We’re slowly catching up. I’m not sure why, but Bakersfield seems to lag behind most of the civilized world when it comes to new trends, water conservation and Cheesecake Factories. I’m sure you remember how long it took us to get Crystal Pepsi. With the exception of experimental Taco Bell menu items, we’re usually late to the show.
With that being said, California breweries are starting to take notice and Bakersfield is experiencing a bit of a craft beer renaissance. With the recent additions of Modern Times and Pizza Port, local craft beer distribution is looking better and better. Distributors like Pipeline Craft Beverage Company, Advanced Beverage Company and Valley Wide Beverage Company are helping to bring good beer to Bakersfield by recognizing the demand is there for craft beer. It’s not just for the beer snobs anymore; the general public is more willing to try new brands and beer types which is expanding the local market. We still have a long way to go and plenty of room for growth so here’s my top five breweries I would like to see on tap and on local shelves.
Located in Orange County, The Bruery is a force to be reckoned with in the barrel aged department. They produce so many small batch and experimental brews it’s hard to keep up. Their coveted Reserve Society is an ultra-exclusive beer club that guarantees access to some of the most limited release beers. Membership is currently capped and extremely limited. It would be great to see some of their sours show up on local shelves and taps more often.
The makers of Pliny the Elder (and it’s Younger, harder to acquire nephew) are a bit of a legend. Their beers are hugely popular in the craft beer community and sought after across the nation. With their focus on aggressively hopped California style ales, barrel aged beers and Belgian inspired ales they have a wide spectrum of well-made beers. Bakersfield loves their IPAs and Russian River makes what some believe to be the best. Sounds like a good fit to me.
This 20 year old brewery has won all kinds of awards and is one of the highest rated breweries on ratebeer.com. Their famous Speedway Stout is just plain fantastic. With the expansion to a new state-of-the-art brewery facility right down the street from the original location, AleSmith is poised for expansion. Bakersfield needs to be on their radar in the near future.
Belching Beaver is a relatively new brewery that is already making waves in the craft beer world. They’ve won a boatload of awards for a wide variety of beers in their three years of existence. The core lineup includes award winners such as Beavers Milk Milk Stout, Damned! Double IPA and Peanut Butter Milk Stout. Just to have Their Peanut Butter Milk Stout (think Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups) on tap regularly puts this brewery in my top five.
These guys are just too close to us not to have distribution here. Another brewery with a long list of awards, Figueroa Mountain produces some great beers. Most recently Fig Mountain came home with a gold medal from the Great American Beer Festival for their Sterns Stout in the Irish-Style Dry Stout category. My favorite from their lineup is Lizard’s Mouth Imperial IPA which was recently on tap at Imbibe (not normal distribution).
Bakersfield is lucky to have places like Moo Creamery and Imbibe who regularly go out of their way to bring out of market beers to town. What I want to see is more variety at other local shops and bars. With craft beer taking up more and more real estate in the beer aisle and on the tap row we can continue that trend by putting more brands there and encroaching on the Macro beers presence. I understand that the Macro’s aren’t going anywhere but anything that lessens their hold on the populous and expands our beer drinking palate is good for the craft beer industry. Here’s to Bakersfield’s continued beer distribution growth and hopefully, one day, our very own TGI Friday’s.