Beer County: Beer Fanatic

Every single day, rain or shine, J.T. Fenn finds a new beer he’s absolutely in love with. Some, of course, become more lasting relationships. Others are passing dalliances, but each gets a pin-up shot on his Facebook page nonetheless.

In Sonoma, hops don’t necessarily take a back seat to grapes. Clubby gathering spots like Fenn’s BeerCraft in Rohnert Park and Rincon Valley Tap Room & Bottle Shop in Santa Rosa are beer meccas, stores that stock a broad range of craft beers. Their taprooms are places to geek out about artisanal hops, sour ales and the latest micro- micro-brewery, and coveted brews are snapped up faster than you can say, “Pour me another.”

Fenn recently scored a few bottles of Lagunitas Brewing Co. High Westified Imperial Coffee Stout. Made with local coffee and aged in whiskey barrels, it’s much coveted. ”Limited, hurry!” Fenn posted on his Facebook page, creating some additional urgency. With more than 11,000 social media fans, Fenn’s page is an immediate link to current finds, the store’s 14 taps and current beer community riffs.

In Santa Rosa, Michael Scalet, co-owner of Rincon Valley Tap Room & Bottle Shop, susses out the latest and greatest craft brews from far and wide for his Wednesday Night Flights, with five different brews served each week. Throughout the week (the taproom is closed on Mondays) there’s live music, trivia and a rotating lineup of more than a dozen taps, ranging from stouts to saisons. Scalet also offers small-batch wines at the shop.

BeerCraft and Rincon Valley Tap Room & Bottle Shop both have monthly memberships that include hard-to-find brews and limited allocations. Membership does have its privileges.

 

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Beer Country: Sticky Fingers

Long before wine grapes, hops reigned as the king of Sonoma County crops.

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