Beer is Old News in Sacramento

I’m not sure if you’re allowed to drink in cemeteries, but I recommend it. There are at least 16 Sacramento beer pioneers buried at the Old City Cemetery and I’m sure it’s the way they would have wanted it.

Ed Carroll, local beer historian and an all-around cool guy, literally wrote the book on Sacramento’s brewing history and he included the stories of these early brewers in what is now known as the “Dead Brewers Tour” at the cemetery. By “now known as” I mean “that’s what I call it.”


The Dead Brewers Tour is a glimpse into the colorful, rowdy past of Sacramento and the early California pioneers. Even members of the Donner Party got in to the brewing action. It’s a beer history unlike any other city and one that will always keep Sacramento as a key city in the world of beer.


Now that there are 100 billion breweries (approx.) in the United States, it’s really hard to stand out from the crowd. This wasn’t always the case. One hundred years ago is was a lot more obvious that Sacramento was the best beer town in America. 

Not sure if you’ve heard, but after gold was discovered just outside Sacramento in 1848 a whole bunch of people “rushed” to town. In general, they didn’t do very well at finding gold, but they did amazingly well at drinking beer. Back in the Gold Rush days, probably nothing was more satisfying after a grueling day of back-breaking labor that produced absolutely no earnings, than relaxing with a nice cold one. Some things never change, I guess.

With Sacramento’s two rivers as excellent water sources, the best agricultural land anywhere for growing hops and a bunch of German immigrants with beer-brewing know-how, the Gold Rush could just as easily been called the Beer Rush.


Before prohibition ruined everything for everybody, Sacramento was the largest brewing city west of the Mississippi with over 15 breweries in town. If you were playing our trivia  game- and only one of you was (Hi Melanie) – this is the answer. I mean, more or less it’s the answer. I’ve seen the number as high as 18, but thought I’d play it safe here.

Today Sacramento has over 70 breweries. Seriously, look at them all.

That impressive map was made by our friends over at Sacramento Beer Frontier and they even have a fully-interactive online version. Long time readers of Tourism He Wrote (i.e. my mom), will remember the time I used this map to see how many breweries I could visit in one day. I’ll save you the trouble of reading it, the answer is eight. maybe I’ll try and break that record some day soon.

Today’s beer scene in Sacramento is diverse, welcoming and delicious. Plus, our local breweries have fully embraced Sacramento’s place in beer history. You can learn about Sacramento’s beer tourism opportunities here. If you like a little history with your beer, there is no better destination.

The point here is that Sacramento’s pioneering spirit from the Gold Rush continues to be reflected in our brewing community and we’re still the best beer city in America. If you’re thinking “What about Portland?” you should know that I’m already yawning. That goes for San Diego (double yawn) and Denver (zzzzz) too. Come to town, have a few beers and tell me I’m wrong.






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