California craft beer: The top 10 Bay Area breweries

California craft beer: The top 10 Bay Area breweries

Over the almost three years since I started this Brewery Day Trip series, I’ve visited nearly 100 Bay Area breweries. Here are my top 10, singled out for the quality and range of beer and convivial atmosphere.

East Brother, Richmond

Richmond’s East Brother Brewing make a Helles Lager that’s as authentic as they come, made with Hallertau Hersbrucker hops and California-grown malt from Alameda’s Admiral Maltings. (East Brother Brewing) 

East Brother was among the first breweries I visited for this series, and it still is one of the best. Founded in late 2017 by childhood friends Rob Lightner and Chris Coomber, its beauty lies in being untrendy, preferring to make excellent versions of long-established styles. Their Bohemian-style pilsner, Bo Pils, helped establish their reputation. The brewery is somewhat hidden in the back of an industrial park, but it’s a large and comfy oasis with a vast indoor and outdoor space. It’s a true gem. Details: 1001 Canal Blvd., Richmond;

Devil’s Canyon, San Carlos

This brewery is old school is the best possible way. They have a devoted local following and brew a ridiculously wide range of beers, and every Friday, they throw a party in their spacious beer garden. Details: 935 Washington St., San Carlos;

Morgan Territory Brewing, Tracy and Pleasant Hill

Morgan Territory Brewing, a Tracy-based brewery, has recently opened a new taproom in Pleasant Hill. The expansion is aimed at introducing their award-winning beers to a Bay Area audience. (Photo courtesy of Cassandra Santos/Morgan Territory Brewing) 

Craig Cauwels won countless medals during his days at Antioch’s Schooners brewpub. Now he brews amazing beers for Tracy’s Morgan Territory Brewing, which has a small, comfortable taproom and a covered beer garden outside. More recently, they opened a taproom in Pleasant Hill. Details: 1885 N. MacArthur Drive in Tracy and 40A Crescent Drive in Pleasant Hill;

New Bohemia Brewing, Santa Cruz

There are few better places for great lagers than New Bohemia Brewing. Founder Daniel Satterthwaite learned brewing in Germany and spent many years brewing lagers for Trumer and Gordon Biersch. This two-story building just blocks from the ocean offers lots of nooks and crannies plus an outdoor beer garden. They have a smoker and offer sausages and a signature giant pretzel with beer cheese. Details: 1030 41st Ave., Santa Cruz;

Other Brother Brewing, Seaside

Seaside’s first brewery since its founding in 1891, Other Brother was opened by three friends in 2019 in a two-story former carpet showroom with tall windows, which create a light, airy atmosphere. There’s a full kitchen, but the beer — hoppy ales, a nitro oatmeal stout and kettle sours — are the stars. Details: 877 Broadway Ave., Seaside;

Danville Brewing, Danville

Danville Brewing Co. specializes in West Coast IPAs, lagers and Hazy IPAs, and is planning an expansion with a new location in Pleasanton to be built from the ground up. (Courtesy Marcus Maita/SpotHopper) 

Veteran brewer Matt Sager puts this brewery on the list. The food is also a cut above the usual brewpub fare, served with an upscale twist in a modern, comfortable setting. Sager keeps a dozen or more beers on tap, but make sure you end your visit with his Granny’s Tipple, a delightful English-style barleywine. Details: 200 Railroad Ave., Danville;

Tenma Beer Project, Oakland

Co-founder Brennan Perry hails from SoCal’s Stone and Beachwood Brewing. Now the East Bay native and his family have come home and opened their own small brewery that’s definitely work a visit. Want more incentive? Tenma’s Infinite Self: Freestyle Nelson IPA just won first place at the Bistro’s IPA Festival in November. Details: 6510 San Pablo Ave., Oakland;

Wondrous Brewing, Emeryville

Beer taps line a wall in the tasting room of Wondrous Brewing. (Aric Crabb/Bay Area News Group) 

Wynn Whisenhunt opened his Wondrous Brewery in the spring of 2021 and hit the ground running with a range of great beers. Grab a bite at one of the nearby restaurants to enjoy in the taproom, where he keeps his award-winning beers on tap at all times. Details: 1306 65th St., Emeryville;

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Faction Brewing, Alameda

Brewmaster Rodger Davis was already a local legend when he and his wife, Claudia Pamparana, opened this brewery in a former airplane hangar. Inside, you’ll find plenty of seating, pinball machines and other diversions. The beer garden boasts amazing Bay views. Davis is known for his hop-forward beers, but keeps at least 20 beers on tap in a wide variety of styles. Details: 2501 Monarch St., Alameda,

Cellarmaker Brewing, Oakland

Cellarmaker Brewing Company’s Oakland location near Jack London Square offers a selection of beer, Detroit-style pizza and snacks with indoor and outdoor seating. (Courtesy Jay R. Brooks) 

The new Cellarmaker production brewery in Oakland is equal parts restaurant and hangout scene. In addition to founders Connor Casey, Tim Sciascia and Kelly Sciscia’s signature brews, you’ll find Detroit-style pizza at the Oakland location. “Detroit-style pizza is the hazy IPA of pizza,” they say. That’s a fitting description considering Cellarmaker made its name by effectively presaging the hazy craze. Details: 300 Webster St., Oakland;

Contact Jay R. Brooks at [email protected].

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