Your guide to local beers and brews.

Thinkin’ to drinkin’? Here are some spots we love. Download a map of beer, cider, and spirits houses at . .

or pick one up at your local visitor’s center.

Dempseys Restaurant & Brewery | 707.765.9694

50 E. Washington St., Petaluma

Open daily from 11:30am until closing

Tucked alongside the Petaluma waterfront, Dempsey’s is known for the excellence of its burgers, the pile-high loft of its stringed onion rings, the insane thickness of its pork chops, and its flagship Red Rooster Ale, a caramel-infused, hoppy flower of a drink. With homemade root beer on tap for the kids, a relaxed outside dining area in the front perfect for people-watching, and a take on comfort food that skews to Asian and Latin flavors, it’s no surprise that Dempsey’s has slid comfortably into its 20th year. Look for seasonal beers and a changing tap roster that swings from IPA to stout, and includes a spin-inducing 11.25% ABV barley wine.

Fogbelt Brewing Co. | 707.978.3400

1305 Cleveland Ave., Santa Rosa

Open Monday-Saturday, noon to 10pm; Sunday, noon to 8pm

With a background in winemaking, the folks at Fogbelt Brewing Company now aim for a much tougher fermentation process. Because while it takes a lot of good beer to make great wine, the big secret is that making beer is actually a lot harder than letting some grapes go to juice. Tucked away in an interesting corner of Santa Rosa on freeway frontage property, Fogbelt must be sought out, but once found, rewards the effort. Featuring a seasonal menu made to match the suds, a large bar and outdoor tables, Fogbelt is a welcome addition.

Lagunitas Brewing Co. | 707.778.8776

1280 N. McDowell Blvd., Petaluma

Open Wednesday-Friday, 2pm-9pm; Saturday-Sunday, 11:30am-8pm

Started in owner Tony Magee’s kitchen in 1993, Lagunitas has become a national leader in the microbrew boom, recently establishing a taproom in Chicago to lengthen their reach across the country. While we like the Daytime beer for its lucid-friendly 4% ABV and great taste, Lagunitas is known for its IPA, Dogtown, and Little Sumpin’, among other favorites. As eccentric as Magee, who favors the phrase, “beer speaks, people mumble,” is Lagunitas’ Petaluma taproom, with its hillside stage and sprawling outdoor beer garden. Try it on a Saturday afternoon if you can’t remember what it’s like to be in college, as most of SSU fills the place each weekend. Free live music every day ain’t bad, either. Plus, Lagunitas has among the most generous donation program of any brand we’ve ever heard of, period. We’ll drink to that!

Woodfour Brewing Co. | 707.823.3144

6780 Depot St., Sebastopol

Open Tuesday-Sunday, 11:30am-9pm

Woodfour features an innovative brew program with a draft beer focus on wet hops when in season as well as farmhouse, Saison, and other traditional styles that change during the year and a bottle program that rivals the Slanted Door in internationality and pure beer-geekiness, but the truth is—we go there to eat. With a bar menu that features homemade scallion potato chips, deviled eggs, house pickles, and smoked trout, that old bowl of nuts or pretzels other joints shell out doesn’t stand a chance. We have an unseemly obsession with their little gems salad and forest mushroom ragout that is nearly an embarrassment to describe in public but probably qualifies as love. Take your favorite beer nerd and enjoy the large outdoor patio on a warm day, the modern fireplace in the chill. And definitely have that salad.

Tilted Shed Ciderworks | 707.657.7796

7761 Bell Road, Windsor

Open Saturdays, 11am-4pm

While Scott Heath, a fine artist, and Ellen Cavalli, a writer, didn’t originally intend to go into the cider business, it’s a choice that the rest of us can be glad for. Following a yen to get back to the land, the couple initially discovered cider simply because they had some apple trees bearing more fruit than they could eat or sauce. They soon came to understand and celebrate that cider, once a beverage quite literally as basic as water to the American diet, can have a range of flavors as complex and lengthy as excellent wine. Using heritage fruit, some of it grown in secret orchards whose location they fiercely guard, Tilted Shed’s ciders possess elegance, tannins, and finish. Their new tasting room is a Saturday-only affair and is often closed when the couple attend out-of-town events, so check the website before heading up to taste what an apple can do when given the right encouragement.

Specific Gravity Cider Co. | 707.823.3964

Nana Mae is the go-to name for fine organic apple juice, so it was only a matter of time that they branched out into hard cider. Nana Mae’s principal Paul Kolling specializes in dry-farming heritage fruit all over the county, single-handedly keeping some orchards from being replanted to grapes or McMansions. Together with former winemaker Alison Schneider and farmer Steve Howard, they have just rolled out Specific Gravity, a craft cider that emphasizes the taste profile of the Gravenstein apple, a Slow Food Ark of Taste heritage fruit that gives much of West County its name. Not yet available at a tasting room, Specific Gravity is available at most independent grocers, and the team is pouring at just about every food and wine event you’d want to attend anyway.

Spirit Works Distillery

6790 McKinley St., #100, in the Barlow, Sebastopol

Open for a daily tour Friday-Sunday, 4pm; reservations recommended

Spirit Works Distillery is a grain-to-glass distillery that produces vodka, gin, sloe gin, and barrel gin with both a straight wheat and straight rye whiskey coming to market late this year. Owners Timo and Ashby Marshall met while working as sailors, but soon found their love on land and, specifically, the land in West County. With Timo’s family having a history distilling sloe gin, the two have taken on the ambitious project of running their own micro-distillery using organic and local wheat as their base and locally-grown herbs and citrus to enliven the gin.

Sonoma County Distilling Co. | 707.583.7753

5625 State Farm Drive, Rohnert Park

Weekday & Saturday tours by appointment only; $20, benefits local nonprofit

The alembic still, a North African invention that is still best made of copper and heated by a live fire, is the basis for the whiskeys produced in this modest Rohnert Park business park. Much of the distillation technique employed has not changed since the 1500s, and the resulting rye and wheat whiskeys as well as the bourbon wouldn’t be unfamiliar to a member of gentry from that century. Hand-crafted and fairly obsessed over, these spirits are the result of a the team that includes brewers who fled the beer industry but bring the same high level of technique to a far different beverage.

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