Best 15 Breweries in Northern California (updated)

Beer is a craft. It’s the product of mortals, not gods. And while we can be grateful for that fact—because what would we drink if not beer?—we also need to remember that it takes hard work and dedication to make good beer. That means brewers must pay close attention to every detail in their process: from sourcing ingredients to refining recipes, all the way through packaging and distribution. And when they do this well enough (which is no easy feat), then there you have it: one of life’s great pleasures, ready and waiting for your consumption on tap or bottle.

This article will explore some of Northern California’s best breweries to highlight some of the finer points in their brewing processes.

north californian brew

let’s get started shall we,

1. Morgan territory brewing

Morgan Territory Brewing is one of the newest breweries in Northern California to emerge onto the scene. It’s only been open for about two years but is steadily gaining traction among local beer enthusiasts.

It’s located just south of Mount Diablo, where Morgan Territory meets Contra Costa County, near Clayton. But, unlike most breweries operating in the Bay Area, it’s not located in San Francisco or Oakland. Rather, you’ll find it in a small town outside of Livermore.

It’s also the only brewery I know of that can claim to be less than a mile from both Interstate 580 and Highway 4—two very busy highways that split the greater Bay Area into sections. Though this might sound like a nightmare to many brewers, Morgan Territory has made use of its proximity to these freeways by making itself easily accessible for thirsty travelers.

This is important for any business hoping to draw customers from beyond their immediate area, but particularly so as it applies to breweries, as beer drinkers tend to travel in groups and may have limited time to hunt down good beer.

Morgan Territory Brewing’s place along these two main thoroughfares makes it an ideal pit-stop for those looking to try a new brewery in the East Bay.

As for Morgan Territory’s beer offers an exciting variety of styles, including a Double IPA and a Kolsch-Style Ale—two beers with limited exposure at most breweries in California.

2. Russian river brewing company

Russian River Brewing Company is located in the heart of Sonoma County at the end of the scenic and historic Pacific Coast Highway. They specialize in brews that live up to their reputation as one of America’s bona fide breweries.

Their success came from their ingenious brewing recipes, which continue to grow today with double batches, barrel aging, and occasional limited releases beers such as Beatification.

They were one of the first breweries to experiment with sours beers, and for this, they explicitly credit Frank Appleton, who became their head brewmaster in 1997 and created a concoction that we now know as Pliny the Elder.

In 2008, Russian River made history by selling beer in bottles for takeaway, and since then, they’ve been on the map.

Russian River Brewing Company has been honored many times over for their beers, and it’s easy to understand why when you taste a sip of one in a glass.

3. Bear republic brewing 

Bear Republic Brewing Company is a craft brewery located in Healdsburg, northern California. In 2013, Beer Advocate Magazine ranked Bear Republic Brewing Company as the 4th top craft brewer in the United States. Bear Republic Brewing Company also produces a trendy line of brews called Racer 5, which features five different styles, including their flagship IPA. Racer 5 has been named one of the best IPAs by beer connoisseurs because it is available year-round and features a single hop, emphasizing its taste and flavor profile.

Bear Republic Brewing Company had won many awards for their beers over the years, with their most famous prize being when they won gold at the 2004 World Beer Cup for their Double Aught Imperial Stout, Hairy Eyeball Ale. Hairy Eyeball Ale is available year-round and was the first beer brewed at Bear Republic Brewing Company.

It’s a delicious American-style brown ale that’s been around for nearly 15 years. The brewery uses four malt varieties in this recipe, resulting in a creamy smoothness that’s as drinkable as it is potent. In fact, at 13 percent ABV, it drinks way lighter than some other imperial stouts out there—like Avery Mephistopheles Stout, which weighs in at 16.3 percent ABV and comes with a warning on the neck label.

Bear republic brewing company also won silver at the 2012 Great American Beer Festival for best American Style Stout, including its flagship porter, Big Bear Black Stout.

Bear Republic Brewing Company has many beers on the market, with their most popular being Racer 5 IPA, Hop Rod Rye Ale, Grand-Am Double IPA, and their flagship porter, Big Bear Black Stout. The brewery is located in Healdsburg, California, just north of Santa Rosa, California, where they have a brewpub that serves all of their beers alongside some food that compliments it. So everyone can enjoy a delicious meal with one of Bear Republic Brewing Company’s world-class beers by visiting them at their brewery or restaurant.

4.Berryessa brewing 

Berkeley, northern California-based brewing company Berryessa Brewing Company. They’ve been brewing beer for over five years. In that time, they’ve experimented with various styles, including an American Pale Ale, a Belgian Dubbel, an English Brown Ale, and an American Wheat Beer. Their most popular beers are the ESB (Extra Special Bitter) and the Harvest IPA.

Berryessa Brewing Company has been honored with various awards over the years for their beers, including; Gold Medals at the 2011 and 2012 California State Fair in the ESB Category and Bronze Medal in 2013. In addition, they also won a Silver Medal at the 2013 Great American Beer Festival for their ESB.

Berryessa Brewing Company was established in January of 2011 and is located in Winters, California. Berryessa Brewing Company is known throughout California for creating some unique beers that are tasty and pack a punch that many people don’t expect from a craft beer.  One of the most popular beers they have on tap is their ESB which stands for Extra Special Bitter.

Berkeley brewing company is currently up and running with a limited production, but that will change as soon as they can brew more beer to keep up with demand for their unique brews. In addition, they offer some great tasting beers and a live music venue where friends can gather and enjoy a drink while listening to good music.

Berryessa Brewing Company’s flagship craft beer is their Harvest IPA. The harvest IPA from Berryessa brewing company starts off life as an American style IPA then it gets dry-hopped in the fermenting tank three times! After you add all these extra hops gives it a nice piney, earthy, and citrus flavor.

Berryessa Brewing Company has a great selection of beers that you can enjoy while visiting them to see the process behind each beer. They offer seven brews to try including; House IPA, California Blonde Ale, Big Tom Brown Ale, ESB Extra Special Bitter Golden Irish Style Ale, Rye Stout, Abbey Dubbel, and Barrel-Aged Wee Heavy. None of their beers are considered light by any means, but they all go down smooth with some great flavors like heavy caramel or chocolate notes.

5. New glory craft brewery

New Glory Craft Brewery specializes in small-batch beers that are created using old artisanal styles. Each of their beers is brewed according to a particular recipe and then put into oak barrels, where they age for some time before they’re packaged and sold.

With a focus on creating new flavors by fusing traditional brewing styles with more modern techniques, New Glory Craft Brewery has been helping craft beer drinkers expand their palates without sacrificing bold flavor.

In addition to winning awards throughout California for their high-quality brews, New Glory Craft Brewery also received the honor of being named one of America’s Best Small Brewing Companies in 2012 by All About Beer Magazine. New Glory Craft Brewery is the only brewery from California to make a list that year.

Marc Rosenblum and Alex Tweet started the new Glory Craft Brewery in August of 2009 to create quality beers that expand a craft beer drinker’s palate without sacrificing flavor. New Glory Craft Brewery is currently located in Sacramento, California. They produce seven different types of beer, including; Golden Gate Gose, Elderberry Saison, Framboise de Amorosa, Red Poppy Ale, Oude Desay Mademoiselle, White Angel-Witbier, and West Coast IPA.

6. Moksa brewing company

Moksa Brewing Company is focused on brewing quality beers, each according to a particular recipe. This means that they do not offer the traditional three or four beer types that many breweries do but instead offer five different brews for you to enjoy while visiting their brewery.

Moksa Brewing Company was started by Brad and Tami Michael and focused exclusively on Belgian and French-style beers.

The Moksa Brewing Company tasting room offers six different types of craft beer, which include; Caged Monkey – Belgian Tripel, Crooked Gourd – Pumpkin Saison, Golden Goblin- Belgian Golden Strong Ale, Grunewald Stout (Imperial Russian Stout), Night At The Buzzer (Wood-Aged Dark Lager) and Raging Waters (California Common).

The original beer created by the Moksa Brewing Company was the Caged Monkey, which won a gold medal at the California State Fair in 2010 for best Belgian Style ale. This award helped get them started with their brewery and gave them great press throughout their local area.

With over five different types of beers to choose from, you’ll never get tired of trying out new flavors when you stop by their tasting room. The Moksa Brewing Company tasting room is currently located in Rocklin, CA, where they offer growler fills, samples, and kegs to go.

7. The brewing lair

The brewing lair is offering seven different types of craft beer to choose from while visiting their brewery.

Rich and Val Palamara started the Brewing Lair in 2012 to offer high-quality craft beers that are packed with bold flavors. Since then, they have become known for their love of hop-related, which is perfectly showcased in their Hop Dragon Double IPA.

With a focus on creating new recipes using safe, natural ingredients, The Brewing Lair has quickly made a name among local California craft brew fans.

In addition to seven different types of delicious craft beers, The Brewing Lair also offers three different varieties of soda for those who don’t enjoy the taste of alcohol or just want something sweet instead. You can take a pint or fill up a growler of The Brewing Lair craft beers, which include; Alpha Hive IPA, Home Grown Amber Ale, Hearthside Wheat (Belgian Style Witbier), Hop Dragon Double IPA, Paddle Fight Porter, Restless Rye American Pale Ale and Sleepy Hollow Nut Brown.

The original beer created by the brewing lair was their Alpha Hive IPA in 2012 and has since become their best-selling beer.

The Brewing Lair tasting room is currently located in Rancho Cordova, CA, where they offer samples and growler fills for those who want to take some of The Brewing Lair homes with them.

8. Fogbelt brewing company

Jeff and Marilyn Aufderheide started Fogbelt Brewing Company in the summer of 2008 after retiring from careers that saw them teaching students, coaching athletics, and raising a family. They started their brewery to create craft beers packed with flavor but aren’t overly bitter like many other types of craft beer.

Since starting their brewery, they have become known for brewing seven different beers, including; Big Pucker Double IPA, Gremlin Gold Golden Ale, Righteous Rye IPA, Stinger Honey Wheat Ale, The Stallion Imperial Stout, Ugly Buck American Pale Ale, and Whatsamatter Jack American Porter.

Their beer has become popular among supporters who love bold flavors, which is why their Big Pucker Double IPA is quickly becoming one of their flagship beers.

In addition to having their brewery, the Fogbelt Brewing Company tasting room also serves up some tasty food that you can enjoy while trying out different types of craft beer. All patrons are encouraged to stop by and try out any combination of the seven craft beers they have on tap for sampling at their tasting room. Some other types of craft beer available at their tasting room include; Coffee Oatmeal Stout, Foggy Mo Foggy Saison, Fuggle It Brown Ale, Kolsch Style Ale, Maple Bacon Porter, and Spruce Tip IPA.

9. Ale industries

Ale Industries was founded by friends Adam Carbone, Kevin Nickell, and Jeremy Kuempel in 2010. They started their brewery with a focus on making craft beer that they would want to drink themselves.

Since starting their brewery, they have become known for brewing over five beers, including; Code 3 Amber Ale, Brewhouse Blonde Kolsch Style Beer, Go Far IPA (India Pale Ale), Haze County Double IPA, and Redacted Rye Recipe (American Brown Ale).

Code 3 Amber Ale quickly became one of their most popular types of craft beer due to its ashen, pale color, light body, and maltiness.

Brewed in San Jose, CA, since 2012, all five types of craft beer brewed by Ale Industries are meant to be consumed fresh!

Ale Industries tasting room is currently located in San Jose, CA, where they offer various types of beers on tap for both on-site and off-site consumption. In addition, some other types of craft beer available at their tasting room include; American Red IPA, Rye IPA, Sparkfitter Stout, Weizenbock Wheat Ale, and Winter Warmer.

10. Fall river brewing taphouse

The Fall River Brewing Taphouse is a local restaurant and pub founded in 2009 by friends Pat Sullivan and Mary Allen. They started their brewery to create craft beers they wanted to drink while hanging out with family and friends.

Fall River Brewing Taphouse specializes in making craft beer including; Berkshire Blueberry Ale, Captain’s Pale Ale, Ginger Garden Lemon Ale, Mucky Duck Irish Red Ale, Sputnik Ryesing Up Hefeweizen, Summer Swelter India Pale Lager, T&N Oktoberfest Marzen Style Amber Lager, and Winter Wonder Chocolate Stout.

Their tasting room is currently located in New Bedford, Massachusetts, where patrons can check out their rotating selection of over 12 craft beers on tap for on-site and off-site public consumption.

Some other types of craft beer available at Fall River Brewing Taphouse include; Black Lager, Brown Ale, Cream Stout, Hefeweizen, Honey Blonde Ale, an India Pale Ale.

11. Altamont beer works

Altamont Beer Works is a brewery in the small town of Livermore, California. They started their brewery to become your local neighborhood craft beer bar.

Since starting their brewery, they have become known for brewing over six different types of beers, including; Altamont Ale Kolsch Style Ale, Delirium Red Belgian Style Dubbel, Lair Of The Bear American Brown Ale, Mountain House IPA (India Pale Ale), Scooter’s Pilsner and Void Of Light Foreign Extra Stout.

Their tasting room is currently located in Livermore, where all six craft beers are available on tap for on-site and off-site public consumption. Some other types of craft beer available at their tasting room include; Altamont IPA, Livermore Lager, Wicked Twisted Kolsch Style Beer, and Wood Aged Double IPA.

12. Henhouse brewing company

Henhouse Brewing Company is a brewery in the town of Petaluma, California. They started their brewery to maintain a comfortable and inviting place where friends can meet for a beer.

Since starting their brewery, they have become known for brewing over five beers, including; IPA (India Pale Ale), Pilsner Lager, Proper Cider, Red Rooster American Amber Ale, and Rotten Kitty Hefeweizen.

Their tasting room is currently located in Petaluma, where all five types of craft beer are available on tap for both on-site and off-site public consumption. Some other types of craft beer available at HenHouse Brewing Company’s tasting room include; Pepper Beer, Porter Rye Black Ale, Saison Farmhouse Ale, and Sticky Chicken Beer.

13. Stumptown brewery

Stumptown Brewery is a locally owned brewpub that was founded in 2001 by John Rust. The first Stumptown Brewery was located in the Woodstock neighborhood of Portland, Oregon, where they brewed their types of craft beer on-site.

Since moving to Portland’s Buckmans Wharf district, Stumptown has started brewing its craft beers on-site and off-site public consumption. Their draft list includes; Bionic Imperial IPA, Bourbon Barrel Aged Secret Stash Stout, Brown Ale, Copperhead American Pale Ale, and First & Goal Extra Special Bitter (ESB).

Their tasting room serves as a brewery open every day from 11 am-11 pm for on-site public consumption and a pub open from 11 am-10 pm with an expanded food menu. Some other types of craft beer available at Stumptown Brewery’s tasting room include; First & Goal Strong Bitter (ABV 7.9%), IPA, Secret Trail Pale Ale, and Sweet Heat Wheat Beer with a Jalapeno Pepper.

14. The red bus brewing company

Red Bus Brewing Company is a brewery in the northern town of California. They started their brewery to become your local neighborhood craft beer bar.

Since starting their brewery, they have become known for brewing over three beers, including; Black River Red American Amber Ale, Jack’s Pumpkin Spice Ale, and Thunder Snow Stout.

Their tasting room is located in Clinton, where all three types of craft beer are available on tap for on-site and off-site public consumption. Some other types of craft beer available at Red Bus Brewery’s tasting room include; Irish Stout, Oatmeal Milk Stout, and Scottish Export 80/-.

15. Moonraker brewing company

Moonraker Brewing Company is a brewery in the town of Auburn, California. They started their brewery to be your local neighborhood craft beer bar.

Since starting their brewery, they have become known for brewing over six different types of beers, including; Amarillo By Morning American Pale Ale, Cloudy With A Chance Of Hops IPA (India Pale Ale), Lager, Pop The Cap Golden Ale, and Renegade Blonde Belgian Style Witbier and Sucker Punch Double IPA.

Their tasting room is currently located in Auburn, where all six craft beers are available on tap for on-site and off-site public consumption. Some other types of craft beer available at Moonraker Brewery’s tasting room include; Cloud Nine Pilsner, Moonraker Hefeweizen, and Toaster Porter.

Conclusion

Breweries in northern California are concentrating on creating a welcoming environment for their customers. They make craft beers that cater to the tastes of their specific markets and offer an inviting tasting room where they can sell both on-site and off-site consumption.

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