California has long been a frontrunner in the craft-beer game, boasting many of the country’s most celebrated breweries. For those looking to taste the bounty straight from the source, Sunset Magazine has mapped out the appropriately named “ale trails” with northerly and southerly routes that the state’s tourism board should consider highlighting in lieu of its usual celebrity-driven ads.
- In NorCal, it’s a 125-mile trek: Lagunitas Brewing–>Russian River Brewing–>Bear Republic Brewing–>Anderson Valley Brewing–>North Coast Brewing–>Piaci Pub & Pizzeria.
- Down south, the route is 112 miles, from San Diego to Placentia: AleSmith–>Stone Brewing–>The Lost Abbey–>The Bruery.
If you’re going to SoCal for a beercentric trip, extending the southern leg to Los Angeles just seems like the practical thing to do. L.A. breweries like Eagle Rock, Golden Road, Beachwood, and Ladyface are on the rise these days, so we’d suggest getting in on the ground floor if you can.
As quality can be compromised with travel, nothing beats trying these beers on-site, fresh from the fermentation tanks. Quite a few are difficult to find outside immediate environs; for instance, you won’t find Golden Road outside of L.A. and surrounding cities. Words to live by: A near beer is a good beer.