How to Tour West Coast Craft Breweries by Train

A brewery road trip is a great getaway for everyone but the designated driver. Luckily, you can leave your wheels in the driveway and hop on Amtrak’s Coast Starlight, which runs between Los Angeles and Seattle once each way every day. A staggering number of stops feature intriguing and delightful breweries Here are the six that should definitely be included on your journey.

Los Angeles

There are scores of breweries in the greater LA area, but a few shouldn’t be missed. Located in a converted warehouse, Eagle Rock Brewery is home to a minimalist-designed tasting room ideal for sipping their Amwolf pilsner and Populist IPA. Plan ahead: it’s only open Friday through Sunday. The accommodations at Atwater Village’s Golden Road Brewery‘s are the polar opposite of minimalism. While sipping on hoppy brews, guests can enjoy menu items like mussels, cauliflower and onion fritters or play a game of gigantic Jenga while out in the grass.

Santa Barbara

Up and coming Santa Barbara neighborhood the Funk Zone is packed with wine tasting rooms, breweries, bistros and art galleries. Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co. is probably the best-known to out-of-towners. Figueroa Mountain offers guests colorful placards describing each beer’s tasting notes, ABV and suggestions with food dishes to pair them with. They don’t serve their own food, but guests can have a pizza from the Italian place next door delivered to the bar. The town is chock-full of small-operation breweries, so make sure to block out a few days to hit Bass Bear Brewing, Lama Dog Tap Room, Topa Topa Brewing, Pure Order and Third Window.

Paso Robles

Toro Creek brews with homegrown hops and their field-to-glass pale ales and IPAs are must-try brews. Earth and Fire is a solid local hangout and worth a stop to sample their chocolate stout. If you like an industrial feel you’ll dig the vibe at Silva Brewing—a product of Chuck Silva, former brewer at San Diego’s Green Flash Brewery. Silva’s taproom sits alongside the brewery, allowing you a peek into the process.

Beer aficionados recognize Firestone Walker Brewing Company the best breweries to visit in California. While it doesn’t exactly maintain a low profile (it’s the fourth-largest brewery in the state), their visitor’s Center offers tours and tastings of 14 of their beers. Three friends opened BarrelHouse Brewing Co. back in 2013 in the heart of San Luis Obispo County’s wine country. The relaxing venue features beautiful open beer gardens nestled in rolling hills complete with a waterfall and makes a picturesque setting for sampling the brewery’s award-winning, unique beers.

San Jose

In 1997, Gordon Biersch opened a state-of-the-art brewery and bottling facility to begin bottling and distributing its famed, German-style beers. Today, Gordon Biersch Brewing Company is a brewing industry leader, and the 114,000-square-foot facility operates 24/7 and uses high-quality two-row malted barley, Hallertauer hops, and German yeast from Weihenstephan in their brewing processes. Elsewhere in town, located in the SOFA District of Downtown San Jose, independent brewery and gastropub Uproar offers a relaxed atmosphere fostering good conversation, good food and fantastic beer.

Portland

The Occidental Brewing Company, near St. Johns Bridge, brews some of the best German-style ales and lagers in town. Stop in and give your palate a break from the IPAs of the region with their authentic Maibock, Kölsch and many more. Named for Mt. Hood, the 11,000 foot volcano that casts a shadow on Portland every sunrise and breaks storms coming off the Pacific, Stormbreaker Brewing crafts beers as intense as its namesake. And finally, Ecliptic Brewing’s list of astronomically named beers is a mix of classic Northwestern-style ales and playful fruit-infused concoctions which change up every six weeks in accordance with an old-world, astronomy-based calendar.

Seattle

With 11 breweries in just five square miles, Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood has become a destination for beer lovers. Ballard is home to more breweries than any neighborhood in the Pacific Northwest. Stoup Brewing‘s beers are beautifully balanced from start to finish thanks to certified-Cicerone Robyn Schumacher‘s contributions. The Ballard brewery’s lineup includes an award-winning robust porter and a sour Berliner Weisse with a shot of flavored syrup.

The founders of Reuben’s Brews only started homebrewing a few years ago but now offer over 20 beers on tap in styles not commonly found at other breweries. Ballard’s nanobrewery Rooftop Brewing Company sports a large outdoor patio perfect for sipping standout beers like the Makeda Coffee Porter and Mosaic Single Hop IPA all year round. Just think about packing a rain slicker—it’s Seattle, after all.

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