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Sonoma and Napa valleys have long been known for world-renown wines. Touring through the vine-studded countryside, stopping at wineries to sample exquisite vintages, and chatting with local wine aficionados always makes for an enjoyable experience. But if you want a change of pace, Wine Country is home to dozens of microbreweries. Sometimes funky, always cool, local craft beer breweries offer a refreshing alternative.
Craft breweries, the alternative
Over the past couple decades, there’s been a craft beer explosion. Like the boutique winemakers, the local breweries are run by artisans who specialize in producing beer through traditional methods for the modern, evolved palate. People’s tastes have driven the movement away from big brands like Bud and Coors, with their predictable, ho-hum flavor. Much bolder IPAs (India Pale Ales) and stouts constitute a large share of the craft-beer market.
The microbrew, or craft beer, trend began in the 1970s in the U.K., according to Wikipedia. And it continues to spread in the States like wildfire. “Between 2008 and 2016, the number of brewery establishments expanded by a factor of six … and this has happened during a time when U.S. beer consumption declined,” reports The Atlantic. What’s more, 2017 was even a better year for microbreweries, with average beer prices doubling while the major, standard beer brands declined considerably. High-quality, small-batch beer is rocking the beer industry.
What are craft breweries?
According to the Brewers Association, a craft brewery is defined by being small, independent, and traditional. And, as of 2017, California came in biggest nationwide with 764 craft breweries. The locally owned breweries rely on regional ingredients and have a community-centric approach. They’re a part of Wine Country living that harkens back to the public-house tradition. Craft beer is about quality, and flavor, and community.
With so many microbreweries throughout Wine Country, it’s easy to hop from one to the other, making for a fun beer-tasting adventure. Your HB Experience vacation home will provide the ideal starting point for tasting your way through Sonoma/Napa. Grab a bottle of water, throw your sweatshirt in the car (it cools down in West County once the sun starts to set), and take it easy. Below are some of our favorite brewpubs for you to choose among. Most of them also serve food and have outdoor patios — casual, relaxed and kid and pet-friendly.
Bear Republic Brewing, Healdsburg
Cool place to chill in downtown Healdsburg. Beer with a “friendly personality” and hop-forward approach. Try their Racer 5 IPA.
Old Redwood Brewing Company, Windsor
Nice venue with everything from light and smooth to hoppy and dark brews.
Russian River Brewing Company, Santa Rosa
This central Santa Rosa location is always busy. Iconic brews include Pliny the Elder, which has gained cult-like popularity.
Hopmonk Tavern, Sebastopol
Situated in an old and charming, stone building, this is a great hangout spot. Large patio and there’s often live music.
Crooked Goat, Sebastopol
The Barlow Market area of Sebastopol houses a couple brew houses. The Goat is known for 16 taps of unique flavors with a distinctive West County flair.
Lagunitas Brewing Company, Petaluma
A popular spot, they often have entertainment on the large, covered patio. If you haven’t already, try Little Sumpin.
Sonoma Springs Brewing Company, Sonoma
New taproom — German beer hall with Wine Country style. Over 20 taps to choose from.
Fieldwork Brewing Company, Napa
Located in the groovy Oxbow Market, comfortable tasting room with lagers, IPAs, and ales.
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