This blog was updated in July 2022.
Even though the largest beer companies in the United States still dominate the beer market, the top three are the absolute leaders with large portfolios of brands and are ranked in the 10 largest beer brewing companies in the world.
Perhaps not surprisingly, these are:
- Anheuser Busch Inbev SA/NV
- Molson Coors Brewing Co
- Constellation Brands, Inc.
The first two are the result of relatively recent mergers, while the third is more of a “clearinghouse” of major imported beer brands in the US.
And how popular is beer?
According to a Gallup poll from five years ago, 65 percent of Americans drink alcoholic beverages and of those, 43 percent said that they prefer beer, while just 32 percent were wine drinkers and only 20 percent preferred liquor.
What is becoming increasingly apparent to any beer connoisseur is the growing popularity of craft beer. And any craft beer aficionado worth their weight in hops knows that California reigns as the Craft Beer Capital of the United States.
California and Craft Beer – a Great Combination You Can Enjoy from Cal Mart
We’ll be the first to admit that there are plenty of superb craft brews from other points throughout the country, but California was the first when it comes to craft beer and it is the most abundant when it comes to craft breweries and varieties.
In 1976 Jack MacAuliffe opened New Albion Brewing in Sonoma, California, considered the first microbrewery and a pioneer of the U.S. craft brewing movement. Then, in 1980, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company opened and introduced the world to its Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. Today, California has the most craft breweries of any state in the US with over 840 craft breweries as of 2018.
And, at Cal Mart, we are proud to offer an abundantly broad selection of craft beers from the state’s best craft breweries.
When it comes to our craft beer choices,we make it a point to include many seasonal brews, as well as several other styles from microbreweries originating from throughout the West Coast and California, in particular. And we consider ourselves fortunate to be able to stock some of the greatest local choices out of Mendocino, Napa, and Sonoma Counties, as well including some rare and hard to get brews.
10 California Craft Brews That Can Be Had at Cal Mart
1. Stone Brewing’s Stone IPA
Stone IPA was originally brewed to celebrate their first anniversary in 1997, according to the brewery. Today it is one of the most well-respected and best-selling IPAs in the country.
Founded in 1996 in San Marcos, California, it is the largest brewery in Southern California. Today, Stone Brewing is headquartered in Escondido.
2. Almanac Beer Company IPAs
With selections of fresh beer brews such as LOVE Hazy IPA and WAVES West Coast IPA, Almanac beers are an experience as well as a great collection of brews.
An Alameda brewer, Almanac Beer Company makes farm-to-table beers in small batches using fruit, grains, and herbs purchased from local family farms.
3. Irreverent Wit from Laughing Monk Brewing
They describe themselves as, “a small batch craft brewery in San Francisco that blends traditions from California and Belgium with a mix of local, seasonal ingredients.”
With brews sporting names such as Brother Boogie, Brother Andrew, and Sainted Ladies Strawberry Milkshake IPA, these are definitely worth checking out.
4. Fort Point Brewing Core Beers
Fort Point Beer Company is a beer company located in the Presidio of San Francisco started Fort Point in 2014. Their four core beers are KSA, Villager IPA, Westfalia, and Park.
In addition, they feature their award-winning Manzanita, a smoked altbier made using manzanita wood.
5. Russian River Brewing and Pliny The Elder
Russian River Brewing Company was created in 1997 when Korbel Champagne Cellars of Guerneville decided to branch out into brewing beer. Today, the company boasts two breweries in Santa Rosa and Windsor, both in Sonoma County.
The brewer is widely known for their Double India Pale Ale, Pliny The Elder, a multiple award-winning favorite.
6. HenHouse Brewing’s HenHouse IPA
A truly unique craft brewery based in Santa Rosa that was born in 2011 and has found an enthusiastic fan base over the last ten years. HenHouse is probably best known for their signature brew, HenHouse IPA.
But some of their other creations such as their hazy IPA called The Walrus is Paul demand attention as well.
7. Fog Belt Brewery
According to the Sonoma County Tourism website, “Fogbelt Brewing Company is a craft brewery and gastro-pub located in Santa Rosa, CA. Fogbelt celebrates the North coast, sourcing local ingredients and naming each beer after a prominent coastal redwood tree only found in the ‘fog belt.’”
They also brew up a tasty trio of IPAs known as Stardusk Juicy IPA, Del Norte IPA, and Screaming Giant Double IPA.
8. Barrel Brothers and Dad Pants Pilsner
Located in the beautiful Sonoma County town of Windsor, just over the hills from Calistoga, the Barrel Brothers bring a humble tone to their great brews like The BrotherMaker Double IPA. As they describe their brewing philosophy on their company website,
“We firmly believe if you aren’t having fun at work, or life in general, you should probably be doing something else. When it comes to making beer, we’re having a blast and just trying not to suck.”
9. Old Possum Brewing’s Alien Search Party IPA
And there is also their session-able single malt extra pale ale, Mama’s Pouch. Another Santa Rosa brewery, Old Possum Brewing uses the best local ingredients from neighboring farmers, ranchers, bakers, butchers, maltsters, and hop growers.
The objective is to produce “a more genuine and hyperlocal product.”
10. Lost Coast Brewery
Lost Coast Brewery was founded by Wendy Pound and Barbara Groom in 1989. It is one of only two female-owned breweries in Humboldt County. The first beer distributed by Lost Coast Brewery was their Downtown Brown, which went on to win numerous awards.
Possibly one of their better-known brews is their Great White, an unfiltered Belgian Witbier. In addition, they offer up the Lost Coast Hazy IPA.
When Ten Is Not Enough – Bonus Beer Selections and Tips for Visiting Local Craft Breweries
One of the best things about craft beer is the sheer volume of breweries and varieties of brews that are available. One could quite literally spend years making pilgrimages to well-known craft breweries and tasting the hundreds of different pale ales, red ales, brown ales, porters, stouts, and wheat ales.
Fortunately, a few trips to Cal Mart can secure dozens of these delicious and artfully crafted brews and save you many miles of wear and tear.
So, here are a few more bonus California craft beer choices that can be found at Cal Mart.
11. Strike Brewing Co.
Strike Brewing Company is based out of San Jose, California and has grown to be one of the premier breweries in the Bay Area. Brewing everything from Hazy IPA and old-school lagers, to fruited sours and bourbon barrel aged stouts, their Double IPA is a home run brew.
Or as they describe it, “Intensely hopped with magnum, Columbus, Centennial, and Cascade hops, this higher gravity beer is a true West Coast Double IPA.”
12. Altamont Beer Works
Cranking out premier brews from the heights of Livermore, this Northern California – Bay Area craft brewery boasts a wide selection of IPAs, ales, and more.
For example, their Maui Waui single malt IPA has a light color and body. Mosaic and Citra hops give it strong aromas and flavors of guava, pineapple, and mango
13. Barrel Brothers Brewing Company
Closer to home in the charming town of Windsor in nearby Sonoma County, this brewery has a mission, “to make the best beer we possibly can and to have fun doing so.” And they have succeeded with a great selection of craft beers with witty labels.
We suggest trying The Brother Maker double IPA that serves up a double dose of Azacca, Citra, Mosaic, and Amarillo hops for a hop punch and a balanced malty sweetness.
14. Revision Brewing Company
Okay, so Sparks, Nevada isn’t exactly Northern California – but it’s right next door! And this barely five-year-old craft brewery packs a punch that is felt throughout the region, including here in Napa Valley.
Their Smashing Sandcastles is a New England-style IPA brewed with hops exclusively from “Down Under” and features notes of passion fruit, pineapple, lime, and pine from Waimea, Motueka, Vic Secret and Galaxy hops.
15. Drake’s Brewing Company
A bold brewing operation in an industrial setting with industrial-strength brews, this San Leandro-based craft beer producer “has evolved from pioneer to persistent innovator.” Drake’s has been doing craft beer since the inception of the movement in the Bay Area in 1989.
Their Flyway Pils, a great choice from Cal Mart, is a North German style pilsner, which is distinctive in its high hopping rates and clean, dry body.
Experiencing the Craft of Craft Brewing – Visiting Local Breweries
Shopping for local craft beer favorites and hard-to-find limited releases can be a great way to experience the vast variety of brews being produced throughout Napa Valley, Northern California, and elsewhere.
But there is something special about being on the grounds of one of your favorite microbreweries or in the heart of a local brewpub that serves up the very brews produced “out back” with their own hands.
According to the folks at Visit Napa Valley® there are nearly two dozen craft beer breweries and microbreweries scattered along the length of Napa Valley from American Canyon to the south and lovely Calistoga in the north.
For some truly “local” brewing experiences close to Cal Mart’s home of Calistoga, we recommend checking out the following:
The Calistoga Inn Restaurant & Brewery, which happens to be the oldest in Napa Valley that has five principal beers and seasonal flavors throughout the year, including their German Kolsch. Their location above the waters of the Napa River and the beer garden and patio dining all combine to make this a memorable beer tasting adventure.
The Lincoln Avenue Brewery, sitting literally on the same lot as Cal Mart, offers up more than 20 beers on tap and a slightly funky and casual brewpub atmosphere. Best of all, the almost two dozen craft brews are made right there. In addition to the live music, the fun sports-bar vibe, and 10 televisions, they even serve up great lunch and dinner items.
Down the road a bit in the city of Napa, you can try out Downtown Joe’s Restaurant, perched above the Napa River. And according to VisitNapaValley.com, “the patio at Joe’s might be one of the most glorious spots in all of Napa to enjoy a pint. The historic brewery dates to the 1800s and today cranks out a variety of pales, ambers, wheat beers, IPA’s, stouts, and porters. One of its most unusual brews, the West Coast Bitter, is an overly hopped amber ale featuring grapefruit and caramel notes.”
Trade Brewing, also in Napa, is well-known among beer lovers for their well-balanced microbrews. Trade Brewing always has more than a dozen beers on tap, including the Hatchet IPA and something they called 110V, a fruity American pale ale. And, like all great brewpubs, food is provided, in this case by Vibrant Foods, which runs the brewery’s kitchen.
Near the southern end of Napa Valley, Junction Brewery & Grill, located on American Canyon Road, offers up a combination of their house brews and favorites from other craft brew favorites. As one site describes it, “Named after the 19th century Napa Junction railroad station… the beer is nicely complemented with the Napa Valley farm-to-table trend, but with an Asian vibe.”
The Fogbelt Brewing Company is worth the drive to Santa Rosa in neighboring Sonoma County. And, in addition to their original Fogbelt taproom, a new location will be opening soon in lovely Healdsburg, the Fogbelt Station. In addition to their limited edition IPAs, gose, lager, and ales, Fogbelt brews several barrel aged stouts and sours. Oh, and did we mention their kitchen that they say, “is focused on seasonal local ingredients and crafting elevated pub favorites.”
Cal Mart: Your Source for Great California Craft Beers in Calistoga
Cal Mart has been a family-owned and independent grocery store in Calistoga for over half a century. In those more than five decades customers have always had a unique and enjoyable shopping experience with us and continue to do so today.
We like to think that we really are “Napa Valley’s Finest Grocery” and believe that our love for what we do and our commitment to service is what makes Cal Mart a memorable shopping experience.
Located in the center of downtown Calistoga and conveniently situated between Napa Valley’s famed Silverado Trail and State Route 128, Cal Mart is a favorite stop for both locals and visitors to the wine country.
Cal Mart is proud to offer a great delicatessen, a gourmet cheese department, a tantalizing selection of specialty foods items that are unique and hard to find, as well as quality fine wines.
Of course, there is also our extensive craft beer selection.
Looking for that special something to give to a friend or loved one? We offer beautiful gift baskets, and we have a vibrant collection of flowers and plants for any occasion. And much, much more! We invite you to make it a point to stop by and take time to explore all that we have to offer.
And while you’re here, please feel free to talk with our knowledgeable staff and then treat yourself to one of our refreshing smoothies made with organic ingredients.
Cal Mart in beautiful downtown Calistoga, CA is where you can always find something that is unexpected, unusual, and uncommon!