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.
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 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.
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