Any winemaker will tell you that it takes a lot of great beer to make good wine. And in Wine County we have an abundance of both. But even though some of the best and most sought-after brews in the country are made in and around Sonoma County, the North Bay is only slowly becoming recognized as a beer destination on par with powerhouse regions like Colorado, the Pacific Northwest, and Pennsylvania. It seems about time, therefore, that we carve out a place for our local beer scene (and perhaps I’ll throw in a little news now and then about beer’s cousins: cider, mead and liquor).

We don’t know quite what the blog will become yet, but I have it in mind to bring news of all kinds, from new breweries opening, to new offerings and business moves by our established breweries, highlights of beer fests or other beer-centric events, and stories of the people who make (and drink) the beer we love. Perhaps from time to time I can get a blogging assist from my fellow beer geeks in the newsroom (particularly IT guru George Buce and editor Eric Wittmershaus, though I am sure there are others).

So if you know something, or have questions, tips and observations, feel free to let me know by email or phone. We’ll be able to add photos and videos, of course, so submit your beer-related items here and you might see them online.

What qualifies me to do this? The answer is simple: experience. Lots of experience.

I really got bitten by the beer bug sometime in the late ‘80s when someone handed me a smuggled Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, which wasn’t available in my native Virginia at the time. It made me realize that there was something out there better that the pale fizzy stuff from a can.

It wasn’t until I moved to Philadelphia in 2004, however, that things got serious. That city, for all its many faults, is one seriously great beer town, with a collection of brews available that is unrivalled in the country. Even the lowliest dive bar there is likely to have at least a couple of world-class beers on tap. It was like a beer theme park. I drank great beer in abundance and even learned to brew it myself at home, with occasionally decent results.

Fortunately, my wife shares my love of beer (mostly), so I have also had the opportunity to travel around the country in pursuit of beer. It’s a rare road trip when we haven’t researched every beer store and brewpub between start and finish, and a couple off the beaten path as well.

Moving to Wine County in 2011 brought me closer to some of the great breweries I had enjoyed from afar: Russian River, Bear Republic, Lagunitas, North Coast, Anderson Valley and the others. It also introduced me to some new players I couldn’t get back East, such as Third Street Aleworks and Moonlight in Santa Rosa, The Calistoga Inn, Downtown Joe’s and Napa Smith in Napa, and many more around the Bay area.

Now I have the rare opportunity to write about the thing I love, in the form of this blog. Let’s explore Beer Country together.

– Sean Scully