What’s Brewing in Sonoma County
Just as Sonoma County has established itself as one of the finest wine-producing regions in the world, so is it now distinguishing itself for producing some of the most buzzed about brews on the planet.
In fact “buzzed about” may be something of an understatement when it comes to the state of Sonoma’s brews because the county is also the home of Russian River Brewing Company’s Pliny the Younger, which has regularly been ranked one of the top beers in the world. That said, Pliny The Younger (only available every year for two weeks in February) is not alone in racking up accolades across region.
The truth of the matter is that if the names Lagunitas IPA, Bear Republic, or 101 North Brewing Company make you thirsty, you may already be an unsuspecting fan of one or more of Sonoma County’s best known and most beloved breweries.
However, unlike Sonoma’s well-known wineries, the county’s increasingly popular breweries can be a little trickier to explore. That is, of course, unless you know where to look.
For a general overview and sampling of some of the best beers that Sonoma has to offer, Sprenger’s Tap Room on B Street in Santa Rosa is an excellent starting point. With a wide variety of locally sourced favorites and microbrews to choose from, Sprenger’s offers a bit of a crash course in Sonoma County brews for those genuinely interested in exploring them. Adding to the experience, the laidback bar/restaurant offers an appetizing menu of bar favorites along with a program of live events that all go down nicely with a cool beer or five.
Likewise, Third Street Aleworks, also located in Santa Rosa, is another popular option for sampling Sonoma’s finest brews, particularly if you want to mingle with the locals.
Now, if a more in-depth and tailored Sonoma County brewery experience is more along the lines of what you seek, then you’ll need a guide. There are after all, some 24 craft breweries in Sonoma County and they are pretty far flung.
Knowing which ones to visit, getting there, getting in and then getting back to your hotel can require an ample amount of negotiation, which might best be handled by someone like Shad Eddleman of Ale and Wine Tours. With more than 13 years experience, Eddleman can organize and plan a tour of the breweries that will ensure maximum enjoyment and a minimum of exertion on your part.
Better yet, Eddleman can act as your driver so you can spend all your time focused on the quality of the hops and none at all on the anxiety of drinking and driving. What could go down smoother than that?
Here's a complete list of Sonoma County’s breweries.