My hometown of Chico, California is a weird place when it comes to beer. Chico is world famous for being home to craft beer pioneers Sierra Nevada, but for years that’s all it had going for it when it came to beer. There weren’t really any other breweries in town (we’re still struggling on this front), and most of the bars, restaurants, and liquor stores had mediocre craft beer selections. Meanwhile Bend, Oregon has about the same population as Chico with 20+ breweries, multiple beer bars, and places to fill your growler.
Thankfully those dark days are coming to an end. In the last few years multiple beer bars have opened in Chico, many of the local restaurants have stepped up their beer game, and the liquor stores have improved greatly. Beyond rumors, and a gluten free brewery without a tap room, we are still waiting on another brewery. If you’re traveling to Chico here’s some of what it has to offer:
Sierra Nevada Brewery
This is obviously your first stop. Sierra Nevada helped pioneer the craft beer movement in the US. This alone would be reason enough to check them out, but they’ve also managed to stay very relevant over the past 30+ years. They have the best brewery tour (includes beer tasting), a great restaurant, and a nice gift shop. The (21+) tours fill up so it’s worth reserving a spot online. Expect a wait for a table in the restaurant most nights, but you can grab a beer at the bar or wander down to the gift shop to pass the time.
Winchester Goose is a nice little craft beer bar in a historic building with a really good beer selection. Every time I stop in their tap list of 20+ beers is about half full of stuff I’ve never tried or never even heard of, and it’s always good. They must really be hustling to get some of this stuff to little ol’ Chico. If you somehow can’t find something on tap ask to see the bottle list. They also have a small menu of some tasty food.
Burgers and Brews
This restaurant is in a fun spot downtown. They have a huge beer selection and good food. Their spicy guacamole burger and garlic fries are a personal favorite. They’re open late and within walking distance to Chico State and lots of bars.
This irish pub has a decent beer selection, good food, and they always have a soccer or Giants game on. Their macaroni and cheese is the best in town. Just a couple blocks from Burgers and Brews.
Spikes Bottle Shop
The liquor stores in town have stepped up their game in recent years, but none more so than Spikes. They have a huge selection of craft beer, including a large cooler section. They’re obsessive about their IPA freshness, and have a good sour selection.