It goes without saying that wine lovers have an easy time finding a good local drink in the Bay Area. But if you prefer grains and yeast to tannins and grapes, don't despair – beer lovers have some great choices too. Check out our list of the best Bay Area breweries, old or new, that stand out among the crowd of craft brew pubs. (We've awarded extra points to those within easy walking or biking distance of our Neighborhoods.)
Best Bay Area breweries
Golden State Brewery (South Bay: 1252 Memorex Drive, Santa Clara, CA 95050)
Bring your family, play a round of darts or billiards, and enjoy some stellar suds at Santa Clara's only microbrewery. Try the Coffee Stout: it's so good you might want to go with the growler. Golden State is within 2 miles of our Park Central neighborhood and within 4 miles of Timberleaf, Hearth and Alderwood.
The Rare Barrel (East Bay: 940 Parker St, Berkeley, CA 94710)
The Rare Barrel is an all-sour brewing company, so get ready to pucker up. All these beers are tart and acidic, with most boasting a fruity touch. Come visit the tasting room (open Thursday through Sunday) and sample the Lemon Lily, Emerald Vision or Wise Guise. If you live at Icon at Park or Icon at Doyle, you're in luck: this brewery is less than 2 miles away.
Faction Brewing (East Bay: 2501 Monarch St, Alameda, CA 94501)
Who knew that an abandoned 25,000 sq. ft. airplane hanger could be the perfect home for a brewery? Family-owned Faction Brewing has grown from having 6 beers on tap to 20 in less than three years. A visit here is a treat for both your taste buds and eyes: Take in the funky mural inside, then enjoy a flight on the sun-soaked patio overlooking the SF skyline. Faction is only 3 miles from South Shore, too.
Alpha Acid Brewing Company (Peninsula: 121 Industrial Road Unit 11, Belmont, CA 94002)
One of the newer microbreweries in the Bay Area, Alpha Acid usually has 7-9 beers on tap and rotates brews weekly. We liked the Murder She Wroatmeal (oatmeal stout) and Cocomo IPA (IPA aged on coconut) – those will be on tap if you're lucky. One caveat: Alpha Acid focuses on beer and not food, so it's BYOE (bring your own eats). Bike over from Chesapeake Pointe, just 4 miles away.
Cellarmaker Brewing Company (San Francisco: 1150 Howard Street, San Francisco, CA 94103)
This brewery in San Francisco's SoMa neighborhood might be a little bit of a trek for our Neighbors, but it's worth it. Cellarmaker has abandoned the idea of “flagship” beers and is always experimenting with new brews. The Apricos – an IPA with made with apricot – is heaven, so get it while you can. With a bar open later than most breweries (until 11 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday), Cellarmaker is a must for your next trip to the city.
Bay Area Brew Fest: August 27 in San Francisco
If this list didn't sate your hop's desire, you'll want to check out Bay Area Brew Fest later this month, featuring more than 50 local breweries. Get the details here: http://bayareabrewfestival.com/.