After hiking the Muir Woods for 4.5 hours for my birthday on Monday, Robin and I made a beeline to Petaluma to visit Lagunitas Brewery. We’ve been wanting to visit pretty much since we arrived in San Francisco close to a year ago, but haven’t because it’s about an hour north of the city. And every time we’ve been near Petaluma, we’re actually on our way to Napa. That’s why I was so excited when Robin suggested mid-hike to go check it out. The Wisconsinites in us will never shake our love of beer.
We arrived around 2pm – and we were STARVING. After hiking over 9 miles, all I wanted was to stuff my face with all the foods. Thank goodness Lagunitas Brewery is one of those breweries that not only has delicious beer, but an impressive kitchen menu. We both spotted their Pulled Pork BBQ Nachos on the menu at the same time and split a big plate of them.
The nachos were amazing. I’m not a huge fan of BBQ, but it really worked well for this dish. Everything was smothered in cheese (my favorite) and the cool sour cream on top was a great addition to every bite to cool your mouth off from the jalapenos. It didn’t take long for that plate to disappear.
Once I had food in my stomach and chugged about 10 glasses of water, I could finally focus on the real reason we came: the beer. If you haven’t figured it out yet, Lagunitas is local to Petaluma and has, in our opinion, a great array of craft beers. You’ve probably seen their bottles on the shelves in your local store – the design has a surfer/California vibe going on. When visiting wineries or breweries, we always like to try things that are only available at the location (not on shelves), so our first glasses were specialty beers. I ordered the Cappuccino Stout which was rich and strong. Robin tried the Cherry Hotside, a sour ale, which had the perfect balance of sour vs. traditional beer flavor and was really refreshing in the heat. We always share our beers when trying new ones and I liked his a little bit better. Since we had to drive back, afterward we split a flight of the other 4 speciality beers we haven’t tried yet:
- Imperial Pils: Refreshing because it has that traditional hop taste, but then a nice malty aftertaste.
- Littel Sumpin’ Extra! Ale (2015): We were really excited for this because we love their Little Sumpin’ Ale, but the extra is a disappointment. Nothing special about it.
- Olde Gnarly Wine: This was my favorite. Bright red in color due to the molasses, this had a great unique flavor.
- High West Coffee Stout: I described it as alcoholic espresso. It was really strong but so very good. This was Robin’s favorite.
We’re such big beer nerds that we keep track of all the beers we try in an app called Untappd. This handy app is cataloged with almost every beer out there and allows you to log beer experiences, rate the beers, make notes and even check into locations. I’ve been using it for about a year now and love it. We’re really close to logging 300 different beers in!
What I loved about Lagunitas is how open it is. Many other breweries we’ve been to have small tap rooms and no outdoor seating, but Lagunitas has a good vibe. They had a great bluegrass band playing and when we were leaving the cooks were starting to fire up some veggies on these giant drum stovetops. Apparently they were setting up for a concert later that night. A staff member told us all concerts are free. With the combination of great beer, great food, great outdoor seating, dog friendliness and the fact that they even throw free concerts in on top of that makes Lagunitas one of the best breweries we’ve ever been to. I just wish they were close to San Francisco so we could be regulars!
I wanted to note that I made it on time to take part in their walking tour of the brewery, but as you can guess, after spending the whole day walking the idea of doing anything but sitting down was terrible. Next time we’ll see what’s behind the brewing doors. If you visit, I recommend getting there in time to take part – I’m sure it’s really cool!