California is among one of the top states for craft beer. There are so many breweries, it can be tough to narrow down the best places to visit, so we’ve got you covered. Check out our top 10 pics below. Cheers!
Location: Escondido, California
Favorite Beer: Fear. Movie. Lions Double IPA
More than just a respected craft brewery, Stone offers a very wide selection of beer! They have a really cool (one of our favorites!) tap room, which is open from 11AM – 9PM. There are tons of tables and the design has a unique modern feel, making it a top hang-out spot. There’s an outdoor and indoor area, providing tons of space, which we feel other breweries should definitely learn from.
Ballast Point Brewing Company
Location: San Diego, California
Favorite Beer: Manta Ray
Ballast Point is one of California’s oldest breweries. Established in 1992, it resides in San Diego and has become a top destination for beer enthusiasts, artists, and lovers of the outdoors. They do a lot for their community, so the vibes are always very positive, which is nice to see from such a large business. Their distribution is national now, most of those breweries become a little less laid back, but not Ballast.
What can we say about Ballast Point’s “Little Italy”. The kettle room is a really cool place to enjoy gourmet dining with a group of friends. Perfect for events!
Russian River Brewing Company
Location: Santa Rosa, California
Favorite Beer: Pliny The Elder
If you like barrel-aged beers, Russian River is the spot for you. They don’t do tours in their downtown location, but as far as we’re concerned, that doesn’t stop visitors from enjoying a unique experience! They also have a new Windsor location under construction.
To top it all off, they have a little pub with food that goes GREAT with their beer. It’s nothing too crazy but their cheesy garlic bread, pliny bites, and so on are the perfect inexpensive addition to a fun day at a nice brewery. In closing, don’t go to the brewery without stopping by the pub!
Alpine Beer Company
Location: Alpine, California
Favorite Beer: Hoppy Birthday
It’s the sanctuary for Indian Pale Ales. Alpine is HANDS DOWN our favorite brewery in not only California but the entire west coast. Located in the beautiful mountains, just outside of San Diego, Alpine is THE destination for hoppy beers.
Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
Location: Paso Robles, California
Favorite Beer: Twenty-One
When Firestone Walker said “beer runs deeper than blood”, they weren’t kidding. These guys put their heart and souls into their brew and we can’t help but respect it. Similar to Russian River, Firestone specializes in aged barrel brew. They take longer to make, but are damn worth the results! We see this style of beer making growing in the near future and these guys will be among the pioneers of the whole thing.
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Location: Chico, California
Favorite Beer: Torpedo Extra IPA
Sierra Nevada is one of those larger breweries that are better for tours and tastings, rather than a hang out spot. That doesn’t mean you can’t take a load off, Sierra Nevada has their “Big Room” for sitting down with friends and brew and the “Torpedo Room” for events. Whether you’re a fan of large spots or intimate hangouts, Sierra Nevada is a great place to explore the wonderful world of craft beer.
Heretic Brewing Company
Location: Fairfield, California
Favorite Beer: Evil 3
Heretic is a super chill place that offers free tours on weekend afternoons. Combine that with their $5 beers at “The Confessional”. Now we have to get into the food situation. Depending on availability, you can choose between small snacks and the awesome food trucks that come around. We advise going with the food truck. The times aren’t always the most consistent to our knowledge, but they’re usually there during the day. All in all, Heretic offers a fun spot for people of all ages.
Knee Deep Brewing Company
Location: Auburn, California
Favorite Beer: Breaking Bud
This is a good spot for getting unique beer. They definitely have their own distinct style for their blends and flavors that kind of trickles down into their brand and brewery. Their hours are good, usually open from early afternoon to 9 or 10 and they have most of their beers available on tap. So whether you’re looking for a matinee or a fun night out, you can find it at Knee Deep. They also have events like live music and such, so it’s a fun place you can go to more than just once.
In addition to grabbing some good brew, you can grab some burgers, hot dogs, or pizza at one of their food trucks. We’ve yet to find a brewery with a bad food truck, so that’s what we call the whole package.
Location: Santa Cruz, California
Favorite Beer: The Whiskey Thief
We think Uncommon is the best spot in Santa Cruz. The beer is excellent, and environment is very chill, so it feels very inviting. But the best part is the food because Uncommon goes above and beyond for good eats for a little step up from a food truck. While you try different beers, you can head over to the Oasis Tasting Room and Kitchen. Everything from the burgers to the soup is delicious for very reasonable prices.
Moonraker Brewing Co.
Location: Auburn, California
Favorite Beer: The Holy Hermit
Moonraker Brewing is a relatively new, award-winning brewery in Auburn. It’s only about 2 years old, but they have made quite a name for themselves as a premier craft brewery, especially their Indian pale ales! Their barrel room is a fun spot to try new beers on tap, which tend to change.
But what makes them more impressive is the food. They have different vendors that come in, ranging from seafood to lamb, barbecue, Mexican and so on. We recommend visiting a few times and enjoying different kinds of eats. There really is something to be said for certain beers going with certain food, kind of like wine.