Craft-brew craze comes to Rohnert Park and Cotati
In a county that's increasingly known for its craft-beer scene, a new crop of beer fanatics are making waves in Rohnert Park and Cotati that can be tasted in the towns' recent outpouring of top-quality taprooms and award-winning microbreweries.
Rohnert Park's origins in the craft-beer movement can be traced back to an unassuming block of storefronts on Commerce Boulevard between Golf Course Drive and the Rohnert Park Expressway. That's where Beercraft, founded over five years ago by brothers Matt and JT Fenn, sells hundreds of hard-to-find beers from across the country and pours from over a dozen rotating taps in the taproom.
"It was borne out of our love for beer," says Matt Fenn. "We try to find the best beer we can on any given day. That's pretty much all we do, all day, is keep our ear to the ground and pay attention to what people are excited about, and get that beer."
It's not always easy to get their hands on the beers, which often come from micro- or nano-breweries not yet on the map, but Fenn estimates the bottle shop receives 10 to 20 new beers a week.
In bottle and on tap, Beercraft strives to have something for everyone. "We try to figure out what people are craving and go from there, but we try to keep a blend of everything," Fenn says.
"We take it seriously, but we don't take it too serious and turn beer into something other than beer," Fenn continues. "It's lived in our society as something that brings people together and makes them happy. That's the most important thing."
- A TALL COLD ONE Five beer-loving friends opened Cotati’s Flagship Taproom in 2016.
While Beercraft delivers a world of beer to Sonoma County, a local brewer is crafting homegrown beers at Cotati's first brewery, Grav South Brewing Company.
Formed by award-winning brewer and Sonoma County native Greg Rasmussen, the name was inspired not only by the Gravenstein apples that Rasmussen grew up around on his grandfather's farm, but for the brewery's location along the Gravenstein Highway in Cotati, just west of Highway 101. Inside the taproom, several Grav South beers are available straight from the source, with classically balanced American ales and fresh IPAs.
Another homegrown story in Cotati is Flagship Taproom, established in late 2016 by five local friends with a lifetime of food-service experience among them. They took advantage of an empty location, the site of the former Cotati Yacht Club, and turned it into a family-friendly taproom.
"We all grew up in this area, we all have friends and family in this area, so we wanted to start this dream of ours and make our community even better than it has been," says co-owner Matt Inlow. "We want to build relationships and have people want to come back tomorrow to continue the conversation we had today."
While Flagship offers a full menu and hosts events like trivia night to bring people in, Inlow says that craft beer is Flagship's focus, and they host bimonthly tap takeovers with local brewers and constantly rotate their 20 taps with as wide a variety of beers as possible.
Rohnert Park's newest brewpub is actually from one of the county's longest-running brewers. Bear Republic Brewing Company makes the most of its new taproom's backdrop at Roberts Lake, next to the Foxtail Golf Club. Open since last summer, Bear Republic Lakeside features two bars, lots of restaurant seating and an outdoor area overlooking the water that's perfect for parties.