It wasn’t long ago that a “craft beer road trip” wasn’t even a thing. But with the explosion of craft breweries, and amazing breweries at that, what was once a beer-lovers pipe dream is now very much a reality.
While some of America’s best craft beers can be found in the West Coast’s major cities, there are other great breweries that are worth the drive. Here are eight great West Coast breweries that are worth a road trip all their own:
Triple Horn Brewing, Woodinville
Woodinville, unbeknownst to many, makes a great drink-themed day trip on the West Coast, thanks to more than 140 wineries and tasting rooms, and several breweries, such as Triple Horn Brewing. You could just about spend an entire day just at Triple Horn Brewing, thanks to a long list of beers (thank goodness for beer flights), a rotating schedule of food trucks, and during the summer, a beer garden! With more than 20 beers, from light-drinking beers like the blood orange wheat and cream ale, to heartier beers like the porter and milk stout, you won’t go thirsty.
Island Hoppin’ Brewery, Orcas Island
The journey to Island Hoppin’ Brewery is worth the trip alone, since it’s located on Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands and requires a ferry ride. The brewery is the first and only brewery on Orcas Island, offering several beers available as pints or flights (including many staple American beer styles, but also German styles like Kolsch and Schwarzbier), and also has a ping-pong table, foosball, and board games.
Full Sail Brewing, Hood River
The views along the Columbia River, and then of the Columbia River Gorge upon arriving to Full Sail Brewing are second to none. And then there’s Full Sail’s long list of award-winning beers, of which some of the standouts include the amber, IPA, session, and black premium lager. Free tours of the brewery are offered daily during the afternoon, and the brewpub features a full food menu.
You’ve perhaps seen Deschutes beer before, if not had it, yet there’s no denying that it’s one of the best West Coast beer makers, having produced beer in Bend for nearly 30 years. Book one of the 45-minute brewery tours online, which includes four free beer samples, or simply belly up to the tasting room bar for a flight, pint, or growler. Deschutes also has a public house that features 19 taps, and a full menu, using many ingredients that are sourced from local farms.
SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA
Russian River Brewing Company, Santa Rosa
Sonoma is more than just wineries! Russian River Brewing Company features one of the most sought-after beers in America, Pliny the Elder, a double IPA, that can largely only be found in California (and typically just Northern California). Nonetheless, they brew a number of other great beers, such as the Damnation golden ale and Supplication, which is barrel-aged in local Sonoma Pinot Noir barrels. This is a beer-lovers sanctuary.
Anderson Valley Brewing, Boonville
Located north of Sonoma, Anderson Valley, a Mendocino County wine appellation, is home to Anderson Valley Brewing, one of California’s most unique breweries, which has been making beer for nearly 30 years. Among the standouts is their flagship, the Boont amber, though crowd favorites also include the IPA and oatmeal stout. While Anderson Valley Brewing has a taproom and daily tours, its most interesting feature is the 18-hole disc golf course.
Beachwood BBQ & Brewing, Long Beach
With more than 100 breweries in San Diego County alone, it’s hard to narrow Southern California’s best brewery road trips to just a couple. However, there’s no denying Beachwood BBQ & Brewing, which was awarded “Mid-Size Brewpub of the Year” at the Great American Beer Fest a couple years ago. The brewery features a long list of beers, of which the IPAs (especially the Amalgamator IPA) and pale ales are among the best. Go for the craft beer, but stay for the barbecue.
Alpine Beer Company, Alpine
Located east of San Diego, Alpine Beer Company is another brewery that has a number of sought-after beers, including the Nelson IPA, Duet IPA, Pure Hoppiness double IPA, and Exponential Hoppiness double IPA. It’s a small, humble brewery, but is worth the visit for craft beer lovers. Small as it is, you may find some of their beers around California (especially Southern California), now that well-known San Diego brewery Green Flash is producing some of their more popular beers.
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Opening photo by Christian Tisdale