The Craft Beer movement is exploding, especially along the Central Coast. Although it’s a fairly recent trend, there is no shortage of locally-brewed beers to try out in the area. The growing number of options is a little overwhelming! To help simplify your beer-touring vacation on the Central Coast, we’ve complied 10 local craft breweries that have great quality brews with good variety and are representative of their communities. Here, in no particular order, are 10 great craft breweries that we’re certain you will love.
1. Dunbar Brewing
With a casual neighborhood ambiance in the tiny town of Santa Margarita, it would be easy to miss Dunbar Brewing. However, this rustic bar is worth a visit for its wide selection of craft beers and cool interior atmosphere.
The establishment offers 14 taps, with different local beers switched out frequently. Some popular favorites include the Brown Porter and English Style Ale.
Owner Chris Chambers says that his vision for Dunbar is a “small neighborhood brewery.” If its small-town charm and good conversation you’re after, enjoy it alongside of a delicious local brew.
2. Central Coast Brewing
Central Coast Brewing has an creative and thematic selection of craft beers, marketing itself as San Luis Obispo’s local brewery; a casual home-away-from-home where you can grab a glass and catch up with your neighbors. It’s right near the heart of Downtown on Monterey Street, making this a sure stop if you want to feel like a SLOcal.
On tap are 12 locally made California beers, ranging from a thick, sweet Ale (the 17th Anniversary Ale) to their lightest offering: a blonde ale that is clean, crisp and drinkable (Topless Blonde). Central Coast Brewery’s Chai Ale is one of their claims to fame – it’s SLO county’s original Chai Ale.
Central Coast Brewery is heavily involved in the community, and offers a rewards card for frequent customers. Visit their website to see what brews Central Coast has on tap, and be sure to check for any upcoming events!
3. Firestone Walker Brewery
The granddaddy of the craft breweries on the central coast, Firestone Walker has been open since 1996. It’s also won countless awards, including The World Beer Cup Champion Brewery in 2004, 2006, and 2010 for mid-sized breweries, and it’s obvious that Firestone Walker has established a stellar reputation. The next step is seeing it for yourself!
Visit the Firestone Walker website for more info on how to tour the Brewery and try out some of their favorite beers. It’s a popular destination, so make sure to book tours in advance if you are interested!
4. Pismo Brewing Company
Like Central Coast Brewery, Pismo Brewing Company makes a name for itself within a small community. On tap, their rotating line-up of six delicious crafted brews (and, for a change, a delicious Root Beer!) make them a local favorite. If you’re interested in Pale Ale, Pismo Brewing Company offers a robust, full-bodied India Pale Ale and a lighter, golden Pismo Pale Ale with less alcohol content. Also currently offered is the Roadster Red Ale; a refreshing beverage with a caramel twinge.
Pismo makes the most of its oceanfront location; every retro-inspired label reads: “Hear The Ocean Breeze In Every Bottle.” Their Tasting Room, just two blocks from the shore, is open seven days a week; be sure to stop by to get a small taste of the Central Coast’s diverse craft beer scene.
5. Barrelhouse Brewing Co
Barrelhouse beer is meant to be enjoyed outside. At their Paso Robles location, there’s an outdoor patio featuring a waterfall, lush garden area, and picnic tables – with a view of the stainless steel tanks that are part of the beer-making process. You’ll often see guys working on something while relaxing outside.
And as far as their brews, Barrelhouse Brewing Company’s year-round series offers something for every palate. The Templeton Ale is a tribute to the community – which makes sense because it’s drinkable, light and flavorful – but low on alcohol content, making it a easy choice for any activity. Barrelhouse also offers a Blonde Ale that’s a little higher in bitterness but still kept low-key enough to be enjoyed by most everyone. But if it’s bitterness you’re after, try their Rye IPA – it has citrus, apricot and grapefruit flavors with a spicy finish. Besides these yearly favorites, Barrelhouse has specialty small batch releases. Come by their place in Paso to try unique brews such as a Maple Vanilla Imperial Stout.
6. The Libertine Pub
There’s a lot to enjoy at The Libertine Pub; the great view of Morro Rock and great selection of over 40 local beers. There is also delicious food offered – mostly seafood inspired due to their location, but also including some casual, hearty American BBQ grub.
Libertine Pub brews seven of their own, and offers local favorites with a great variety: including Firestone, Lagunitas, and Figueroa Mountain brews. The pub/brewery describes their brews as San Luis Wild Ales – they use ingredients naturally found on Central Coast and uses old-world brewing techniques. “Once you Gose” is a blend of their house Berlinertine blended with a Porter and aged on vanilla beans and cocoa – and finally blended with Morro’s own sea water. Other brews are similarly unique and sustainable to the community – be sure to stop by if you want to try a brewery that’s a little smaller and a lot different from other Central Coast offerings.
7. Tap It Brewing
Tap-It Brewing offers a standard flagship of five delicious beers that will satisfy any preference, including a Pale Ale, a Golden Ale, and a robust stout. Their IPA, created with the goal to craft a hoppy India Pale Ale that goes down smooth, won the Gold Medal at the Great American beer Festival in 2012. Tap-It often takes innovative risks with their new releases. Father Time is an English-Style Old Ale that actually improves with age; flavors such as raisin and plum will be increased. It’s meant to be enjoyed on special occasions. Other limited releases are similarly unique… such as a double IPA called S.N.A.F.U. that is heaping with flavor, hops, and alcohol.
As far as ambiance goes, Tap It is a great place to meet up with a group of friends and enjoy a brew. Large tables with bar stools, overhead strings of lights, and shady umbrellas make up a large inviting outdoor patio. Come by their San Luis Obispo location to see, and taste, for yourself!
8. Figueroa Mountain Brewing
Figueroa Mountain Brewing is the booming craft brewery of the Central Coast. While it started humbly in Buellton, a small city in Northern Santa Barbara County, the brewery now has six locations from Westlake Village (LA) to Arroyo Grande, and has been nationally recognized for their beers. Their expansion is expected: they have a winning combination of qualified brewers, fun and local taproom atmospheres, and, obviously, amazing beers!
Visit any one of the six taprooms to see for yourself! On their core menu, nine beers are offered, eight of which are award winning. Start off with the Figueroa Mountain Brewing (FMB) “101” – a amber colored ale with a crisp, fruity aroma – it’s light and airy, the perfect beer for a summer day. For something a little heavier, try the Lizard’s Mouth IIPA with 9.2% alcohol content – with a tropical taste and high pine-reminiscent hops to balance the sweetness.
9. Bang The Drum Brewery
This is the “smallest brewery on the Central Coast,” and they’re proud of it! All beers are hand crafted and offer a surprising variety of flavors.. even a gluten free IPA. Right now, there are seven beers on tap, but 10 that are often offered, including a variety of ales, German-style Kolsch & meads.
Bang the Drum’s tasting room has a collection of drums for patrons to bang on; hence the name. It’s a small and carefree environment, and weekly special events including local songwriters and a recent “Pints for Pups” to support a local animal rescue service show how they like to have a good time and support the community.
10. Hop On Beer Tours
We’ve just talked about a lot of different options in the area, but that’s just touching on the growing craft beer scene. Don’t really know where to start? An easy solution is to take all the pressure off yourself! Hop On Beer Tours provides you with a fun way to see the best that the Central Coast has to offer. Sign up for a tour where you’ll see 3-4 different breweries in the area, and feel free to bring food, beer, wine, champagne… whatever you want. It’s great for special events, and perfect if you want to get a beautiful tour of the area alongside of the brewery stops.
You can receive a discount, too! Enter the promo code “MARTIN” and receive 15% off your Hop On Beer Tours ticket.
Enjoy a local beer with us!
The Inn At The Cove is offering a Beer Package right now: Book your stay with us and enjoy two pint glasses and a 6-pack of 805 beer – a local favorite brew by Firestone Walker (one of the above featured breweries). Kick back on your private balcony and enjoy the taste of the 805. Book today!