The Top 3 Microbreweries in California

The charm of a microbrewery lies within the history, genuine knowledge of what constitutes a good beer and of course, the microbrew itself. The aisles of a grocery store can’t replace the feel of experiencing a new, seasonal flavor at a local brewery or the smell of hops as you take a complimentary tour. California has a variety of small and big microbreweries, but my top 3 picks are below. Based on their unique selections, flavor and popularity, I have summarized the top 3 microbrews in the golden state.

Sierra Nevada Brewing Company

Sierra Nevada is fairly well-known, but its roots date back to 1976 when a chemistry student Ken Grossman began his own home brewing business. That passion for taste, innovation and flavor is what keeps Sierra Nevada at the top of everyone’s favorite list and allows critics to title it “among the best brewed anywhere in the world.”

A visit to the brewery in Chico, CA will allow you to take a free tour of their brewery, as well as eat in their excellent restaurant. I would highly recommend the sampler, which allows you to taste around 18 different types of beers, laid out in shot glasses on a paper mat. Depending on the season, you will be privy to the robust Celebration Ale (available around Christmas time) or the tangy, pilsner style Summerfest lager.

If you are feeling adventurous, you can try the Bigfoot Ale which packs a hearty punch. A 12 time Gold Medal Winner in numerous festivals, Bigfoot is dark and rich, with a bittersweet quality coming from the hops. At 9.6% alcohol content, it is also one of the most potent members of the Sierra Nevada family.

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If you are looking for a microbrewery with something for everyone, a welcoming environment and truly outstanding beer, visit Sierra Nevada Brewing Company in Chico, CA.

Pyramid Brewery

Located in Berkeley, CA and founded in 1985, Pyramid Brewery created one of the first American microbrews with its signature Pale Ale. Similar to Sierra Nevada, the brewery also boasts an excellent dining experience with includes friendly staff and a wide selection of beer-infused entrees.

However, in regards to the microbrews, the Pyramid Haywire Hefeweizen is by far the most popular and has won a 2009 Gold Medal at the American Beer Festival. This unfiltered wheat ale delivers a smooth and unique taste, with Nugget and Liberty hops.

Another popular and distinctive Pyramid selection is the Audacious Apricot, a light beer with a hint of apricot. This is by far my favorite selection, and can provide newcomers with an interesting tasting experience at Pyramid.

Anchor Steam

An integral part of San Francisco’s history, Anchor Steam has been around since 1896, created by a German brewer Ernst. F Baruth and his son-in-law. The Anchor Steam Porter is one of the most popular brews, created using roasted dark malts and a top fermenting yeast, the brew delivers a luscious rich flavor and thick head. Microbrew connoisseurs will tell you that the hints of toffee, coffee and chocolate are what make this Porter one of a kind.

The Liberty Ale is another popular brew due to its special “bunging” production process, as well its unique aroma. The process titled “bunging” is a natural carbonation method which yields smaller, champagne bubbles within the beer. A process which is not widely used today, it once again proves that Anchor Steam is dedicated to its traditional production process and high quality.

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If you are looking to savor a taste of history, tradition and enjoy rich microbrews, then Anchor Steam is a wonderful San Francisco treat awaiting you.


“Anchor Steam – Anchor Porter.” Welcome to Anchor Brewing. Web. 13 Apr. 2010. .

“Sierra Nevada History.” Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. Web. 13 Apr. 2010. .

“Brews.” Pyramid Breweries. Web. 13 Apr. 2010. .