If the Smithsonian ever opens a Beer Annex, it will resemble “Dr.” Bill Sysak’s garage. On his shelves, collectible brews are stacked four-, five-, six-pack deep. There’s a 55-year-old bottle of Maredsous 8, a Belgian brown ale; one of the first bottles of Cuvee de Tomme, perhaps San Diego brewmaster Tomme Arthur’s most celebrated beer; magnums of tart ales from Brussels’ legendary Cantillon.
“There are about 1,200 bottles here,” said Sysak. “And I’m storing about 800 to 1,000 in a buddy’s place now.”
But that just splashes the surface of his liquid inventory. The 50-year-old beverage supervisor and “beer ambassador” at Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens, Sysak has quaffed more beer (an estimated 40,000 pints), visited more breweries (500-plus in Germany alone) and soaked up more brewabilia than just about any non-brewer in the world.
“There are many imitators, but this gent is the original,” said David Walker, co-founder of Firestone Walker Brewing in Paso Robles. “Few can match him for his cellar, palate and energy.”
As a connoisseur, he enjoys a national reputation. “I’d put him right there at the top,” said Chris Black, co-owner of Denver’s Falling Rock Taphouse. “And he’s probably one of the best people out there for pairing beer with food.”
Sysak’s skills will be on full display during San Diego Beer Week, which begins today and runs through Nov. 11. From this morning’s rare beer breakfast to Nov. 10’s “Saison Saturday,” he’ll eat, drink, lecture, schmooze, then repeat — over and over.
“I’m very excited,” he said.
Dr. Bill's Beer Week
Sysak’s schedule during the 10-day “week” includes dozens of events. Five of the most notable, all at Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens, 1999 Citracado Parkway, Escondido; (760) 294-7866; stonebrew.com
TODAY: Rare beer breakfast, 9 a.m. to noon, $65. Omelets, pastries, and other buffet items, plus brews from Mikkeller, Struise, Hanssens, Russian River and dozens other breweries.
SATURDAY: Sour Saturday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. At least 27 tart brews available all day in the bistro.
WEDNESDAY: 12 Stone brewers, 12 Stone casks. At 5 p.m., a dozen Stone brewers will simultaneously tap kegs of their cask-conditioned beers. Buy samples and meet the brewers.
THURSDAY: Brewmaster’s Dinner with Cascade Brewing, 6 to 9 p.m. The six-course meal costs $89.22 and will be attended by Preston Weesner, Cascade’s master blender and barrel tender.
NOV. 10: Saison Saturday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. At least 22 farmhouse ales will be served.
And very busy. Sysak is Beer Week’s unofficial master of ceremonies.
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