A list of the best beers brewed in Northern California would stretch into the hundreds and stoke a thousand arguments. But there's no denying these are some of the best-known and most iconic beers made in Craft Beer Country.

  • Anchor Steam, Anchor Brewing, San Francisco: To say this beer has been around for a while would be an understatement: The first batch was brewed in 1896.

  • Racer 5 India Pale Ale, Bear Republic Brewing, Healdsburg: In a region that loves its IPAs, this one is quickly becoming a standard-bearer.

  • Marzen, Gordon Biersch, San Jose: In a land where hop-heavy brews are king, this well-known beer downplays the hop level.

  • IPA, Lagunitas Brewing, Petaluma: The biggest seller from the funny guys with the dog logo has gone nationwide.

  • Steelhead Extra Pale Ale, Mad River Brewing, Blue Lake: This list needed one entry from a good-old, blue-collar brewery that's not a beer behemoth or poised to become one. The Blue Lake brewers, three decades later, are still doing things the way they ought to be done in Northern California.

  • Red Tail Ale, Mendocino Brewing, Ukiah: More than 30 years ago, the first Red Tail Ale was bottled. Today, it's still a Northern California favorite.

  • Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout, North Coast Brewing, Fort Bragg: This black beauty holds a "world-class" score of 96 on the Beer Advocate site.


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  • Pliny the Younger, Russian River Brewing, Santa Rosa: One of the most hyped microbrews in America draws "hopheads" from far and wide to Sonoma County during the Younger's two-week run each February.

  • Pale Ale, Sierra Nevada Brewing, Chico: This beer is so popular across the country that the company is building a second brewery, in North Carolina.

  • Trumer Pils, Trumer Brauerei, Berkeley: OK, OK. It's really an Austrian beer. But it's brewed in Berkeley and is more popular with the "buy local" crowd than, say, Heineken.