The popularity of California breweries took off almost overnight. It was actually over the course of about 100 years, but it feels like the widespread fervor for craft beer caught mainstream attention quicker than most other California fads.
I’ve enjoyed the energetic California brewery scene since I turned 21. I’ve frequently visited breweries for Tuesday night trivia with my friends, and live music and date night on the weekends.
Table of Contents
- 17 Best California Breweries
- Stone Brewing
- Venice Ale House
- Old Stump Brewing Company
- Lagunitas Brewing Company
- Golden Road Brewery
- Sequoia Brewing Company
- South Lake Brewing Company
- Temblor Brewing Company
- Central Coast Brewing
- Three Weavers Brewing Company
- Libertine Brewing Company
- Knee Deep Brewing
- Russian River Brewing
- Burning Barrel Brewing
- Wicks Brewing
- Barrelhouse Brewing
- Monkish Brewing
- FAQs About the Best Breweries in California
Disclosure: Travel Lemming is an independent reader-supported blog. You can support us by purchasing via the affiliate links on this page, which may earn us commissions. Thank you!
17 Best California Breweries
The famous handcrafted brews of this large SoCal brewery can be found in 40 countries around the world
Stone Brewing is one of the largest breweries in Southern California and the ninth largest in the United States. You can find Stone Brewing craft beer at most major liquor and grocery stores, which further indicates its widespread popularity.
Brewed in Escondido, CA and Richmond, VA, Stone Brewing beverages are available in all 50 U.S. states and exported to 40 different countries around the world. Stone Brewing specializes in IPA beers and is responsible for being one of the pioneers of the west coast-style IPA.
The large Escondido brewery location offers both indoor and outdoor seating and is next to the first Stone Brewing restaurant- Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens. This brewery is one of the best breweries in San Diego and I recommend the Bavarian Pretzel and the Stone Delicious IPA.
Venice Ale House
Watch cresting waves from this waterfront Venice brewery
Enjoy a blonde or stout craft beer right on the Venice Beach waterfront, one of the most entertaining beaches in Southern California. Although the establishment itself is small, the character of Venice Ale House is larger than life.
This boardwalk gastropub offers a wide selection of craft beers and also specializes in tasty organic dishes. From taco plates to breakfast burritos, sandwiches, and fresh salads, make sure you visit Venice Ale House on an empty stomach.
Their local beers on tap include a variety of pale ales, IPAs, and even craft beer that is 9% alcohol for those with a higher drinking tolerance. My favorite beer at Venice Ale House is always the California Organic Blonde Ale.
Old Stump Brewing Company
Listen to local musicians on the patio of this Inland Empire brewery every weekend
Easily one of my favorite craft breweries in California, Old Stump Brewery is a good place for big parties and lovers of craft beer culture. The biggest draw to Old Stump is their live music every Sunday and the delicious varying food trucks.
Some of Old Stump Breweries’ cleverly named, tasty craft beers include Show Me Your Melons Watermelon Blonde, Muffin Top Blueberry Blonde, Double D’s Double IPA, and Rusty Gasket Rusty Irish Stout.
There are also two seltzers available at Old Stomp for visitors who don’t like beer but there is no wine or other alcohol offered.
Lagunitas Brewing Company
This Northern California brewery has crafted perhaps the most popular beer in California, available statewide in grocery stores
You will find Lagunitas Brewing Company craft beers almost everywhere you turn in California. This is one of the most popular craft breweries in California, if not the United States, and their IPAs are salivatingly good.
Lagunitas is so popular that Heineken bought a 50% share of their company. Located in Petaluma, you don’t want to miss the signature beer of Lagunitas next time you’re around the San Francisco area.
Popular beers on tap include the Marshall Martian IPA, Cappuccino Stout, and Dip Trip IPA. Lagunitas Brewing Company also offers brewery tours (back by popular demand), live music, and small bites.
🛎️ Need a hotel? The Metro Hotel is one of the nicest boutiques in the area and is only 15 miles from Sonoma State Historic Park.
Golden Road Brewery
A famous Los Angeles brewery responsible for creating the delicious Mango Cart ale
Golden Road Brewery is a Southern California classic. With multiple locations in Los Angeles, Anaheim, and Huntington Beach, Golden Road is a top Los Angeles activity.
My favorite Golden Road beer is the light wheat ale Mango Cart, which is also widely found in convenience and grocery stores throughout the Golden State. Inspired by California, most of Golden Road’s other beer styles also center around the west coast like the Ride On West Coast IPA.
This is one of the best breweries in California and beer lovers are attracted to Golden Road not only for the lagers and IPAs but also for the pub food like chicken fingers, pizza, and California fish tacos.
Sequoia Brewing Company
Sip on an ice-cold beer amidst the world’s largest trees
This Northern California brewery has three locations in the vicinity of Sequoia National Park including two in Fresno and one in Visalia. Many locals can be found at Sequoia Brewing on Fridays and Saturdays for live music from 8-11 pm.
Sequoia Brewing Company has an array of local signature beer cleverly named after sequoia landmarks. The Half Dome Blonde is a fan favorite as well as the General Sherman IPA and the Sequoia American Pale Ale.
Sequoia Brewing offers much more than just craft beer. You can also find wine and cocktails at all three locations as well as a full food menu. Try the cheese curds to start followed by a Sequoia’s Cobb Salad and a Grizzly Giant Burger for the entre.
📚 Related Reading: While you’re in the area, check out Sequoia National Park, one of the top California National Parks.
South Lake Brewing Company
A Sierra Nevada Mountain brewery with alpine views and a welcoming mountain community
Lake Tahoe is paradise on earth and one of the most romantic destinations in California. With an abundance of outdoor recreation activities like skiing and fishing, nothing compliments an entire day spent outdoors like a nice cold beer.
South Lake Brewing Co. brews its own beers on-site at the South Lake Tahoe location. This is one of the top breweries in California and certainly a local Tahoe favorite. The Sierra Nevada taproom is open from 12 pm-9 pm Monday-Sunday.
Favorites include the Festbier German Pale Lager, Marlette Sunrise Blood Orange Blonde, and the Shred Ninja Juicy IPA. South Lake Brewing Co. also employs rotating food vendors so brewery-goers can satisfy their appetites after trying the unique beers.
Temblor Brewing Company
The entertainment hub of Bakersfield with weekly trivia nights
Check out Temblor Brewing Co. next time you’re in central California. This spacious, industrial brewery is the talk of Bakersfield and offers tasty brews, modern pub food, and live music.
Their beer selection consists of American lagers, Mexican lagers, wheat beer, brown ales, IPAs, blondes, seltzers, porters, sour beer, and others at this Belgian-inspired brewery.
I love to visit Temblor for trivia night, usually every Tuesday night at 7 pm. Temblor also hosts open mic comedy nights every Wednesday at 7 pm.
Central Coast Brewing
A San Luis Obispo County brewery with one-of-a-kind brews to choose from
Established before the turn of the century, Central Coast Brewing is one of the best breweries in San Luis Obispo County. The brewery offers a wide variety of hand-crafted styles, so everyone can find a flavor that best suits their taste buds.
Central Coast Brewing is known for its one-of-a-kind lagers and ales. Enjoy a fresh beer on the outdoor patio or inside while watching the big game. I recommend trying the Lucky Day IPA, Monterey Street Pale Ale, or the Terrifico Mexican Lager.
Even if you can’t make it to the brewery in person while in the San Luis Obispo area, you can still find Central Coast brews in the area’s convenience stores.
👉 Pro Tip: Use this helpful guide to figure out where to stay in San Luis Obispo so you can enjoy the best of the area.
Three Weavers Brewing Company
A family-owned brewery with rotating food trucks and mouth-watering small bites
Three Weavers Brewing Co. is a top brewing company in Los Angeles. This Inglewood brewery has an inviting, modern dining area and taproom.
Three Weavers is a family-owned brewery and frequently hosts different food trucks. There are core and seasonal beers on tap at all times like the Expatriate West Coast IPA, Cloud City Hazy IPA, and Sun Trap Sour Beer.
🛎️ Need a hotel? Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills is one of the best hotels in the area and has a restaurant, free bikes, and a free American breakfast.
Libertine Brewing Company
A coastal brewery in SLO County with the biggest selection of beers on tap
Libertine Brewing Co. is a unique brewery that utilizes its natural environment. The original Morro Bay facility used hot lava rocks to produce a top-of-the-line brew. Libertine Brewing Company also has a coffee shop and restaurant where you can find 56 local Libertine beers.
The demand for Libertine beers was so high that they opened up a second establishment in Avila Beach and another in San Luis Obispo. Here, you can find Wild Ales, live music, and the beach only a few hundred feet away.
I recommend trying the Belgian Sours, Double IPAs, and Barrel-Aged Stouts. Libertine is one of the coolest things to do in Morro Bay, so make sure to stop by next time you’re in the area.
Knee Deep Brewing
A pet-friendly microbrewery with golf simulators and other fun games
Knee Deep Brewing Co. is a family-run microbrewery just north of Sacramento. Visiting this brewery is one of the best things to do in Northern California and their beers can be found throughout the entire U.S. as well as other various countries.
The best perks of Knee Deep are the pet and kid-friendly tasting rooms and the open accessibility 7 days a week. I personally like their Beautiful Blonde beer but the Hola Senor Mexican Lager is also a fan favorite along with the Citra Extra IPA.
Knee Deep Brewing stands out because it has golf simulators in the back room, which are available for reservation daily. There are 84 championship courses to choose from and 13 multi-sport games like football and basketball.
🚗 Need a ride? Knee Deep Brewing’s Auburn location is over half an hour from Sacramento. Rent a car from Discover Cars to get around without racking up a big ride-share tab.
Russian River Brewing
The surrounding redwood forest draws many to this Sonoma County brewery
Russian River Brewing Company is the happening place to be in Santa Rosa. Not only is this a great place to drink beer, but it also specializes in mouthwatering homemade pizza.
The surrounding redwood forest makes the Russian River Brewing establishment one of the best breweries in California. This Sonoma County brewery stands out in a region filled with vineyards.
Russian River Brewing Company has a few beers that are only available in-house like the Mind Circus Hazy IPA but others like the Damnation Golden Ale can also be found at local Northern California convenience stores.
Burning Barrel Brewing
A Northern California brewery that hosts food trucks and a weekly bingo night
Burning Barrel Brewing Company is one of the best breweries in Northern California, just east of Sacramento in Rancho Cordova. Enjoy your brews in the air-conditioned taproom or the spacious outdoor patio next time you’re up north.
More adventurous beer lovers can try the notorious Cacao Killer, an 14% alcohol Imperial Barrel Aged Stout. I personally like lighter beers, like the Bear Country Blonde (only 5.9% alcohol), but Burning Barrel is known for its wide selection of house-made IPAs.
You will find varying food trucks Wednesday-Sunday at Burning Barrel Brewing Company and music bingo night every Wednesday at 7 pm.
Enjoy the tap room and restaurant in one of the biggest breweries in the Inland Empire
Wicks Brewing Company features craft beers and delicious food in Riverside, California. The brewery has been serving the greater Inland Empire community craft beers since 2013 and hosts a vibrant open-floor tap room and restaurant.
Wicks is one of the biggest brewpubs in the Inland Empire with 25 draft selections, and a variety of other drinks. There’s something for everyone at Wicks, so be sure to visit the brewery with a thirst that needs quenching.
The Wicks taster flight is the best way to get acquainted with their specialty beers. Choose from sour beers, pilsners, lagers, and more. You can also satisfy your hunger at Wicks with tacos every Tuesday and Thursday or pizza any day of the week.
Right off Highway 101, this scenic brewery draws hundreds of music lovers to its huge outdoor stage
Barrelhouse Brewing is the perfect stop to make on your awesome California road trip right off Highway 101. This Paso Robles brewery summons hundreds of thirsty customers on the weekends during the grand musical performances held on the huge outdoor patio.
Barrelhouse is one of the biggest family-owned breweries in San Luis Obispo County. Besides the Paso Robles location, Barrelhouse also has establishments in San Luis Obispo, Fresno, and Visalia.
The brewery keeps its customer’s taste buds intrigued by devising new flavors monthly and also has tasty core brews like Sunny Daze, Mango IPA, and Big Sur IPA.
A small but mighty LA County brewery that’s pet-friendly
Enjoy the small atmosphere and craft beer of this sunny Southern California brewery. Monkish Brewing has two locations: Torrance and Anaheim, California.
Some perks of Monkish are its indoor and outdoor seating options, to-go beers, frequently varying food truck options, and a kid and pet-friendly environment.
You will find several dark ales at Monkish all with a 9% alcohol content or more. Lighter beer lovers also have their fair selection of blondes and IPA folks take delight in their huge selection of house-made IPAs.
FAQs About the Best Breweries in California
What is the most popular beer in California?
Budweiser is the most popular beer in California along with Bud Light and Heineken. The Russian River Pliny the Elder is the most popular craft beer in California.
How many breweries does California have?
There are more than 850 breweries in California from north to south and everything in between. This is more than any other U.S. state.
What city in California has the most breweries?
San Diego has the most breweries in California. There are 150 independent breweries in San Diego alone, with Resident Brewing and North Park Beer Company at the top.
What is the oldest brewery in California?
Anchor Brewery is the oldest brewery in California. It was opened in 1896 in San Francisco and is still open to the public today.
You’ve made it to the end of the best California breweries list. Have fun and remember to drink responsibly! For more adult beverage fun in California, check out my guide to the best Napa wineries.
Help us help you travel better!
Your feedback really helps ...
What did you like about this post? Or how can we improve it to help you travel better?