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Friday, September 28, 2012

It's National Drink Beer Day!

And this is a wine blog for cripes sake! But it's about Sonoma County and Sonoma happens to be home to some of the best brewpubs anywhere. Yes, places like Portland and San Diego have more pubs and are famous for their breweries, but Sonoma has good quality stuff.

Lunch at "The Bear" in Healdsburg, CA

Heading up El Camino Real for beer (U.S. 101) from San Francisco your first stop is in Petaluma for Lagunitas Brewing. They are well known for having the top selling IPA in California. You also want to try the "sumpin" series: Little Sumpin' Sumpin' and Little Sumpin' Wild, their Fusion series beers, and Hop Stoopid. Their pub has indoor and outdoor seating and often has live music.

Next stop to the north is Santa Rosa where you'll find the beer geeks mecca, Russian River Brewery, rated as one of the top brewpubs in the country and home to a seasonal triple IPA that got a perfect 100 points score. When that beer is released there's a line down the street every day and and some folks actually fly in from far away locales for this beer. That's hard core! But if you miss that one its little brother, Pliny the Elder double IPA, also has a perfect 100 score. The pub is usually crowded. The salads and pizzas are good. The beer list always has several IPAs, a bunch of Belgian styles, plus several others. 
Check out the line during the Pliny the Younger release

Next stop up is Healdsburg, home to the Bear Republic Brewery. Their best known brews are Racer 5 and Red Rocket, but don't miss the Peter Brown Tribute and Hop Rod Rye. They have a big restaurant with some outdoor seating. The burgers are top-notch.

Other stops in Sonoma County: Dempsey's, Moonlight Brewing (no pub, just a brewery), Ruth McGowan's, Third Street Aleworks, Sonoma Springs, and Stumptown. The newest is Old Redwood Brewing. I don't know anything about them except their Facebook page says, "Due to overwhelming demand their tasting room is temporarily closed as everything is sold out."

Other breweries in adjacent counties: Anderson Brewing, Calistoga Inn, Marin, Moylan's, Napa-Smith, North Coast, Silverado Brewing, and Mendocino Brewing.

Image from

Celebrate and drink up! I plan on it.