Thinkin’ to drinkin’, we offer a rotating round of spots we love.
Descriptions by David P. Walsh and Gretchen Giles.
Cooperage Brewing Company
cooperagebrewing.com | 707.293.9787
981 Airway Court, Santa Rosa
Open Wednesday-Monday. Wed-Fri, 3pm to midnight; Sat, noon to midnight; Sun, noon to 11pm; Mon, 3pm to 11pm.
In my never-ending search for the perfect taproom, I stumbled upon the vast space that is Cooperage Brewing Company, tucked among the commercial buildings that line Airway Boulevard. They were pouring six beers when I visited, from a hoppy session beer (4.7% ABV) to a Belgian Golden hailed as The Oath (8.3% ABV). My favorite was Runaway Abbie, a Belgian pale ale (7% ABV) that was much too easy to quaff. This is a place of hops; the wifi password is hoppybeer. I take that as a clue. The varieties of hops used are listed on the signs announcing each beer. Another clue. Each sign also carries a witty saying like, “I will kiss the goat.” This may be a Satanic reference or a quote from a heavy metal song, but it’s probably just what you will say after several Oaths. For the more adventurous beer mavens, there are small batch sour ales quietly aging in their barrels that will be available soon.
The place was busy and convivial on the mid-afternoon weekday of my visit, with ratio of male to female running about 10 to one; perhaps a shift had just ended at a nearby male-dominated workplace. It is also dog- and kid-friendly, as evidenced by the presence of both. Hungry? A food truck comes around regularly. When they open the big roll-up door on a nice day, it is downright pleasant. There is no real reason to leave. You may say to yourself, “This sounds like the perfect taproom.” You would be right. —D.P.W.
Ace in the Hole
Acecider.com | 707.829.1223
3100 Gravenstein Hwy. N., Sebastopol
Open Friday afternoons, 2pm to 5pm only
Ace is one of the first artisanal cider brands to break nationally, and all credit goes to the hard work of owner Jeffrey House, who has helped to make cider an American drink nearly as fluent to our tongue as it is to his British compatriots. Longtime residents might remember the Ace pub at the corner of Graton Road and Highway 116 before the place was taken over by the Dutton tasting room. The new digs aren’t exactly new—they’re lodged inside Ace’s warehouse in an industrial park just south of the former spot—but the small window of time for visiting makes it seem like a weekly party. Plus, there’s the world’s tiniest English Pub barfront reproduction tucked inside. And a piano! Take off work early this Friday and treat yourself to the unusual pleasures of a midday apple and pear shindig. —G.G.
Sonoma County Distilling Co.
5625 State Farm Drive, Rohnert Park | 707.583.7753
Weekday and Saturday tours by appointment only; $20, benefits a 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, the 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 fair different beverage. —G.G.