The Napa Valley is already known for its mastery of the grape, but it is also gaining appeal for its artisanal breweries that are crafting everything from IPAs to ambers, wheats and pilsners, porters and more. From robust production to the tiniest of “nano-breweries,” the Napa Valley offers craft beer fans a variety of options to sip and savor their favorite suds.
There are a handful of breweries already in operation with more coming soon, along with several Napa Valley restaurants and gathering spots to enjoy home-brewed craft beers paired with music and exceptional cuisine.
Napa Smith Brewery is Napa County’s only production brewery with an onsite tasting brewpub, where guests can enjoy a pint while the milling, brewing, fermenting, bottling, and lab work takes place. Craft brewer Don Barkley started making craft beer in 1978 at the New Albion Brewery, before helping to found Mendocino Brewing Company, where he created legendary beers such as Red Tail Ale and Eye of the Hawk. Napa Smith is open daily 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., offering flights of on tap, along with limited edition, seasonal brews.
Partners Nile Zacherle and Whitney Fisher, each accomplished winemakers, create extremely high quality brews at Mad Fritz in downtown St. Helena. With heralded wine brands David Arthur, Montagna Napa Valley, Unity Wines, Zacherle Wines, and Fisher Vineyards under their belts, Nile and Whitney like to say “it takes a lot of wine to make a great beer.” Brews include stouts, IPAs, lagers, porters and more. Visits are by appointment, or enjoy Mad Fritz brews at select Napa Valley restaurants and the classic single-screen Cameo Cinema in downtown St. Helena.
Established in 1987 by the Calistoga Inn, the Napa Valley Brewing Company is the first establishment to brew beer commercially in Napa County since prohibition. The brewery produces four award-winning beers, including their Calistoga Wheat Ale, Pilsner, Red Ale, and Porter, in addition to seasonal beers that are brewed throughout the year, such as the German Kölsch, Blitzen I.P.A., Belgian Pale Ale & Dugan Oatmeal Stout. One hundred percent of the brewery’s production is served at the Calistoga Inn at two bars where guests may taste the different beers either alone, or paired with the Calistoga Inn’s daily menu.
Slated to open in winter 2016, Tannery Bend Beerworks, Napa’s newest brewery, will be its tiniest, but perhaps one of the mightiest. Each batch of beer that brewer Matt Cromwell will oversee will total just 15 gallons, and the entire “nano-brewery,” located within the Tannery Bend District of old town Napa, will fit inside a 1,500-square-foot space, including the tasting room.
St. Clair Brown Winery in the warehouse district of downtown Napa is currently building a micro-brewery that will include a ten-barrel, all-grain system which will make up to 300 gallons of beer per day. Its small lot, handcrafted beers will be brewed fresh daily and piped directly from the finishing tanks to taps at the bar. Guests will also be able to get growlers and kegs to go.
Home Brews with Exceptional Cuisine and Music
In addition to stand-alone breweries several of the valley’s pubs, restaurants and music venues also brew their own beers to accompany their cuisine and music. The Napa Valley is known as one of the world’s great culinary capitals, and has more Michelin stars per capita than any other wine region in the world. What better way to round a day of wine tasting with a fantastic meal and a craft beer.
The home of the Napa Valley Brewing Company, the Calistoga Inn Restaurant is one of the most popular outdoor dining venues in the Napa Valley, with a patio stretching along the Napa River, an al fresco bar and “Back Forty” beer garden, which features award-winning brews from its own micro-brewery and offers a casual setting for private events. The inside dining room offer a vintage Napa Valley atmosphere and a vibrant late night social scene.
Housed in the historic Oberon Saloon built in 1893, Downtown Joe’s Brewery & Restaurant in downtown Napa complements its comfort-food menu with its own brews, and mostly British and west coast styled ales. And for trivia fans, the man who built its brewery was Chuck Ankeny, the great-grandson of Theodore Hamm of Milwaukee.
New to the downtown Napa restaurant scene, the Napa Palisades Saloon located on historic Main Street near the Napa River, offers an extensive selection of IPAs and other brews on tap, as well as by the bottle. With gastro-pub fare, featuring an eclectic variety of hearty burgers, farm-fresh salads, bar snacks, and sides, Napa Palisades has quickly become a great gathering spot for locals and visitors alike.
Silo’s Club, tucked into the historic Riverfront complex, is a popular downtown nightclub offering live music most nights of the week, and features a casual menu along with wide selection of craft beers, wine & spirits.
Some believe that there’s no better pairing than beer and sushi, especially at Morimoto Napa. Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto’s downtown Napa restaurant guests offers a choice of ten local and imported beers, including four of Morimoto’s own brews, as well as four beers on tap.
Carpe Diem features a sophisticated, yet casual dining experience in the heart of downtown Napa, focusing on a share-plate style menu and extensive beer and wine offerings to complement the cuisine. In addition to local craft brews, they offer proprietary beers from the Carpe Diem Brewing Company.
Pubs, Restaurants and Gathering Spots
Occasionally, you just might want to go where everybody knows your name. There are several casual restaurants that offer beer lovers an opportunity to choose from some of the finest craft brews produced in the region while their family and friends enjoy a glass of famous Napa Valley wine.
Norman Rose Tavern is Napa’s neighborhood pub, offering elevated American classics, wine and microbrews, in an engaging setting that anchors the City of Napa’s West End District. Norman Rose offers an extensive selection of the Napa Valley and North Coast microbreweries, both by the bottle and on tap, paired with classic American comfort food.
The Bounty Hunter Wine Bar & Smokin’ BBQ in downtown Napa offers an extensive, international list of lagers, draughts, and ales, including large format bottlings which pair well with their award-winning barbecue and famous “Beer-Can Chicken.”
Operated by two local veteran restaurateurs, Hop Creek Pub, located in Brown’s Valley west of downtown Napa, is a casual dining destination which provides locals and visitors with a welcoming atmosphere, and a locally sourced menu coupled with unique craft beers, spirits and wine.
There’s a well-known saying…“It takes a lot of good beer to maker a great wine!” In the Napa Valley you can enjoy the best of both worlds. Cheers! NVL