Move Over San Diego, Sacramento Is The Hot New California Beer City
San Diego might be California’s beer Mecca, but there are some other incredible destinations to check out. The Orange and Los Angeles county breweries are producing some killer beers, but the traffic moving around those areas can overwhelming. So what about Sacramento? Traffic is nonexistent, compared to SoCal standards. The scene is continuing to grow, the beers are some of the best in the state, and the food is definitely on point. In fact, in 2018 The Thrillist included Sacramento in the “15 American Cities That Secretly Have Great Food Scenes”.
Oh yeah, the beer!
Sacramento knows beer. Their brewing history goes back to the gold rush days. Author Justin Chechourka carefully documented the past in his book, Sacramento Beer. It does a great job documenting the past, as well as bringing you up to date with the wave of new breweries that have come to life in recent years. There also happens to be this little start-up brewery you might have heard of, Moksa Brewing. Which, by the way, was rated 6th, in RateBeer’s 15 best new breweries in the world for 2018. Regardless of your feelings about RateBeer, this is an incredible feat, and they are an outstanding brewery.
If you’re looking for that tried and true industrial complex brewery, Track 7’s Curtis Park location will certainly fill that need. You are looking for a few more creature comforts, like AC. New Glory offers has a comfortable spot that still has that warehouse brewery appeal. Ok, you want full AC and comfortable seating. Burning Barrel and Moksa will not disappoint. How about beer and food? Urban Roots and Alaro are two of the newest brewpubs that are turning out both, award-winning beer and great food to match. Oh, you want a farm brewery, or 3. Goat House, Hillenbrand and Dueling Dogs will all give you that rustic farm appeal that includes locally grown hops, goats and country roads.
From my first visit to the present day, the beer culture in Sacramento has exploded. The quality of the beer has matched its growth. Sacramento might be the State Capital and known for its massive Farm to Fork scene, but they have embraced the beer culture head-on.
Along with 70+ breweries in the greater Sacramento area, and another 30 or so in the region, there are some fantastic restaurants and tap houses with impressive beer lists. Getting a great beer in Sacramento is the easy part. Picking your beer, with so many great choices makes that decision tough.
Sacramento, just like other metropolitan areas has suburbs and surrounding cities that help to create the area’s vibe. When you think about Sacramento, don’t just stick with the City or County. It’s more about the region. While most of the breweries are within about a 15-mile radius of downtown, there are some great spots within 30 miles. Moonraker Brewing and Knee Deep Brewing are both are located in the City of Auburn and directly across the street from each other.
Another City that plays a big part in the region is Rancho Cordova — located about 15 miles east of downtown Sacramento. They have embraced their inner brewer and created a Barrel District, that consists of six breweries, two distilleries, and one meadery.
Sacramento has its act together!
Sacramento might be thought as up and coming, but they are on top of it when it comes to supporting their craft beer. Sacramento’s beer week, April 26th thru May 5th is a perfect showing of the regions wonderful beer community that pairs incredibly well with food and fun.
Beers in Sac, a web and app-based site has been providing key beer information for the masses as well as helping to organize beer events and provide essential event services. Their app has tons of brewery information, as well as a job board and local events listed. Download this app when you are planning your visit, you won’t be disappointed.
Sacramento Beer Frontier offers a beer passport program as well as some great maps that highlight the growth of the brewing industry. If you have the time or planning multiple visits, this is a fun way to work your way through the region. $16 gets you a 32-page passport with fold out full-color map, a bottle opener, and 20-oz English pint glass that you work towards as you visit the area’s breweries.
When you’re planning your brewery adventure, don’t forget the food. The Sacramento food scene is staggering and has way too many choices to share them all. So, without droning on, here are a few spots that have tremendous tap lists and Instagram worthy dishes.
So what about the breweries? I’ve already named a few spots that need to be on your short list, but to sum it up, here are my top five if you are sticking closer to downtown.
Like any City, Sacramento has a few less than pleasant idiosyncrasies. Summer can be hot. Like 100+ degree hot. Drivers can be a little challenging at times unless you are comfortable merging on the freeway at 20 miles under the speed limit and think turn signals are optional. But hey, your drinking so let someone else drive you while you enjoy the ride. It could be fun.