It's amazing how many new breweries have opened in just one year. The number of breweries in America reached 2,500 in June of this year and continues to explode.
The Brewers Association used to keep a running tally, but Erin Glass, the group's brewery detective tasked with keeping track, says, "We just can't keep up."
Some 470 new breweries opened in 2012. Glass believes the tally for 2013 may be even higher when the dust settles. Assuming a modest 500, that's more than one brewery opening per day.
Northern California is seeing the same startling growth. Dozens of breweries opened while I was researching my latest book, "California Breweries North," and a few more have opened their doors since the book was published in October. So for my last column of the year, I thought it might be fun to highlight all the new breweries that opened in the greater Bay Area in 2013.
East Bay breweries
At least seven breweries opened in the East Bay alone. Altamont Beer Works and Schubros Brewing -- which were featured in my annual "New Kids on the Bock" story last year -- have been making beer since 2012, but their breweries are now open and running. Both are worth checking out.
This year's "New Kids" story featured Faction Brewing, where Rodger Davis is making some of the state's best beer in an old Alameda airplane hangar. You can find Faction at bars across the Bay Area, but plans are underway to open a taproom of their own at some point.
In Berkeley, the Rare Barrel finally has beer in its barrels; the first beer was bottled last week. Expect the beer to be sour, as that's the plan for all of the Rare Barrel beers. The taproom should be open before the end of the year.
In Livermore, Working Man Brewing is definitely working. The tasting room is open three days a week, Friday through Sunday, and you can fill your growler with any of seven (or more) beers. And Oakland's Golden Gate Brewing is brewing out of a garage on weekends.
South of the bay
You may recall Soquel's Discretion Brewing and Redwood City's FreeWheel Brewing from that "New Kids" story; they're some of the best new breweries around. But make a point of stopping at Highway 1 Brewing, too. It's a must-stop if you're traveling the coast road near Pescadero. Besides some tasty beers by former homebrewer Jeff Page, the brewpub offers tasty food -- and the ocean views will make you want to linger.
Half Moon Bay Brewing has been around for years, but the owners recently started a separate company -- Mavericks Beer Co. -- that's making only session beers in cans (and kegs) that are only 3.75 percent alcohol by volume.
Santa Clara Valley Brewing is currently scouting South Bay locations for a new brewery, but in the meantime, brewmaster Steve Donohue, who used to brew for the FireHouse Grill & Brewery, is making beer at Hermitage. His beer is available at bars throughout Silicon Valley, and he's doing a lot of meet-the-brewer events.
Early this year, Armstrong Brewing became the first brewery to open in South San Francisco. Most of what they make is available to members only, but you can stop by the taproom on Friday nights for samples.
In San Francisco proper, Cellarmaker Brewing Co. is now open six days a week, doling out some great hoppy beers, including Hop Killah and Are You Afraid of the Dank?
And points north
Novato's Baeltane Brewing, another "New Kid" featured earlier this year, is a great place to cool your heels and enjoy some really unusual and tasty beers in Marin County. But if you keep going, Sonoma County's beer scene has practically exploded. There are now 20 breweries -- more than some entire states have -- within its borders.
A stone's throw from the legendary Lagunitas, Petaluma Hills Brewing is brewing beer, but the taproom is still awaiting permits. Another recently opened Petaluma brewery, HenHouse, will be brewing beer there soon. Just down the street is 101 North Brewing, which opened in August 2012.
Sebastopol is home to one of Sonoma's newest breweries, Woodfour, which is focusing on locally sourced food along with delicious beer. In Windsor, former fireman Aron Levin is brewing at his St. Florian's brewery and donating 5 percent of the profits to fire-related charities. And in the town of Sonoma, Carneros Brewing opened in late July.
Sacramento has acquired three new breweries, too, including New Helvetia Brewing (which technically had a soft opening last December), Twelve Rounds Brewing and Bike Dog Brewing.
No matter where you roam, it's increasingly likely that you'll find a craft brewery nearby. Hoppy New Year!