If youíre touring around San Luis Obispo for the day - like me - save yourself the time and calories and prioritize Central Coast Brewing for your beer stop. Other brewpubs in the area are fine, but Central Coast Brewing is more than fine. Itís good. It also feels less like itís catering to wandering pedestrians, and more like itís linked to a real community of happy beer drinkers. One reason is its location. Instead of occupying premium real estate wedged between two trendy stores, Central Coast has been exiled far off the main shopping avenue into a nondescript light commercial/industrial space. Signs are sparse and modest, but Central Coast doesnít need much for advertising. By the time we arrived it was evident we had found it, thanks to the knot of people milling in and around the balcony area. Only then did we see their humble sign sticking out from the well manicured road-side grass. Up and around the stairs, past more beige and blasť offices and then we were finally into the brewery itself. Itís clear that the brewery - and its fans - have outgrown the premises. Beer brewing equipment and long rows of bottles and buffers and other alchemical brewing goods are practically within reach of visitors, who sit at tall tables, just feet from the serving bar. One very busy bartender quickly took my order, assembling samplers of beer into glasses, and served them on a clever piece of wood that lets the drinker lift the whole apparatus up and over to their table of choice. The beer ranges from quirky to good. Youíre obliged to try the chai blonde ale, which will either delight you, or raise an eyebrow or too. I personally fell in love with the dark, meaty and smoky 16th Anniversary Ale. But whatever you pick, youíre going to get a great beer, and a fine remedy to a day walking around and ogling all the unaffordable goods you wish you could have (speaking from personal experience.) Also, it seems that that vendors occasionally set up shop with tents and grills, though I canít speak to what their regularity or schedule looks like, but I did appreciate the aroma of carnitas and Mexican spices wafting in my direction. My girlfriend and I stayed well into the night, drinking beer after beer, having a good time, and wishing our day trip to San Luis Obispo would last just a little longer. Creating that kind of feeling is the mark of a good brewpub.
Stopped by for a few tasters during a visit. Had a few nice beers, including their 15th Anniversary BB Smoked beer. I chatted up the bartender, Jason, who was very knowledgeable about the beers and the brewery. When we touched on the subject of Berliners, he poured me a sample of a test batch Berliner they did (and it was damn good). They do 4 oz pours of everything, and also have cans, bottles, and growlers of most things to go.
Central Coast Brewing, or CCB as the locals call it, often gets overlooked because itís not located directly downtown like some of the other bars, and brewpubs are. Iíve been coming to CCB for the last 3 years and have experienced a huge improvement - not only their staff, but beer recipes too. Aaron, Jason and crew are doing a marvelous job at producing above average IPAs (Lucky Day, Terrace Hill, Daisy ChainÖ) and Belgian style beers. They also have been acquiring plenty of bourbon barrels with the help of Firestone Walker (so I am told) and making excellent BA stouts and experimental beers that are just as good as anything distributed in the area. Aaron mentioned that their production has increased by a large margin in the last few years. This place should not be skipped if youíre driving through the 101. They donít serve any food, but Splash Cafť, Franks, Santa Cruz taqueria and plenty of other nice food places are close by to bring in while you drink a beer, watch a game, etc. They also have a BBQ space on the side that gets used by local vendors from time to time.
Sits back just far enough off of Monterey Street for it to be easily missed if youíre not specifically looking for it. A pretty unassuming place that sits down a bit from a short strip mall-type construction. It is a small place. The inside had a small bar with seating and a couple of tables, all sharing the same area with the brewery. Outside seating features a long narrow, stainless steel bar, patio umbrellas, and directorís chairs. There are a couple of small tables as well. Outside seating puts you back far enough away from the street that youíre not part of it, but you can still people watch. The mountains make a scenic backdrop for some serenity while you sip your brew. Flights of all their beers are available in any number of tastes youíd prefer. Their variety of beer choices is pretty impressive. The quality of their beer is much better than average. Their service is competent, accommodating, and pleasant. No food here and the bathrooms, while clean, are at the end of that short strip mall-like construction. Very enjoyable, peaceful place to visit.
Really cool place. The bartender is very knowledgeable and talkative. The tasting area is right next to the brewing area, and he is fine with you wandering around. They also have "brew your own" nights and teach homebrewing. A few barrels in the back as well. About 12 taps running, including a BA stout when I was there. A surprising number of bombers for such a small operation. I only tried the black IPA and the BA stout, both of which were good, not great, but I would hang out there for sure if I lived in the area.
Iíve been to this place several times now. The second time was pretty disapointing as they had just reopened (cant remember why they were closed) and only had a handful of beers on tap. They normally have a dozen taps, most of which range from meh to alright. I do appreciate them experimenting and trying to do something interesting but itís really just a glorified homebrew operation. I guess now that theyíve been open a few years I should go back and see if theyíve imnproved.
On the north end of the city, less than a mile from downtown. The tasting room is a small place inside the actual brewery with a nice little deck/patio to sit out on. Twelve beers available to try, but almost all of them were below average. They do bottle a number of their beers, too. Service from the one male bartender (also seemed to be a brewer/helper) was okay, but a bit neurotic. The two girls that were working the bar were much more personable.
These guys are a mix of brew-on-premise and microbrewery with a tasting room. You can try samples of all of their beers on tap and buy bottles to go as well. Most of their beers are solid and they do a wide range of styles at any given time. Iíve never had anything mind-blowing, but also nothing I couldnít drink. They have been having some licensing issues lately with regards to serving beer so itís worth checking with them to see whatís going on if you plan on stopping by.