A Beer Lover’s Guide to the City of Santa Rosa’s 24 craft Breweries
By Mary Charlebois
Does a chalkboard detailing the brew master’s latest IPA, stout, pilsner, ale, or malt make you salivate? Do you search for a local brew when you travel? Are hops your favorite plant?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, head 50-miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge to Santa Rosa, they’ve got you covered.
Santa Rosa overflows with passion for good beer. There are over 2-dozen craft brew houses and more coming online.
Brewing beer isn’t new to Santa Rosa; hops and breweries were a significant industry from the 1880s until 1960. In the early 60s, hops farming moved north to Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. The land was cheaper, and water was plentiful. Because fresh hops have a short shelf life, where hops are grown, breweries flourish. Santa Rosa brewing slowed down after the northern migration.
Today, the growth of craft breweries in Sonoma County has brought hops-culture back to life. Many micro-brews use fresh hops (as opposed to dried) to add complex floral hops aromas that can only come from freshly harvested plants.
Where to find a beer in Santa Rosa
Check out the Craft Beverage Map and look at locations 11 through 15 in Santa Rosa. These five breweries serve a variety of beer styles in a mixed bag of environments. You’ll have a tasty Santa Rosa beer tour. WEBSITE
This 1—2-day self-guided tour includes:
Fogbelt – Barrell aging, sour beer, seasonal, and rotating experimental beers. The kitchen serves seasonally and locally sourced pub grub. WEBSITE
3 Disciples – Innovative ales that will make you think. Happy Hour 3—6 PM M-F, all day Sunday. Check the events calendar for live music. WEBSITE
Russian River Brewing Company – Traditional aggressively hopped California-style ales and barrel-aged beer. Try the brewpub downtown or the brand-new, state-of-the-art brewery in nearby Windsor.
The facility has tastings, brewpub, tours, family playground, pet-friendly area, package store, and gift shop. WEBSITE
Third Street Aleworks – Anglo-Celtic and West Coast-style ales. A popular pub with locals, this spot is multi-gen friendly. Comfort food is the house specialty. WEBSITE
Shady Oak Barrel House – Sour and hoppy artisanal ales. All ages are welcome, along with 4-legged family members. There is no kitchen, but you are encouraged to bring and enjoy outside food with your beer. WEBSITE
There are many more breweries plus world-class wineries in Sonoma County. Find more local libations HERE.
Want some Peanuts with your beer?
Everyone loves Snoopy, the ironic Beagle in the cartoon strip, Peanuts, by Charles M Schulz. The museum that bears his name was, in part, designed by Schulz. The museum’s mission is to preserve, display, and interpret his art.
The mission is met in the magnificent building that houses Schulz’s life work. Displays of his art and the popularity of the comic strip are fascinating. It’s one of the funniest museums you’re likely to visit. WEBSITE
Where to stay
Downtown, Hotel E, is my favorite lodging. The newly opened luxury boutique hotel sits on the edge of the downtown square. It is steps from breweries, restaurants, farmers market, entertainment, and libation tasting rooms. WEBSITE.
Hotel Flamingo is an excellent home base for brewery exploring in Santa Rosa. The historic resort and spa was built in the 1950s. Beautifully maintained, the Flamingo has a mid-century-modern vibe with 21st-century amenities.
Two heated swimming pools, hot tub, health club, spa, salon, tennis, cycling, and yoga are a few of the activities. Poolside and inside dining are offered. There is a childcare center for entertaining the children while adults are busy being adults. WEBSITE.
The Sandman is located just off Hwy 101. The amenities include pools, hot tubs, poolside lounge, Bocce Ball, and fire tables. The hotel is Cannabis friendly. WEBSITE.
Where to eat
Many of the breweries have pubs serving locally sourced pub grub. You’ll find beer and food pairing menus and advice.
Downtown, try Perch + Plow for local beer, wine, or a craft cocktail made with locally distilled spirits. The menu is eclectic and appetizing, offering snacks, small plates, large plates, and desserts. WEBSITE
Santa Rosa is on Hwy 101, 50-miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge. The closest airport, STS (Charles M Schulz Sonoma County Airport), has service to and from Dallas, Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Orange County, Phoenix, Portland, San Diego, Seattle, and beyond. Rental cars are available on airport property. WEBSITE
San Francisco and Oakland airports are about 65-miles from Santa Rosa.
Santa Rosa has so much more than beer to offer, it will become your favorite ‘brewery exploring’ spot. More information about the region, attractions, eateries, and lodging is available HERE.
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Mary Charlebois is a freelance journalist and photographer. Her home base is on California’s Mendocino Coast. She travels by train, plane, bus, boat, shoe sole, and auto. She digs into the culture, people, and history wherever she goes and isn’t opposed to a little adventure along the way.