America’s modern craft brewing movement began in California in 1965. A young man named Fritz Maytag was enjoying a pint of Anchor Steam at a local restaurant when the bartender told him it was likely to be his last; the historic Anchor brewery was on the verge of bankruptcy. Maytag decided to buy a controlling interest in the Anchor Brewery and brought a craftsman’s touch to the brand, introducing new beers, and reviving lost styles.
Maytag’s plan worked and he had the craft beer market to himself until 1976, when Anchor fan Jack McAuliffe founded the New Albion Brewery Co. in Sonoma. With a focus on British-style ales, this new producer became America’s first modern microbrewery. Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., in Chico, followed in 1980, creating a new beer style called American pale ale. By 1990, some 67 breweries operated across the state.
Today, California is home to more than 850 breweries and the state’s craft beer boom shows no sign of slowing down. From Mendocino County to San Diego, California’s trendsetting, thirst-quenching craft breweries beckon. Learn about ten of the most notable ones in the related articles below.