Best Brewery: Lagunitas

STAR // Brandon Stachnik
Lagunitas offers more than just great beer with daily brewery tours, live music and a menu that changes every week.

Knowing your beer in Sonoma County is becoming just as important as knowing your wine. With so many craft breweries in the area, a lot of college-aged beer drinkers can’t even get to every one before graduating. When they do try, Lagunitas is usually the first stop. The Petaluma-based brewery is one of the most renowned in the area, and it’s easy to tell why it earned the title of “Best Local Brewery.”
Lagunitas server Greta Canton attributes a portion of the brewery’s success to the marketing strategies aimed toward millennials.
“When I started there were a lot people in their 50s and it was kind of a hippy crowd,” she said. “I’ve watched it transform over the last few years to become a much younger crowd. I think the younger folks are a lot more beer savvy and that it’s been successfully marketed to them in a way so that they’re not just drinking your generic lagers off the shelf.”
Lagunitas has always upped the ante when it comes to creativity. There’s a story behind almost every one of its beers and it’s told not only through the clever labels, but through the flavor of the brews as well. The “Censored” red ale was originally named “Kronik,” but the Tax and Trade Bureau declined to approve the label on the basis it would encourage marijuana culture. In retaliation, brewmaster Tony Magee put a simple “censored” bar over the original label and the company says that bar grows smaller every year.
You can hear more stories of the antics that go on within the brewery at the Petaluma brewpub, located just off the 101 freeway. They host tours every day, with no reservation needed. The brewpub offers delicious food from a menu that changes weekly. The brewery’s “Live at Lagunitas” concert series continues through the summer and is held at the mini amphitheatre in the middle of the property. If you can’t make a concert, live music is performed in the outdoor seating area. The large picnic tables encourage patrons (who come from all over the nation) to sit with strangers and chat with each other.
“A group will grow and grow on a Saturday afternoon. That’s why people like to come here,” said Canton. “It just has a nice vibe to it, it’s very Northern California. You come here, and you’re part of the Lagunitas family.”
There are an assortment of brewpubs to visit in Sonoma County, but only a few make you feel like you’re family. Lagunitas offers more than award-winning craft beers, they offer a culture that anyone, especially college students, can be apart of. Just as long as you’re 21, of course. Location: 1280 N McDowell Blvd, Petaluma, CA. Hours: Saturday and Sunday: 11:30 a.m. - 8 p.m. Monday and Tuesday: Closed. Wednesday - Friday: 2 p.m. - 9 p.m.

STAR // Brandon Stachnik