To most people, Sonoma County means wine country. And for good reason. It’s the birthplace of wine in the US and one of the best wine destinations in the world. But Sonoma County is more than just wine country, it’s beer country as well. In particular, the Russian River Valley in the heart of Sonoma County.
This region has an interesting beer history: it was the site of the first microbrewery in the USA, and was once a popular hop growing region. Nowadays, this area is a stronghold for craft breweries. Taking a beer-cation to the Russian River Valley is great for a weekend getaway or for special celebrations like bachelor/bachelorette parties, birthdays and anniversaries.
An hour and a half of driving (65 miles) north of San Francisco will get you smack dab in the middle of Sonoma County in the Russian River Valley. From San Francisco, hop on 101 north and just drive. For a brew-focused weekend, there are some stops you will want to make on the way up.
In Petaluma, make a pit stop at Laguintas Brewery for a sip of Daytime Ale (an IPA that goes down smooth), and a 30 minute tour of the taproom. From Petaluma, keep heading north to Cotati. You can drive on by, or stop and have a beer at GravSouth Brewery - try the Sweet Stout or Packing House Porter. After Cotati, you'll come to Santa Rosa where you will want to stop at Fogbelt Brewing Company. It’s a small establishment, with just a window into the beer making process, but it’s a good place to have a bite and taste their brews.