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The Beer Taster’s Guide to SLO

Are you ready to step into the beer tasting world, but aren’t really sure where to start? Are there too many options? This guide details where you can go beer tasting in San Luis Obispo and what each unique brewery has to offer.

First things first: defining beer-tasting terms. A “taster” is the 3 oz. glass that breweries use for flights and can also be ordered one at a time so that you can decide if you want to commit to a full beer. A “flight” is a selection of 3 oz. glasses, usually ranging from four to five beers. You can pick any range of beers from the menu to include in your flight.

Next, some general steps. If you see anything on the menu that looks good, but you’re hesitant to buy a glass, just ask for a splash of it. Most breweries have no issue letting you try the beer before you decide to purchase it. Also, eat before or during your tasting session. Some breweries also have restaurants attached to them, but the ones that don’t are happy if you bring in food. Breweries are generally low-key places to hang out and drink good beer, so stay in good form and keep it together.

Now that you have a general idea of the experience, let’s dive into the seven colorful and unique breweries in San Luis Obispo:

Bang the Drum Brewery

Bang the Drum offers an array of experimental beers in an eclectic environment. One of the funkier flavors is an Yerba Mate infused English IPA–yum! This wide open tasting room is full of exposed wood, twinkle lights, and board games that create a cozy atmosphere. It often hosts live music on the large front patio and puts on trivia every Wednesday night. It also does a “Hoppy Hour” on Mondays from 7-8pm. If you’re looking for a laid back vibe away from the bustle of downtown to drink a unique beer in, Bang the Drum is the ticket.

Barrelhouse Brewing

It’s a barber shop… and also a brewery! Barrelhouse Brewing take “business in the front, party in the back” to a new level with its speakeasy theme. Modeled after prohibition era secret bars, Barrelhouse houses a working barber shop at street level and keeps the tasting room downstairs. The tasting room itself is full of plush couches and dark wood tables to gather around and drink a pint with your friends. Come for the 16 taps, stay for the shuffleboard!

Central Coast Brewing

It may be small, but it’s got style. Central Coast Brewing offers a delicious variety of anywhere from 12-15 fresh hoppy ales, stouts, barrel-aged beers and lagers every day of the week. It also has perhaps the most extensive happy hour schedule. Monday through Friday from 3-6pm and all day Sunday, pints are $2 off. This brewery is just off of downtown SLO and is the ideal spot to hang out and enjoy quality beer.

Libertine Brewing Co.

Two words: 72 taps. Yeah, you heard me. Libertine Brewery has spread its wings and shot for the moon. 20 of the taps are Libertine’s own beers, and they also make their own kombucha and cold-brew coffee. But Libertine is unique in more ways than one; they only make sours. A sour beer is just that–sour. It is made this way intentionally. Libertine uses local wild yeast in the process and aims to put as much of the Central Coast region into a glass as possible. Their motto says it all: “Yeah… we know it’s sour.”

Metro Brewing

Metro Brewing is just… cool. During a recent renovation, the walls were painted white so that local artists could decorate the space. This brewery wants to be a break from the bar scene that can run amok in downtown SLO and creates a more mature, classy environment. If you’re interested in a modern space to chill in, Metro Brewing will do the trick. Their generous happy hour runs everyday from 4-7pm.

SLO Brew

Out with the old and in with the new. SLO Brew has transformed from the beloved grungy concert venue and bar to a hip, classy restaurant/club combo. It is keeping to its roots though and still serves classic Central Coast beers. Flights of four tasters of beer are only $8 and you have 12 to choose from. Try them all while sitting inside on leather couches or on the back patio while overlooking the creek.

Tap It Brewing

Tap It is the farthest brewery from the heart of SLO, but don’t count it out just yet. What it lacks in proximity, it makes up for with it’s huge space and passion for good beer. Its enormous back patio has backyard games like giant jenga and cornhole and houses a long glass fire pit. Kick back with some music and relax. Every Friday there is free music and a food truck to calm your drunchies. You can even pay for a pint or pitcher of beer for your friends to claim next time they are there. You pay and write their names on a giant chalkboard so they know. Tap It has a little something for everyone!

With this insider info, now you’re ready to take the SLO beer scene by storm. Taste, drink, be merry!

Stephanie is a senior at Cal Poly State University who dreams of going to law school (soon!). She is majoring in English, minoring in Linguistics, and also earning the TESL certificate. When she isn't writing, she can be found browsing Pinterest, hanging out with friends, and watching Netflix. Her special skills include level 3 procrastination and baking.
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