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Sunday, January 1, 2012

Visiting Sonoma County for the beer

Is someone dragging you to wine country but don't like wine?  No problem!  Sonoma County just happens to have some of the best microbreweries in the country.  For the population we probably have more great beers than most anywhere this side of Germany.  If you think I'm wrong then submit all of your beers and I'll get back to you.

Just have the winos in your group drop you off at one of these pubs on their way out wine tasting.   With any luck they'll forget to pick you up later.

Life is full of choices

3rd Street Ale Works

In downtown Santa Rosa where Tuesdays is the best deal with cheap pints and eats.   Start with the Annadel Pale Ale.  Food is mostly good--it's best to stick with the burgers or tacos.   The crowd is a bit of everything from the 20-somethings to families.

Bear Republic Brewery

In Healdsburg with good food, nice outdoor seating, and outstanding beer.   They are best known for the Racer 5 IPA and Red Rocket Amber.  If you want an easy-drinking beer on a hot day their take on a Mexican lager, the El Oso, is great.  In cooler weather check out the Hop Rod Rye.  You get the picture--maybe you'll want to start with a sampler platter.  The crowd is a mix of locals and tourists.  There might be a better way to spend a warm afternoon than on their outside deck with a Red Rocket and a burger, but I can't think of any right now.


In Sebastopol with a nice outdoor patio.  They have a few of their own beers plus other local microbrews on tap.  Their brews are often a take on European beers. The people are "West County types" meaning "hippy-ish."    Good food and they often have live music.


In Petaluma where where they now offer food to go along with beer and tours.   Their flagship is the IPA.  If you like India Pales you owe it to yourself to try this one.  Their beers have in-your-face flavor--nothing subtle.  It's a funky working brewery and the crowd is the same, but what would you expect from a place that taunts The Man by putting out an Undercover Investigation Shutdown Ale (apparently someone was smoking dope on the job).

Russian River Brewery

In downtown Santa Rosa where Vinnie wins lots of awards, the place is always crowded, and besides traditional ales there are a number of Belgian-style brews.  Their brews are highly sought after by "beer-ophiles." There are usually 15-20 beers to choose from with happy hour all day Sunday.  Start with one of the lighter Belgians and go from there.   Salads and pizzas are good if you're hungry.  The hot spot for sitting is one of the tables out front where you can sip and watch for babes especially on Wednesday evenings when the farmers' market is happening.   The crowd is blue collar and tattooed but they don't bite.  It's worth fighting the crowds as RRB is ranked as one of the top breweries in the world.

Ruth McGowan's

In Cloverdale and it's fairly new, clean, and the crowd is fairly clean, too.   Start with the Cloverdale Ale.

There's also Stumptown Brewery in Guerneville and Dempsey's Brewery in Petaluma--neither of which I'm familiar with.

In Napa visit the Silverado Brewing Company between St. Helena and Calistoga.   Sit outside and watch the traffic go by on Highway 29 while sipping an amber ale and munching on sweet potato fries.

In Mendocino County check out Anderson Valley or Mendocino breweries. On the Mendocino Coast there is North Coast Brewing.

Yeah, I know it's supposed to be a wine blog.   WhatEVER! 

This post originally published 6/6/2010