If you guys haven’t been following me on Instagram, you definitely should be; over the last few months I’ve been lucky enough to head down to the Bay Area every few weeks to see my boyfriend, find the most perfect donut and, of course, check out local breweries around town.
These spontaneous trips to San Francisco & Santa Rosa, as well as him flying to Seattle to surprise me (that’s an entirely different mushy and perfect story), has taught me a lot about myself.
The beer world has taught me to get up and go, have fun and absolutely love what I’m doing. Isn’t life too short to be miserable and living day to day? Yeah, I thought so too. I’ve gotten out of my comfort zone by talking to random beertenders, owners & sales guys all while pretending my social anxiety isn’t through the roof, social media has been an amazing way to network with other beer lovers and inspired even more trips as well!
My last trip to The Bay involved half a day running around SF, buying plants, checking out Land’s End with the dude and donuts- because we would be insane to not visit every single donut shop around town. We headed up north after that for a few days and got to check out Santa Rosa, Windsor & Petaluma, work on my sunburn and take my very first motorcycle ride (well, of my adult life and I didn’t even die that much!).
Maybe it’s the sun’s fault, but the beer vibe in these cities definitely feels completely different (and I love it). Especially in San Francisco where the neighborhoods are drastically different from one another yet so close, each beer bar and brewery encompasses a completely different atmosphere.
While I still have so much more to explore around The North Bay, here are a few stops you definitely need to make it to:
One of my favorite stops is Fieldwork Brewing Co. in Berkley; while it’s about 30 minutes from the city, it’s a great spot to hang out, grab some beers and snack on some tasty food. They are super IPA forward but usually have at least one stout, some farmhouse/sour ale and lighter brews as well! While they do make those hazy IPAs we’re all obsessed with right now, they do an amazing job at bringing a little bit of a bitter bite to the IPAs I’ve gotten my hands on. In a rush? No worries- they offer crowlers to go and also crowlers of things they don’t have on tap! Aside from their Berkley location, they’re also in San Mateo, Napa & Sacramento… so you have no excuse to not drink all the things. Oh, they also have the prettiest most bad ass labels for their cans!
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Also in Berkley is The Rare Barrel; this all-sour brewery offers a kick-ass selection of sours on tap and bottles you can find at their tap room and around town. They keep about 5-10 of their own beers on tap as well as 4-6 guest beers on tap- so if you aren’t a crazy sour fan… don’t worry!! You have options! But if you’re in town and looking for a killer oak-aged sour beer (everything they do is oak aged), definitely check them out! And just look at that comfy couch. How do you not want to drink beer sitting on that guy?
Trying to find some bottles/cans or just a tasty pint of beer? City Beer Store in the South of Market District has a great selection of local and not-so-local beers you can take with yah or you can hang out and enjoy one- er, or five of their 15 rotating taps! Loved this place a lot, and made it there at least once every trip I’ve made to the city; always super friendly staff and a really awesome vibe to the space! Their beer to go was also pretty damn fantastic. Feel free to mix & match a 6-pack, grab a limited bottle or, like me, buy everything. Seriously- this spot is worth checking out!
Right around the corner from City Beer Store you’ll find Cellarmaker Brewing Co.; not only was this a great space, they also have a wide array of tasty things on tap. I had a few IPAs but really loved the Cigarettes & Coffee stout the most! Definitely worth the stop-in. We went during a Golden State game and the atmosphere was pretty awesome- but I’m sure it’s a bit more chill out of basketball season!
Heading a little SE for about a mile and a half you’ll run in to The Crafty Fox Ale House. Dustin was actually the one to find this little gem when he was hunting down some Alvarado Street Brewing for me; with 36 taps (maybe more.. counting is hard) offering tons of California goodness and nationally sourced, you’ll find something you might already love or a new beer to try! They also offer a small selection of cans and bottles to go or drink on the spot (with a $1 corkage).
Seriously, everything is so close together in this city! We also went over to Monk’s Kettle, which is just a few blocks from Crafty Fox, where they had a pretty impressive tap list and a DAMN good burger. If you’re in to macaroni then you have to get it with lobster and it will literally change your life. I’m not even joking. There tap list offers a wide variety of California beers but also gems from around the world. It’s a bit more intimate of a spot but they also offer outdoor seating!
The Smokestack at Magnolia Brewing Co. is worthing checking out if you’re around the Dogpatch neighborhood; with an impressive list of beers, cocktails and barbecue, you’ll probably never leave! While I’m usually an IPA fan, I was really digging their darker beers. They offer tons of different barbecue goodness; we stuck with a pulled pork sandwich with a side of macaroni. Because we aren’t insane. Enjoy a beer in their main bar area or venture out to their barrelhouse.
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One of our last stops for the city (for now) is Almanac Beer south of the Mission District. I’ve been a fan of Almanac but, and I say this with regret, they weren’t on our initial beer list. We were on a donut hunt, as we usually are, and I of course spot out the one beer spot in the neighborhood: this place. They constantly rotate 15 taps of their brews along with draft wine and cider for those non-beer drinkers. We didn’t get to try the food (yeah.. we were stuffed with donuts) but it looked incredible and changes seasonally. Don’t forget to snag some bottles or a growler on your way out!
We finally made it to Russian River Brewing Co. over the 4th of July weekend and… when I die, bury me there. When we went they had 21 beers on tap and all of the amazing food- yeah, you know I love my pizza and it was so so good!! My favorite part about the beer world is the beer friends you end up meeting along the way! I’ve follow Mikaelaa for over a year and she’s definitely been one of my beerspirations (that’s a word, right?) with not only beer, but fitness and adventures. Seriously, you all should follow her on Instagram here. While I’ve had a few Russian River brews, she insisted we try the sampler and ooooohh my lanta. LOOK AT IT! Needless to say, you need to check this place out and it’s worth it to wait in the line to get in. So make sure to show up early and bring the sunscreen, but you won’t regret it!
Aside from all the beer spots, we came across a whole bunch of amazing food that… let’s just say I’m going to be in the gym for a few weeks.
Make sure to check out Twisted Donuts, Dynamo Donuts, The Grove in Fillmore, Il Casaro Pizzeria & Mozzarella Bar in Little Italy for some of the best Italian pizza & you of course gotta go to In n’ Out!
I mean.. just look at all the tasty things!
Did I miss something or need to check out a spot my next trip? Let me know what we need to visit! Whether that’s beer, food, outdoor activities ect. Holler at me!
Cheers & happy drinking Xx