Great Places to Fuel Your Craft Beer Needs
I like my bottle shops rough and harried. The kind of place that still has a payphone out front and the owner invests in the quality of the merchandise and knows his shit. The kind of place where Wu Tang knows not to fuck with.
The California craft beer proliferation has ballooned into a $52 million industry, just over the last six months. Craft breweries are found in every major city by the dozen. Hell, SLO County has more than a few heavyweights mashing, lautering, boiling, fermenting, conditioning, filtering and filling tasty brews year-round, naming a few prominent Central Coastal breweries: ManRock Brewing Company, Firestone, Tap-It Brewing Co, Barrelhouse Brewing, Central Coast Brewery (CCB), Pismo Brewing Company, Bang the Drum, 927 Beer Co, the Libertine Brewing Co. The list goes on.
But what if you don't want to hit up a brewery? What if you want just a craft beer by some company you've never heard of, or some hard to find bottle that's traveled thousands of miles to get to your hands? These are the places you should explore for your next strange brew.
Funky-cool bottle shops, places to pick up a bomber or blind selection, the best locations on the Central Coast to stumble in and find curated aisles of untypical craft beer greatness.
OUR FAVORITE CENTRAL COAST BOTTLE HOUSES
El Camino Liquor
7403 El Camino Real
Mike, the new owner of the iconic El Camino Liquor Store is a beer guy. His store is considered by every local beer forum to be the destination for craft beer. You're looking for an unusual Drakes, Bear Republic, Dogfish Head or something unknown? They'll get you covered. Need a recommendation--they can make those too. They stock limited releases too. A great place to find yourself on a Friday night carefully examining aisles of bottles worth you and your buddies taste.
GROVER BEACH, PISMO BEACH
High Tide Market
294 4th St., Grover Beach
Sometimes called the RC Cola Market due to that iconic red sign hanging from the side, High Tide Market emerged as one of the finest bottle houses on the Central Coast a few years ago. Much like the rest on this list, it has that shabby, beach bummer curb appeal, but the new owners went through a big renovation in the last few years. The Grover Beach equivalent to the El Camino Market. Also offers easy freeway access from the US-101 off the 4th Street exit. Possibly the best road in all the Five Cities.
California Fresh Market
555 5 Cities Dr., Pismo Beach
California Fresh, a prominent Pismo Beach market, appeared on our favorite local salsa list a few weeks ago. Incidentally, they're one of the best places on the Central Coast to pick up a craft beer. Carrying a vast local and regional selection, California Fresh is also cool with recommendations, they have a pad in the front of the store where you make requests. Lots of Mikkeller, Lost Coast, Ballast Point and a massive collection of regional bombers.
Del Mar Market
2864 Main St., Morro Bay
Ignore another rough exterior, you won't find a better bottle house in Morro Bay than Del Mar Liquor. A knowledgeable staff will help you track down a special brew based on your taste. Sam, the owner, is friendly and wants your customer loyalty. Located near the beach, Del Mar Liquor has good guts for its unremarkable exterior.
SAN LUIS OBISPO
Luis Wine Bar
1021 Higuera St.
Although technically described as a "wine bar," Luis' keeps its 4 taps fresh with new rotations coming in seasonally. A great place to sit and relax with a friend and chill on their creekside patio. Luis is a great place to find local and unusual seasonal craft beer selections. They also offer a growing and regularly changing catalog of bottles available for in-house consumption or take home with a 15% off for all to-go bottles.
586 Higuera St.
A typical college town bottle house with a large assortment of bottled and canned brews for take-home consumption. Has a lot of rough reviews from the college community, but is nevertheless considered one of the better bottle houses in SLO thanks to its considerable craft beer selection. Just come in, be respectful, try not to break anything and you'll be fine. Pay attention to bottle prices and ensure consistency when they ring you up. Considered one of the finest craft beer selections in SLO.
1401 Osos St
Another, though less typical, bottle house in SLO with a solid back room selection. Staff is humble and warm and sell some of the best tortillas you'll find in town.
The back room has a great selection of bombers, typical to what you'd find in other local bottle houses: local and regional beers from Ballast Point, Green Flash and Lost Coast, but with great hours, friendly staff and less college town dissolutioned ownership.