Dog-friendly taprooms in Brentwood, Concord and Lafayette

I’ve been around the bay for the past few months, tasting beer at breweries in santa cruz at Sunnyvale and Martinez. This week took me to Concord, Lafayette and Brentwood, where a reader suggested I find some of her favorite dog-friendly breweries.

Brewing on all fours

As the name suggests, four-legged friends — as well as families — are welcome at this Brentwood brasserie, which offers indoor seating and tables with umbrellas on the patio. Hobby brewer Erik Bacher and his wife Michelle, a former accountant, opened the brewery in April 2021, with head brewer Kyle McGarry overseeing the 15-barrel direct-fire brewhouse.

Among the dozen beers on tap is a rice lager, simply called Beer. It is light and refreshing with a good hint of bitterness. Walking Dog is a tasty West Coast lager – and a collaboration with Epidemic Ales, my next stop on this brewery day trip. Pacing Pils” and Cuatro Patas, a Mexican lager, are both good hot beers. Rounding out the lineup are several hoppy, juicy IPAs and a chocolatey, nutty Imperial Stout called Royal Hound.

As the name suggests, Brentwood’s Four Legs Brewing is a dog-friendly tavern. (Courtesy of Jay R. Brooks)

Grab a bite from one of the food trucks parked nearby and be sure to check out Cornhole Tournaments, Bingo Thursdays and other regular events on the Four Legs website.

Details: The brewery opens at 4 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday, 3 p.m. Friday, and noon Saturday-Sunday at 2010 Elkins Way in Brentwood; fourlegsbrewing.com. If you live in Antioch, you’re in luck: Four Legs will be opening a bar there at 1 I St. this fall.

Epidemic beers

When Holly Brown, Erin Shally and Brian Wang opened their Concord brewery in 2016, the venue’s name was a playful reference to the explosion of craft brewery openings in the area. Today, cozy, dog-friendly digs are filled with fun for Fido owners, from beer taps to pinball and pool. There’s a long bar and tables inside and outside, and you could definitely lose yourself for a few hours there.

You’ll find up to 20 beers in a wide range of styles on tap. Their most popular beers are the smooth and refreshing Lager at the World’s End and its fruity sister, Limelight, a lager that uses the same base beer but adds lime and salt – a perfect sip when a taco truck is in it. is parked on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Zombrew, a West Coast IPA, is also popular; it has a great nose that is bittersweet, a solid example of the style that seems to be making a comeback.

Concord's Epidemic Ales staff includes, from the top, head brewer Shawn Hammer, co-founder and co-owner Holly Brown, wine merchant Nick Wogofski and assistant brewer Mitchell Maisler.  (Courtesy of Jay R. Brooks)
Concord’s Epidemic Ales staff includes, from the top, head brewer Shawn Hammer, co-founder and co-owner Holly Brown, wine merchant Nick Wogofski and assistant brewer Mitchell Maisler. (Courtesy of Jay R. Brooks)

Other standouts include Pineapple Upside-Down Cake Hazy Pale Ale, which smells exactly like its name suggests, which is no small feat, and the latest in the Tartastrophe series, a Tartastrophe Strawberry Kettle Sour that has excellent notes of red fruits but is only slightly acidic.

There’s a slushie machine serving trendy beer cocktails, four-pack beer to go, crowlers and growlers. Food trucks stop daily, and special events — quiz night, paint night, and classes on everything from dye to dog treats — abound.

Details: Epidemic’s dining room opens at 3 p.m. weekdays and noon on weekends at 150 Mason Circle in Concord. The epidemic beer is also available at seven farmers’ markets, including Orinda, Livermore and Marin. Find the complete list on epidemales.com.

Headlands Brewing, Lafayette

Founded in 2013 by two Marin homebrewers, the brewery was bought out a few years ago by Austin Sharp, who last year opened Headlands Brewing on Lafayette’s busy Mt. Diablo Boulevard. The interior may be small, but the exterior is another matter, with several spacious, dog-friendly areas where you can relax and enjoy a beer, including a foredeck, green beer garden on the side and a large rear garden with umbrellas, Adirondack chairs and benches.

LAFAYETTE, CA - JUNE 5: View of the patio at Headlands Brewing Company in Lafayette, Calif. on Saturday, June 5, 2021. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)
The dog-friendly beer garden at Lafayette’s Headlands Brewing offers cold beers, comfy seating, and fire pits for chilly evenings. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)

On site, there is a small 3.5 barrel brewery where head brewer Ryan Frank makes beer exclusively for the brewery. On tap, you’ll find a nice range of half a dozen house beers, plus guest beers, ciders, and kombucha. Four beers are canned offsite, including three year-round beers and a rotating IPA series known as Trailblazer.

Their most popular beer is the Great American Beer Festival medal-winning Pt. Bonita Pilsner, clean and spicy with a good bitterness that makes you want to have another one. They make a number of hazy, juicy, and double IPAs, but my favorite was the bitter West Coast Awesome-O IPA. There’s also a flavorful, authentic Bavarian-style hefeweizen and a coffee-like dry Irish stout that’s surprisingly refreshing.

And Headlands Brewing’s food menu includes sausages, snacks and specialties, such as weekend grilled burgers, Cheesesteak Wednesdays, Taco Thursdays and more.

Details: Headlands Bar opens at noon Tuesday through Sunday at 3420 Mt. Diablo Blvd. in Lafayette; headlandsbrewing.com. Headlands beer is also available at specialty markets in the Bay Area. The brewery recently purchased EJ Phair, where it will begin brewing all of its beer for packaging this fall, so expect to see more Headlands beer near you soon.

Know of a local brewery or brewpub that’s causing a stir, but not getting the recognition it deserves? Email me at [email protected] and tell me why you love them.

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