Where on the West Coast would you advise somebody to visit?

I received the following email today and thought it was worth publishing (with permission) for community feedback:

Hi, from reading your blog, I assume you live in oregon so I was hoping that I may be able to get some advice from you. I am thinking about making a trip out west to check out some breweries, and was wondering what your opinion on the best region to go to would be. It would be about a week trip, so I was hoping to be able to hit an area with the highest concentration of best breweries within driving distance of each other. I would have to fly in to start the trip, so it would have to start around a city with a major airport, like portland or seattle. It seems like the Portland area might be a good idea, because a few regions are all within just a few hours drive from each other, but are there better areas in Washington or California to do?

Thanks so much for any help!

Obviously, my advice to Jake is to come to Portland; in fact, I replied:

Not only are you in the center of one of the best beer regions in the country, but there are many more options (within driving distance, of course) for exploring even more: a trip to the Coast, down to Central Oregon, east along the Columbia (there are a few), up into Washington. Plus Portland is a great, vibrant city with a lot of other things to do if you get bored with beer.

So there’s my advice. What advice would other readers give Jake, who is planning a week-long (beer) trip to the West Coast? Portland? Seattle? San Diego? Elsewhere?


  1. what is commonly called "The Lost Coast" in CA has a lot of breweries. It’s Humboldt county and its surrounds. Far Northern California has a TON of good breweries, in fact, from the coast to the I5 corridor.

  2. Thanks for posting my question!

    I did a little googling last night and I came up with a rough outline of the cities I would visit in Oregon, if I decide on Oregon – http://tinyurl.com/6bebsu

    I’ll take a look at what "The Lost Coast" has, I’m pretty sure I’ve had a beer from a brewery called lost coast brewery that I liked.

    I really appreciate any advice.

  3. Portland Oregon is sometimes called "Beer-vana" for a very good reason. I don’t remember the stats off the top of my head but Portland has the highest breweries/brewpubs per capita in the United States (or something similar to that). I take a few vacations a year and tour the beer scene up there. Its a BLAST! If however you find yourself in the Southern Oregon area (about 4 or 5 hour drive from Portland), let me know and I’ll take around to the breweries out here and buy you a few pints! 🙂 Northern California and the bay area have a great beer scene as well, but for shear number of breweries that are within a few minutes of one another, Portland can’t be beat.

  4. I live in Seattle, but I’d recommend Portland for beer. Seattle’s great with some good breweries and brewpubs, but not as good as Portland. Plus, if you’re into wine, wine country is minutes from Portland.

    Lost Coast Brewery is not worth it. It’s in Eureka, CA, which is a run-down city with little to offer. And the Lost Coast Brewpub is tiny with lousy food (think bowling alley food) and, IMO, the beers are not very good.

  5. Jake – I like your itenerary, but one suggestion would be to drive to the coast via Highway 26 from Portland and then take 101 all the way from Cannon Beach, through Pacific City, to Newport. The Oregon Coast is really spectacular, and you will get much more of it with that trip. On the plus side you can hit Bill’s Tavern in Cannon Beach. On the negative you miss out on Golden Valley in McMinville.

    On the east side, Sisters (about 20 miles out of Bend) will have a new brew-pub this summer – make sure you don’t miss it.


  6. I recently drove from Seattle through California. California has some good breweries but you’d have to drive a long way between them since they’re located all over the state.

    I just looked at your map. If you’re going to McMinnville, I highly recommend Golden Valley Brewpub (http://www.goldenvalleybrewery.com/) in McMinnville. It’s a very cool and casual place with very good beers. And again, if you’re into wine, the area is filled with wineries, most notably Eyrie Vineyards, which is right down the street from Golden Valley and is the first winery in Oregon.

  7. Sorry I keep posting, I keep thinking of things to add…

    I also heard good things about Bill’s Tavern in Cannon Beach, but I had a very different experience. You can read a little about it here (3rd paragraph): http://troyandgay.com/blog/2008/01/11/drive-to-cannon-beach-oregon/. But Cannon Beach is a very nice place to visit.

    I blogged our trip from Seattle to California, starting here: http://troyandgay.com/blog/2008/03/08/seattle-to-eugene-or/. It’s not strictly about beer but so you’d have to weed through the non-beer stuff to find the interesting bits.

  8. Sure, I’m a bit biased, but I say start in San Francisco and drive north into Marin, Sonoma and Mendocino counties. Here in Sonoma county (Santa Rosa specifically) you’d have a chance to drink beer from two well respected breweries that don’t travel very far: Moonlight and Russian River.

    As for other places to visit in the area, the 101 will take you across the Golden Gate Bridge then right past Marin brewing (Larkspur), Moylans (Novato), Lagunitas (Petaluma), Santa Rosa (home to Moonlight, 3rd Street Aleworks, and Russian River), Bea Republic (Healdsburg) and if the mood strikes you, all the north to Mendocino (Ukiah) and out to the coast for North Coast (Fort Bragg). Also, 15 min West of Santa Rosa is Dean Biersch’ new Hopmonk Tavern, a truly amazing establishment.

    The Lost Coast is about 3 hour north of Santa Rosa, 4 hours north of San Francisco, and there are 4-5 very nice breweries up there including Lost Coast Brewing.

  9. If you ask me the, San Diego is the best bet right now with 5 or 6 great brewerys within an hour’s drive from each other. To name a few, you got Stone, Greenflash, Ballist Point, Karl Strauss, and Pizza Port. Plus, you have great beaches, weather, and great night life if your into that sort of thing.

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