Culinary travel in the West

The very best destinations, trips, and dining experiences for foodies

California's best craft beer

How do you get to the heart of the craft brew craze? Go taste at the source: along the Sonoma and Mendocino ale trail


– Eric Smillie

1. Denver to Fort Collins, CO (76 miles)

  • Great Divide Brewing, Denver. Don’t miss: Oak Aged Yeti, a roasty Imperial Stout with a touch of vanilla.
  • Avery Brewing, Boulder. Don’t miss: Small-batch specials; coconut shrimp with lemony White Rascal witbier. $;
  • Oskar Blues Brewery, Longmont. Don’t miss: Firkin Fridays for one-off experiments at the Tasty Weasel Tap Room.
  • New Belgium Brewing, Fort Collins. Don’t miss: The 90-minute brewery tour that ends with you going down a slide.

2. San Diego to Placentia, CA (112 miles)

  • AleSmith brewing, San Diego. Don’t miss: Evil Dead Red, a red ale thick with hops and a smooth toffee sweetness.
  • Stone Brewing, Escondido. Don’t miss: Sampling four beers on the brewery tour, including the powerful Arrogant Bastard Ale. $$;
  • The Lost Abbey, San Marcos. Don’t miss: Wild yeast brews, such as the dry, sour-cherry-flavored Cuvee de Tomme (released in mid-November).
  • The Bruery, Placentia. Don’t miss: Beers made with surprising ingredients like yam, Thai basil, and toasted pecans.

3. Portland to Newport, OR (385 miles)

  • Hair of the Dog Brewery, Portland. Don’t miss: Adam, a chocolatey, earthy dessert ale. $;
  • Full Sail Brewing, Hood River. Don’t miss: Locally-raised-beef burgers and a view of the Columbia River from the pub deck. $;
  • Deschutes Brewery, Bend. Don’t miss: Trial brews such as the Oh Be Joyful pale ale and spicy mac and cheese. $$;
  • Rogue Brewery, Newport. Don’t miss: The brewery’s full catalog of beers on tap, plus halibut fish and chips. $$; 


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