hands holding three pints of craft beer

Top Craft Beers You Must Taste from Santa Rosa Breweries

Though I’m more of a wine girl, many of my close friends are craft beer connoisseurs, and my husband’s desert island wine is probably a Belgian strong ale. Because Sonoma County has become one of the hot destinations for craft beer tourism, we’ve compiled the top craft beers from Santa Rosa breweries. These are some of the best local microbrew beers, all small-batch lots from lesser-known producers that are hard to find in big grocery or liquor stores. It’s not that we don’t like Russian River Brewing Pliny the Elder or Bear Republic Racer 5—they are now considered Sonoma County classics and the craft brewery equivalent to Jordan, Corison and Ridge wines, for example. You can find these beers at the brewery taprooms unless otherwise noted.

Six Top Craft Beers from Santa Rosa Breweries

A pint of Twist of Fate at Moonlight Brewery in Santa Rosa
A pint of Twist of Fate at Moonlight Brewery in Santa Rosa.

Twist of Fate Ale

Moonlight Brewing Company
Santa Rosa, CA

A garagiste brewer in an industrial park, Moonlight Brewing is a Santa Rosa beer drinker’s favorite, celebrating twenty-five years of business in 2017. Originally offered only on rotating handle, Twist of Fate—an extra special bitter ale—is now a more permanent feature in Moonlight’s ever-changing stable of flagship, seasonal and experimental beers. It’s a West Coast-style English bitter that is delicate and smooth with a tartness that would attract sour beer drinkers. Unlike Moonlight’s popular Reality Czeck and Death & Taxes, Twist of Fate is hard to find outside of the brewery. The tiny, pop-up style taproom is only open to Santa Rosa beer lovers on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, but a taproom expansion is in progress, with more seating, extended hours and space to offer twelve beers on tap (only six currently). They hope to open the redesigned watering hole before the end of the year.

3350 Coffey Lane Suite A, Santa Rosa, CA, 707-528-2537, moonlightbrewing.com
HenHouse Brewing Company, Santa Rosa breweries, El Dorado zero IBU IPA beer in a pint glass
HenHouse Brewing Company’s zero IBU El Dorado IPA, available at picnic tables outside the taproom.

El Dorado Extra Special IPA (Zero IBU)

HenHouse Brewing Company
Santa Rosa, CA

HenHouse brewery gets its name from an old egg-processing facility in Petaluma where the three founders started making beer in 2011. Their craft beers became wildly popular with locals, and they moved to a larger, more modern facility in southwest Santa Rosa in 2016. HenHouse is known for changing its beers on tap frequently, and one recent favorite is the El Dorado Extra Special IPA—a citrusy, zero IBU (International Bitterness Units) beer where all of the hops are added after the brewing process through a technique called dry hopping, which makes it extremely smooth and easy-drinking with just a hint of bitterness. The new brewery is also home to HenHouse’s first taproom. It’s now open seven days a week with pies from Red Horse Pizza food truck available Thursday-Sunday.

322 Bellevue Ave, Santa Rosa, CA, 707-978-4577, henhousebrewing.com
Bartender serving pint, Crooked Goat Brewery, Grapefruit Ibex Beer
A bartender serves a pint of Grapefruit Ibex at Crooked Goat Brewery in The Barlow.

Grapefruit Ibex IPA

Crooked Goat Brewery
Sebastopol, CA

Located in The Barlow, this craft brewery has a taproom with roll-up garage doors and an outdoor patio. The Grapefruit Ibex pale ale has citrusy, honeyed scents with a bright, tart orange taste that cuts through the hoppiness of the IPA. Crooked Goat is known for their crowlers—custom cans of American microbrews filled to order. The bar food menu features to-go delivered from nearby restaurants; recent highlights included wood-fired pizzas by Vignette and barbecue by BBQ Smokehouse Bistro. Free live music on Saturdays.

120 Morris St #120, Sebastopol, CA, 707-827-3893, crookedgoatbrewing.com
A pint of Seismic Mozacca IPA beer, Santa Rosa breweries
A pint of Seismic Mozacca at Jackson’s in downtown Santa Rosa.

Mozacca IPA

Seismic Brewing Company
Santa Rosa, CA

The newest Santa Rosa brewery, Seismic is owned by Christopher Jackson of the Kendall-Jackson wine empire. Seismic’s state-of-the-art facility in southwest Santa Rosa is focused on sustainability, built to recycle the majority of the water used in beer making. There are plans for a taproom, but no set date. Loaded with tropical fruit and citrus flavors, the Mozacca IPA is named for the two hops that give it its distinct aroma and flavor–Mosaic and Azacca. It’s currently on tap at Jackson’s Bar and Oven restaurant and Wilibees Wine & Spirits in downtown Santa Rosa, Sally Tomatoes and Hana Japanese sushi restaurant in Rohnert Park, and a handful of other bars and restaurants in the area.

2870 Duke Court, Santa Rosa, CA, 707-544-5996, seismicbrewingco.com
Death & Taxes beer, dark lager being poured from tap, Moonlight Brewing Santa Rosa
A bartender pulls a pint of Death & Taxes black lager at Moonlight Brewing’s taproom.

Death & Taxes Black Lager

Moonlight Brewing Company
Santa Rosa, CA

A black lager that is surprisingly light-bodied and easy-drinking, Death & Taxes is one of Moonlight Brewing’s flagship beers. It’s the American microbrew version of Ireland’s Guinness and smells like chocolate-flavored coffee with has a smooth, chocolaty taste. My favorite Santa Rosa beer, Death & Taxes is the only brew that can lure me away from a glass of dry rose on Saturday afternoon. Find it on tap at Moonlight’s taproom and at restaurants in the Bay Area. Not available in bottles or cans.

3350 Coffey Lane Suite A, Santa Rosa, CA, 707-528-2537, moonlightbrewing.com
Pint of HenHouse Oyster Stout beer, HenHouse Brewing Company Taproom, Santa Rosa breweries
A pint of HenHouse Oyster Stout at the patio outside the brewery’s Santa Rosa taproom.

Oyster Stout

HenHouse Brewing Company
Santa Rosa, CA

One of HenHouse Brewing’s flagship beers, the Oyster Stout is an English Stout-style beer brewed with oysters from Hog Island Oyster Co., hence the name. The beer is inky-black in color and creamy with flavors of chocolate and coffee. It’s pleasantly bitter and has an almost briny, mineral character on the finish from the oysters. Both Oyster Stout and HenHouse’s popular Saison IPA (brewed with fresh cracked pepper and coriander) will be available in cans soon.

322 Bellevue Ave, Santa Rosa, 707-978-4577, henhousebrewing.com

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About the Author

Born and raised in rural Kansas, Lisa Mattson fell in love with wine during college in South Florida and worked for a wine magazine before moving to Northern California. She spent almost a decade working as a writer, marketing director and photographer/videographer for Jordan Winery and now serves as a hospitality design and marketing consultant for several wineries, including Jordan. She also designs succulent gardens under the name Sonoma Succulents. When she’s not eating and sipping her way through Sonoma County in the summer and Baja California Sur in the winter, she travels the world with her husband in search of new succulents, ethnic foods, snorkeling spots and tiki bars.

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