Microbrew Capital of the US

January 9, 2020

Santa Rosa is where wine country meets beer city. But, how did Santa Rosa become the micro-brew capital of the United States? It's because of the brewmasters behind the greatest brews in Santa Rosa...

Portland has more breweries, and the highest-rated beer made in the United States currently comes from a small town in Decorah, Iowa―Toppling Goliath Brewing Company’s Kentucky Brunch Brand Stout. However, there is no better place in America for craft beer than Santa Rosa, according to an interactive database that ranks local beer scenes by measuring the quality of beer produced in a community and the number of craft brewers it supports.

Russian River Brewing Company Pliny the Elder Cases

This conclusion was published by an online journal of data visualizations named The Pudding.

The Pudding database ranked cities across the country that had at least five microbreweries and brewpubs with three beers or more reviewed by RateBeer, an online hub for craft beer enthusiasts. To calculate its total score, the interactive website based 80 percent of each city’s ranking on the quality of its beer and 20 percent of its ranking on the number of establishments, but users can adjust the quality/quantity ratio.

San Diego, Denver, Anchorage, Alaska, and Portland, Oregon, rounded out the top five beer cities in the online database, which gained widespread attention when the New York Times highlighted the website in its California Report.

Belly Left Coast Kitchen & Taproom Pouring Beer VSR Shoot

The top five local breweries listed in the database were Russian River, Bear Republic Brewing Co., Shady Oak Barrel House, Moonlight Brewing Company — now part of Lagunitas Brewing Co. — and Cooperage Brewing Company. All are located in Santa Rosa except Bear Republic, which operates a production facility in Cloverdale and a brewpub in Rohnert Park.

The designation of the microbrew capital of the U.S. was welcomed, yet not entirely supported by local brewers.

“I’m very excited about it,” said Steve Doty, owner, and brewmaster of Shady Oak Barrel House, which specializes in a sour ale. “At the same time, I’ve seen a lot of better beer scenes, with more varieties and styles.”

So, who are the brewmasters responsible for making Santa Rosa the microbrew capital of the United States? Meet them here:

Andy Hooper
Seismic Brewing Company

Brian Hunt
Moonlight Brewing Company

Collin McDonnell
HenHouse Brewing Company

Kevin Robinson
Iron Ox Brewing Company

Matt Penpraze, Luke Melo and James Claus                     3 Disciples Brewing

Paul Hawley and Remy Martin
Fogbelt Brewing Company

Roger Herbpst
Bear Republic Brewing Company

Sandro Tamburin
Old Possum Brewing Company

Steve Doty
Shady Oak Barrel Company

Tyler Laverty
Third Street Ale Works

Tyler Smith
Cooperage Brewing Company

Vinnie Cilurzo
Russian River Brewing Company

Visit Santa Rosa Visitor's Guide Cover'