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North Bay brews and spirits find balance in new festival

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Wine country isn't all about wine. Napa County spotlights the wide world of brewing at the inaugural Napa Craft Beer & Spirits Festival, taking place this weekend after being rescheduled from October due to the wildfires.

More than 35 regional breweries will be pouring 70 craft-beer selections, with powerhouse brewers like Lagunitas, Anderson Valley and Bear Republic rubbing elbows with upstarts like Napa small-batch brewers Tannery Bend Beerworks (pictured) and San Francisco "farm-to-barrel" brewers Almanac Beer Company.

In addition to hops and barley-based brews, several local spirits shine in exciting cocktails concocted by expert mixologist Mason Salicetti. Several chefs also pair the libations with flavorful bites in a Connoisseur Lounge that features live music from popular party band the King Street Giants (formerly the Dixie Giants).

General admission gets you in the door, but serious tasters may want to get the VIP unlimited pass, which offers an hour headstart on the festivities. A portion of tickets sales benefits the Schoolbox Project, which helps refugees through education and art programs, and Napa Valley Share the Care, which connects older adults with advocacy services in the area.

Napa Craft Beer & Spirits Festival happens on Saturday, Jan. 20, at the Napa Valley Opera House, 1030 Main St., Napa. 1pm; VIP starts at noon (21 and over only). $25–$125. napacraftbeerfestival.com. —Charlie Swanson

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