I'm an east coast guy who loves east coast and mid-west beer. I'm about to head out on a west coast tour with a show band and am looking for "must have" west coast beers. We will be all over CA, OR and WA. I'm aware of the ones that are must tries like Russian River, Deschutes, etc. I'm wondering if there are some hidden gems out there of some beer stores/breweries that can't be missed. West coast beer aficionados, brag away!
Seattle: Black Raven, Elysian, Georgetown, and Naked City Spokane: Iron Goat and River City Bellingham: Boundry Bay, Chuckanut, and Kulshan
In Oregon, Hop Valley, Deschutes, Boneyard and Laurelwood would be on my list.
If driving around Washington you will probably be going by Roslyn so stop by Wild Earth and check out the Brick Tavern.
When you're in Escondido, you don't just have to do Stone. Very close by in Vista you could go to Port/Lost Abbey. The 78 freeway is known as the Hops Highway and there are a ton of breweries. You could cherry pick around here.
If you get to Bend, Oregon, they have an Ale Trail connecting 14 breweries. Probably takes more than a day, but almost all breweries can be reached on foot (for insensitive european feet anyway) and it's well worth it.
If you happen to pass through Ventura at all, check out Surf Brewery. They're a small brewery, not a huge selection, but they do really good IPAs. Their Black IPA and Session IPA (sometimes they call it an XPA) in particular are terrific. Pretty good prices on growlers as well.
When you are in Merced it will definately be worth the drive up to Turlock (about half an hour up Hwy 99).
Dust Bowl Brewing has their tap room on Main Street. They have many popular beers and normally have about 20 of their own brews on tap. The food there is top notch as well. If you like big IPAs I would strongly suggest you check out their Therapist. They are poised to become the next major brewery in CA as they are just beginning to build out a $10M brewery west of town. Definitely worth a trip up from Merced.
San Francisco Locations:
Anchor Brewing Company, the oldest brewing company in San Francisco has tours and tastings at their facilities. Tip: you have to book about 2-3 months in advance to get a spot, since this experience is pretty popular among locals. The experience used to be completely free, though they just started charging $15 per person earlier this year.
21st Amendment Brewery has great seasonal beers and their pub has a great atmosphere a few blocks from AT&T Park. One of my favorites is the Hell or High Watermelon Beer (usually distributed during the summer or early fall)