The 3 Best Sonoma County Breweries
The Mosaic Hotel Group’s collection of award-winning boutique hotels spans from Northern California’s Wine Country to Mexico’s central highlands. Few destinations draw as much attention as Sonoma County, a year-round haven for oenophiles, bicyclists, and foodies alike. Yet, Sonoma County’s craft beer scene remains an underrated characteristic of this genuinely breathtaking region, especially for those who appreciate well-balanced ales as much as fine wine. And, thankfully, most top-reviewed Sonoma County breweries are only a short distance from El Dorado Hotel & Kitchen, a modern-vintage boutique hotel and eatery in the Sonoma Plaza.
A Sonoma County Brewery Guide: From Santa Rosa to Sonoma
Upon arrival, most travelers gravitate toward two renowned Sonoma County breweries: Lagunitas Brewing Company and Bear Republic. Lagunitas is a household name with multiple U.S. locations, including Northern California’s Petaluma. Now a subsidiary of Heineken International, Lagunitas is no longer considered a craft brewery. Bear Republic, meanwhile, is one of the country’s 50 largest craft beer producers. But you won’t find either taproom on this list. The three selections below wholly encapsulate the allure of Sonoma County, including outstanding beer, warm hospitality, and good vibes.
Russian River Brewing Company remains the top-rated brewery in Sonoma County. And it’s not even close. Its 4.18 rating on Untappd (a reputable online beer community) places Russian River in elite company. The rating demonstrates how consistent the recipes have been over the years, dating back to 1997, when the company was founded in quaint Guerneville. Today, the downtown Santa Rosa location welcomes “beerologists” from all across the continent. While COVID-19 has affected its brewpub atmosphere, patrons can still grab beer on-the-go, such as the always-reliable Mind Circus hazy IPA or the easy-drinking STS Pils.
Shady Oak’s sizable outdoor patio earns it a spot on this list of premier Sonoma County breweries. It’s also located in downtown Santa Rosa, just a few clicks away from Santa Rosa Creek, Luther Burbank Gardens, and the Prince Memorial Greenway. To no one’s surprise, Shady Oak feels like an authentic, modernized barrel house, crafting a diverse array of barrel-aged sours, wacky (and hazy) IPAs, and the occasional stout. The parking lot-turned-patio seats dozens of patrons in a surprisingly serene setting, complete with flowers, greenery, rope lights, art, and, yes, several repurposed picnic tables. Twitter Blitz is a new house favorite, while Shady Locals continues to hold its ground as the County’s tastiest sour (aged with black currants).
Sonoma Springs remains the only brewery near Sonoma Plaza, thereby monopolizing the local market. Its Riverside Drive location is less than two miles from El Dorado Hotel & Kitchen, making it a common pit stop for thirsty travelers. Many of the hotel’s guests purchase beer-to-go and relish the German-style goodness in the comfort of El Dorado’s private, spacious garden patio. In fact, Sonoma Springs’ team delivers online orders to the Plaza within minutes. A new Vacaville taproom is in the works, but there’s still something magical about enjoying a pint inside its original, brick-laden bar. It’s impossible not to recommend Sonoma Springs’ hazy IPAs, namely Dr. Feelgood and the Simcoe Sunset.
Boutique Hotels in Sonoma County
Start and finish each day of wine (or beer) tasting, golf, and cycling at El Dorado Hotel & Kitchen, a renowned boutique hotel in the heart of Sonoma. The hotel’s elegance, sophistication, and modern-vintage architecture are as enticing as its lush outdoor space and on-site restaurant, a culinary experience unlike any other in the Plaza. Per “usual,” keep an eye on in-room dining restrictions and availability by visiting El Dorado Kitchen’s website.
The wintertime is the perfect season to relax, unwind, and explore Sonoma County, all while properly social distancing. To book a well-deserved escape to Sonoma, please check availability online (or call directly at 707-996-3030).