Cooperage Brewing Company

One Beer At A Time

COOPERAGE BREWERY

Let’s hop on the 101 and head north to an industrial park district off Pliner Road. Because it’s entirely possible that finding your beer bliss requires getting lost in the depth of your obsession, and this Bermuda Triangle of craft breweries is a great place to do it. From our first stop, we can walk to two more breweries so, if you’re traveling without a DD, this may be the ideal time to abandon the auto.

Cooperage Brewing Company embodies the quality before quantity approach to beer making so prevalent here in Santa Rosa. Tyler Smith makes one beer at a time, and never technically makes the same beer twice. The taproom is all wide-open spaces, high ceilings and colorful artwork with room enough for fun and games like darts and even a corn hole court (if a court is what it’s called). Along with brewer and owner in his title, Tyler is also beertender, host and official explainer of what’s on tap. But he manages to tear away from the bar long enough to show us around the brewery. Tyler takes a slow and steady approach to beermaking. He brews one batch at a time, always something distinctive, and only sells what he pours out of the taproom. So, after giving us a quick tour, we’re back at the bar before a flight of beers you can’t get anywhere else. Which is fine, because it’s a great place to hang around.

Personal opinion here, Cooperage beers are incredible. Each one a really well thought out delight to the palette. The great thing about quaffing at Cooperage is that it’s never the same brewpub twice. At the time of our visit there were ten beers on tap. As you’re reading this, there are probably ten entirely new ones.


There’s no kitchen at Cooperage, but there are some tasty snacks available, including our favorite Bloody Mary Popcorn from neighborhood poppers Comet Corn.
After a sampling of Cooperage brews, we can feel the spirits starting to move us towards our intended epiphany, so it’s time to move on. But we’ll be back, no doubt to see what’s on tap next.
Cooperage Brewing Company is open from 3 PM to 11 PM Monday, closed Tuesday, 3 PM to Midnight Wednesday > Friday, Saturday Noon to Midnight and Sunday Noon to 11 PM. Dogs are welcome.
Stop by at 981 Airway Court, Suite G or visit CooperageBrewing.com.


Old Possum Brewing Company

A Great Place To Hang

At Old Possum the vibe is laid back. That is, until you get Sandro the Brewer talking about beer. A jack of all culinary trades, Sandro’s enthusiasm comes through in everything there is to taste here. The beer is diverse and delicious, from a Poppin’ Pils to a Zorro Chocolate Espresso Stout and everything pale and hazy in between. The food? Well, the food is probably the most surprising part. This is no quick-kitchen, pure filler pub grub. Sandro’s local cuisine connections come through in small and big bites that pack plenty of flavor and lots of locally-sourced ingredients. Where else can you find Rillettes and Ratatouille on a brewery menu? Or how about West County Schnitzel, Chicken Pie or Stuffed Squash?

We’d suggest you check their social calendars for upcoming events. They host some super-fun stuff like weekly trivia nights, Pints & Paintings, comedy, music and more. That’s where you really notice the neighborhood bar feel at Old Possum. It’s a great place to hang by your tail and just chill. Or, if you’re up for something more energetic, ask Sandro about his full circle approach to making beer.

 

The Brewery, Kitchen and Taproom is open Wednesday > Sunday Noon to 8 PM but stay open on Saturday until 9 PM.
Stop by for a beer and a bite at 357 Sutton Place or online at oldpossumbrewing.com


PLOW Brewery

Down To Earth

PLOW BREWERY

Our search for higher knowledge carries us around the corner to Plow Brewing Company. For one of SR’s newer, up and coming brewers, Plow has a pretty rich history. Owner and Brewmaster Kevin Robinson carries the knowledge and craftsmanship required to make this operation run from the ground up. Literally. A former auto mechanic, Kevin built this brewery himself over the course of a year and a half before he could pull his first tap handle.

After completing the Master’s Brewer program at UC Davis, Kevin did stints at Pealuma’s Lagunitas and Speakeasy in San Francisco. He went deep on the fine art of fermentation at a local winery before going to work at Russian River Brewing Company. The good contacts and high company Kevin kept served him well when it was time to embark on his own venture.

Even the equipment here at Plow has a fascinating backstory. The mash tank was built from a big dump bin. The fermenters he requisitioned from a dairy salvage yard. And the brewhouse kettle has a story all it’s own, having gone from Dogfish Brewing in Delaware to Russian River to its current roost at Plow.

Remember the game mousetrap? Where you connect a bunch of salvaged parts to create a Rube Golderg-like labyrinth to trap a rat. Well, that’s a little bit of what goes on at Plow. Kevin has literally created an incredibly brewery from scratch, from building out the space to rigging all the lines. It’s a testimony to engineering and personal determination. Oh, and it makes really, really good beer.

Stepping through beer making into the taproom you really get a sense of the big idea behind this little brewery. Kevin himself has a tractor mechanic farmer mentality. He wants his beers to have a connection to the earth. The name Plow, and its reference to the soil are deliberate. The cozy tasting room has a hip ag feel, with lots of iron and old-school appliances. Beer at the bar is served in cool little beakers that are totally fun to sip from. But it’s the beer-to-go that gives Plow it’s signature packaging appeal. Kevin has created a little canning facility right here in the pub, so you can walk away with a few of your favorites gift wrapped in original aluminum. Every can is hand poured and labeled. Think old-fashioned oil can but with delicious, fresh-brewed beer.

With our three pack to go, it was time to continue our quest, enlightened as we were by one of the friendliest, most approachable brewers you’ll meet anywhere.

Plow Brewing Company is open from 4 PM to 8 PM Monday > Friday, Saturday 2 PM to 7 PM and Sunday 2 PM to 6 PM.

The taproom is at 3334 Industrial Dr. or find them on facebook.


Fogbelt Brewing Company

The Tree Fort

FOGBELT BREWERY

Tucked into a little mall on Cleveland Ave. by the freeway, Paul and Remy have created a cozy kind of clubhouse feel in the taproom at Fogbelt Brewing Company. This is the perfect place to start an SR beer tour. The wide range of ales is crazy good, and the food is amazing. Like “beer food” amazing, that is, with hardy fare such as Meatloaf Sliders, Lamb Bam sandwich, and bites like Billionaire’s Bacon, Deviled Eggs and Blanco Bean Dip. We went for the Sausage Maker, a kind of design-your-own fresh, local sausage (from Sonoma County Meat Co.) with a range of clever toppings.

A flight features the eight beers currently on the Fogbelt menu – four flagships and four seasonals, all named after redwood trees. Did you know a lot of redwood trees have names? Well, they do. And now those big trees have beers named after them. Like Lost Monarch Wit Beer, Armstrong Stout and Methuselah Barrel Aged Sour Ale. 

Once we put away our lunch and arm-wrestled over which beer we liked best, Remy gave us a look around. We started in the brewing room, which is squeezed neatly into what you’d have to call a large closet off the bar. The tour consists pretty much of turning around, because it all happens here in this tiny space, and the chilly confines of the cooler in the room next door.

Along the way, Remy told us the story of how a couple of kids with dads in the wine biz came to become Santa Rosa brewers. Turns out, Remy and Paul were aspiring filmmakers who leveraged their connections to get winery gigs in New Zealand. In their idealistic young minds, it would just be a matter of time before they found themselves on Peter Jackson’s crew behind the camera of the latest Lord of The Rings feature. In fact, as it turned out, they found that working the winery night shift meant there was no beer to be had when you clocked out around 7 AM. So they picked up a home brew kit and never looked back. They brewed for friends in Australia, then came home and started saving up for Fogbelt.

Whether you belly up to the bar inside or kick back at the picnic tables on the outside seating area, Fogbelt Brewing Company is the perfect starting point on the path to beer nirvana. 

The Brewery and Taproom is open Monday > Thursday Noon to 10 PM, Friday and Saturday 11 AM to 11 PM and Sunday Noon to 8 PM.

Visit them at 1305 Cleveland Ave. or FogBeltBrewing.com