Skip the limo-infested winery trail and ride the new wave of microbreweries bubbling up all over this former stagecoach-stop-turned-commuter-suburb. The indie sprit is strong at these suds sellers—they are supportive of their craft and one another, despite their diverse personalities.
At least eight breweries are now pouring within a 3-mile radius, which makes tasting loads of new brews an easy circuit. Sampler pours are inexpensive and easily shared, so all you need to keep your blood-alcohol level in line is a tasty meal or hearty snacks.
Noteworthy operations include the spotless Garage Brewing Co. with its wrench-shaped tap pulls, Aftershock Brewing Co. and its long list of beers scrawled on a black-light chalkboard, and Black Market Brewing, hiding in a laid-back venue in a high-tech business park.
The list is fermenting fast, so look for new ones, and more details, as you chart your own course at temeculabreweries.com. Also, Temecula Brewing Tours is happy to do the driving if you don’t mind being limited to its itinerary and schedule. brewerytoursoftemecula.com
>> WHILE YOU’RE HERE
Most breweries don’t open until mid-afternoon, so get a solid meal first. Possibilities include SERRANO’S FRESCO GRILl, a family-run storefront taco shop. Commendable breakfast burritos, huevos plates, taco combinations, and snappy service. Closed Sunday. 27315 Jefferson Ave., serranosfrescogrill.com
For a slightly upscale lunch with a modern slant, CRUSH & BREW offers pleasant California fare: big salads, rich flatbreads, and gussied-up fries. 28544 Old Town Front St., crushnbrew.com
Load up on cured meats and artisan cheeses with charcuterie platters you design at TEMECULA VALLEY CHEESE CO., pictured, tucked away in an Old Town back lot. Quiet patio. Live music alfresco some weekends. 42072 Fifth St., 951-693-9500
Packed with locals—always a good sign on touristy weekends—BLACKBIRD TAVERN has a funky edge and a clued-in kitchen and bar. Don’t miss the grassy backyard with fire pits, where folks linger for hours after dark. Closed Monday. 41958 Fifth St., blackbirdtaverntemecula.com
TEMECULA CREEK INN is a well-maintained ’60s-era golf course sprawler. The newly revamped dining room, Corkfire Kitchen, pours mean barrel-aged cocktails in the lounge. 44501 Rainbow Canyon Road, temeculacreekinn.com
HOUSE OF JERKY sells so many flavors, it’s hard to leave empty-handed. 28655 Old Town Front St., houseofjerky.net