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Microbrewery tour along the 101?

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Looking for trip planning advice.
Which would you visit? If there's any good additions, please add.

Anderson Valley
North Coast
Bear Republic
Russian River
Lagunitas
Moylans
Marin Brewing
Speakeasy
Drake's
end in SF with Toronado/Zeitgeist/ or something for Moonlight.

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  1. How long do you have? North Coast and AV are good, but might be out of the way. If you were to visit these 2, you also could stop by Ukiah Brewing Company in Ukiah and Mendocino Brewing Company in Hopland.
    If I were doing this trip and assuming I am starting up north, I would start with Bear Republic in Healdsburg. They usually have a few offerings that you will not find anywhere else. The food is not so great.
    Then I would go to Russian River in Santa Rosa. If you know good beer, you know why you need to go. They also make pretty good pizza.
    After that I would stay in downtown Santa Rosa and go to the Flavor Bistro. This is a great spot two blocks from Russian River Brewing. This place is almost like Moonlight Brewing's restaurant. They always have 5 to 6 Moonlight beers on tap at all times.
    You could also go to Third Street Aleworks which is also in downtown Santa Rosa. Personally I would imbide in the Russian River and Moonlight offerings.
    Lagunitas in Petaluma does a great tour. Call ahead of time to see if you can schedule a tour. They have a great tasting room.
    Moylans in Novato is great because they usually have their Double IPA Moylander and their Triple IPA Hopsickle on tap.
    I would skip Marin Brewco. Their tap offerings are usually pretty boring and their best beer, White Knuckle, is rarely on tap. I would instead go to Iron Springs Pub in Fairfax. Some of their great beers included Casey Jones and The Crippla.
    In the city, Speakeasy and Anchor are good places to go. Since neither has a restaurant, you need to call ahead of time to see about tours.
    I would recommend going to Rogue in North Beach. Have a ton of Rogue's offerings (try the St. Rogue Dry Hopped Red), as well as some great guest taps.
    21st Ammendment and Magnolia also are good places to visit in the city and they have restaurants attached. Magnolia is good if you like cask conditioned ales.
    Also can't go wrong with a stop to Toronado or Zeitgeist.
    Drake's is located in San Leandro and you would probably want to save that for an East Bay trip.

    4 Replies
    1. re: pininex

      Thanks for the input, it was great.
      Could you recommend two choices and help us with the choices?

      which of these? lagunitas or speakeasy or anchor
      which of these? moylans or iron springs pub

      so far the ones we've decided are bear repub, russian river, flavor bistro maybe, and rogue in sf.

      1. re: StephP

        If you go to Lagunitas on a Friday, they have a sort of 'happy hour,' but you might need to call ahead to schedule a tour.

        Moylan's has better beer and is easier to get to than Iron Springs.

        Speakeasy's nothing to get excited about and a pain to get to in the City, I would skip it.

        Anchor requires a reservation to take the tour, and depending on what day you go, those book up weeks to over a month in advance. You're not just going to be able to walk in and get a tour or tasting.

        If you want a brewpub, go to either 21st Amendment or Magnolia. Good food, good beer. Every other brewpub is mediocre, and not worth the trip.

        City Beer is a great spot; 6 taps and lots of bottled beer, but very little food, just a rotating selection of cheeses.

        1. re: StephP

          I like all of your choices you have so far.
          Highly recommend doing the Flavor Bistro. Moonlight has a bunch of special beers out right now including Boney Fingers and two fresh hop beers (Just Go Shopping and Sublimminal).
          If I were to pick between Lagunitas, Speakeasy, and Anchor, I would say Lagunitas as it is right off 101 in northern Petaluma. They got rid of their happy hours, so you have to call ahead. Typically they say to come by at 3. The tasting room is great and reminds me of being in someone's gameroom/basement.
          You can't lose between Moylans and Iron Springs. For convenience, I would say Moylans. Moylans is right off 101 in Novato and as previously mentioned, they usually carry all of their good beers. They do update their tap list daily on their website under the menu section. Iron Springs is great but you have to travel a few miles on Sir Francis Drake to get there.
          Rogue is a great place to end the night and if the weather is nice, they have a beer garden in the back.
          Have fun and please report back.

          1. re: StephP

            If you really want to hit only two, it's probably important what styles you prefer.

            For an true IPA fan it'll be tough, as Speakeasy, Lagunitas, and Anderson Valley are extraordinary for IPAs.

            Russian River has a wider range - I'm a huge fan of their Damnation Ale, which is a belgian white.

            It also depends what you can get other places or at home.

            Years ago I stopped at Mendicino Brewing and there was a guy next door making North Carolina BBQ - a rather rare BBQ style hereabouts. They still there?

        2. You interested in just the quality of the beers?

          Or you want the food too?

          Note that Lagunitas is just a brewery, not a brewpub. But they probably will let you stop in for a taste if you call ahead.

          Speakeasy is just a brewery as well, and will probably not let you stop in for a taste. Drake's is in San Leandro, not near 101. And they no longer have Friday happy hours either.

          Anchor is not on your list. No food there either, but you can typically stop in for the tour at 2:00 and tasting after. Or sometimes, you can just sneak in for the tasting...

          1. if you are in the east bay, I'd recommend The Trappist for Belgians and in San Francisco, City Beer, a little hole in the wall on Folsom where you can both drink and buy. Also, Thirsty Bear in san francisco has some good brews, I like the Imperial cask conditioned ($3 specials on Tuesdays). If you can wrangle a tour at Anchor (not far from Folsom), you might enjoy it, and they let you drink a lot of beer. Old Foghorn is very good, and I believe the Christmas Ale is coming out.

            1. Great list... make sure to let everyone know what time you will be on the road, however =)