I love the state of California. The mountains, the deserts, the National Parks, the Pacific Coast Highway, and so many other visual appeals make California stand tall. On top of that, California has beer- lots of beer, with more craft breweries than in any other state. I spent time on a beercation in the lovely city of San Luis Obispo where I brewery- hopped from one establishment to the next, sampling new suds and meeting the people behind the barley. One of many I visited and loved is Central Coast Brewing, located at 1422 Monterey Street, close to downtown San Luis Obispo.
Made for Guests
Central Coast Brewing, opened in 1998, is a casual kind of place. Walking up to brewery takes you through the parking lot, past a food truck, and to a patio where guests can sip their beer while inhaling the fresh mountain breezes. A quick left turn from the patio and you’re inside the tap room. There is a bar area and tables/chairs for guest seating plus television entertainment, just in case it happens to be one of those extremely rare days when you can’t seem to spark up a good conversation.
Central Coast Brewing features a large beer bottle collection, stacked in vertical rows behind the bar area. They use an electronic board to display the beer options, complete with name, style, alcohol level, and prices for the different serving sizes. And unlike other breweries, guests at Central Coast Brewing do not have to look very far to see the brewing equipment. It is right there, within an arm’s reach of the seating, for an authentic ‘in the brewhouse’ feeling.
Made for Beer
Once you get settled into your indoor or outdoor seat, the next and immediate order of the day will be to order some beer. As usual for me, I decided to stick with flight samples and I tasted a total of eight beers:
- Cervantez, An agreeable Vienna amber lager with pleasant malty flavors and only 17 IBU of bitterness for smooth sailing.
- Coconut Schwartz, A slightly sweeter version of a schwartzbier, with a flavor like that of a coconut dessert.
- Catch 23, Darker beer with flavors of rye and roasted malt
- Lucky Day IPA, Hoppy IPA, as I expected, but with a solid malt foundation for a more balanced taste. I rank this as my second favorite beer among the eight.
- Monterey Street, Crisp, smooth pale ale with slight citrus, biscuit malts, spicy hops, and touch of tropical fruit.
- Java Blanca, Lighter in body, this pale brew sports an unexpected coffee flavor that, due to the light color of the beer, catches you by surprise.
- General Schwartz, Smooth, roasty lager with mild bitterness for the schwarzbier style. This beer was my favorite in the bunch.
- SLO Blonde, This grainy German Lager is perfect for the craft beer newbies or Miller/Bud crowd. It tastes far better than these macro brews with enough craft character to win big beer people over to the fold.
California Here I Come
Central Coast Brewing is a gem of an establishment. This was one of multiple breweries I visited during a beercation to San Luis Obispo and it would have to rank in my top 3 overall. The beer, the setup, and the people all make for a memorable means for malt beverage satisfaction.
At Central Coast Brewing, guests can be themselves and kick back in a non- pretentious atmosphere with great people. The indoor and outdoor seating options are perfect for this part of the country because, more often than not, the weather is great and you won’t mind being outside where you have, among other things, a view of the mountains. I spent my time indoors, but that is only because I wanted to talk to the personnel and learn a little more about this craft brewery, its past, its future, and its mission.
I was surprised when I learned that Central Coast Brewing dates all the way back to 1998. That’s pretty close to ancient in craft beer terms and while the brewery has certainly grown over the years, they have obviously not grown at an exponential rate- something that can often prove the undoing of a great craft brewery. Rapid growth can lead to consistency issues, quality control problems, and more but Central Coast Brewing appears to have avoided these common growing pains by expanding at a slower, steadier pace.
Flight samplers are a popular way to get to know the beer at Central Coast Brewing. I like how the flight samplers are served on a sturdier platform. The chances for spillage are reduced with a setup like this. They include a bottle cap corresponding to each beer, for your reference. And the information on the electronic board is excellent for helping guests choose beer. There is no need to decipher the awkward handwriting on a flimsy blackboard. Everything you need to know about each beer is spelled out in easy to read electronic format.
Central Coast Brewing has matured and stepped up its game over the past few years, winning multiple awards and recognition. Monterey Street Pale Ale took home a Great American Beer Festival Silver Medal in 2016 and a Gold Medal in 2015. General Schwarz struck Gold in 2016 and Lucky Day IPA scored a Gold Medal at the World Beer Cup. Taking top honors on such recent dates shows that Central Coast Brewing is a brewery on the move and that the best is yet to come. Word has it that CCB plans to expand into a new place on Higuera Street in downtown, increasing brewing capacity even further and affording space to expand with food operations and more. This has to be great news for fans of the brewery, which clearly includes a large percentage of local San Luis Obispo residents.
Central Coast Brewing is open seven days per week, so the beer is flowing and ready to drink when you are. The next time you’re visiting California’s Central Coast, make your way to Central Coast Brewing for some excellent, award winning beer brewed and served by people dedicated to the craft. And tell them Great Beer Now sent you.