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Beer Steps into Sonoma Spotlight

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TASTE News Service, July 12, 2017 - The emphasis on quality and craftsmanship that makes Sonoma County renowned for its fine wines holds equally true for its artisanal breweries and beer pubs.

Fans already line up each year for the chance to taste the annual release of the iconic Pliny the Younger from Santa Rosa's legendary Russian River Brewing Company, which emphasizes traditional, aggressively-hopped, California-style ales, Belgian-style ales, and barrel-aged beers.


Brewsters Beer Garden Peter Prato PicmonkeyAfternoon crowd at Brewsters Beer Garden       photo: Peter Prato

You'll also find award-winning brews at Bear Republic Brewing Company in Healdsburg, Carneros Brewing Company in Sonoma, Lagunitas Brewing Co. in Petaluma, Stumptown Brewery in Guerneville, and Woodfour Brewing Company in Sebastopol.

Beer is definitely up and coming in Sonoma County, and a number of newcomers recently opened taprooms or beer pubs.

GravSouth Brew Co. in its new Cotati taproom pours eight of its own brews plus eight guest beers from Sonoma County craft beer start-ups. Also in Cotati, the Flagship Taproom offers 20 taps with local crafts beers, plus wine and cider, and bottles to sale to go.

Crooked Goat Brewing crafts innovative beers with a distinctive western Sonoma County style, serving 14 of their beers on tap in their new, family-friendly taproom in Sebastopol. Brewsters Beer Garden in Petaluma pairs local craft brews with barbecue-inspired fare. Steele & Hops Public House in Santa Rosa serves both local and global beers, celebrating the best of Sonoma County's brewing scene and honoring some international favorites.

Promising, “Bikes. Beer. Coffee. Not Necessarily in that Order,” the new Trail House Santa Rosa sells everything cycling enthusiasts need to get out on the road or trail and back again, plus a rotating selection of craft beers from local breweries and rare brews from around the U.S. and Europe.

And the Healdsburg Emporium in Healdsburg recently added limited-production craft beers on tap; the front of the store sells bottled craft beers, wine, and cigars while the back features 12 taps of the best limited-production beers from local breweries and nationwide, plus wine by the glass.

And that's just a quick sampling. Currently Sonoma County boasts nearly two dozen breweries, nine cider producers, and more than a dozen distilleries. Search the Sonoma County Beer, Cider, and Spirits Map to pick your favorite craft beverage destinations.

Or, if you'd rather leave the driving to others, North Bay Brewery Tours and On Tap Beer Tours offer fun, entertaining, and educational guided tours to breweries, cideries, and distilleries countywide.

And there's much more to come. Construction is under way on the Seismic Brewing Company, a 25,000-barrel craft brewery tentatively set in Santa Rosa — the latest project by Christopher Jackson (son of Kendall-Jackson winery founder Jess Jackson).

A 2017 opening date is also planned for 2 Tread Brewing Company, which is creating a relaxing beer garden atmosphere in a 10,000-square-foot indoor-outdoor space in downtown Santa Rosa. The company's vision is to create a place to drink its artisan beers, and share a simple but interesting meal with family and friends.

And the Bear Republic Brewing Company of Healdsburg plans to open its second brewpub in 2017, in Rohnert Park. Bear Republic hand-selects the ingredients for its handcrafted ales and lagers which are brewed using tried-and-true traditional methods.