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Boutique Beer in Occidental

Enjoy boutique brews and gentrified, from-scratch pub grub in Occidental, in western Sonoma County.

The vineyards span in endless, beautiful acres around the Russian River town of Occidental, where you can sample some of the best specialty beverages in the world, including hand-crafted beer and amazing wine.

The Sonoma Fine Wine shop (3625 Main St., Occidental, 707-874-3300) specializes in hard-to-find labels from boutique producers, as well as special procurements. Which means delicious discounts on marvelous bottles and cases. The shop is housed in a historic building that was originally built in 1897, burned down and was rebuilt, destroyed in the famous 1908 earthquake and rebuilt, and burned down in 1924 and rebuilt. Now it's been updated with wood shingles and striking green awnings.

But beer is increasingly important in Wine Country, which boast a rich hops agriculture heritage and some of the best craft beer in America. Barley and Hops Tavern (3688 Bohemian Highway, Occidental, 707-874-9037) highlights Sonoma County's great suds, offering local favorites like Pliny, and Death and Taxes, plus an array of boutique drafts. The tavern offers 13 taps and more than 60 bottles, including a traditional beer engine, and two draft wines.

Meanwhile, Occidental pub-lovers can enjoy beer friendly foods at the Tavern, too, such as slow-cooked beef Bourguignon, savory German blaukraut and sausage, and ahi over creamy grits.