With miles of biking and hiking trails, as well as watersports on Lake Natoma and the American River, the Gold Country community of Rancho Cordova is a fantastic place to get outdoors. After a busy day of exercise and exploring, you might just develop a powerful thirst—and there’s no better place to cool off and chill out than at one of Rancho Cordova’s breweries and micro-distilleries.
The heart of Rancho Cordova’s brewing scene is the Barrel District, home to six breweries, a pair of distilleries, and even a meadery (a fermented beverage sometimes called “honey wine”). Most of the operations are clustered within a couple of miles of one another, making it easy to check out the variety and quality that the district offers.
Rancho Cordova’s free Barrel District Passport is the perfect way to discover the best of the local craft beverage scene. With deals at participating venues and monthly prize giveaways, the passport gives you added incentives to sample the offerings at the district’s nine locations, all of which are within easy reach of nearby Sacramento. (The Sunrise Station on the Gold Line of the Sacramento Regional Transit light rail is within walking distance of some breweries.) And instead of having to download yet another app to your phone, you can receive the passport via text or email.
Take your pick of such local favorites as Burning Barrel Brewing Co., which is known for its slushy fruit sours and bourbon barrel–aged stouts. The popular Claimstake Brewing Company has tables right in the brew room near the fermentation tanks and carries a big selection of IPAs. Head over to LogOff Brewing to enjoy its New England–style Hazy Lazy Days IPA or Juice Box Hero, a strawberry- and kiwi-flavored hard seltzer.
If you’re more into such spirits as whiskey, bourbon, and absinthe, the district’s Gold River Distillery was Sacramento County’s first legal distillery since Prohibition and has a tasting room where you can try the award-winning Wheel House American Dry Gin. J.J. Pfister Distilling found both its name and inspiration from a San Francisco knitting company that the family patriarch founded more than 170 years ago. The distillery has a beautiful brick-walled restaurant and tasting room, and the craft spirit selection ranges from a navy strength rum to an organic apple brandy. Or at Strad Meadery, find out for yourself why mead came to be known as “the nectar of the gods.”