Merry Wheeler

Sometimes even Santa wants to kick back with a tall cool one that’s not milk. And Northern California…

My Weekend Sherpa:

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Sometimes even Santa wants to kick back with a tall cool one that’s not milk. And Northern California micro brews? Brew ho ho ho! One of the newest breweries to enter the scene is Sebastopol’s Woodfour Brewing Company. But before getting holly and jolly, enjoy a mellow bike ride on the nearby and mostly car-free West County and Joe Rodota Trails. For 9 miles the flat and paved trail travels through beautiful Sonoma County wine country, following an old railway line and passing vineyards, woodlands, and farmland. Fall colors are still hanging on—barely—festooning parts of the route in red, rust, and mocha-colored leaves. Giant oak trees flex their beauty, too. The full journey takes you from Santa Rosa to Forestville by way of Sebastopol. On your return, reward yourself with a tasty pit stop (cue the beer!) in Sebastopol’s newest and coolest addition, The Barlow—a sleek, industrial-style village that’s filling up with unique boutiques and artisanal offerings like Sub Zero ice cream (literally fresh-made-to-order) and the rustic multi-level Taylor Maid Farms Organic Coffee Bar & Roastery, along with our recommendation—see the Beer Bonus, below: Cheers!

BREW-HO-HO BONUS: The very new Woodfour Brewing Company, located in Sebastopol’s Barlow, is worth rolling up to. The modern-rustic restaurant has a wall that’s bedecked in cool beer bottles (104 of them so far!) and the cozy outdoor patio is warmed by a fireplace. But it’s the beer that brings big cheers, with creative varietals like the Dunkelweizen, a German inspired classic with clove and apple aromas, and a gingerbread finishing kick!

Park at the west end of Sebastopol Rd. in Santa Rosa (map). Ride west on the Joe Rodota Trail for 3.5 miles. A few hundred feet after crossing a couple of wooden bridges, turn right on a paved unsigned trail to continue on the West County Trail. Cross Hwy. 12 and continue on Morris St., passing by the Barlow complex. Just past Laguna Park, look for the trail entrance on the right, at the corner of Eddie Ln. and Johnson St. Follow it behind the high school. It drops you off onto N. Main; go left for a couple hundred feet. Look for the trail on the right, at the corner of N. Main and Analy Ave. From here, the trail is marked until its end in Forestville. Keep an eye peeled for the trail as you travel the Occidental Rd. section. It comes up on the right, 1 mile from Hwy. 116. Here’s a map of the West County and Joe Rodota Trails. The bike path and brewery patio are dog-friendly!

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