TAPS, a major sponsor of the event, will hold a launch party before the beer makes its way to taps all over the North Bay.

Yours truly is honored to have been invited as a judge this year and is even more honored to get to sit alongside Petaluma local Leslie Sbrocco, who is not only an award-winning author, speaker, and consultant, but is probably best known for hosting PBS’s restaurant who “Check Please! Bay Area.”

An incredible selection local cheeses and chocolates will be on hand so guests can see just how well beer pairs with the likes of cheese from Nicasio Valley, Pt. Reyes Farmstead, Marin French Cheese, Laura Chanel, Bellwether Farms, Dachave and Sons, and Rumiano and chocolates from Sonoma Chocolatiers, Dandelion Chocolates, Volo Chocolate, and Dick Taylor Chocolate. For those who aren’t crazy about beer, Gowan’s Heirloom Ciders will have you covered.

Sponsor Rocky and Rosie Chicken will be on hand selling food, as will Fuel, Mai Thai Kitchen, Brew, and The Bodega – CA, which makes the best fried chicken sandwich. I plan to get one of everything on The Bodega’s menu to pair across all the various styles and flavors the homebrewers will offer.

Sponsor Beer Belly Brewing will be on site with brewing supplies and will be giving free demos. There will also be beer games, raffles, beer swag, and live music by the aptly named “The Grain.” $35 presale ($45 day of) tickets include unlimited tastings and a voting ticket for you to determine which beer you think should make it into the final judges round.


The Mac n’ Cheese Challenge has also grown by leaps and bounds in its first two years and promises to continue this trend on Sunday, Oct 8, from 1-4pm at Lucchesi Center. With competitors ranging from restaurants to
caterers to home cooks, mac ‘n cheese lovers will taste them all and cast their vote for the best. Adult libations are included and there will be plenty of pet and non-pet related raffle items. Tickets are limited and are selling fast. (

Oktoberfest Petaluma style means a visit to Hermann Sons Hall on Sunday, Oct 8, starting at noon, for great German food, drink, dancing, raffles, and the great sense of camaraderie and celebration that makes Oktoberfest what it is. Tickets are $12 in advance and $15 at the door, if any are still available as this event usually sells out. (Children under 13yo are free.) Fleischkäse, Bratwurst, or Bockwurst Dinners are $12. (

Sonoma County Farm Trails give the public a chance to visit Petaluma ranches, dairies, and farms for free, many of which are not normally open to the public. On Oct 14 & 15, guests will get to see behind the barn doors at First Light Farm, Lavender Bee Farm, McClelland’s Dairy, McEvoy Ranch, and Sonoma County Poultry, just to name a few locations offering a “behind-the-scenes peek at life on the farm.” Once registered, guests will “receive the list of participating farms, a detailed program, and interactive online map to chart your self-guided tour.” Promoting buying fresh food directly from farms, Sonoma County Farm Trails is a non-profit organization whose mission is to “ensure the continuing economic viability of Sonoma County agriculture by instilling an appreciation of ag as a vital part of our community.”

Writers Forum holds their final presentation of the year on Thursday, Oct 19, from 6:30-8:30pm, at Copperfield’s Books in Petaluma, and they are doing it up in style. This is a rare opportunity to hear from Cameron Kids, which is part ofCameron + Company, an independent Petaluma publisher of a “growing list of compelling, thoughtfully and beautifully written, illustrated, edited, designed and produced titles children’s books for all ages.” Attendees will learn about making and publishing children’s books from publisher Nina Gruener, art director Melissa Greenberg, editor Amy Novesky, and illustrator Wednesday Kirwan. (


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