Northern Ca. Brewery Guide

By February 20, 2012Beer Education, Featured

Can’t you see yourself at Sierra Nevada’s beautiful brewery?

You all know BeerAppreciation focuses on local breweries, local beers and is very pro Philly and the ‘burbs. That said, I have been fortunate enough to make a few brewery runs in the San Francisco Bay area (click here to see my “Brewery Life List – So far”) and the sheer number of breweries and brew pubs there – some of which are really exceptional – make it a must visit for those really focused on craft beer.

So, I thought I’d give you folks a little guidance about where to go and what to drink should your find yourself in the Bay area and up north towards Sonoma and wine country. I set the links on each brewery name, and even include a map – so take a look!

San Francisco

Start here, you can spend all your time easily within the city quaffing great beers. I was able to visit just a few of the many breweries and brew pubs here:

The Thirsty Bear – Organic focused brew pub downtown, interesting styles

The Beach Chalet – Beer was fresh, view of the Pacific Ocean amazing

Magnolia – In the Haight (not far from Tornado), pursuit of hoppiness realized

Anchor Brewing – Amazing, great place, nice people, really good tour – a must, it’s worth the effort of getting there just outside of downtown, a classic iconic brewery

21st Amendment – Brew pub near the ball park, with their own now familiar and some guest brews

Berkeley/Oakland

Just across the Bay Bridge lies a number of really good breweries and brew pubs (not surprisingly with the University and the Berkeley lifestyle all around)…

Pyramid – It’s a chain, but the beer matters and the food is good, so enjoy

Jupiter – Downtown Berkeley just down the hill from the University, outdoor seating in the enclosed patio, fresh beers

Triple Rock – In the center of things Berkeley, some really good an inventive beers, with a really diverse selection always available

Trummer – A real Austrian brewery in the factory district of Berkeley? Yes, and a really nice tour and tasting room. Worth finding, and an usual story.

Pacific Coast – A brew pub in old Oakland, not too far from “The Trappist” beer bar, good place for a quick craft beer

DrakesBehind the Wallmart in San Leandro (a bit south of the Oakland airport) try the “Denogginizer” or bourbon barrel aged stouts.. A lot of flavor (owned by the same folks who bring you the Triple Rock and Jupiter in Berkeley)

Take the 101 North to Beer Nirvana

North – Wine Country etc

Yes, lots of wineries, but that’s for others. Take 101 North and revel in the amazing beers and beautiful countryside. It’s about three hours from SF to go up as far as Anderson Valley, about 2 to Healdsburg. So, pace yourself, drive with a friend and pick one or two per trip so you can really get a sense of these great beer resources.

Moyan’s (Novato) – Closest up 101 from SF, huge brew pub, home of the “Hopscickle”

Lagunitas (Petaluma) – Oh man, you know how I love the crazies at Lagunitas. Tours are available, and they have a beer garden/pub on site. Bring your dog (or borrow one if you are traveling without) and taste mind-bendingly great hoppy beers.

Russian River (Santa Rosa) – Brewpub with all the great barrel aged (the “-ication” brews) and uber-hoppy beers you know and love (Pliny’s), hard to find out in Philly, hard to leave here

Bear Republic (Healdsburg) – Tucked behind main street, they still brew here (though the main production brewery is elsewhere) this brew pub has an amazing array of great brewpub-only beers. Food is notable, people awesome. A personal favorite – you will feel at home.

Anderson Valley (Booneville) – Best to call ahead to be sure the tasting room is open, and be sure to get a tour. Beautiful country, great beer. You will enjoy it.

Medocino (Ukiah) – They won’t usually let you in the brewery, there’s brew pub with plenty of selections and swag not far away, but a work in progress I found.

Other Notable

Head north and east from the Bay and you can find a number of others – though I didn’t venture all the way to Sacramento – which has a number of places as well.

Sudwerk (Davis) – Home to brewers from UC Davis, and where some of the brewing classes are held. Nice brews, tasting area in the back, food in the front at the pub

Sierra Nevada (Chico) – If you can possibly get there, you’ll want the tour – it’s a palace of a brewery as well as one of the five largest in the nation. Sierra grain-fed beef at the restaurant, fun swag at the shop.

If you have to leave the Philly area, try a BeerAppreciation vacation in Northern California.

Barrels of beer fun at Drake’s