Beer is as beloved in Mendocino County as wine is, and with award winning breweries, beer-centric festivals, and homebrew aficionados, it’s not surprising that you can find a great place to enjoy a brew or two anywhere in the County! Before making plans, check out what’s happening this Spring along the Mendocino County Beer Trail.
GET YOUR BEER HERE – STRAIGHT FROM THE BREWERY!
If brewery hopping (not to be punny) is your thing, Mendocino County has seven breweries spaced throughout the County. Three of them have built impeccable resumes of award-winning beer and historic firsts. Ukiah Brewing Company in Ukiah was the first certified organic brewpub in the nation – you read that right! Founded in 2000 by the Cooperrider Family, UBC continues to focus on high quality handmade beer. Back in the early days, matriarch Els Cooperrider spearheaded the GMO-free movement in Mendocino County. Today’s owner Keith Feigin is carrying on this tradition started by the Cooperriders, including showcasing live, local music and great food! Beer offerings include pilsners, IPAs, lagers and a well-balanced porter. Get ‘em by the glass, in cans and growlers.
Another environmentally responsible brewery known as the world’s first solar powered brewery, Anderson Valley Brewing Company, is located in the heart of Mendocino County’s wine country. AVBC boasts a bevy of beers carrying the name of the lost language of the area – Boontling – like Poleeko Pale Ale, Boont Amber Ale and Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout to name a few. Founded in December 1987, AVBC only had a 10-barrell brewhouse sitting below their original brewpub, The Buckhorn Saloon. At that time, there were only 20 craft breweries in the country which is why Anderson Valley Brewing is considered one of the pioneers of the craft beer industry. Their facilities moved to the current location at Highways 253 and 128 due to the demand for their award-winning ales. Today, the 26-acre property is home to a 100-barrel brewhouse, a tasting room, beer garden and the first 18-hole disc golf course to be built at a brewery. AVBC also serves up live music in their outdoor venue from Spring through Fall, weather permitting.
In Fort Bragg, North Coast Brewing Company is also considered a pioneer in the craft beer movement since their opening in 1988. NCBC’s reputation for quality has garnered over 110 awards in national and international competitions. True to Mendocino County’s independent spirit and fierce commitment to eco-friendly and sustainable practices, North Coast Brewing is TRUE Platinum Zero Waste certified, offering 13 non-GMO Project Verified beers. Responsible and tasty is a very attractive look! NCBC’s offerings include Scrimshaw (pilsner), Belgian Abby style ales such as Brother Thelonious, a great stout in Old No. 38 and their flagship brew, Red Seal Ale, a copper-red pale ale. Perhaps the most widely distributed beer out of Mendocino County, North Coast Brewing sells in all 48 contiguous states and is exported to Europe and the Pacific Rim.
A throng of newer breweries adds to the delectable offerings of Mendocino County’s beer scene. By appointment only is Hare in the Forest Brewing, a decidedly boutique small batch brewing company located in Potter Valley. Boasting modest 15-gallon batches, Hare in the Forest Brewing believes the best beer is the beer brewed from the heart, at home. In Willits, Northspur Brewing Co. has taken hold on the north end of town. Brewmaster Jakob Foley started as a homebrewer, with his love of beer making shifting to larger endeavors, like opening a small, seasonal brewery in the northwest corner of Patagonia…yes, in Chile! Having spent time commercially brewing, he began to experiment with more homebrew creations, always dreaming of building a brewery in Willits. Having realized his dream, we’re all beneficiaries of his small batch marvels: amber, Kolsch style, and summer blonde ales, plus a cadre of IPAs, a stout and seasonal offerings. Another success story of homebrewers turned brewery owners is Overtime Brewing in Fort Bragg. Their offerings run the gamut of lighter beers to IPAs to a walk on the darker side with stouts and porters. With interesting flavors like their Jasmine Green Tea, their Graveyard Shift Experimental IPA with notes of roasted rye, toffee and caramel, and a new offering of Overkill Chocolate Raspberry Stout, it’s easy to discern why this is a local favorite. Down on the south coast of Mendocino is the newest addition to Mendocino County’s breweries in Point Arena – The New Museum Brewers + Blenders Brewery & Beer Cafe. Owners and partners in pints, Rose & Peter have been brewing at home and in a professional capacity for about 10 years. This new venture focuses on Belgian inspired beers – light, drinkable, and tasty, with a passion for farmhouse ales. With their doors opening any day, you’ll want to make the trek to this new brew offering!
OTHER PLACES TO ENJOY A DRAFT
In addition to the seven breweries spanning Mendocino County, fine ales, lagers, stouts and more can be found around nearly every turn in pubs, cafes, high-end restaurants and markets. In the tiny town of Hopland, great beer is easy to find at places like the Hopland Tap House, The Golden Pig Restaurant and even at The Golden Pig Wine Shop. From April 15 – May 15, ask about Beer Trail specials. Up the road in Ukiah, Westside Renaissance Market has a great selection of beer, and for those with an axe to grind, may be suggest The Thirsty Axe in downtown Ukiah…just throw the axe before you enjoy an ale! Heading north on Highway 101, take the Redwood Valley off ramp for the Coyote Valley 101 Tap House featuring what else…101 beers on tap! And no beer trail is complete without a stop off at Shanachie Pub in Willits. Shanachie is probably the most authentic European style pub off the beaten path from Main Street in the heart of downtown. Local favorite in Fort Bragg, Piaci’s Pub & Pizza has one of the most diverse beer offerings in bottles and on tap – and what goes better together than beer and a pizza pie?! In Noyo Harbor, Sea Pal Cove – the food shack where the locals go – boasts 18 beers on tap, an ideal thirst quencher while sitting dockside. Patterson’s Pub is the place to hang out for sporting events, food, and libations, including a great selection of beer in the Mendocino Village. At the chic Café Beaujolais, you’ll find a phenomenal selection of rare and hard to find brews and venturing further south on Highway 1, Little River Inn embraces the beer culture with some great local and regional craft beers. Along the south coast of Mendocino County, The Pier Chowder House & Tap Room – talk about views with your brews – is an iconic spot to enjoy a pint or two! And Surf Market on the very south end of the Mendocino Coast, in Gualala, has an incredible selection of over 90 local beers plus regional craft brews and imports too!
BEER EVENTS – LARGE & SMALL
After a two-year hiatus, beer is being celebrated by the masses at the 24th Annual Legendary Boonville Beer Festival at the Mendocino County Fairgrounds in Boonville on Saturday, April 23rd. Over 65 breweries will showcase their beers, plus you’ll enjoy food, live music and more! Tickets are only available for sale online; no day of ticket sales. On May 21st, homebrewers take center stage at the Mendocino County Homebrewers Festival & Fire Safety Expo. This event takes place at Anderson Valley Brewing Company in their new beer park and has both a People’s Choice and a Professional Brewer’s Choice Award with the winner able to brew their beer at AVBC alongside Master Brewer Fal Allen. Fal is also joining Little River Inn’s Executive Chef Marc Dym on April 17th for a chillaxing afternoon sampling AVBC’s private label Saison in the gardens at Little River Inn.* On April 15th, Café Beaujolais is having a tap release party with special kegs from local breweries as well as from around the country being tapped. Check out this fun event in their outdoor garden patio; they’ll be serving oven fired pizzas and other delectables.
*The April 17th event at Little River Inn has been cancelled.
SPECIALS ON PLACES TO STAY
Ask about the Beer Trail lodging rate when you visit the historic and beautiful Thatcher Hotel downtown Hopland. In Fort Bragg, choose one of the four properties belonging to the Beachcomber Hotel Group: The Beach House, Surf & Sand Lodge, The Harbor Lite Lodge and the namesake Beachcomber Motel for a 10% discount when you stay mid-week. You also receive a complimentary beer when you check in and discount on a beach cruiser bicycle during the Mendocino County Beer Trail promotion. At the stunning Brewery Gulch Inn just south of the Mendocino Village, receive a North Coast Brewing Company Growler when you book a 2+ night between April 15th and May 15th. Then take the growler to NCBC’s taproom and have it filled on the Brewery Gulch Inn. Just keep in mind this offer is for new reservations only and not valid with other discounts.
Come visit Mendocino County and find your hoppy…or stout…or pale ale!