Wineries are not the only ones offering tours these days and out and about in the “wine country” you will find brewery tour guides as well as the winery guides driving visitors from place to place. With the growth of the microbrewery in Sonoma County, people are sampling and leaving with bottles and growlers of craft beer like they would at any of the wineries in Alexander or Dry Creek Valley’s.
Most of the breweries are doing food too so the chances of keeping guests their longer to taste are higher. People are coming in from all over the country to taste the deliciousness of Russian River craft brews or to see what all the hype is about at Lagunitas.
Having a passion for beer travel myself, I love seeing all of the down-to-earth folks coming to visit my homeland. And, being in the wine business it is funny to see how many more people are coming in for the beer and the wine; it’s not just wine country any longer, it’s hops country too. Step aside wine because not only are more and more people coming for the micro brews, but these brewers are giving some winemakers a run for their money by fermenting their tasty beers in wine barrels: the sour ales are becoming a huge commodity. Healdsburg’s Bear Republic is putting out new sour beers regularly with the Tar Tare being a hit with the green syrup they add to it to offset some of that sour sweet tart taste and now they have released the Cuvee de Bubba; a mix of all of their beers and then barrel fermented. Russian River Brewery has the sour beer market in the palm of their hands with favorites like Temptation and Consecration. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir barrel aged brews both create a passion for the sour and the demand because you can only buy the beers there at the pub and there are no growlers sold of these mouth puckering masterpieces.
While Bear Republic and Russian River might be the most well known to those outside of the area and quite possibly are the favorites to the locals, there are a vast number of microbreweries to visit and there is a guy to take you to them so you can enjoy! North Bay Brewery Tours has an incredible lineup of tours scheduled for convenience. Who wants to think very hard anywhere for places to stop at? And craft beer on the bus? Yes, please! For anywhere from $65 to VIP tours at $99 a group or couple can select a date and time and literally jump on the band wagon and be taken around, safely to the local breweries.
My husband and I are crazy about beer and travel all over to visit sometimes just one brewery. Having recently discovered North Bay Brewery Tours, I will be booking my tours to revisit my local breweries with a whole different experience! Of course there are other ways to see the beer country and it can be a bit difficult and pricey since many of these awesome places are so far apart. Many of the transportation companies will drive anywhere but how do you find out where to go? I like to use Untappd to find my new destinations. They have this great feature call “nearby” and all of the breweries pop up. The only thing is, you have to educate yourself by visiting their websites because many of them are small nano breweries or possibly home brews or just not open yet. That’s the trouble with the craft beer industry, its so laid back that sometimes the information is not always correct, but, hey, that’s also part of the fun. Unlike the wine industry, even if a small brewery is closed, they’ll probably invite you in for a pint and show you their set up! Beer people just want to have fun and they love what they do.