If it seems difficult to keep up with all the new breweries opening and closing, it's not just you. According to the California Craft Brewers Association, there are more than 750 craft breweries in operation across California, more than any other state in the country. And the Bay Area has been a particular hub, with new breweries and taprooms opening across the East, South, and North Bays.
It can even be hard to keep track of which ones are craft breweries. Golden Road Brewing, which was bought by the massive Anheuser-Busch, is planning to open a 7,000-square foot brewery and restaurant in North Oakland later this year. And Heineken purchased 50 percent of local favorite Lagunitas last year.
Add to your list: Formerly Linden Street Brewing, Oakland United Beerworks will also be reopening later this summer near Jack London Square. And Speakeasy, which closed its taproom earlier this year, sold its assets to Hunters Point Brewery and should reopen its public serving too.
While we can't accurately capture all the beer halls, taprooms, pubs, breweries, and patios where you can enjoy a cold brew and all the ones coming soon, here's a list of some of the best new spots and oldies. If we missed your favorite, share it in the comments below.
- Mikkeller Bar (Tenderloin): With a location in L.A. and one in San Francisco, this beer hall has 42 taps and unique bottles from around the world. The kitchen serves high-end pub grub until 11 p.m. every night.
- The Beer Hall (Mid-Market): With 20 rotating taps (primarily California brews and some one-of-a-kind), you come here first and foremost for the beer. There are also a few wines and plates, but the spot is small and can get crowded right after work.
- Thirsty Bear Brewing Company (SoMa): One of the oldest breweries in the city and the first craft brewer to be certified organic in San Francisco, it typically has 10 of its beers on tap — meant to be paired with the seasonal tapas they serve.
- Cellarmaker Brewing Co. (SoMa): Bar seating, a few tables, and their own beers on tap, it's about the tasting flights. You can bring in your own food or order from one of the nearby restaurants.
- Magnolia Gastropub and Brewery (Upper Haight): Considered one of the best craft breweries in San Francisco, Magnolia serves a rotating round-up of its best beers with its gastropub fare. You can also check out their BBQ spot, Smokestack, in the Dogpatch.
- Southern Pacific Brewing (Mission): In a 10,000 square foot converted warehouse, Southern Pacific has created a popular indoor and outdoor space. Eat from the full menu and enjoy a house beer from their barrels or from one of the guest brewers.
- Zeitgeist (Mission): With 40 beers on tap, an outdoor beer garden, and a grill that's always serving, this is a San Francisco laid-back classic.
- Monk's Kettle (Mission): It's your neighborhood tavern, if your neighborhood spot is fancy and amazing. There are daily food specials, like a fresh sandwich served until 4 p.m. and a dinner entree. Try a beer from the 28 taps, the one cask engine, and over 100 specialty bottles.
- Biergarten (Hayes Valley): Opened almost six years ago in the then up-and-coming Hayes Valley, Biergarten is now a beer garden staple. Share a bench and a blanket to ward off the chill, and grab a brat.
- Woods Beer Co. (Mission, Russian Hill, and Oakland): Woods does small batches of experimental and "adventurous" beers, like one inspired by Girl Scout cookies. Its flagship in the Mission is named after the company's first IPA, the MateVeza. In Oakland, its a bar and brewery, and on Treasure Island there's a unique club spot.
- Fort Point Beer Company (Ferry Building): Founded in 2014 by two brothers and with a brewery housed in a historic Presidio building, Fort Point has built a reputation for fresh and aromatic beers. The duo recently opened a taproom in the Ferry Building where you can sit at the bar and enjoy one of their taps.
- Faction Brewing (Alameda): Started as a brewhouse in an old airplane hangar, Faction now has a tasting room, rotating taps (with something almost always new), and a patio that looks out over the San Francisco skyline. Plus, there are usually food trucks in the parking lot.
- Fieldwork Brewing Co. (Berkeley): With three locations -- including a taproom at Oxbow Market in Napa -- Fieldwork has become the go-to for local craft aficionados. Expect two new spots in Monterey and San Mateo later this year.
- Westbrae Biergarten (Berkeley): This outdoor beer garden has eight rotating local beer taps, as well as hard ciders, wine, mead, and seasonal specials, like house-made sangria. There are guest food trucks on weekends and a Latin American menu always.
- Hoi Polloi Brewing Taproom and Beat Lounge (Berkeley): Pouring until 2 a.m., this small bar has turntables and unlimited truffle popcorn. House beers and other local crafts on tap. Try the coffee porter.
- Drake's Brewing Company (Oakland, San Leandro): Brewing since 1989, Drake's recently opened Drake's Dealership on Broadway has become a popular spot for sunny afternoons and brick-oven pizza. Or, check out their Barrel House in San Leandro.
- Diving Dog Brewhouse (Oakland): Along with 30 taps (and two nitros), Diving Dog has everything you need to brew your own beer on site. Try your hand at their recipes or whip up your own, and then drink what you make.
- Lost & Found (Oakland): This beer garden has 15 drafts, plus sours, draft wines, and kombucha. There are also small plates like deviled eggs and tacos. While you're sitting on the outdoor patio, enjoy some ping-pong table and bean bag toss.
- Novel Brewing Co. (Oakland): The wife-husband team that opened the brewery in 2016 also live in the neighborhood, which gives it a local feel. It's small, filled with books and games, and low-key, with the beers brewed on site. Trivia nights happen monthly.
- Temescal Brewing (Oakland): With "no jerks" as the official motto, this is a small community spot. A handful of their drafts on tap and beer garden make it an easy spot to enjoy a cold beer outside with friends. Food trucks nearby or bring your own food.
- Altamont Beer Works (Livermore): Billing itself as Livermore's first craft brewery since Prohibition, Altamont makes a number of specialty beers and unique flavors, like the hoppy Ganja Juice and the Hella Lite.
- Tap 25 (Livermore): The name comes from the 25 American craft beers taps that change daily. Try a tasting, sit on the patio, and enjoy the live music on Thursdays and Saturdays.
- Loma Brewing Company (Los Gatos): In the large space formerly occupied by the Los Gatos Brewing Company, Loma opened last August from two brothers: a former MLB player and a Bay Area restauranteur (with help from a chef and a beermaker). Expect high-end bar food and entrees, and eight home beers on tap. And don't miss beer and yoga day.
- Half Moon Brewing Company (Half Moon Bay): Being right on the water, near Half Moon Bay’s famous beaches and surfing spots, may be part of this restaurant and brewery's appeal. You can also take a brewery tour and enjoy house beers. Or visit their Pacific Standard taproom in downtown Berkeley.
- Gourmet Haus (Redwood City): In the back of a German specialty store, the beer garden serves up authentic beers, sausages, and pretzels -- along with 10 German beers and three guest taps.
- Steins Beer Garden (Mountain View): This is an American take on the German biergarten. Along with fresh local food, there are 31 taps (16 house beers and 15 rotating). There's also an annual homebrew contest.
- Bierhaus (Mountain View): Simple and classic: picnic tables, beer, brats and burgers. OK, there are some plates and pretzels too.
- Hermitage Brewing Company (San Jose): Hermitage has been brewing since 1987 and its volume (for various brands) actually puts it in the top 5% in the country. At the warehouse's taproom, you can enjoy 16 of their house brews or fill-up your growlers. The spot promises games, beers, sometimes food trucks.
- Strike Brewing Company (San Jose): Right next to the baseball stadium, the seasonal and experimental craft brews are named for America's pastime. Food trucks visit regularly and, during art night, you can paint while you drink.
- Santa Clara Valley Brewing (San Jose): The names of the beers get their inspiration from local landmarks, as do the flavors. Try a flight of their homebrews in their taproom near downtown.
- Marin Brewing Company (Larkspur): Across from the Golden Gate Ferry, Marin Brew Co. has a large outdoor area for enjoying beers and burgers and weekly music.
- Iron Springs (Fairfax): In the heart of Fairfax, Iron Springs is usually filled on weekends with cyclists and families post-hike, either sitting inside the restaurant or at one of the few picnic tables in front. The beers are award-winning and the pub has a full menu. Later this year, the brewery will also open a taproom in San Rafael.
- Lagunitas Taproom (Petaluma): Lagunitas Brewing Company has grown and expanded in recent years, and the popularity of this outdoor Petaluma tasting spot has grown too. Music most days, tours every day.
- Brewsters Beer Garden (Petaluma): Opened in November in the historic downtown area, Brewsters has 32 beers on tap and a patio garden with a children's play area and a bocce ball court.
- Grav South Brew Co (Cotati): This past October, Grav South Brew Co opened with 16 taps -- half its own house brews and half other local Sonoma County beers. Plus, a small menu of meats smoked in-house.
- Crooked Goat (Sebastopol): After starting with small batches for family and friends, Crooked Goat grew and eventually took over a small taproom at The Barlow. You can also bring food in from the other shops. The 16 taps change regularly.
- Barrel Brothers Brewing Company (Windsor): Started by brothers-in-law with their father-in-law, Barrel Brothers Brewing Company uses sustainable practices like donating spent grain to local farmers and trapping wastewater for fertilizer.