California’s Central Valley stretches for hundreds of miles—and fortunately for beer lovers, so does the valley’s craft beer scene. Though a bit more secluded than their brewing brethren in other parts of the state, there’s nothing backwoods about the beer here—some of the local IPAs and barrel-aged stouts 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 brewing system, located at the centre 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 (advanced booking required) before sampling their Hops of Wrath IPA. Fresno boasts Sequoia Brewing Company, Tioga-Sequoia and Full Circle. In nearby Clovis, the House of Pendragon Brewing Company has a 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 excellent breweries: Temblor Brewing Company and Lengthwise Brewing Company—Temblor offers free tours of their 1765-square-metre state-of-the-art brewery on Saturday afternoons; afterwards, 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 the 20-plus beers from their brewery, pub or marketplace locations.
California’s heartland offers up one of the state’s most authentic and sensory-rich experiences, a chance to see—and taste—the state’s bounty at every turn. Follow oak-shaded country roads to farm stands overflowing with fresh produce, and meander along wine trails to some of the state’s most productive vineyards and low-key tasting rooms.
Peaches, plums, apricots, and tomatoes—just some of the ultra-fresh produce you will find at farm stands throughout the valley.
Throughout the broad valley, stretching for over 400 miles/644 kilometers down the middle of the state, are cities and towns rich with history, international culture, and “everyone’s welcome” charm.
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