California’s Central Valley stretches for hundreds of miles—and fortunately for beer lovers, so does the valley’s craft brew scene. Though a bit more secluded than their brewing brethren in other parts of the state, there’s nothing backwoods about the beer scene here—some of the local IPAs and barrel-aged stouts will rival those from anywhere.
Starting in the north and working south, the first stop is the Lodi Beer Company; grab a doppelbock drawn from its gleaming copper Bavarian brew system, located in the center of the brewpub’s dining room, and the concept of the Central Valley as a craft beer destination will begin to make perfect sense. Then it’s on to Dust Bowl Brewing Company in Turlock, where you can take a tour (advance reservations required) before sampling their Hops of Wrath IPA. Fresno boasts Sequoia Brewing Companies, Tioga-Sequoia, and Full Circle. In nearby Clovis, the House of Pendragon Brewing Company has its taproom; try a pint of Merlin’s Midnight Mild. In Visalia, at the valley’s south end, stop in at Brewbakers Brewing Company for a taste of its signature Sequoia Red.
The tour ends in Bakersfield, where there are two standouts: Temblor Brewing Company and Lengthwise Brewing Company—Temblor offers free tours of their 19,000-sq.-ft. state-of-the-art brewery on Saturday afternoons; afterward, try their El Cerrito Mexican-style lager and the Hay-Z IPA (the latter should help you forget a few of your 99 problems). At Lengthwise, you can sample any of their 20-plus beers from its brewery, pub, or marketplace locations.