* Go to Firestone Walker Brewing Company (1400 Ramada
Drive, Paso Robles, California 93446) and drink as many beers as possible. Add the Firestone Walker Invitational to your must-visit beer festival list.
* In San Francisco you need to go to Cellarmaker Brewing Co. (1150 Howard Street, San Francisco, California 94103) for a taste of the best IPAs, then head over the street to City Beer Store for a great range of draft and bottled beers. And go to see the Giants play baseball, as it’s a great stadium with some great beers on tap.
Essential California Craft Beer Experiences Photo Gallery
* Across the Bay is The Rare Barrel (940 Parker Street, Berkeley, California 94710) for wondeerful sour beers. Also go to Faction Brewing (2501 Monarch Street, Alameda, California 94501) for the great view back to the city while drinking amazing hoppy ales. (St George Spirits is next door if you want something different to drink.)
* Visit Admiral Maltings (651 W Tower Avenue, Alameda, California 94501), which is a micromalting with a bar on site. They floor-malt small batches of local barley, so forget the hops for a few hours and focus on the grain.
* If you want proper good lagers in California, then go to the taproom at Moonlight Brewing (3350 Coffey Lane, Santa Rosa, California 95403). Their small tasting room is open Friday to Sunday. Drink everything.
* Drink Bear Republic Brewing Co.’s Racer 5 at the brewery (345 Healdsburg Avenue, Healdsburg, California 95448). This is a personal one for me—a favorite beer and a classic American IPA.
* Visit Lagunitas Brewing (1280 North McDowell Boulevard, Petaluma, California 94954). They have an outside space at the brewery and that’s good, but the Upstairs Bar is the legendary place-the essence of Lagunitas’ hoppy, hippy vibe and a stoner’s bedroom of a bar where no one leaves sober.
* Go to Boonville Beer Festival, the annual festival that has run for over 21 years. There’s live music, good food, arts and crafts, and 80-plus breweries (entry tickets get you unlimited tasters). It’s set in the hills and redwoods of Anderson Valley and is organized by Anderson Valley Brewing, (www.avbc.com).
* Beechwood BBQ & Brewing (210 E 3rd Street, Long Beach, California 90802) is where to go for low and slow barbecue, plus a whole lot of exceptional beers on tap.
* Modern Times’ Lomaland Fermentorium (3725 Greenwood Street, San Diego, California 92110) is a must-visit in San Diego. At the forefront of new brewing and a vocal supporter of independent craft brewing, Modern Times do everything well. Get some cans of cold-brew coffee for the morning after. In North Park there’s also their Flavordome.
* Pizza Port Brewing Company’s Ocean Beach destination (1956 Bacon Street, San Diego, California 92017) is a definite on my Beer Bucket List. I love it there. By the beach, chilled out, unreal tap list, great pizzas. All of the four Pizza Port brewpubs, plus their Bressi Ranch brewery, should be on your list to get to.
* Alesmith Brewing Company’s IPA is another of those American IPAs that I personally can’t resist. Their taproom is huge and impressive, though not as atmospheric as others. Still, the beers are excellent-the IPA is wonderful, and you can’t skip the Speedway Stout (www.alesmith.com).