The French have a term for small scale winemakers crafting delicious, but iconoclastic wine in tiny, often nondescript spaces: garagistes. There’s a similar phenomenon in Sonoma County where expensive real estate is forcing brewers to get creative about where they ply their craft. Call them the industrial parkers. This new generation of innovative beer makers is making exceptional brews in sometimes less than exceptional locations. Leading the pack is Santa Rosa’s Cooperage Brewing Co.
"This new generation of innovative beer makers is making exceptional brews"
Housed behind roll-top doors in a sprawling beige industrial park in Santa Rosa that’s also home to wineries, a janitorial company, a food distributor and a dance studio, Cooperage is making a name for itself with brewmaster Tyler Smith’s bleeding-edge, Belgian-inspired beers made with different yeasts, hops, bacteria and barrels to create one-of-a-kind brews like Metal Peacock, a hazy IPA made with Citra, Mosaic and New Zealand Rakau hops or Black is Beautiful, a deeply flavorful imperial stout brewed to raise awareness about racial justice issues. What makes the beers special—and what gives the brewery its name—is the sours that are barrel-aged for a year or more in casks that formerly held wine, port and whiskey.
"Cooperage is making a name for itself with brewmaster Tyler Smith’s bleeding-edge, Belgian-inspired beers"
The brewery has a spacious taproom and lively beer garden for warm weather drinking (and COVID-19). The warehouse walls are livened up with murals and art a la Dom Chi Designs and other local artists. If you don't feel like stopping in (why wouldn't you?) you can order online and they'll ship it to you.
"One of many excellent Sonoma County food trucks will make an appearance"
If you’re lucky, the gilded Camacho’s BBQ truck will be turning out plates of southern style ribs and pulled pork, or one of many other excellent Sonoma County food trucks will make an appearance. But it’s all about the beer here. Get there now so you can say you were there back in the day before they got big and moved to fancier digs.