I envy you NorCal'ers - I first got into beer when I was working in SF as a travel RN and I had no idea how great Russian River beers really were until I left.
If you're in Wisconsin, New Glarus beers come mighty close, though (Just not Fat Squirrel or Spotted Cow).
I've tried quite a few of New Glarus's beers when I had a contact there with whom I would exchange beers with. We do have access to a nice variety of beer here in northern California, but there are plenty of great beers in the mid west that we don't have access to as well. The great thing about beer are all the nice regional breweries that makes every location unique.