What’s Brewing in Anderson Valley

Christopher Hirsheimer

Anderson Valley may be gaining a reputation for its wines, but there's intoxicating news of a different sort from the region as well: beer—as in the varied offerings from the Anderson Valley Brewing Company. Anderson Valley was named one of the world's top ten breweries in 1996 and '97 by the World Beer Championships (WBC), North America's largest international beer competition; individual brews frequently medal at the WBC as well. What's the secret? Founded by Dr. Kenneth Allen in 1987, the Boonville-based enterprise uses all natural ingredients (including local water) to produce its range of astonishing brews, and it isn't shy with hops and malt. These aren't sissy beers; they're rich and powerful in flavor, often with such intensity that they seem off-putting at first. Stick with them: They're worth it. We were especially taken with the sweet, hoppy, honey-hued Poleeko Gold Pale Ale; the Hop Ottin' India Pale Ale, very hoppy, with citrus overtones and malty sweetness; and the mysterious, espresso-hued Deep Enders Dark Porter, creamy, dense, and chocolatey.