The folks over at the Sonoma County Economic Development Board have seen the future and it features beer.

Last year, the EDB conducted a survey of the booming beer economy and found it generates around $123 million per year for the county economy. Later in the year, they organized the county’s first-ever conference devoted to craft beer, cider, and spirits.

Now they’re putting all that work into action, publishing an interactive map of all the many breweries, cideries, and distilleries in Sonoma County, with links to  their websites. The idea, Director Ben Stone said, is to give tourists a handy one-stop source to see the breadth of the county’s artisan beverage culture.

By the EDB’s count, there are 21 breweries and brewpubs in operation, or about to open, in Sonoma County. That would mean that this county alone has more breweries than the entire state of Alabama, which, according to, is blessed with just 20. My own count suggests the picture is even better for Sonoma County beer, with 24 breweries and brewpubs open or about to open (out of a total of 53 I can identify in Sonoma, Napa, Marin, Lake, Mendocino, and Humboldt counties). Whatever the total, it is clear that Sonoma County is awash in great beer.

Same is true with cider and spirits. The map lists five cideries and five distilleries of various sorts (I make it six and five, but close enough).

The map is a handy addition to your beer adventure planning, whether you’re from Sonoma County or not. There have been a couple of interesting Northern California beer guides published in book form in the last couple of years as well, particularly by Sonoma County authors Jay Brooks and Ken Weaver. The books don’t focus exclusively on Sonoma County, but they highlight the fact that this county is a major driver in Northern California’s beer scene. They are both worth a read.

– Sean Scully

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