From the 1849 opening of a brewery in Sutter’s Fort that poured liquid gold for miners to the soon-to-open Luck & Courage Brewing, Sacramento has a rich and storied history as a city of suds.
Whether you’re looking for a craft brew in Sacramento proper or you’re in the mood to venture to surrounding areas, there are plenty of options to choose from when you’re on the hunt for a cold beer in California’s capital.
Sacramento has made a name for itself as a center for quality craft beer, with award-winning breweries spanning from midtown into the foothills.
Craft breweries you will find in Sacramento include:
Bike Dog Brewing
Jackrabbit Brewing Co.
New Glory Craft Brewery
Track Seven Brewing Company
Fieldwork Brewing Co.
New Helvetia Brewing Company
If you’re in the mood to drive (or Uber) a little out of town, some surrounding area breweries that you won’t want to miss include:
Crooked Lane Brewing Company
Fort Rock Brewing
Knee Deep Brewing
Out of Bounds Brewing Company
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Sacramento Breweries: A Brief History
The Original Sactown Beer Boom
Before the prohibition era came along and paused beer production country-wide, Sacramento was a booming center for craft breweries. More than a dozen breweries opening between 1849 and 1865 gave Sacramento area gold miners many options with which to wet their whistles.
For years, local beers were brewed with hops that were shipped to Cali from the east coast and Europe. Around 1860 locally farmed hops became the Sacramento standard.
At its 19th-century beer zenith, the downtown grid was home to 16 breweries. The first ice-cooled freight car – built in The Sacramento Railyards in 1870 – made it possible to distribute offering from Sacramento’s largest brewery. Which was also the largest West of the Mississippi.
Buffalo Brewing, built in 1890, was larger than even the Anheuser-Busch company.
Located at the intersection of 21st and Q street on the downtown grid, Buffalo Brewing was able to keep their doors open during prohibition by changing their operations to the manufacturing of ice. With the end of prohibition they began brewing again, staying open until the mid 1940’s.
The Birth of West Coast IPA
In 1987 Rubicon Brewing opened in midtown – at 21st and Capitol – and two years later took home the gold in the India Pale Ale category from the Great American Beer Festival. In 1990, they won again with their hoppy IPA that would eventually evolve into what is now known as West Coast IPA style.
Along with the Rubicon, downtown’s River City Brewing and the Sacramento Brewery in Town and Country Village were among the pioneers of the craft beer movement in California and reigned as the most successful breweries in the area through the beginning of the 21st century.
The Great Sacramento Craft Beer Revival
These late century pioneers paved the way for a craft beer boom that started in early 2K and shows no sign of slowing.
The opening of Track 7 Brewery in 2012 was just the start, with multiple breweries opening in and around the Sacramento area between then and now. Among them are Bike Dog Brewery, Knee Deep Brewery (which had to move to bigger digs in 2013 to keep up with demand), and Moonraker Brewing.
With 67 breweries currently listed on Sacramento Beer Frontier’s map, there is no shortage of choices in and around Sacramento for craft beer aficionados.
Sacramento Beer Week
In celebration of the success and bounty of breweries in the area, 2011 marked the first ever Sacramento Beer Week. Quickly becoming a can’t miss event, Beer Week has expanded to an 11 day long celebration of the regions delicious and varied breweries.
Taking place in May, Sacramento Beer Week is host to literally dozens of events scheduled throughout the area. Local breweries, taprooms, and restaurants participate with everything from all-you-can-sample food to beer pairings to beer release parties to brewery tours and much more.
Truly a can’t-miss event for beer lovers, Beer Week celebrates Sacramento’s rich history as a craft beer oasis.
With breweries that helped shape the city, brewers who helped innovate and pave the way for a new generation regional beers, and contemporary craft brewers who were inspired by both, the Sacramento area has made it mark as a formidable contender in the world of brewing.
The craft beer movement in the Sacramento has some serious forward momentum, with a seriously West coast hop-forward taste.