Sonoma Mountain Brewery & Hopyards

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Sonoma County Brewpub Guide

Sonoma Mountain Brewery and Hopyards
14355 Hwy. 12, Glen Ellen
935-4515

Hours: Daily, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Credit Cards: Visa, MasterCard, American Express
Parking: Large lot provided

Beer
SONOMA MOUNTAIN is not fooling around here: They produce just two beers, both of them lagers, both brewed along the mandates established by Germany’s purity law of 1516. The Estate Golden Pilsner is a light and crisp brew with a deep finish, while the Estate Amber Lager is caramel-smooth and rich with what the bartender described as a “long finish.” Both are made from on-property water that is filtered through volcanic rock and from hops grown on-site, lending both brews a first-ever “estate” designation for beer.

Seasonal: An Oktoberfest brew will be available in the tasting room only.

Brewmaster: Chris Atkinson.

Take-out/Keg Availability: Available in six-packs around the county already, Sonoma Mountain Brewery lagers are offered on tap in many restaurants. At the tasting room, 10-oz. glasses are $2.50; pints, $3.50; 22-oz. schooners, $4.50. Quarter-kegs are $65; half-kegs, $119.

Food
AS CEO TIM WALLACE stresses (the place is crawling with the Benziger family and Sonoma Mountain staff), this is not a restaurant where they make their own beer–this is a brewery that offers a small selection of food for those who are not famished. The limited menu features such local products as Mary’s pizzas ($3.95-$4.75); warm salt pretzels ($2.50); jalapeño poppers filled with cream cheese and served with a popper jam ($3.75); fried mozzarella sticks ($3.75) with ranch dressing for dipping; and a grilled sausage sampler ($4).

Service
THIS IS THE PLACE to taste beer the way you taste wine: with a knowledgeable staff who understand the brewing process from the ground up.

Ambiance
BRAND-SPANKING NEW, this large room is airy and light, with a big stone fireplace dominating one corner, a comfortable bar, comfortable chairs, and roomy tables. An outside patio is extremely pleasant and accommodates smokers. An additional outside area near the hop gardens sometimes doubles as a performance arena for planned upcoming shows and for private parties. The path from the driveway leads the visitor through an upscale agricultural display that delineates the beer-making process and the building of the facility (the tanks were brought over from a German brewery), as well as demonstrating how the water is filtered and the barley tended. A self-guided tour of the brewing process is also available.

Din: As quiet as a tasting room.

Restrooms: Large, new, and clean–you could live in them.

Non-drinkers: A large selection of drinks–including Calistoga water, Henry Weinhard root beer, Benziger wine, and Ace hard cider–is available for those who disdain beer or alcohol in general. The atmosphere is friendlier and more down-home than a winetasting room, as many locals go there for an after-work beer from the surrounding wineries. Nothing stuffy about this place.

Fizz
THE BEER IS QUITE GOOD, the people friendly, the ambience welcoming and comfortable.

Flat
WE LOOK FORWARD to a time when they might serve a greater selection of food.
–G.G.

From the Oct. 16-22, 1997 issue of the Sonoma County Independent.

© Metro Publishing Inc.

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