We decided to break from our normal weekend routine and take a little road trip down to San Luis Obispo. Lately, weekends have been about Merideth writing the book and me doing yard work. We needed a little respite.
Our early beer travels mostly involved day trips to nearby cities. We were young and didn’t have money for elaborate trips. It’s interesting how things come full circle, except we’re not that young anymore.
We left Carmel Valley bright and early on Saturday morning and drove two and a half hours to our first stop, two-month old Creekside Brewing in San Luis Obispo. After Creekside, we planned to head back north, stopping at the string of breweries that were about 10 minutes apart.
Did you know there is a creek that runs through SLO city center? I certainly didn’t. Located a block off of downtown, Creekside Brewing sits right above San Luis Creek in a very pleasant, small-town California setting.
There is a cave-like bar downstairs, but on this beautiful Saturday, we sat on their quaint little deck that overlooks the creek and ordered a taster set.
Creekside had five beers available to try; Hefeweizen, Dunkelweizen, Pale Ale, Stout and a ‘Lite’ beer. Unfortunately, they were out of IPA which, as a hophead, is my benchmark beer.
All the beers, were well done; the Stout had a nice roast to it; the Hefeweizen was very Bavarian. Even the ‘Lite’ had a bit of oomph for the usually dreaded style.
Summer weather really hit California on Saturday and it was nice to relax with a Hefeweizen and watch the world go by… at least for a hour or so.
A short drive brought us to our second stop in San Luis Obispo, Central Coast Brewing. It began in 1998 as a brew on premise and, like other BOPs, Central Coast altered their business model as the craze waned.
Their new model has them brewing their own beers under the Central Coast Brewing label as well as making private label brews for local restaurants. On Saturdays, you can still brew your own batch of beer.
The couches set in front of the bar area make the tasting room cozy. There is a nice outdoor standing area, as well. Presently, CCB can only serve taster-sized beers. However, in the future they hope to serve full pints. In the time that we were there, a steady stream of customers came through ordering tasters and purchasing bottles to go.
Beers are 5 tasters for $5 from their regular beers, with specialty beer tasters costing $2 each. We had almost nine beers to choose from with the most interesting being a Chai Cream Ale. The second chai-flavored beer we have tried in the last year, I have to say that the Stout we had at Yak & Yeti was a better complimentary style to the chai. As Merideth commented, the light body of the cream ale gave it the flavor of a holiday spiced beer. The Chai Cream Ale will be great to drink in the Fall.
In the end, we weren’t able to spend a lot of time relaxing at Central Coast because our friend JJ called. She was waiting for us at Dunbar Brewing.
The newest entry on the Central Coast beer scene is Dunbar Brewing in Santa Margarita, a one road town just north of San Luis Obispo. Located in a small space behind Ancient Peak Winery’s tasting room, Dunbar could be one of the smallest breweries we have ever seen. The kit appeared to be one of those high-end homebrew set ups that I have always dreamed of having (if I ever manage to actually get back into homebrewing). Dunbar Brewing is a one-man operation and Chris was manning the bar as we entered the air-conditioned oasis.
Joining JJ and a bevy of locals at the intimate bar, we ordered our taster set. Chris had five beers available, English Ale (a Bitter), IPA, Scotch Ale, Brown Porter and a Stout. It is always a somewhat dodgy proposition visiting a very new brewery – sometimes things aren’t quite dialed in – but Chris’ beers were quite nice. The IPA and the Porter were the standouts.
It was great catching up with JJ. Unfortunately, the afternoon was progressing and we had one more stop to make.
While we have no plans of moving, if we did, it might be farther south on the Central Coast to be closer to Firestone-Walker. I am a huge fan of their beers and we just don’t get to their tasting room enough.
Besides the regular lineup of beers, there was a Hefeweizen and Lil Opal, a 3.5% session beer made from the second running of their Big Opal Wheat Wine. Both were very tasty beers. What I really stopped for was a brewery fresh pint of Union Jack, Firestone’s 2008 GABF gold medal winning IPA. Not only did I get a pint, but I was also able to hold Matt’s gold medal.
Our SLO day was over. A beautiful day, good beer and great people… another satisfying day of beer travel.