A fine beer may be judged with only one sip… but it’s better to be thoroughly sure. – Czech Proverb
A word of caution, this post may cause the palate to suddenly become parched, and while we have conveniently scheduled this article to run at the end of the work week, most of us still need to get through the day before we consider tackling this list and quenching our thirsts. That said, in recognition of International Beer Day, which is tomorrow (August 2), here is a short list of some great Californian microbreweries to pay patronage to on this glorious day.
Southern Californian Microbreweries:
Port Brewing Company
This San Diego local beer serves up some seriously good beer, ranging from a year round Double IPA, to some great seasonal releases like Anniversary, High Tide, and Hop 15 (the hoppiest of hoppy), and two barrel-aged specialty beers (Older Viscosity and Santa’s Little Helper, Bourbon). Sold throughout Southern California, it is also widely distributed across the country.
Indian Wells Brewing Company
If you’re into organic, locally-grown brews, look no further than Indian Wells Brewing Company in Inyokern (in the heat-soaked Coachella Valley). A rare breed of microbrewery in that it was one of the first to openly endorse the concept of a sustainable brewing process, the beer house keeps it “green” with energy-efficient on-site brewing methods (gravity power) and artesian water that flows down from the Sierra Nevada mountains directly to the brewery itself. The result? Dark and light lagers (try the Blackout Stout and the Lobotomy Bock) and its top-notch Death Valley label sodas (many locals have claimed Orange Cream and Root Beer flavors are best). Indian Wells Brewing Company is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. except major holidays, with $5 tastings offered.
Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
What would Miles Raymond (Paul Giamatti’s character in “Sideways“) say about a a microbrewery set in the heart of Southern California wine country? You gotta admit: it’s a pretty funny thought (“I’m not drinking any bleeping pillsner!”). Firestone Walker Brewing Co., however, could very well make a Miles in your life change his mind. Started by two brother in-laws at Firestone (yes, the same family who makes tires and wine), the brewery has tap rooms in Paso Robles and Buellton—and a nice array of pale ales, thanks to a patented fermenting process done in 60 gallon oak barrels. The beer to try is, of course, their Union Jack IPA, which has managed to best over 130 comers in the Great American Beerfest’s toughest category (“Best American-Style Indian Pale Ale”) for several years running. Did we mention it is also now hailed as one of the top 50 craft breweries in the U.S.? Sample some of their finest on site from 12 to 7 p.m., Sunday thru Friday (they open an hour earlier on Saturdays for those who want a pre-lunch libation).
Northern Californian Microbreweries:
Anchor Brewing Company
If you have never heard of Anchor Brewing Company, then perhaps you are not the beer connoisseur we thought you were you. Unarguably San Francisco’s signature hometown brewery, it has been a city beer staple since 1896—even making it one of America’s Oldest Breweries. One of the coolest things you can do is visit the brewery while in the city. You’ll get to taste the beer, including the signature Steam, along with the ol’ standbys like Liberty (the basic recipe for which the famous Sierra Nevada Pale Ale was founded on), Old Foghorn and Porter. Regardless of your preference, this place should at least be put into your lets-entertain-dad-for-the-weekend rotation.
Speakeasy Ales and Lagers
When you think of speakeasies, you probably picture French 75s and Sidecars—not fine craft beer. But little did you know that Speakeasy has been making great craft beer in San Francisco since 1997. With a fascination for “the sinister and the underground,” Speakeasy operates out of a section of the city once known as Butchertown. Hmm. Don’t think too hard about that one. Anyway, the best crafts to try are Speakeasy flagships: Big Daddy IPA, Prohibition Ale, and the seasonal releases Scarlett Red Rye and Tallulah Extra Pale Ale. Secret tip: try the tap room to sample exclusive releases fresh from the source, Tuesday-Sunday.
21st Amendment Brewery Cafe
You can’t really take a brewery with a name like 21st Amendment seriously. Or can you? After all, what could be more serious than naming your establishment after a law restoring American’s right to consume the very thing you sell? Operating as a San Francisco craft brewery and pub since 2000, 21st Amendment expanded production when they began canning their beer in large quantities. Growth has been steady… and today, 21st Amendment beers are available in 16 states. Fun fact: you can even drink their Brew Free or Die IPA on Virgin America flights! Boom.
Marzen, Hefeweizen, Pilsner, Lager, Pale Ale, IPA, Maibock, Dopplebock, and a sensational selection of seasonal specialty brews. (Try saying that last line three times!) Those names are really all you need to know about Sudwerk, Davis residents’ favorite neighborhood brewery. Another cool draw? On Saturday evenings from May through October, Sudwerk hosts live music on their patio, creating a sweet weekend night spot (with a pleasant, yet bitter aftertaste).
Did we leave out one of your favorites? Or do you think one of these shouldn’t make the cut? Let us know! @CB_California on Twitter!