Beer enthusiasts from around the Bay Area sipped brews and chatted with friends at the first stop of Napa’s inaugural beer walk on Saturday afternoon.
Walkers gathered first at St. Clair Brown Winery & Brewery, where the $35 check-in fee got them discounted brews and a stamp card with all six downtown breweries to hit, including Trade Brewing, Napa Palisades Beer Company, Downtown Joe’s Brewery and Restaurant, Stone Brewing Napa, and Tannery Bend Beerworks. Walkers were free to go in whatever order they pleased, and visitors who visited all six shops received an official Napa Beer Mile ball cap.
Organizers hoped the beer mile would “unify the six craft breweries in peoples’ minds and hopefully get them thinking about Napa as a real craft beer community in its own right,” said Laina Brown, St. Clair Brown co-owner.
It was a drizzly Saturday in Napa, but it didn’t stop masses of beer fans from filing into St. Clair Brown Winery & Brewery. Within the first minutes of the Beer Mile’s launch at noon, long lines wound throughout the room.
Some snapped photos of their stamp cards to pass the time, while others chatted on benches or around wine barrels-turned-tables.
“It sounded like a fun activity for a rainy day,” said Terry Tracy of Napa, who was among the first to arrive — and admitted he didn’t want it to rain too much.
Tracy, a club member of St. Clair Brown Winery & Brewery, said he was a fan of the brewery’s porters as he waited in line for his first beer of the day. He enjoys the social aspect of the beer and wine scenes, and looked forward to sampling brews at each shop with a friend.
Kevin Johnson, who waited to meet up with a group of friends, said he found Napa’s beer scene to be relaxing. He looked forward to sipping on IPAs.
A few spots back in line, Morgan Kreuger of San Francisco said he decided to bring his girlfriend, who was visiting the Bay, to the Beer Mile. Both were visiting Napa for the first time.
“We’re from Wisconsin, so we can drink beer,” he said.
Kreuger, a fan of dark beers and stouts, said the couple picked the beer mile over wine tasting, even though Napa is better-known for its wine. They grew up in a place where wine isn’t as popular, he said, and there’s a camaraderie in the beer-drinking atmosphere that he finds preferable.
“It just feels (like we’re) more at home,” Kreuger said.
Across the room, Sticky Business Barbeque maintained a table to dole out smoked beef brisket, St. Louis pork ribs, pulled pork, chicken thigh and smoked beef sausage with sides such as green chili macaroni and cheese, collard greens and beans.
Alesha Romero, who staffed the table and is married to the owner, said she was surprised to see beer drinkers of all ages.
There was even a baby in the room.
The barbecue shop often teams up with St. Clair Brown Brewery & Winery for events and has made its sauce with their Syrah wine. The event is a great opportunity to get some good beer and food, and walk it off, she said.
Breweries in Napa are starting to gain momentum, Romero said. Both the beer and wine scenes are flourishing.
Jaclyn Pease and Brett Sanchez of Sacramento sipped their beers near the brewery room. The couple was visiting Napa for the weekend and picked the Beer Mile over wine tasting.
Pease said she’s a fan of visiting craft breweries and thought the walk would be something different from what they typically do.
Back in line for brews, friends Mike Carino, a stout and porter fan, and Ross Vedder, an IPA fan, from Solano County said they love the friendly, fun brew scene. The two planned to hit each brewery on the map.
“I want that hat,” Carino said.
Even though Carino said he planned to Uber through the Beer Mile, he said he was looking forward to the day. It’s rare to see an event like this.
“I’ll definitely be at the next one,” he said.