San Francisco breweries
Few beers are as refreshing as those at Almanac Beer Co., known for its saison beers, farm-to-barrel brewing technique and use of fresh fruits (such as pluots and strawberries) sourced from regional family-run farms. Their new 30,000 square foot brewery and taproom in Alameda features an indoor beer hall, a beer garden overlooking the bay and rotating food trucks.
This is ground zero for smooth, drinkable sour beers in Berkeley. The Rare Barrel painstakingly ages hundreds of barrels in its brewery to achieve the tart and acidic flavors associated with sour beers, and the taproom menu is constantly changing, with seasonal flavors like the Mad Plum or Outlaw Bound (made with prickly pear and lime zest). At their Berkeley tasting room you'll also find guest beers, wine, cider and dishes like burrata on toast or confit duck leg and grits.
With locations in Berkeley, Napa, San Mateo, Monterey, Sacramento and soon, San Ramon, Fieldwork Brewing Co. has seen explosive growth since opening its original Berkeley taproom in 2015. Producing more than 200 beers in just about every style—popular brews include the Chocolate Thunder God imperial milk stout and Destination Unknown double IPA—each location features constantly changing taps including stations to fill growlers and 32-ounce cans for day-drinking on the go.
Fort Point Beer Company takes inspiration from its Presidio setting to produce three staple brews: The KSA Kölsch-style ale, Westfalia Nuremberg red ale and Park hoppy wheat. Brothers and cofounders Tyler and Justin Catalana, along with head brewer Mike Schnebeck, have grown the brand from hyperlocal to a major player in California by producing approachable quality beers with lower alcohol by volume (ABV) that pair equally well with an upscale meal or a football game.
Seven Stills is known for its fresh beer and (more unusually) whiskey distilled from it (think hoppy whiskey made from double IPA and chocolatey spirits distilled from oatmeal stouts). At the original Bayview location, you'll find live music, DJs and comedy nights in addition to pours of their whiskey flights, experimental beers, guest brews and cocktails on draft.
The brewery that changed it all: This 1896 legend pioneered the craft brewing renaissance. Anchor offers daily tours ($25 for 1.5-hour tour with beer tastings) by reservation only or you can stop by Anchor Public Taps, which offers rotating food truck in addition to dozens of beers on draft.
In Oakland’s Fruitvale neighborhood, Ale Industries serves dank and sessionable beers (like the Uncle Jesse), crisp and light beers (like the Beast Oakland) and seasonal offerings like the Cherry Kush brewed with California bing cherries. The taproom also hosts a weekly Arts & Draft night (complete with adult coloring books), as well as poetry reads, live music and art shows. P.S. You can bring in outside food.
This popular Santa Rosa brewery is responsible for cult favorite beers Pliny the Younger and Pliny the Elder. (Every spring, beer-lovers line up for hours for a taste of Pliny the Younger.) Thankfully, Russian River is expanding with a 15-acre brewery in Windsor, where they plan to build a brewery, restaurant, tasting room, and gift shop on 90,000 square feet, complete with acres of parking.
Head brewer Mike Guilford experiments with different barrels and aging at this Petaluma brewery. The Santa Rosa location offers free tours to the public on Sunday (12:30 and 3pm) and sourdough pizzas from local Redhorse Pizza on Thursday through Sunday.
Opened in 2016, Temescal Brewing gained an immediate cult following for its hoppy ales and easy drinking pilsners and blonde ales as well as its sunny patio and colorful interior. Rotating food trucks and multiple beers on tap keep the beer garden packed on most days.