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Located about an hour and a half north of San Francisco, Santa Rosa, California is most famously known for a few things. It’s part of the heart of Northern California’s wine country in Sonoma County. Plus, it’s where “Peanuts” creator Charles Schulz lived for many years, with the city now hosting a museum about his life as well as his ice rink. Most importantly, beer lovers will best know it as one of the secret capitals of California’s stellar craft beer scene. With several breweries, other great bars, plus special events, craft beer in Santa Rosa punches far above its weight. It can easily be visited as a day trip from San Francisco.

The most famous brewery in Santa Rosa is of course Russian River Brewing Company, maker of several great IPAs, sours, and Belgian styles. Their Pliny the Elder was one of the first double IPAs to attain legendary status. For two weeks each February, the city of Santa Rosa plays host to the annual release of Pliny the Younger, Russian River’s rare triple IPA. Beer aficionados from all over the world visit Santa Rosa & wait in line for hours at Russian River.

Santa Rosa craft beer is much more than these big events, however. Here are some of the best places to drink craft beer in Santa Rosa, including breweries, taprooms, beer bars, and bottle shops.

The best breweries in Santa Rosa

Russian River Brewing Company

I would be remiss to not kick this all off with Santa Rosa’s gem, Russian River Brewing Company. The brewery first opened on the Korbel property along the Russian River in nearby Guerneville in 1997. Two decades later, it’s one of the best-rated breweries in the world. Owners Vinnie & Natalie Cilurzo are craft beer legends. As I mentioned earlier, for two weeks each year, Russian River & Santa Rosa host the availability of the super rare Pliny the Younger. If you want to go during these weeks, be prepared for expensive hotel rooms & long lines to get into the brewery. I went for Pliny one year a few years ago, and we waited for about 3 hours to get in. Lines are even longer nowadays. Even on a regular Sunday, lines form before opening.

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On one visit, I arrived about 5 minutes before the doors opened, and there were already about 30 people waiting. Russian River Brewing Company lets people in at a trickle so as not to overwhelm the staff, but even with that, I was inside & sitting at the bar around 11:15.

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One amazing thing about Russian River is that they don’t gouge on prices, even though they could easily get people to pay double & still be crowded. Their prices are fantastically cheap for anywhere, but especially Northern California. Russian River also has a solid food menu specializing in the sort of heavy carbs you’d like to soak up the great beer.

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The bar features around 20 taps of Russian River beer. There are also growlers & bottles available to go. While they do specialize in IPAs & sours, there’s something for everyone. Russian River has opened a new brewery & taproom in nearby Windsor, which has given beer drinkers another place to get their beer locally, while also allowing for increased distribution to other places.

Address: 725 4th St, Santa Rosa, CA 95404 (map)

Shady Oak Barrel House

As you might guess from the name, Shady Oak Barrel House specializes in barrel-aged beers. However, in recent years they’ve also expanded beyond wild & sour barrel-aged beers to also venture into the hoppier & more accessible realm.

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The taproom is a nice chill spot with up to 10 taps, hosting live music, comedy, and trivia nights.

Address: 420 1st St, Santa Rosa, CA 95401 (map)

3 Disciples Brewing

Downtown Santa Rosa’s 3 Disciples Brewing has 12 beer taps, plus games like air hockey & darts, as well as TVs.

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Address: 1018 Santa Rosa Plaza, Santa Rosa, CA 95401 (map)

Third Street Aleworks

Third Street Aleworks no longer operates its brewpub & taproom in downtown Santa Rosa. However, they are still brewing & distributing locally.

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HenHouse Brewing Company

South of downtown Santa Rosa, there are a couple of breweries in an industrial area. The best-known of these breweries is HenHouse Brewing Company, which opened in 2012.

There is a small taproom attached to their production area, along with a much larger patio out front with rotating food trucks parked outside.

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The HenHouse taproom should be high on the list of anyone seeking Santa Rosa’s best craft beer, as their selection of up to 20 taps includes a lot of their beers that you can’t find elsewhere. Whatever the style, you can be assured that whatever you drink will be great.

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Address: 322 Bellevue Ave, Santa Rosa, CA 95407 (map)

Old Possum Brewing Company

Old Possum Brewing Company is also south of downtown Santa Rosa, right near HenHouse. However, if you’re looking to walk between the two breweries, they’re a bit further apart than they look on a map. Normally a 20-minute or so walk isn’t bad, but much of the route has no sidewalks because why would anyone make it pleasant to walk in an industrial area? So probably plan on some other method of transportation if you’re hitting up both.

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Logistics talk done, Old Possum Brewing Company has a great space. Inside there’s a room with a pool table, Pac Man, and Street Fighter 2. Oh, and also 12 taps of their craft beer, plus a kitchen that alternates between BBQ and cajun. Outside, there’s a nice patio space with heaters and a tent.

Address: 357 Sutton Pl, Santa Rosa, CA 95407 (map)

Moonlight Brewing Company

In the industrial areas of northern Santa Rosa, just off Piner Road, there are several great craft beer spots. Founded in 1992, Moonlight Brewing Company is another mainstay from the original California craft brewing movement.

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Their taproom takes up a small part of their brewery, featuring 6 taps of their own beer. It’s a chill spot, and like other breweries in Santa Rosa, the beer is cheap.

Address: 3350 Coffey Ln., Suites A & D, Santa Rosa, CA 95403 (map)

Cooperage Brewing Company

Cooperage Brewing Company is another brewery in this same area. It’s only been open for a couple of years, but brewer Tyler Smith has been brewing for longer, finally opening this dream space that specializes in hoppy beers.

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The first brewery I visited on this pilgrimage to drink craft beer in Santa Rosa was Cooperage. It was a great place to start. The bar features 10 taps of their own beer, in a variety of styles. From the looks of their list on Untappd, they are constantly putting out new beers. Once again, they had great prices, with pints costing just $5.

One of the nice things about Cooperage Brewing Company is that there’s truly something for everyone. There’s beer, of course, plus some snacks to go with it. Food trucks do stop by sometimes for larger meals. Beyond that, there’s a massive projection of sports above the bar.

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It was also one of the most family-friendly bars I’ve ever been in. Sometimes this can be uncomfortable, but it had a great vibe. There were kids playing games like Connect Four, Hungry Hungry Hippos, and Rock’em Sock’em Robots with their parents, but it didn’t feel like a playground at all. The atmosphere was laid-back, diverse, while busy but not crowded.

Address: 981 Airway Ct STE G, Santa Rosa, CA 95403 (map)

Iron Ox Brewing Company

Iron Ox Brewing Company is located in between Moonlight & Cooperage in northern Santa Rosa. It was formerly known as Plow Brewing Company. Like the other nearby breweries, the prices are very reasonable. Since was just $2 per beaker taster, I tried all 6 beers they had on at the moment. The bar has space for up to 12 taps, depending on what they have available.

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Iron Ox is a locals sort of place. It’s quieter than Cooperage, so I sat at the bar talking to a few guys who live in the area. They had a lot of stories about local craft beer in Santa Rosa, including Russian River, Lagunitas, Moonlight, and their own local businesses. These were clearly guys who have been sitting around telling bar stories for a long time.

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They even had an interesting beer called Engelen Tarwe by Divine Brewing. It was a pinot noir barrel aged Belgian tripel that tasted like a combination of a beer & a wine. The bartender recommended it, but nobody had wanted to have an entire bottle to themselves. Instead, I split one with my new friends.

Address: 3334 Industrial Dr, Santa Rosa, CA 95403 (map)

Fogbelt Brewing Company

Fogbelt Brewing Company is by itself, about halfway between the cluster of breweries off Piner & the cluster downtown. It has more of a sports bar feel to it, but the place was hopping on a Saturday night. The bar has 12 taps of their own beer on offer. They had lots of great snacks, many focused on meat and cheese, as you’d expect with beer.

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Address: 1305 Cleveland Ave, Santa Rosa, CA 95401 (map)

The best craft beer bars in Santa Rosa

Flagship Taproom

Flagship Taproom is located in the former Sprenger’s Tap Room space in downtown Santa Rosa. They also have a location in Cotati. This laid-back bar features 32 taps of craft beer, many of which are local, plus food (pizza & wings) & events such as trivia nights. There’s also a nice patio out front.

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Address: 446 B St, Santa Rosa, CA 95401 (map)

Brew Coffee & Beer House

Brew Coffee & Beer House is the perfect sort of neighborhood establishment one might expect to find in a college town.

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This combination coffee shop & craft beer bar in downtown Santa Rosa is busy all day long. Depending on your mood & the time of day, you can either get a nice coffee or a selection from one of their 10 taps of an eclectic selection of beer. Since it was 10:30 am, I opted for an iced latte & a tasty ginger pear muffin.

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There are also games available, an outside patio, plus plenty of other spots to sit. It’s a cool little all-day hangout spot.

Address: 555 Healdsburg Ave, Santa Rosa, CA 95401 (map)

Beer Baron Bar & Kitchen

Santa Rosa’s Beer Baron Bar & Kitchen has over 20 taps of craft beer, with lots from the Bay Area but also some from beyond.

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The restaurant & bar is conveniently located on Old Courthouse Square, with a huge outside covered patio as well as TVs for sports. The full food menu includes favorites such as chicken & waffles.

They also have locations in Oakland, Livermore, & Pleasanton.

Address: 614 4th St, Santa Rosa, CA 95404 (map)

Belly Left Coast Kitchen & Taproom

Belly Left Coast Kitchen & Taproom is also located just off Old Courthouse Square.

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The restaurant & bar has over 20 taps of beer from all over the West Coast. There is also a food menu that includes mac & cheese, pizza, sandwiches, plus plenty of bar bites.

They have a nice patio, plus an open garage door front, so the whole place has lots of fresh air. 

Address: 523 4th St, Santa Rosa, CA 95401 (map)

The best bottle shops in Santa Rosa


Downtown Santa Rosa is also home to Wilibees. I stumbled on it right as I was on my way to the bus stop to head home. At first, it looked like it was just a convenience store, but once I peeked my head in, I found heaven. Wilibees is a large shop that specializes in quality craft beer, wine, & spirits.

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As if that isn’t enough, they also have a bar in the back corner with a huge selection of beer & wine available on tap.

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I didn’t have time for a drink, but they had a stock of rye barrel-aged Old Rasputin XVIII from a couple of years ago that I hadn’t had yet, so I bought one to take home. Wilibees is definitely a cool local business that’s dedicated to getting good drinks into the mouths of their customers.

Address: 700 3rd St, Santa Rosa, CA 95404 (map)

Bottle Barn

Right across the street from Iron Ox is Bottle Barn, a fantastic warehouse for all of your booze needs. They have any drink you could ever want, including local wines & of course a solid craft beer selection. I bought a few bottles to take home with me.

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Address: 3331-A, Industrial Dr, Santa Rosa, CA 95403 (map)

Craft beer in Santa Rosa has a long history, and with new breweries joining the old stalwarts as part of the local scene, the city is cementing its status as a must-visit destination for any craft beer lover.

What are your favorite Santa Rosa craft beer spots? Let me know in the comments! For more craft beer in Sonoma & Marin, visit Rohnert Park, Cotati, & Mill Valley.

Do you love craft beer? Check out more of my recommendations for the best craft beer around the world!

Here are some great Santa Rosa tours & activities & other things to see & do in Santa Rosa.

If you’re looking for a place to stay near Santa Rosa, check out these Santa Rosa hotels.

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