Craft Beer Lovers Raise a Glass on the Central Coast

Beer, beautiful beer. It’s everywhere these days, and these are not just your regular pale-fizzy-stuff-in-a-can beers. These are craft beers made by small, independent brewers using a slew of inventive recipes to please your palate.

Who knew beer tasting could get as complex—and satisfying—as wine tasting? We’re not taking anything away from wine (our SLO wineries are world class, after all), but today’s beer drinkers go to school on types of hops, malts, and brewing processes to create as much variety in beer as there is imagination in the brewer’s brain.

Please know you don’t have to leave your craving for good beer at home when you visit Pismo Beach—this is not a beer wasteland! There are about 30 craft breweries in the county, and counting, and every one of them makes a variety of delicious beers to sample. Several of these local craft breweries are brewpubs where you can find great food to pair with the beer.

You can find SLO craft breweries the usual ways, by searching Yelp or directories — no beer drinker will find it hard to do. But if you’re going to be in the county on the weekend of February 23 and 24, you are in luck! The SLO Craft Beer Fest will be held at the Alex Madonna Expo Center just off Highway 101 at Madonna Road, about a 15-minute drive from Pismo Beach. This event will have over two dozen craft beers plus food and ciders to sample.

On just about any day, you and a few friends can hire a driver from Hop On Beer Tours (is that pun intentional?) to sample the hops at a few craft breweries over a 4-hour period. Hop On will take you to their regular breweries or you can craft your own tour in advance from the 28 brewers listed in SLO County.

Here’s some good news. The craft brewing revolution is not going away any time soon. You will be able to find good beer in SLO county every time you visit. According to the Brewers Association, the number of craft breweries in the U.S. has gone from 8 in 1980 to over 6,000 in 2018, with many more on the drawing board.

This explosive growth happened because home brewers started making good beers replicating old world traditions, and a few of them caught on in the market place. Anchor Brewing Company of San Francisco is usually thought of as the first commercial craft brewer of the modern era, with a re-release of its famous Anchor Steam amber ale in 1971.

The thing is, you can make really good beer in small volumes at an affordable price, so micro and nano breweries are a great and fun business model. Maybe starting a brewery is in your future! If not, enjoy tasting the beer in one on your next visit to Pismo Beach.

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