Holidays in Sonoma – Beer

Just because you are in Sonoma doesn’t mean you only have the choice of wine. One of the things F and I always do is we always look for local breweries to visit. Our visit to Sonoma was no exception – we visited 3 places offering beer in Sonoma during our Thanksgiving stay.

The first time we visited was Russian River Brewing, but when we saw the line wrapping down the block around 6 PM (which we realize was still within happy hour time, which may have been part of the reason), and the fact it was raining and we didn’t want to stand in the rain in line, we instead headed towards Lagunitas Brewing Company, located in Petaluma.

There are a few things you should know to figure out where visiting Lagunitas is for you. First, you have to know that the biggest area is outside. Most of it is covered, and there are a few heat lamps but you should be dressed for the fact you might be outside.

You should also expect that it might be packed – and it is all seat yourself. Kids and dogs are allowed, so make sure you look down as you are hunting for an open seat! Yes the big tables and benches are communal. There was live music for a while playing, and as soon as we found an open countertop a waiter was there to take our order. Don’t be overwhelmed, although that will be your natural feeling when you first enter.

You can make your beer flight, which is how we saw our very first beer flight that had a bottle as one of the tastes. It was too dark to take photos of the food, but besides the usual beer food I did notice they had some bbq options.
Lagunitas Brewing Company, a beer flight where you can choose yourself may end up with a bottle instead of a little sampler ha ha

So the next day (Saturday), we headed to Santa Rosa for Russian River Brewing again, this time at lunchtime. This made our wait in line much shorter to get carded and then to the hostess stand to then be called when a table was ready.
Visiting Russian River Brewing Company in Santa Rosa, CA Visiting Russian River Brewing Company in Santa Rosa, CA

Once we were carded, we were at least free to go to the bar and get a beer. They had a separate line for those who were just coming to buy cases of Pliny the Elder and not stay. Despite the people at the bar, the bartender was so attentive and noticed we were new and got our beer orders even before some of my party had a chance to digest the menu (and look up beers they had already had and rankings on Untappd) and know what they want!

Overall I found all the staff very friendly and aware and very efficient. Be careful of the beer you order – some of the ABVs are up there, and especially if you were wine tasting during the day! So stay hydrated with water!
Pliny the Elder in cases at the back room (staff took photo for us) at Russian River Brewing Company in Santa Rosa, CA Visiting Russian River Brewing Company in Santa Rosa, CA Visiting Russian River Brewing Company in Santa Rosa, CA Sanctification beer at Russian River Brewing Company Supplication by Russian River Brewing a sour aged in Pinot barrel Make sure you stay hydrated with water while tasting beers at Russian River Brewing Company in Santa Rosa, CA

They have sampler trays as well- there are multiple options, including an option that has everything from both boards (the left board are a variety of styles, while the right board are all Belgian Style and aged beers usually with a “tion” at the end of their name). The one with ALL the beers is pretty impressive looking with bottle caps identifying each beer. This tray should definitely be shared.
Visiting Russian River Brewing Company in Santa Rosa, CA Visiting Russian River Brewing Company and trying a sampler tray of ALL the beers

The third and final brewery we had time for was Bear Republic Brewing located in Healdsburg. I thought it was funny how as we were going to each of these three breweries, we were being upgraded in the surrounding atmosphere from what seemed like an industrial park to then a city like Santa Rosa which had a medium sized city feel to now the charming but also trendy and bustling wine town of Healdsburg.
Visiting Bear Republic Brewing in Healdsburg Visiting Bear Republic Brewing in Healdsburg Visiting Bear Republic Brewing in Healdsburg

We had a beer flight here as well. Fair warning – it really smells garlicky in here because they serve baskets of their Sonoma County Harvest Fair award winning Garlic Fries.
Visiting Bear Republic Brewing in Healdsburg Visiting Bear Republic Brewing in Healdsburg and trying a beer flight

If you are in the Sonoma area and need a beer break, you might consider any of the three above as an option. By Sonoma Plaza (also located in Sebastopol and Novato) we also wanted to try Hopmonk Tavern, but unfortunately didn’t make it- just one more option in case that is located more conveniently to you in Sonoma. It’s not a brewery, but they have a good and large variety in terms of beer selection.

Have you been to any of those breweries I mentioned in this post, or had any beers from any of these three breweries before?

This post is part of my series on my trip to Sonoma where I list various recommendations.



  1. I am thoroughly impressed with your energy to visit all of the wineries you visited AND the breweries too! We wanted to visit but didn’t have the time (or energy, we’re so old!), but I love your write up on them and am filing it away for our next Sonoma visit.

    • Well, I did have Wed-Sun so my visits were spread out, and with 4 of us we were able to share, which helped. But, part of it also was because there were 4 of us and we each had various interests as well, it gave us quite a list…

  2. I think it’s fun to hear about all the breweries, big and small. We recently met some people that are going to open their own!

  3. YUM!!! This looks fantastic!

  4. I never thought of breweries in conjunction with Sonoma, but I guess it makes sense. It sounds like you had a wonderful time!

  5. Busy trip! And it sounds like you had a lot of fun. It’s been years since I’ve been anywhere near Sonoma – maybe it’s time for me to take a little trip back. 😉

    • There are also plenty of other options besides just the alcoholic kind of course- there are several art galleries, and there’s the Charles M. Schulz Museum and a Train Town

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