From the coolest beer gear to the latest brewpubs and breweries to the can’t-miss collaboration brews, our list ensures that your 2013 will be off to a delicious start.
Edited by Megan Flynn
Photograph by Nicolle Clemetson
Whether you’re entrenched in the West Coast beer scene or just entering into the wonderful and vast world of craft beer, we guarantee you’ll learn something new from this year’s Best of the West Coast package. Otherwise, the beer’s on us. From the most stylish beer gear to the West Coast’s first nonprofit brewery and 2012’s craziest brews, this guide will steer you toward innovate brewers, the hottest new beer bars, and the best beer the West Coast has to offer.
While we aimed to focus our attention on the latest and greatest, we couldn’t help but include some of our perennial favorites. Like some of the best experimental brewers, we, too, took a “throw everything into the kettle” approach to this year’s Best Of list, and instead of neatly categorizing our picks, we decided to list them organically, in no particular order, so you can enjoy them however you choose. A few at a time, or all at once, our Best Of’s are sure to keep you satiated well into the New Year.
Move over beer festivals. Portland’s first annual Feast (September 20–23, 2012) combined the best of the region’s food and drink presented over four days through pairing dinners, seminars, tasting events, and after-parties. With smart beer panels made up of some of the country’s most enterprising brewers and beer writers, this event offered foodies new and compelling ways to think about beer. Mark your calendars for next year’s Feast (September 20–22, 2013).
Portland, OR / commonsbrewery.com
Just when we thought Portland had reached a breaking point when it came to opening craft breweries, it now seems that the city may be impervious to oversaturation. The 2012 standout, The Commons, combines European brewing traditions with Northwest ingredients. Brewer/owner Mike Wright quickly expanded his one-barrel nanosystem into a seven-barrel brewery with an exceptional lineup of Belgian-inspired beers, including the lightly floral Urban Farmhouse Ale—a 2012 World Beer Cup winner—and Flemish Kiss, an American pale ale-style beer aged with Brettanomyces yeast.
The Lost Abbey
San Marcos, CA / lostabbey.com
What can we say? We totally have a crush on you. On you, Tomme Arthur? No, not really. On your beers, yes. They’re elusive, effervescent, and just the right amount of seductive. The labels are wrought with gothic, suggestive artwork, and the resulting beer is equally as expressive. From the Inferno Ale, a modest 8.5 percent ABV Belgian strong pale ale, to the beautifully well-balanced Red Poppy Ale, a barrel-aged brown ale with sour cherries, each beer is uniquely mysterious and thought provoking.
Spokane, WA / nolibrewhouse.com
A longtime staple in Spokane’s small but thriving craft beer community, the former Northern Lights Brewing Company has a new name and a sparkling new image, making it our pick for this year’s best brewery rebranding. Last summer, No-Li sold as many bottles in three weeks as it did the entire previous year—a nod to the power of smart branding and marketing. With strong staple beers like the Crystal Bitter and the ever-popular Blueberry Créme ale, this 20-year-old brewery’s image finally matches the quality of the beers.
Golden Road Brewing
Los Angeles, CA / goldenroad.la
Helping to put L.A. on the craft beer scene in a major way, Golden Road Brewing, owned by craft beer industry veterans Meg Gill and Tony Yanow, is the largest and most visible brewery in L.A. The production brewery hit the ground running in late 2011 and immediately offered the signature Hefeweizen and Point the Way IPA in 16-ounce cans—a sustainable trend that’s quickly catching on across the nation. Aiming to develop a unique L.A. craft beer tradition, Golden Road has chosen to focus on the IPA, brewing seasonal releases that push the boundaries of the style. Standout: Burning Bush IPA made with German rauch (smoked) malts and a healthy dose of Northwest hops. An extremely limited release, you’ll have to beg brewmaster Jon Carpenter to recreate that beer.
Hilliard’s Beer, WA / hilliardsbeer.com
Old-school design meets new-school saison, all tightly packaged in a 16-ounce can. This new-ish (open in October 2011) Seattle brewery is no-fuss, no-muss (their motto is “Now with fewer mottos”) with a bare bones taproom and a focus on production. And while you won’t get to unravel a cage and pop a cork to drink this saison, no matter, you can easily pack this fantastic can of flavor on all of your outdoor adventures.
By far our favorite beer gadget of 2012, the Bräuler blends stylish industrial design with user-friendly features to become the perfect beer container. Impervious to light and breaking, the cylindrical vessel and state-of-the-art cap design keeps draft beer fresh and chilled long after leaving the brewery. The Bräuler is the brain child of three Portlanders, Harvey Claussen, James Andrew, and Christian DeBenedetti, and the team is in the midst of launching a modular cap system that includes the innovative FreshCap™, a CO2 injection system, guaranteed to keep your beer fresher longer.
Portland, OR / breaksidebrews.com
OK, I’ll admit it: I didn’t want to like these guys. A group of dudes opening yet another brewpub in Portland. Whoop-de-do. Just what Portland needs, brewpub No. 2,348. But with a brewing degree from the Siebel Institute of Technology, brewing training in Europe, and degree from Yale, Breakside’s head brewer Ben Edmunds isn’t your typical garage homebrewer-turned-pro. Although Breakside opened three years ago with a modest three-barrel brewing system, they’re currently completing an expansion (the 30-barrel production facility and tasting room in Milwaukie, Oregon will be open any day now) and have earned a reputation for being one of the most forward-thinking, experimental breweries in the Northwest. Not just any brewer can throw blackberries, lemon peel, and juniper berry into a gin barrel and have it come out tasting fantastic. (Brewer’s Bramble was modeled after the Bramble cocktail.)
SeQuential Biofuel Station
multiple locations Eugene, OR / sqbiofuels.com
Never before have we been so excited to fill up the gas tank. Not only do these eco-friendly pit stops offer cleaner burning, sustainable biodiesel fuel options (SeQuential is one of the Northwest’s largest used cooking oil collection and recycling companies), but they also recognize the importance of properly fueling your body—choose from an amazing selection of regional bottled beer and healthy and local snacks. The service stations are partially powered by solar panels, and the retail stores are topped with living roofs covered with more than 4,800 plants.
Walnut Creek, CA
While most of the craft beer action in the East Bay is happening in Oakland, venture 15 miles east to the suburban town of Walnut Creek, and you’ll not only find a brand spanking new brewery, Calicraft Brewing Company, but also a well-appointed gastropub, Corners Tavern, and ØL Beercafe & Bottleshop, featuring 18 beers on tap and a few hundred bottle selections.
Placentia, CA / thebruery.com
In the past four and a half years, The Bruery, brainchild of Patrick Rue, has released more than 190 different beers. The kicker: They’re also some of the best and most sought-after beers in the world. Barrel-aged, unfiltered, unpasteurized, and bottle-conditioned, these beers are far from your typical lineup of lagers, pale ales, and stouts. Made with ingredients like Thai basil and pinot noir grapes, each beer is remarkably different, well-crafted, and tasty. If we could pick just one (OK, two): Black Tuesday, an imperial stout aged in bourbon barrels that beer geeks can’t resist, and Sour in the Rye, arguably one of the best sour ales we’ve tasted. Ever.
Crux Fermentation Project
Bend, OR / cruxfermentation.com
One of Bend’s newest breweries, Crux, is the product of many years of craft brewing industry experience. Co-owner Larry Sidor, former brewmaster at Deschutes Brewing, brings his knowledge of traditional and wild fermentation together in this community-based brewery—you can actually go stand by the tanks in the brewpub while drinking a pint and chatting with the brewers. Crux also has one of the more creative happy hours: “Sundowner” happens every evening 30 minutes before sunset and 30 minutes after (times are posted daily on a blackboard), and you can expect specials on beer and grub ($1 off pints and $2 off all appetizers). So far, the Northwest-style ales have been exactly what we expected: delicious.
Is cider the new beer? Spanning the range from light to dark, dry to sweet, cider, like beer, can be as varied and creative as our favorite sudsy beverage. With new cideries popping up throughout the West Coast, and a larger awareness and appreciation among drink lovers (not to mention the gluten-free movement), cider is quickly becoming a staple on draft and bottle lists from neighborhood pubs to four-star restaurants.
The tart, acidic, and slightly sweet qualities of craft ciders make them a great food pairing beverage, add a few spices and some heat for a warm winter treat, or drink them straight out of the fridge for a thoroughly palate-pleasing experience. Though craft ciders can be tough to find, stores like Whole Foods and other specialty markets are quickly catching on. Some of our favorites: Ace Ciders, RedStreak, 2 Towns, and Finnriver.
Los Angeles, CA
Thanks in large part to a few enterprising entrepreneurs who also happen to be craft beer buffs, and a public hungry for hoppy suds, L.A. has begun embracing craft beer with fervor. Home to some of the trendiest beer bars on the West Coast, like The Parish and Verdugo Bar, and new breweries like Golden Road Brewing and Eagle Rock Brewery, La La Land may never have as many breweries as Portland (property prices, anyone?), but that doesn’t mean they don’t have great beer.
Half Moon Bay Alection Beers
In a country that’s so politically divided, even Republicans and Democrats seem to agree that craft beer is a worthy trend. To commemorate the 2012 election, Half Moon Bay Brewing Company designed a unique bottle label for each presidential candidate, a smiling Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, donning his telltale grin. The “Alection” beers were available in a SuperPACK and the “winner” was announced on Election Day. So, at the January 21, 2013 Presidential Inauguration, Democrats will rejoice with a bottle of Obama beer, while Republicans weep into their pint of Romney ale.
’Tis the year of the Silver Anniversary. Renowned San Francisco craft beer bar—if a little moody and provincial—the Toronado Pub, celebrated its anniversary in August with a specially brewed Russian River American Wild Ale. One of Sacramento’s oldest breweries, Rubicon Brewing Company, is also 25 this year, a staple brewery in northern California’s craft beer community. And lastly, turning 25 in 2012, the Oregon Brewers Festival celebrated with record attendance—more than 80,000 attendees sampling over 120 beers from Oregon and the U.S.—making it one of the largest beer festivals in the country.
Rogue Ales / rogue.com
Just when you think they can’t get any more creative (Beard yeast beer, anyone?), Rogue now offers proprietary tuna. Newport, Oregon fisherman troll past the Rogue Public House, boats loaded with fresh-caught Albacore tuna, which is then immediately canned in its own juices (no added oil or salt) and cooked in small batches by a craft cannery in nearby Charleston, Oregon. The wild tuna pairs delightfully with Rogue’s Brutal IPA and is available at various Rogue Ales locations and online at rogue.com.
10 Barrel Brewing
Bend, OR / 10barrel.com
This powerhouse Bend, Oregon brewery is not only battling Idaho state law to open a brewpub location in Boise but also managed to lure away award-winning brewer Tonya Cornett from Bend Brewing Company, to consult for the brewery, and Shawn Kelso, also an award-winning brewer formerly of Barley Brown’s Brewpub, will work on developing new beers on the experimental brew system in Bend.
The World Atlas of Beer: The Essential Guide to the Beers of the World
(Sterling Epicure, 2012) by Tim Webb and Stephen Beaumont
This visually appealing book belongs on the coffee table of all beer lovers. With information from all corners of the globe, The World Atlas of Beer offers novices invaluable knowledge with in-depth descriptions of the brewing process and history of beer, while aficionados will appreciate the attention to detail in reference to beer regions as well as more than 500 specific beers. The perfect complement to your library, The World Atlas of Beer takes you on a worldwide beer journey without having to leave your living room.
Logsdon Organic Farmhouse Ales, Hood River, OR
Though it debuted in 2011, we can’t get enough of this beer. A true farmhouse-style ale, brewed on an idyllic country farm in a red barn just outside of Hood River, Oregon, surrounded by Belgian cherry trees and farm animals, the Seizoen Bretta is a bright, Belgian golden ale with a splash of funk (courtesy of Brettanomyces yeast). Though not all saisons are made with brettanomyces, we would choose the Seizoen Bretta over traditional saisons any day.
If one person could be credited for introducing Los Angeles, California to craft beer, it would be Ryan Sweeney. The unassuming owner of five of L.A. area’s best craft beer bars—Verdugo, Surly Goat, Little Bear, The Phoenix, and most recently, Blind Donkey—Sweeney, a ball-cap-and-flip-flop-wearing southern California dude, is crazy about craft beer.
“I’ve always been an advocate for craft beer. My dad loved the stuff, and I grew up sneaking bottles of Sierra Nevada, Henry Weinhard’s, and Anchor Steam. I brought my own beer to college parties. I was that guy.” Six years ago when he opened his first L.A. beer bar, Verdugo, Sweeney says he had to search far and wide to even find kegs of decent craft beer, whereas now there’s so much good beer available that he has a hard time choosing what to put on tap.
In a land where the culture is unabashedly based around the next best thing, one may wonder if L.A.’s craft beer trend will last. Sweeney thinks so. “We’ve finally hit critical mass. Craft beer has worked its way into the culture; it’s going to stick around. There’ll be a shake out, sure, there’s always the question of saturation, but instead of more breweries or more craft beer bars, I see craft beer culture becoming increasingly refined.”
Elysian Brewing Company Apocalypse Series
If you’re reading this, we assumed you successfully survived 12-21-2012. (If it’s not yet 12-21-2012, please refer to page 64 for our End of the World survival guide.) Elysian and Fantagraphics Books, both of Seattle, released a series of 12 beers, issued on the 21st of each month in 2012, featuring label artwork of Charles Burns, taken from his weirdly apocalyptic work Black Hole. Standouts include: Rapture Heather Ale, Peste Chocolate Chili Ale, and Maelstrom Blood Orange Ale.
Widmer Brothers Brewing, OR / omissionbeer.comc
Nowadays being gluten free is as common as vegetarianism, and we appreciate that the brewers at Widmer are paying attention. Based on a proprietary process that actually removes gluten from the barley, the Omission line debuted with a crisp, light lager and a bold, hoppy pale ale—both approachable and tasty. Omission gives GF folks something to cheer about, and you’d never guess the beers were gluten free.
San Diego, CA / tigertigertavern.blogspot.com
The brother pub to San Diego’s well-known Blind Lady Alehouse, Tiger! Tiger! has a simplistic community (craft) beer hall feel with long wooden tables and a few metal bar stools. A rotating tap list features the best of San Diego craft beer as well as specialties from around the world. Beer lovers hankering for a snack will enjoy sandwiches—try the fire-roasted po’ boys—and pizza. (Yes, there are vegan options available.) Insider tip: Hit up the Sunday morning brunch and try the vegan doughnuts.
Morro Bay, CA / facebook.com/TheLibertinePub
Head 13 miles northwest of San Luis Obispo on U.S. Highway 1 to Morro Bay where you’ll no doubt run smack into the Libertine Pub, which opened last summer. With a small nanobrewery in the back of the pub, 20 guest taps, and more than 18 bottle selections, the Libertine has something for every palate, is a stone’s throw from the ocean, and is the perfect place to connect with locals on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Pair your craft beer with fresh fish and chips or the mouthwatering, housemade clam chowder.
With a population hovering around a mere 80,000, this small but lively central Oregon city is producing some of the best beer in the country—and lots of it. With an influx of new breweries like Crux Fermentation Project, GoodLife Brewing, and the upcoming, extremely ambitious Worthy Brewing Company adding to the lineup of seasoned breweries like Deschutes Brewery, Cascade Lakes Brewing Company, and 10 Barrel Brewing Company, Bend is, in our opinion, one of the top beer destinations on the West Coast.
MB Post, Manhattan Beach, CA
Who would have thought that Manhattan Beach was a culinary destination? Enter David LeFevre, chef-owner of MB Post, a James Beard-nominated restaurant (Best New Restaurant and Best Chef Pacific). The Post is a social house and gastropub aimed at creating a sophisticated dining culture that caters to the laid-back oceanfront lifestyle. Located a block from the beach, the Post offers a lineup of carefully chosen draft beers that supplement a robust bottle list, curated by managing partner Mike Simms (Simmzy’s, Tin Roof Bistro, and Lazy Dog Café). The food menu is full of texture and innovation and includes dishes like steamed mussels with green curry and Moroccan barbecue lamb belly. In the mood for simpler fare? Try the bacon cheddar buttermilk biscuits or the fleur de sel pretzel with horseradish mustard.
Cheese Meat(s) Beer
Bellingham, WA / cheesemeatsbeer.com
Located inside the Whatcom Museum Lightcatcher Building, this cafe-meets-beer-bar combines the best of local, seasonal ingredients with Bellingham’s thriving beer culture. Together, Bellingham native Annalou Vincent and her partner Travis Surmi present an ever-evolving menu of inspired comfort foods like a pork rillette sandwich and the signature cheese meat(s) beer plate of artisan cheeses, cured meats, and pickles paired with a four-ounce serving of craft beer.
Pilsner Churchkey Can Company, WA
While we may not be in love with the particular liquid in this can, we do love the aesthetic and passion behind the product. The recipe was developed by two garage homebrewers in Seattle, endorsed by Hollywood star Adrian Grenier, and packaged in a stainless steel flat-top can—requiring a churchkey to open—a design that went out of style in the ‘60s with the invention of the pull tab.
Though the idea of collaboration beers wasn’t born in 2012, some of the best collaboration beers we’ve tried showed up on the craft beer scene this year. Our favorites:
Lips of Faith Super IPA / Alpine Beer Company/New Belgium Brewing
One the best large craft breweries meets one of the country’s best IPA breweries. Of their combined efforts pours forth a deliciously piney, well-balanced hop bomb—especially at 9 percent ABV.
Bière de L’Amitié “Friendship Brew” / Green Flash Brewing Company/ Brasserie St. Feuillien
This black saison is a combination of American and European hops, Belgian yeast, and unnamed special spices. Finishing dry with subtle spice, the beer weighs in at a mere 5.7 percent ABV, so feel free to order a second glass.
Flanders Fred / Hair of the Dog Brewing/De Proefbrouwerij
Alan Sprints brewed his renowned Fred—a 10 percent ABV golden strong ale—at this experimental Belgian brewery. The beer was then blended with an 18-month-old Flemish lambic supplied by the Bockor Brewery, also of Belgium. The result: a deep golden, fantastically funky blend of old- and new-world beer styles.
Social Kitchen & Brewery
With former Marin Brewing Company assistant brewer Kim Sturdavant taking over as brewmaster at this neighborhood gastropub, Social Kitchen & Brewery wins our award for best beer makeover. The food has always been drool worthy—especially brunch on Saturday and Sunday—but now with Sturdavant at the helm in the brewhouse, the beer quality finally matches the gourmet grub. Sturdavant’s motto is “less is more,” and he presents a lineup of sessionable, European-inspired beers, most coming in under 5 percent ABV, including a Czech-style pilsner that rivals the best in the world.
Hangar 24 Craft Brewery
Redlands, CA / hangar24brewery.com
Situated in the heart of California’s Inland Empire, just east of L.A., Hangar 24 is making big waves in an area that was all but bereft of craft beer just a couple of years ago. With a decidedly American-style craft beer lineup, Hangar 24 appeals Southern California palates with sessionable ales and lagers while also introducing fans to styles like barrel-aged porters and Belgian-style beers. The crowd-pleasing Orange Wheat Ale, brewed with local pureed oranges, is perfect on a hot, sunny day. For an exhilarating sensory experience, try the Chandelle, a barrel-aged sour ale with apricots.
The Oregon Public House
Portland, OR / oregonpublichouse.com
This winter have a pintand change the world. OK, so maybe one pint isn’t going to solve all the world’s problems, but it can’t hurt. Combining two of Portland’s best attributes, craft beer and nonprofit organizations, the Public House donates 100 percent of its net profits to local charities and organizations, chosen by you, the consumer. This community center/pub was almost entirely built by volunteers with capital raised from local Portlanders. It offers a comfy setting to learn more about local nonprofits while enjoying your favorite local brew.
The Woodsman Tavern
Portland, OR / woodsmantavern.com
It took a little while, but Portland’s fine dining scene is finally catching up with the craft beer explosion. Located in the southeast, The Woodsman is known for its raw bar, rustic menu, and memorable cocktails, but what many people don’t know is that their 12-tap beer menu plus two cask beers and a Belgian-centric bottle list makes this restaurant one of the more beer-savvy in town. Pair the hard-to-find Stillwater Farmhouse Ale with the domestic ham plate, or sip the oh-so-Belgian pale ale Delirium Tremens with the rabbit pot pie for a savory experience you won’t soon forget.
JOSH PfRIEM INTERVIEW
pFriem Family Brewers
BEER WEST When did you become interested in brewing beer?
Josh Pfriem When I was 20 years old I fell in love with drinking craft beer. Shortly after I homebrewed for the first time, I knew I wanted to become a brewmaster and own my own brewery some day.
BW What are your biggest accomplishments as a brewer?
JP Opening my own brewery has been one of my biggest and most challenging accomplishments.
BW You won some big awards while you were a brewer at Chuckanut in Bellingham.
JP I was the head brewer at Chuckanut, and our first year out of the gate we won Small Brewpub of the Year at the 2009 Great American Beer Festival in Denver. Experiences like that gave me a strong foundation while building pFriem Family Brewers.
BW What is your brewing philosophy?
JP Mine has always been a simple one. I love beer because it brings people together, and if you are together drinking beer it might as well be the best beer it can possibly be. This ideology has driven me to push the limits of beer while always striving to make it better.
BW What are you doing differently at pFriem?
JP We designed the brewery around the beers we want to brew. We used a lot of large brewery concepts on a small scale so that we could get big brewery quality with an artisanal approach.
BW What’s the most rewarding thing about being a brewer?
JP It’s very rewarding to work so hard to craft something you love and to share it with others. That’s what gets me up in the morning. I love having the power to take a sip of beer that I brewed, enjoy it, and figure out how to make it better. It’s a never-ending challenge.
BW What does the future of pFriem look like?
JP I can’t wait to see where we’ll be in five years. By then, I hope to have a very well-established barrel-aging program and have experimented with lots of new yeast strains and beer styles.
Craziest Beers 2012
Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout
Wynkoop Brewing Company
Denver, CO / wynkoop.com
After a huge response to an April Fools’ Day spoof video the brewery released last spring, they decided to craft “the ballsiest beer ever”: a stout brewed with bull testicles.
Never Mind The Anabolics
Scotland, UK / brewdog.com
For the 2012 Summer Olympics, BrewDog brewed a beer using “banned” performance-enhancing ingredients: creatine, guarana, ginseng, gingo, maca powder, matcha tea, and kola nut. As the brewers at BrewDog say “Why waste time training hard? This little beauty does the hard work for you.”
Bluejacket Brewery, Cigar City Brewing, and Funky Buddha Brewery
Tampa, FL / cigarcitybrewing.com
This limited-edition collaboration imperial porter flavored with dry-roasted peanuts, Key West sea salt, vanilla beans, cacao nibs, and lactose will make you think you are noshing on your favorite movie theater snack.
The White House Honey Brown Ale
Washington, DC / whitehouse.gov
OK, so this beer may not have been brewed using any crazy brewing technique or ingredients (besides honey from the apiary on the White House South Lawn), but it is the first known homebrew to come out of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and that’s pretty rad.
Newport, OR / rogue.com
After no luck searching their hop farm for a new yeast strain, the guys at Rogue had a crazy idea: Brewery employees took nine hair follicles from brewmaster John Maier’s beard and lab workers found a yeast perfect for fermenting beer. The ‘beard beer’ will be released in early 2013.
Top West Coast IPAs
90 IBU, 7.2% ABV
American Brewing Company
Edmonds, WA / americanbrewing.com
Pliny the Elder
100 IBU 8% ABV
Russian River Brewing Company
Santa Rosa, CA / russianriverbrewing.com
Sculpin India Pale Ale
70 IBU 7% ABV
Ballast Point Brewing Company
San Diego, CA / ballastpoint.com
CLASSIFIED IBU 9% ABV
Alpine Beer Company
Alpine, CA / alpinebeerco.com
75 IBU 7.25% ABV
AleSmith Brewing Company
San Diego, CA / alesmith.com
CLASSIFIED IBU 11% ABV
Alpine Beer Company
Alpine, CA / alpinebeerco.com
80 IBU 7.5% ABV
Laurelwood Public House & Brewery
Portland, OR / laurelwoodbrewpub.com
100+ IBU 7.7% ABV
Stone Brewing Company
San Diego, CA / stonebrew.com
100 IBU 9% ABV
Anchorage Brewing Company
Anchorage, AK / anchoragebrewingcompany.com
Hop Venom Douple IPA
80 IBU 10% ABV
Boneyard Beer Company
Standout Breweries of 2012
Los Angeles Ale Works
Los Angeles, CA / losangelesaleworks.com
Though they don’t have a brick and mortar brewery, these “gypsy” brewers, John Rockwell and Kristofor Barnes, are wowing beer lovers with their lineup of German- and Belgian-style beers.
Portland, OR / occidentalbrewing.com
Kudos for being bold enough to bring delicious and easy-drinking German-style brews into a city that loves their big IPAs and sours.
Gigantic Brewing Company
Portland, OR / giganticbrewing.com
Opened by two longtime Oregon brewers, Van Havig and Ben Love, Gigantic was one of the most anticipated West Coast brewery openings in 2012. Luckily, it has withstood the hype.
The Ale Apothecary
Bend, OR / thealeapothecary.com
Melding the ancient art of brewing with traditional wine and Champagne production, The Ale Apothecary takes wild fermentation to a whole new level.
Southern Pacific Brewing
San Francisco, CA / southernpacificbrewing.com
This warehouse-turned-biergarten has quickly become the favorite new hangout spot in the city’s Mission District with tasty in-house brews and a beer-focused menu.
Kulshan Brewing Company
Bellingham, WA / kulshanbrewery.com
Bellingham’s beer scene is growing quickly—they had their first annual beer week in September—and at Kulshan it’s all about classic Northwest-style ales. Our favorite: Trans-Porter.
San Diego, CA / whitelabs.com
Sometimes the smallest things make the biggest difference. One of the country’s largest yeast production labs highlights the huge impact yeast has in beer by fermenting the same batch of beer with various yeast strains and pouring the results side-by-side in their new tasting room.
Subscribe to Beer West today!