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You might know Monterey for its delicious seafood, beautiful coastlines with gorgeous hikes, and famous Cannery Row. But some of the best breweries are found in Monterey County, California and they are all well worth visiting. Sprinkled all throughout Monterey County, from the city of Monterey to Salinas, Carmel, and Seaside, there are unique microbrews for your palate.
When we visited the Monterey area for a weekend, Jimmy got a chance to try out many of these top craft breweries in Monterey. Originally we had no idea Monterey was known for its craft brews and Jimmy was definitely in for a treat. He had so many favorite breweries in the area, we had to share this list with you all!
HEALTH ADVISORY: Note that while Monterey County is now open to visitors, they are now asking visitors to travel responsibly. Face coverings are required throughout the state. The county is also pushing social distancing (staying at least 6 feet away from others), staying home if you feel sick, and leaving no trace behind. For more information, please see website.
These are the 7 top microbreweries (and bars) in Monterey County.
Alvarado Street Brewing Company
Alvarado Street Brewing Company is one of the most famous local brewers in the Monterey area. They have a flagship location in downtown Monterey located off of Alvarado Street from which they derive their name — Alvarado Street Brewery and Grill and behind it, their Beer Garden.
Fun Fact: Alvarado Street Brewing Company opened their original location off of Alvarado Street in 2014. It is located in a historically registered building in Old Monterey.
The original location off of Alvarado Street is a gastropub offering an elegant vibe with beautiful decor that looks more like a Sunday brunch spot than a bar.
Though both locations have fresh beers created on site, the majority of their brewing occurs in nearby Salinas where they have the Alvarado Street Brewery and Tasting Room. This spot is no frills, offering a full bar where you can practically drink amongst their fermenters. After their Yeast of Eden location in Carmel closed, they now serve their Yeast of Eden experimentations here.
It is definitely the most industrial of their locations, but it’s perfect for grabbing a quick drink after work with your buddies. We actually did see a lot of locals getting pints after work! The Guadalupana food truck parked outside is also the perfect cure for any late afternoon munchies.
Beers you should try from Alvarado Street Brewing Company:
- Motor Oil #6 (11% ABV)
Type: Imperial Stout
Flavor Profile: Rich creamy mouthfeel with cacao, vanilla, peanut butter, and roasted notes.
Brew Notes: This imperial stout gets updated with a new number annually each winter.
- Red’s Imperial Donut Stout (12% ABV)
Type: Imperial Stout
Flavor Profile: Sweet donut-like flavor with roasted notes.
Brew Notes: This was created in partnership with Red’s Donuts with locations in Monterey and Seaside.
- Biggie’s Bodacious Banana Split (10% ABV)
Type: Imperial Milk Stout
Flavor Profile: Milky with banana-like flavors.
- Juicy Sweeper (7.1% ABV)
Type: Juicy IPA
Flavor Profile: Bitter hops balanced with tropical and stone fruit flavors.
Note: Due to the seasonal nature of the brews from Alvarado Street Brewing Company, these may or may not be available at the time of your visit.
Carmel Craft Brewing Company
In search of a refreshing brew after hiking in Monterey County? Look no further than Carmel Craft! They have a wide variety of beers made on site in small batch operations. At any single time you will probably find 12 of their freshest beers on tap.
Originally named Monterey Bay Brewing Company, they merged with Carmel Valley Brewing Company, forming Carmel Craft Brewing Company with a happy marriage of beers from both companies. You’ll see that in some of their beer names, such as Carmel Valley Blonde and Carmel Valley Wheat, among others.
Fun Fact: In order to serve their next door neighbor, Allegro Pizzeria’s food, Carmel Craft cut out a grub window in their wall so they can easily serve quick eats to Carmel Craft patrons.
The vibe at Carmel Craft is friendly and casual with indoor and outdoor seating, they are more like your neighborhood bar and not divey at all.
The location can be difficult to find as it’s nestled in the corner of The Barnyard Shopping Center, but it does have a large courtyard in front of it. Not to worry, their brews are well worth the effort!
Beers you should try from Carmel Craft Brewing Company:
- Mad Otter (5.6% ABV)
Type: Pale Ale
Flavor Profile: Light, clean hop flavor, finishing with smooth citrus notes.
- Carmel Valley Wheat (5.6% ABV)
Flavor Profile: Refreshing and light with citrus notes from lemon peels.
- Carmel Classic (5.5% ABV)
Type: Amber Ale
Flavor Profile: Balanced ale with notes of caramel.
Brew Note: This beer is made with 3 different types of hops and malt.
- Carmel Valley Blonde (5.6% ABV)
Type: Blonde Ale
Flavor Profile: Light hops flavor with subtle grassy and citrus notes.
- Nutty Otter (5.6% ABV)
Type: Brown Ale
Flavor Profile: Nutty, balanced malt with chocolate and caramel flavors.
- Hairy Porter (6% ABV)
Flavor Profile: Refreshing and light with roasted coffee notes and a hint of cacao.
Brew Note: This beer is fermented with 2 different yeasts, a stout yeast and a Belgian yeast.
- Do Ya Thang (5.2% ABV)
Type: Hazy IPA
Flavor Profile: Hoppy with fruity flavor of melon, tropical fruit, and citrus.
Brew Note: This has a nice bitter flavor like a double IPA but without the high ABV.
- Panzón (7.5% ABV)
Flavor Profile: Roasted bready flavor with notes of cinnamon.
Brew Note: This beer was made in collaboration with the brewer’s family bakery. It is made with concha, a sweet Mexican bread roll.
- Love Potion #42 (6% ABV)
Flavor Profile: Wheat beer with fruity, berry flavor.
Brew Note: This vibrant, pink beer was made specifically for Valentine’s Day with cherries and raspberries creating it’s bright, natural color.
- Spice Melange
Flavor Profile: Fruit punch-like beer with tropical fruit flavors of mango, pineapple, and passionfruit.
- Pity Me (9% ABV)
Type: Barley Wine
Flavor Profile: Bitter triple IPA with smooth barley wine.
Brew Note: This wine was made especially for St. Patrick’s Day.
- Ollie’s Day Off (9.5% ABV)
Type: Imperial Stout
Flavor Profile: Thick chocolatey coffee with a hint of coconut
Note: Carmel Craft prides itself on its seasonal brews. They usually create beers to celebrate specific holidays and as such these may or may not be available at the time of your visit.
Other Brother Beer Company
Located off Broadway, one of the main thoroughfares in Seaside, Other Brother Beer Company shares a space with Ad Astra Bread Company so you can easily get your microbrews and some carbs to soak up all the alcohol.
Their brewery and taproom is located on site with a large bar area. They have their brew menu posted up behind the bar but also on the large chalkboard. With the current health advisory, they’ve also built out a patio area perfect for outdoor dining. However if you’d rather prefer takeout, you can order their brews online for local pickup.
If you don’t live near Other Brother Beer Company, don’t worry! They’re also offering delivery within the state of California, note that there is a minimum order and a shipping charge.
Beers you should try from Other Brother Beer Company:
- Builders’ Oatmeal Stout (7.1% ABV)
Flavor Profile: Silky smooth and full bodied with roasted coffee and chocolate notes.
- Heermann’s Lager (4.8% ABV)
Flavor Profile: Crisp and refreshing with slight bitterness.
- Black Is Beautiful (8.9% ABV)
Type: Imperial Stout
Flavor Profile: Smooth, thick with roasted chocolate and malt flavors and plum notes.
Brew Note: The original Black is Beautiful beer was created by Weathered Souls Brewing Company in San Antonio, Texas and Other Brother Beer Company added their own twist to it. .
Note: Other Brother Beer Company offers a variety of seasonal brews and these may or may not be available at the time of your visit.
Fun Fact: The Black is Beautiful initiative is a “collaborative effort amongst the brewing community and its customers, in an attempt to bring awareness to the injustices that many people of color face daily.” Many breweries and brewers are participating in this effort, including Other Brother Beer Company and Six Rivers Brewery from Humboldt County. (Black is Beautiful)
Peter B’s Brewpub
Peter B’s Brewpub probably has the best location of the bunch. Located near Old Fisherman’s Wharf, it’s close to a lot of the action in the Monterey area. The brewery and pub is housed within the Portola Hotel, making it the perfect spot for dinner or a quick beer especially if you’re already staying there.
Fun Fact: The head brewer at Peter B’s Brewpub, Justin Rivard, is from Michigan and has worked in many specialty breweries back in the Midwest. (Peter B’s Brewpub)
The vibe is homey and casual with large, spacious booths but also two tops in the sports bar area where they have multiple TVs with games running constantly. The staff are super friendly and helpful with tons of recommendations for what you should try.
Not only are their beers amazing, but their food is also delicious. Don’t forget to try their chicken quesadillas, clam chowder, and sweet potato tots.
Beers you should try from Peter B’s Brewpub:
- Belly Up (4.9% ABV)
Type: Blonde Ale
Flavor Profile: Light and crisp with a hint of fruit.
- Kalita Krisher (6.3% ABV)
Type: Nitro Milk Stout
Flavor Profile: Creamy smooth milky flavor with chocolate, coffee, and caramel.
Brew Note: This beer was made in collaboration with Acme Coffee. a nitro espresso milk stout.
- Sequester Nectar (7.5% ABV)
Type: Hazy DDH IPA
Flavor Profile: Notes of guava and honeydew with flavors of honey and nectar, and creamy bread-like finish.
- Legend of Laguna IPA (6.5% ABV)
Type: DDH West Coast IPA
Flavor Profile: Hops flavor with a slight bitterness and hints of fruit.
- Soul Sacrifice (7.5% ABV)
Type: Imperial Red Ale
Flavor Profile: Cinnamon and chocolate flavors with a hint of Bourbon and a chili pepper finish.
Brew Note: This Mexican hot chocolate inspired beer won the silver medal at the 2020 Best Craft Beer Awards.
The Slough Brewing Collective (formerly known as Elkhorn Slough Brewing Company)
Once known as Elkhorn Slough Brewing Company, it was renamed as The Slough Brewing Collective when it was passed on to employees and is now collectively owned by those who work there.
They specialize in small batch specialty beers, especially barrel aged wild ales with locally sourced ingredients such as locally harvested yeast. This gives their beers a uniquely local style.
Fun Fact: Their motto is “Beer is people” because they believe in the community of beer. They appreciate “people who drink our product, the accounts who take a chance on us, the people who sell us grains, hops, and yeast — and everyone else in our circle.” (The Slough Brewing Collective)
Beers you should try from The Slough Brewing Collective:
- Con Sal (3.5% ABV)
Flavor Profile: Light and refreshing with tart and savory flavors.
- What Fresh Helles is This? (4.9% ABV)
Flavor Profile: Light and thirst-quenching with bready sweetness.
- Decennium (10.5% ABV)
Type: Imperial Porter
Flavor Profile: Chocolatey coffee flavor with some bourbon and vanilla.
Honorable Mention: Other Great Places to Grab a Beer in Monterey County
The Beerded Bean
Located on Main Street in downtown Salinas, The Beerded Bean provides a great cup of joe or a pint of beer, depending on what floats your boat or what your mood is. This spot is a coffee shop with beautiful latte art by day and a bar with local brews on tap by night.
We visited in the morning so our primary focus was grabbing our lattes, but they have several beers from the nearby area, including 805.
Though their original location is in Salina, they’ve also recently gotten a new location in Carmel Valley.
Dust Bowl Brewing Company – Monterey
Originally from Turlock, Dust Bowl Brewing Company has its roots in Oklahoma, but they also have a taproom location in Monterey near Old Fisherman’s Wharf.
Fun Fact: In June 2019, Dust Bowl’s Tap Depot opened up inside a historic train depot from 1874 with 24 taps, indoor seating, and an outdoor patio. (Dust Bowl Brewing Company)
They have a variety of beers available on tap, however given current health conditions, you can also order online for pickup.
Beers you should try from Dust Bowl Brewing Company in Monterey:
- Pancho (10.1% ABV)
Type: Imperial Stout
Flavor Profile: Heavy with chocolate, cinnamon, and a hint of roasted chile.
- Public Enemy (9% ABV)
Type: Baltic Porter
Flavor Profile: Smooth and chocolatey with coffee and caramel flavors and a wine-like finish.
Brew Note: This Baltic take on English porters uses a lager yeast.
- Under the Dragon (5.60%)
Type: Rice Lager
Flavor Profile: Light and smooth with hints of coconut and lemon.
Brew Note: This is brewed with rice.
Fieldwork Brewing Company – Monterey
Fun Fact: Fieldwork Brewing Company was founded in 2014 in Berkeley, CA. They focus on “exceptional, honest beer making.” (Fieldwork Brewing Company)
The Monterey location can be found within Uptown Shopping Center and has an outdoor beer garden with a variety of rotating taps with unique microbrews. They are also kid and dog friendly so you are welcome to bring your entire family, even man’s (or woman’s) best friend!
Online orders for pickup are also available on their website.
Beers you should try from Fieldwork Brewing Company in Monterey:
- Schwarz (5.2% ABV)
Type: German Black Lager
Flavor Profile: Chocolate and coffee flavors.
- Kaffe Latte (5.8% ABV)
Type: Espresso Milk Stout
Flavor Profile: Creamy coffee with roasted chocolate and barley.
- Citramancer (6.6% ABV)
Type: DDH IPA
Flavor Profile: Orange peels with tangerine juice flavors.
List of the Best Breweries & Bars in Monterey
Note: This list includes all locations in the Monterey area of the aforementioned breweries and bars.
- Alvarado Street Brewery & Grill
426 Alvarado Street, Monterey
- Alvarado Street Brewery & Tasting Room
1315 Dayton Street, Suite E, Salinas
- Carmel Craft Brewing Company
Located in The Barnyard Shopping Village at Big Sur Barn
3777 The Barnyard, Carmel
- Other Brother Beer Company
877 Broadway Ave, Seaside
- Peter B’s Brewpub
Located inside Portola Hotel
2 Portola Plaza, Monterey
- The Slough Brewing Collective
65 Hangar Way D, Watsonville
- The Beerded Bean
210 S Main Street, Salinas
- Dust Bowl Brewing Company – Tap Depot
290 Figueroa Street, Monterey
- Fieldwork Brewing Company – Monterey
560 Munras Ave, Monterey