The 10 Best Craft Beers Brewed in Northern California

It's become clear to us over the years of interacting with our audience that most people who follow us love a good craft beer. Well, we're here to say - ditto.

It’s become clear to us over the years of interacting with our audience that most people who follow us love a good craft beer. Well, we’re here to say – ditto.

We live in an area dominated by great craft beer. Many of the breweries in Northern California are award-winning, and their beers are a testament to our love for the finer things in life. To check out all of the craft beer Northern California has to offer, check out this great brewery map put together by the San Francisco Chronicle.

This list is based on many things, but just remember that it’s just one man’s opinion. Let me know what I missed in the comment section. Here are the 10 Best Craft Beer Brewed in Northern California:

10. Mad River – Steelhead Extra Pale Ale

Steelhead Extra Pale Ale

ABV: 5.6%

IBU: 26.2

This American Pale Ale brewed at Mad River Brewing in Blue Lake is a staple in Northern California. It’s a bright golden hued ale of medium body with a subtle floral hop character and very mild bitterness. And the logo on the can kicks ass.


195 Taylor Way

Blue Lake, CA 95525

9. Fall River Brewing – Hexagenia

Hexagenia India Pale Ale

ABV: 7.1%

IBU: 68

Although fairly new on the scene (founded in 2011) Fall River Brewing is sweeping Northern California with their great combination of year-round and seasonal hand crafted ales and lagers.

This IPA is named after the Hexagenia mayfly hatch (the largest in North America) that occurs every year during the summer months on the Fall River. This bold IPA uses a blend of five different hops to create a shifting sensation of hop flavor and aroma. Late kettle hop additions make this a very hop-flavored and aromatic IPA.


1030 East Cypress, Suite D

Redding, CA 96002

8. Lost Coast Brewery – Great White

Great White

ABV: 4.8%

IBU: 15

Great White is the original craft beer from 1989 that launched the award-winning Lost Coast Brewery into local stardom. This is Lost Coast’s version of a Belgian style beer, with a hint of citrus, coriander and a secret blend of herbs.

Serving Northern California for nearly 30 years, Great White is a centerpiece in the story of craft beer in the area, and it’s got an original flavor that many breweries have tried to mimic for decades.


617 Fourth Street

Eureka, CA 95501

7. Anchor Brewing – Anchor Steam

Anchor Steam Beer

ABV: 4.9%

IBU: 35

Anchor Steam Beer sits as Northern California’s first craft beer, with it’s first brew made in 1896 in San Francisco. This delicious and refreshing beer not only has a strong influence on the history of San Francisco, but on Northern California as a whole.

Anchor Steam owns a deep amber color, thick, creamy head, and rich, distinctive flavor. The beer is still brewed with the historic brewing process of its original creators and the name “steam” comes from nickname for beer brewed on the West Coast of America under primitive conditions and without ice.


Anchor Public Taps

495 De Haro Street

San Francisco, CA 94107

6. 21st Amendment – Brew Free or Die IPA

Brew Free or Die IPA

ABV: 7%

IBU: 70

21st Amendment Brewery is another frontrunner in the legendary craft beer scene of San Francisco, and Brew Free or Die IPA is their signature beer. This aromatic golden IPA starts with three different hops to the nose, quickly balanced by a solid malt backbone supporting the firm bitterness.

Come for the awesome artwork on the can and leave with a mouthful of flavor.


563 2nd Street

San Francisco, CA 94107

5. Anderson Valley Brewing Co. – Boont Amber Ale

Boont Amber Ale

ABV: 5.8%

IBU: 16

Anderson Valley Brewing Co., located in the small town with its own language, is taking Northern California by storm with great beers with a small town finish. They’ve grown in popularity significantly over the past 20 years, most likely due to their popular Legendary Boonville Beer Festival.

Boont’s rich, crystal malts give it a deep copper hue and contribute a slight caramel sweetness with a crisp, clean finish. The bottle’s great artwork shows a bear with antlers (get it – bear + deer = beer) and gives off a distinct Northern Californian vibe. Bahl Hornin’!


17700 Highway 253

Boonville, CA 95415

4. Bear Republic Brewing Co. – Racer 5

Racer 5 India Pale Ale

ABV: 7.5%

IBU: 75

Brewed in the heart of Wine Country, Racer 5 is a beer lover’s dream. This IPA is designed to highlight the unique hops of the Pacific Northwest with a high alcohol content to boot. It’s also one of America’s most medal winning IPA’s.

This beer has won the gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival twice and its legend has grown, becoming endlessly available on seemingly every beer shelf in Northern California. Racer 5 is not only iconic in Northern California, but across the United States.


Healdsburg Taphouse

345 Healdsburg Avenue

Healdsburg, CA 95448

Rohnert Park Taphouse

5000 Roberts Lake Road

Rohnert Park, CA 94928

3. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

ABV: 5.6%

IBU: 38

It’s hard to find a more iconic craft beer in America. The creation of Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale forever changed brewing in the country and put craft beer directly into the spotlight of everyday beer consumers. That’s how good this beer is.

This bold pale ale put Chico, CA on the map and it’s brewery continues to be a pilgrimage location for beer lovers the world over. All the other beers on this list owe Sierra Nevada a debt of gratitude. They started the whole craft beer revolution.


1075 E. 20th Street

Chico CA, 95928

2. Lagunitas IPA

Lagunitas India Pale Ale

ABV: 6.2%

IBU: 51.5

In our humble opinion, this is the best IPA Northern California has to offer. It’s highly drinkable and its bit of Caramel Malt barley provides the richness that mellows out the twang of the hops. Lagunitas flagship beer is as tasty as any craft beer around, and if you try it at their awesome taphouse in Petaluma, you’re in for one heck of a good time.


1280 N McDowell Blvd 

Petaluma, CA 94954

1. Russian River – Pliny the Elder

Pliny the Elder

ABV: 8%

IBU: 100

If you’ve heard all the hype surrounding this hard-to-get beer, everything you’ve heard is true. This is not only the best craft beer in Northern California, it’s possibly the best in the country. If you could describe this beer as anything other than magical, you would call it slightly bitter with a fresh hop aroma of floral, citrus, and pine.

Pliny the Elder has certainly won its share of awards. It was named â€œAmerica’s Best Beer” by the American Homebrewer’s Association for eight years straight. It can also be really hard to find. Bottle sales and taps are limited and not advertised. And if you want to taste it at the brewery’s Santa Rosa taphouse, prepare to wait in line.

There’s no doubt that this is the best beer Northern California has to offer.


725 4th St

Santa Rosa, CA 95404

What did we miss? Let us know in the comments section!

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