Barrelhouse Brewing Company is down the road a pace from Firestone Walker in Paso Robles, but when you find their taproom in a former artists studio, it is like being in a whole new city.
There is a large firefly art installation and a beer garden that isn’t just tents over concrete. Actual grass and a landscaped waterfall. You can order your beers (get the taster tray for $6) either inside or outside. The interior is warm and inviting with a good view of the fermenters.
I enjoyed their Kolsch but the hoppy blonde and the IPA really shine with the taste of the hip new hop, Mosaic. Spicy and fruity, the blonde shows it off more, but hopheads will want the IPA. They also have barrel aged options as well.
Food trucks and live music on the weekends round out the equation. Barrelhouse is a lovely respite from the world.
Tap It Brewing Co. is based in San Luis Obispo. And is the winner of a 2012 Gold Medal for their IPA. They also are working on creating their own hop terroir on the Central Coast.
Their website details their Edna Valley Hop Project and when that crops come to fruition, September in SLO will be Fresh Hop season as their Cascade, Centennial, Columbus, Magnum, and Fuggle hops start producing that bitterness that hopheads love.
For now you will have to be satisfied with their intialized beers: IPA, APA and ASA amidst all the wine shoppes in town.
Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co. recently opened a tap room and brewery in Santa Barbara but their facility in Buellton (near the Firestone Walker restaurant & Barrelworks) which also has a grassy patio where you can drink such beers as their Paradise Road Pilsner or their Hurricane Deck Double IPA.
You can get their bottles all around L.A. but it is much more fun to watch, as I did, as the brewers started wrangling large bags of malt as they started the process for their next batch of beer that may turn into something special from their tasting room exclusive list.
Your Beer of the Week comes from the much lauded Port Brewing, just south of us. Their 7th Anniversary IPA clocks in over 10% ABV and it is a big, dank, hoppy bomber that is probably best shared with a fellow hophead. It pours a dark orange and in the right glass, throws off a ton of weedy-citrus aroma. The alcohol is present but the carbonation and the bitterness wipe most of it away with each sip.
Your Homework is to head south down the coast to Redondo Beach and the International Pier to find Muis. It is the new “small batch beer endeavor” from Phantom Carriage. Tonight they are introducing its first wild beer to the public! Muis is a “Belgian-style Wild Blonde…100% Brett-fermented.” For those first on the scene, commemorative glassware will be available.
Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.