Henhouse Brewing

Get Fresh


“So,” you might ask, “what’s up with the fresh beer?” And if you stop into their laidback Santa Rosa Brewery Tasting Room on Bellevue Avenue the fellas behind Henhouse would be more than happy to tell you that beer, especially today’s super-hoppy pales and IPA’s, are way more perishable than you might think.
And it’s those hazy, hoppy weekly-released freshies that have skyrocketed Henhouse to elite status in the SR beer scene. Putting their process where their commitment to freshness is, Henhouse goes to great lengths to make sure the beer you find in stores, bars and eateries is still in its prime.

Now, if you’re not just a hop-aholic, Henhouse has a few other unique varietals readily-available. Unique, meaning like appropriately out there but surprisingly approachable. Their Oyster Stout is a big seller. In Saisons they have one that’s brewed with black pepper and coriander, a Black Saison and, you heard it right, Red Rye Saison. Like Gose? Henhouse makes one called Juiced! with boysenberry. If you’re around in early February, see if you can get your hands on a Big Chicken. It’s an annual release double IPA that, like Russian River’s Pliny the Younger, really get the beer geek crowd clucking.

You can try them all at the taproom, and may we recommend you take the flight of six – a guided tasting experience with six 4 oz. pours. Which, by the way, we have to call out the friendly staff and tap wranglers at Henhouse. Despite the big buzz around these beers, the people here are about as nice as you’ll find anywhere. The vibe is super chill, warehousy but with a friendly warmth, dog-friendly with plenty of room inside and out. Rotating food trucks roll in every day but Monday. We’d be tempted to hang out all day, but it’s time to fly this coop and move on.

The Brewery Tasting Room in Santa Rosa is open Monday > Friday 2 PM to 9 PM and on Saturdays and Sundays they open at 11. 

Be there at 322 Bellevue Avenue or at henhousebrewing.com

3 Disciples Brewing

It Takes Three


Look, over on Mendocino Avenue. It’s a brewing company. It’s a taproom. Wait, it’s an event space. In fact, 3 Disciples is all three. So, let’s start with a few beers. When three beer-loving buddies got together to turn their adherent following of the gospel of hops into a brewery, their mission was clear. James, Matt and Luke set out to make beers that they would love, in the hopes that followers would come to see the light. (And the dark and the hazy for that matter.) Turns out, their favorite beers cover a crazy-wide range of styles. On the list at any given time you’ll find a Gose, a Saison, a Marzen, even a Hard Seltzer. In between there’s every kind of ale, from Pat’s Blue Ribbon Pilsner to a Meet the Coneheads Hazy IPA and an Imperial Stout called Lunar Halo. If you want some eats with your brew, 3 Disciplines has partnerships with a handful of right-around-the-corner restaurants. Order up and it arrives fresh and hot in a few minutes.

3 Disciplines Brewing doesn’t brew on site, but that just saves room for The Room. As you walk past the bar, through a spacious hang-out area and outside courtyard, you come to the event space. It’s like nothing else you’ve ever seen at a brew pub. With a decent size room for live shows, 3 Disciples has quickly become one of Santa Rosa’s top event venues. Just a quick peruse of their event calendar reveals a range of musical styles, comedy shows, including the popular Family Feud. There are webcasts and big games on the giant screen. It’s a great gig with amazing beer. Heavenly.

3 Disciples is open Monday > Thursday from 2 PM to 10 PM, Friday from 1 PM to 11 PM, Satureday from Noon to 11 PM and Sunday Noon to 9 PM.

Visit them at 501 Mendocino Ave. or at 3disciplesbrewing.com

Shady Oak Barrel House

Made In The Shade

Shady Oak Barrel House

If you haven’t tried Steve Doty’s incredible collection of exquisitely blended and barrel-aged beers, you might think that Shady Oak Barrel House was mostly an event space. Since opening in 2018 it’s become one of SR’s most hopping local entertainment venues, with great acts appearing seemingly every night they’re open. See, there’s a big warehouse feel to the space, and an awesome outside area that backs right up to the river. But food isn’t served (you’re encouraged to BYO) and there’s no big screen TV, so the live music and other acts serve to sate the distraction cravings. Not that you couldn’t put all your attention on the beer. While dabbling in the haze of NorCal-style pales, Steve has a particularly fondness, and knack, for sours, working with wild yeasts and barrel aging to open up a wide range of possibilities. There’s something for everyone here, but the ale-adventurist will be particularly enthralled with the ever-changing line-up of unique blends. So, check their event calendar on social media and come spend some quality time under the cool cover of the Shady Oak Barrel House.

The Brewery and Taproom is open Wednesday > Friday 3 PM to 9 PM and they open Saturday and Sunday at noon.

Visit them at 410 First Street or at shadyoakbarrelhouse.com.

Russian River Brewing Company

The Holy Ale


I suppose all spiritual quests eventually lead to the same place. The top of the mountain. The highest peak. And the chance to sit before the master. And in Santa Rosa, the position of big kahuna is held by Russian River Brewing Company. If hop heaven can be found on earth, this just might be the place.

RRBC is also right downtown on Fourth Street. If anything, its appearance is modest compared to the immense, dare we say, legendary reputation these beers have garnered. So, before we get there, a little history is in order. Russian River actually started quite near the Russian River on the Korbel Champagne Cellars property in Guerneville. As legend would have it, Korbel bailed on the brewery business and generously bestowed the brand to brewmaster Vinnie Cilurzo and his wife Natalie. The rest is what you could call storied beer history. From Korbel’s small hop garden, Vinnie received a field education on growing and brewing with fresh, “wet” hops. The most celebrated Russian River brews get the locally grown, farm to brew treatment, the results of which have put these offerings way high on the world’s beer map.

Fast-forward to today and you’re sitting in one of the world’s most buzzed about breweries. And while they brew an eclectic range of beers, one in particular has captured the imagination, and high acclaim, of the so-called ale-teligencia. Pliney The Younger is a Double IPA. Actually, nearly a triple, with three times the amount of hops as a regular IPA. The thing is, it’s so time and space and cost consuming to make, that RRBC only brews it once a year. And therein lies the key element of Pliney The Younger’s almost mythic reputation. It’s incredibly hard to come by.

Come Pliny The Younger time, the beer is released to extremely small distribution, and lines form at the pub for a taste of the beer that made Santa Rosa famous (at least in certain beer geek circles). You’re limited in how much you can have and how long you can stay. That way everyone gets a turn. And, yes, it’s true, beer lovers come from all over for a few sips of Pliney The Younger. However, it would be shameful to dismiss the rest of Russian River’s incredible line-up. Pliney’s adopted uncle, (it’s on old story we’ll save for another time) Pliney The Elder is brewed year round and (only a little) easier to come by. If you ask me, and most of the people who work there, Blind Pig is the best beer in the house. Particularly if you like that fresh, hoppy, citrus, pine, almost fruity flavor with a dry, bitter finish. 

Sitting here at the Russian River Brewing Company pub bar, it’s hard not to feel like you’re a part of something much bigger. Like maybe this is just the beginning of the journey, not the end. Maybe true hoppyness can be found. Maybe not. But here in Santa Rosa, the journey couldn’t be more fun.