The craft beer movement has taken the US by storm, and San Jose has been swept along with it. The city’s breweries offer a wide range of beer varieties, with many running a taproom alongside their brewing operation so that fans and new initiates alike can sample their latest concoctions. It can get mighty hot in California, so what better way to cool off than by sipping an ice-cold beer? Here is our guide to the best.
Santa Clara Valley Brewing draw upon local inspiration to create their beers. The Electric Light Tower, a San Jose landmark that towers 115 feet over the city, lends its name to the Electric Tower IPA. The Peralta Porter brown ale, with a delightful blend of caramel, coffee, and chocolate flavors, is named for the oldest building in San Jose, an adobe house built in 1797 that is the former home of Luis María Peralta. In SCV’s modern, spacious taproom, beer flights are the best way to have a complete tasting experience, with Electric Tower, Peralta Porter, and a host of other brews available for purchase.
Located close to San Jose’s baseball stadium, Strike’s beers all follow the theme of America’s pastime. These include the blonde ale Screwball, the American brown ale Lumber Buster, and Strike’s bestseller, the Colossus of Clout, an Irish-style red ale which was the winner of a gold medal at the 2013 US Open Beer Championship. Food trucks are regular visitors to the taproom, which also hosts a ‘Paint Nite’ every Tuesday where patrons are invited to channel their inner artist, with a little help from the house beers, of course.
Mission Creek operate a brewpub in an outbuilding connected to one of San Jose’s Whole Foods Markets. Their 19 taps of craft beer are composed of their own hop-heavy brews, like the Punch List pale ale and Off the Rail IPA, as well as a rotating selection of guest beers from elsewhere in California and microbrew hotspots Oregon and Colorado. They also have their own kitchen, serving up delicious appetizers and entrées like pizza, sushi, chicken wings, mac and cheese, and jalapeño poppers.
The California State Commercial Craft Brewers Competition have bestowed numerous awards upon Hermitage for their Hoptopia, Maltopia, and Ale of the Imp brands. You can sample these and other varieties at their tasting room, located within the brewery itself. Barrels are everywhere you look, and they’re not just for show, some of Hermitage’s brews are barrel-aged, a method that imparts distinctive flavors to the beer, depending on the barrel. In the tasting room you can buy bottles, fill up growlers, and taste a selection of the beers Hermitage has on tap whether by the pint or in beer flights.
This brewing company was founded by Dean Biersch and Dan Gordon, the latter of whom is a graduate of the renowned brewing engineering program at the Technical University of Munich’s campus in Weihenstephan, Germany. Gordon has brought his nous across the pond to brew authentic and award-winning German-style beers, adhering to the Reinheitsgebot, or German Beer Purity Law. The brewery conducts free tours, where guests can learn about the history of the establishment and the brewing process and taste not only the barley used in the concoctions but also the unfiltered beer straight out of the tanks.