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SACRAMENTO - Sacramento celebrates the area's rich craft beer culture with this year's bigger and better Sacramento Beer Week.

Hundreds kicked off the 11 day festivities with the Sacramento Brewers Showcase at the California Automobile Museum. All 27 of the area's craft breweries were on hand showcasing the diverse beer made here in town.

"It's pretty awesome to be in Sacramento right now," beer lover Joe Najera said.

"They really want to tell you about their beer and where they are located," agreed Rebecca Hollis. "And they're very passionate."

Dan Scott started Sac Beer week four years ago as a way to highlight the area's beer boom.

"So, it wasn't my idea as much as it was a community idea," Scott explained.

The number of breweries has doubled since then. Another handful are on tap to open within the year. One of the area's newest is Device Brewing Company, which is located near CSU Sacramento.

"This is an opportunity to educate beer drinkers and lovers as to what we can do with beer," Device Brewing Company owner Ken Anthony said. "And it's not just a boring yellow fizzy liquid."

The faithful who have attended Beer Week since its inception can't believe how much the festival and the local beer scene have blown up.

"The variety of beers is crazy," Najera said. "Everyone is being really creative with the beers they make."

And that creativity will be on display at hundreds of events this week from pairing dinners to tastings and even a home brewers competition.

Beer enthusiasts believe this momentum is putting Sacramento on the map, rivaling craft beer scenes in other cities.

"Northern California is usually known for wine, kind of slated as wine country," Hollis said. "But for beer lovers, we have a lot of good beer, too."

"I see us going in direction of San Diego and Portland, most definitely," Scott added.

Sacramento Beer Week ends March 9 with Beer Fest at Capitol Mall. For a full list of events, go to www.sacramentobeerweek.com.

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