Long known for producing leading coastal California wines, Monterey County is now emerging as one of the Golden State’s most compelling destinations to discover locally-inspired independent breweries. A staple of the Pacific Northwest, craft beer is currently drawing large numbers of travelers to the West Coast, as beer enthusiasts plan trips to visit craft breweries for limited-production, hard-to-find creations, only available in the regions where they’re brewed. Monterey’s independent breweries are currently each producing up to 40 to 50 new beers a year, turning the region into a bucket-list destination for beer enthusiasts year-round.
Monterey’s breweries draw inspiration from the history and terroir of the region, including the newest addition, Carmel-by-the-Sea’s Yeast of Eden, which opened in January 2019. From Monterey local and Brewer JC Hill and his team, Yeast of Eden produces locally-inspired, terroir-driven beers. The popular Saison Apothēca has notes of floral hops, citrus and a stony minerality, a trait that is often celebrated in Monterey County wines and attributed to the region’s coastal locale.
“Monterey County is the ultimate destination for travelers looking to experience some of the best craft beers on the West Coast, and sample them in cool, relaxed settings,” said Tammy Blount-Canavan, President and CEO of the Monterey County Convention & Visitors Bureau. “Beer lovers are joining wine enthusiasts as loyal visitors to Monterey, and discovering the vast diversity in flavor, style and fermentations of Monterey craft beer.”
The next opening is the much-anticipated Other Brother Brewery, set to open in Seaside later this year, from Evan Loewy, Michael Nevares and Kevin Brown. Loewy is a Monterey native, currently managing Other Brother Olive Oil in San Francisco. The opening of the brewery is leading the renaissance of Seaside, as other businesses and retail ventures plan to open throughout 2019.
The breweries and brew pubs below are establishing Monterey County’s identity as a prime destination for constantly-evolving local, creative, and flavorful beers.
Alvarado Street Brewery
After less than five years in operation, Alvarado Street Brewery’s beers have become some of the most sought-after in all of Northern California. Alvarado’s flagship Mai Tai IPA is a three-time Great American Beer Festival medal winner, including a 2018 gold medal. Their popular, hoppy beers are packaged in cans with bright, splashy labels depicting flamingos and nods to ‘90s pop culture. At festivals, their beers, with playful names like “Sur Real”, a nod to Monterey’s Big Sur, and “Biggie’s Bon Bon Bonanza” are poured from taps on a converted jet ski. In another play on names, this time paying homage to one of Monterey’s most famous residents, John Steinbeck, the company’s new Yeast of Eden brewery & taproom recently opened in Carmel-by-the-Sea, and serves only locally inspired, terroir-driven beers.
Carmel Craft Brewing Company
Carmel Craft Brewing Company operates on a one-barrel brewing system. This style of small production means the team is constantly brewing new and fresh beers, often releasing as many as three new flavors a week. This changing rotation of beer allows for Carmel Craft Brewery to experiment with untraditional flavors such as “Espress yo-self,” a coffee oatmeal stout featuring espresso from Carmel Valley Roasting Company, and “Love Potion #42” a pink-colored fruit wheat beer featuring cherries and raspberries. With a recently expanded tasting room, and a new outdoor patio scheduled to open in summer of 2019, this spot never disappoints beer lovers.
Peter B’s Brewpub
The original craft brewery in Monterey, Peter B’s has been serving locally-brewed beer for over 20 years. Guests can watch their favorite sports games on any one of the 18 big screens, but unlike a traditional sports bar, diners sip on a variety of award-winning craft beer brewed on-site like their signature Peter B’s IPA, brewed with Columbus and Citra hops, and awarded the silver medal at the Great American Beer Festival. Led by Head Brewer Justin Rivard, Peter B’s brews a variety of styles that anyone, from a novice to a craft beer enthusiast will appreciate.
Founded almost 20 years ago by English born Peter and Rosemary Blackwell, English Ales in Marina is known for serving fresh English style ales. Today, English Ales has expanded upon their original mission to include brews with a hoppier flavor, such as the “Big Sur Golden” and “Monterey Bay Wheat” beers. Happy hour runs every weekday from 4:00-7:00pm, and on the last Tuesday of every month, join English Ales for “Firkin Night,” where guests are invited to taste from 10.2 gallon containers (Firkins) in which the beer has been fermented twice, resulting in a smoother and more delicate finish, available for just $3.50 per pint.