Whether you prefer lagers, wild ales, IPAs or porters, our stretch of Highway 1 has beer for every kind of palate. This is home to pioneering brewers who have helped usher the craft beer movement to the nation and the world. They also inspired younger brewers to start their own labels, putting their own unique stamp on the beers they brew. But these beers aren’t all for hop heads: they’re brews that anyone can explore and enjoy. The area offers a nice selection of sites to visit, from family-friendly beer gardens, to tap rooms and brewpubs. Definitely don’t miss the taverns available here, too, which often fall into dive-bar territory. The Central Coast is home to an establishment dubbed the Best Dive Bar in California, but there are plenty of other local contenders, too. And because these beers are made within spitting distance of the golden Highway 1 coastline, your mug just might come with an ocean view. No matter where you stay on your Highway 1 vacation, you’re sure to find a new favorite beer nearby.
Explore Breweries Along Highway 1
Ragged Point Restaurant
The ocean views at this popular north coast restaurant are reason enough to visit, but the beer is a close second. Ragged Point Restaurant boasts eight beers on tap plus a variety of bottled options, ranging from local brews to imported favorites. If you can’t make it to any other local brewery, this is a great place to stop and sample brews from several producers. Ragged Point Restaurant carries Barrelhouse Brewing, Figueroa Mountain, and Firestone-Walker, all made locally. Other labels include California pioneer Anchor Steam, Stella Artois, Corona, and Budweiser. The bar also offers non-alcoholic beer as well as cider. Pick up a pint and settle in on the massive outdoor courtyard with cliffside views of the ocean. Pair your suds with appetizers and small bites from the restaurant’s menu, and make an evening of it. Ragged Point provides access to some of the world’s prettiest ocean sunsets, so it’s a terrific place to end your day.
927 Beer Company
Located in Cambria, 927 Beer Company calls itself a community “nano-brewery,” rather than a microbrewery. It’s definitely a local affair here — so local, in fact, the company name refers to Cambria’s original phone prefix. (It was formerly known as the “Cambria Beer Company.”) The taproom at 927 Beer Company pours “pints by the sea,” with several regular taps and some seasonal/rotating ones. Choose from the Toyon Red Ale, Pinedorado Pale Ale, Old #23 Robust Porter, Green Valley American IPA, and Through The Mist Saison. Other seasonal and one-off brews include an IPA, golden sour, dark sour saison, tripel IPA (at 12.2% ABV!) and oatmeal stout. One of their beers is even called Slab Town Pale Ale after Cambria’s original town name. Grab a pint or grab a flight if you want to try several beers at once. The brewery doesn’t offer food, but there are several dining options within walking distance in Cambria’s West Village. Because this is only a taproom and not a restaurant, folks under 21 aren’t allowed, but pups are welcome on leash.
This classic dive bar dates back to 1866 when Mozzi’s was one of a handful of saloons in Cambria’s East Village. Over the years, the building burned down and ownership changed hands, with the Camozzi family owning the business from 1922 to 1965. During their era, the Camozzis constructed the two-story building seen on Main Street today. In addition to the saloon, it included a 12-room hotel, barbershop, card room and pool hall. In the years since, it has seen many wild nights (and days) including both horses and motorcycles rearing through the front door. Today, it retains its old independent spirit and was recently named the Best Dive Bar in California by Trip Savvy. Enjoy happy hour on weekdays and live music on weeknights. Or just pop in to look at the historic photos and risque paintings around the bar. Expect a classic lineup of beers on tap, along with a few local favorites, as well as a full bar.
West End Bar & Grill
For over 30 years, the West End Bar & Grill has served pub food, beer, wine and cocktails in Cambria’s quaint West Village. This is a cozy spot to catch the game, with five screens streaming NFL Ticket, MLB Extra Innings, and NHL Center Ice. Check out the 16 beers on tap, including microbrews from heavy hitters like Deschutes, Stone, Golden Road, Elysian, and Russian River. You’ll also always find locally-brewed beers on tap from the likes of Firestone-Walker and SLO Brew. Can’t decide? Order a flight of five 4-ounce pours to explore your options. West End also offers a selection of 25 bottled beers, 20 wines, and 150 spirits. Pair your drink of choice with one or more of West End’s famous dishes, including “Cambria’s Best” fish and chips. Chili cheese fries, burgers, ribeye steak dinners, and shrimp cocktail round out the menu of classic pub fare. Order a cold one, catch the score, and make friends with the locals in this charming sports bar hideaway.
Old Cayucos Tavern & Card Room
It’s tough to miss the Old Cayucos Tavern & Card Room on the downtown stretch of North Ocean Avenue. A large mural on the building’s exterior reads “Old Cayucos Tavern, Live Entertainment, Card Room since 1906.” Indeed, the Old Cayucos Tavern has been a wild spot for locals and tourists alike since the turn of the 20th century. The first thing most people notice inside are the dollar bills hanging from the ceiling. (Stapling bills to the ceiling is a tradition dating back to the Gold Rush — several saloons in the West have bill-covered ceilings.) The next thing they likely notice is the life-sized pinups painted opposite the bar. Come in for beer, wine or cocktails, plus pool and shuffleboard. The poker room opens on Friday and Saturday nights for $40 buy-in no limit holdem. Also watch for live music and dancing on those nights. The Old Cayucos Tavern also hosts live trivia on Tuesdays.
The Olde Alehouse
Located in charming Los Osos-Baywood Park, The Olde Alehouse pours craft beer, ciders and sours alongside simple pub food. Twenty taps feature local microbrews, including Firestone-Walker, Liquid Gravity, Barrelhouse Brewing, Topa Topa Brewing Co, Santa Maria Brewery and Figueroa Mountain. SLO Cider always has a tap at Olde Alehouse, as does Whalebird Kombucha. Tap takeovers happen regularly here, with visits from There Does Not Exist, Founders, Lagunitas, Santa Maria Brewing, Topa Topa and several others. Pop-up restaurant Hawker SLO regularly serves food here, with simple, flavorful pub food like nachos, pretzels, tri tip sliders and more. The back patio has a stage that welcomes bands and musicians of all styles, with seating throughout like a beer garden. Sunday afternoons, in particular, are magical on this back patio, with music, brews, and a chill weekend vibe. This is a pet- and family-friendly spot that’s perfect for relaxing with a local beer, local tunes, and good friends.
Located in Los Osos-Baywood Park and previously known as the Baywood Tavern, Beerwood features a selection of 12 craft beers on tap. These include local brews like Wild Fields Brewing, M. Special Brewing, and Liquid Gravity, plus kombucha, cider, and sours. The owners worked here under previous ownership and saw the spot’s potential, bringing in more local beers, plus elevated pub food. Case in point: the beautiful charcuterie plate, made with seasonal fresh fruit, dried fruit, nuts, cheeses, olives, local sourdough and cured meats. Indeed there’s more to Beerwood than just…beer. The restaurant serves hearty breakfast bowls, breakfast burritos and breakfast sandwiches all day, plus fresh salads and sandwiches. The outside patio offers plenty of family-friendly seating, as well as ample room for four-legged friends. Bring friends, bring the kids, and bring Fido — Beerwood is a warm neighborhood spot to enjoy a pint and great food. Locals tip: On Mondays, the Baywood Farmer’s Market sets up right on Beerwood’s front doorstep, with produce, entertainment, and snacks. Make a day of it and lounge on the pub’s patio after shopping and walking the market.
Sweet Springs Saloon
This spot is a Central Coast institution known for good times, strong drinks and live entertainment. “Sweeties” (as the locals call it) has all the hallmarks of a classic dive, with wood-paneled walls, a well-worn bar, and plenty of neon. The full bar has a particularly strong whiskey selection, plus 10 beers on tap. Expect a lineup of local favorites like Barrelhouse Brewing and Firestone-Walker, domestic macrobrews and a few imports like Stella Artois and Corona. The pub offers shuffleboard, darts and pool, and several TVs for sports. The locals know Sweeties as a music venue where bands from all over settle in for a night on the Sweet Springs stage. When music isn’t live, catch it on the jukebox — or it might even be you singing your favorite song on karaoke nights. You may come for the drinks, but you’ll stay for the warm vibe and friendly service of this favorite neighborhood joint.
Libertine made a name for itself as a wild ale and sours producer, using ambient native yeast to aid in the fermentation process. These beers are completely unique to their vicinity, as particles and local characteristics wind up as part of the brew (much like sourdough). Wild ales have a flavor all their own — if you’ve never tried one, definitely start with a Libertine. And if you’re already a sour fan, you’ll love this pioneering pub. The Libertine began in Morro Bay and has a gastropub in San Luis Obispo, while the Avila Beach location focuses totally on beer. Come to downtown Avila Beach to try Libertine’s sours, as well as several other non-sour collaborative brews with other producers. Beers are available by the pint or in bottles and crowlers for take-away. A cozy patio overlooking San Miguel Street makes this a great spot to sit and sip a while.
PierFront Wine & Brew
The scene at PierFront Wine & Brew is special, considering its enviable position on the Avila Beach Promontory. From a table on the front patio, it’s possible to watch the waves rolling in, kayakers paddling, and sailboats a little further out. This is a comfy place to settle in, offering over 30 bottled beers and six tap handles on regular rotation. Those are predominantly (if not completely) local labels like Central Coast Brewing, Firestone-Walker, Liquid Gravity, SLO Brew and Figueroa Mountain. The bar also serves local wines, ciders, hard root beer, and non-alcoholic beer, so there’s something for everyone. PierFront also offers nibbles alongside their drinks, like charcuterie plates and even chocolate tasting. The indoor setting is cozy and relaxed, with upholstered chairs and sofas available for lounging an afternoon or evening away. When the weather is pleasant, head outside to the beachfront patio; when it’s foggy, come inside to play one of PierFront’s many board games. Tap takeovers and live entertainment happen regularly here, too.
So much of what makes this fun beachfront bar special is exactly that: Mr. Ricks is right on the beach. Just steps from the sand, Mr. Ricks is an institution, having served drinks to Avila Beach locals and visitors alike for years. Beer is the focus here, with 16 varieties on tap and another 20 in bottle. Firestone-Walker, Lagunitas, Topa Topa and SLO Brew make up some of the local offerings on tap, plus Pacifico, Modelo and Coors. The full bar also serves signature drinks like Mr. Ricks’ outrageous Bloody Mary with all (and we mean all) the fixings. Enjoy happy hour on weekdays, with specials on pitchers of beer and cocktails, plus appetizers. Mr. Ricks serves pub grub like nachos, fish and chips and jalapeno poppers, all of which can be enjoyed on the beachfront patio. Alternatively, sit inside at the bar, which has exposed brick walls and a swordfish hanging on the wall. Mr. Ricks is known as a popular venue for live music as well, with bands and musicians playing every weekend.
Perched on the edge of the charming and historic Arroyo Grande Village, Humdinger Brewing came on the craft beer scene in 2019. All 12 beers on tap are brewed by Humdinger, including hard seltzer, IPAs, blondes, sours, lagers, and wheat beers. Pilsners, stouts, and even fruit beer can be found on the menu here, depending on availability, the season, and what the brewer decides to make. Humdinger also offers SLO Cider, Whalebird Kombucha, and local wines — as well as select guest taps. Drinks are served alongside popular appetizers like beer nuts, dipping potatoes, pork belly nachos, and chicharrones, plus sandwiches, tacos and pasta. The interior features roll-up warehouse doors and a bar facing onto Branch Street for prime people watching. On weekends, you can find bands and musicians playing live inside or on the little patio. Order a pint, sit down with friends, and discover the many brews of this fun, friendly brewery.
Mason Bar & Kitchen
Converted from the old JJ’s Market in the Arroyo Grande Village, Mason Bar & Brewery serves craft beer, local wines, cocktails, lunch and dinner. The spot comprises two sides: the restaurant side, and the bar side. At the bar, find 20 taps that rotate regularly with heavy-hitting craft breweries like Russian River, Los Coast, Maine Beer Company and Allagash. Local producers include There Does Not Exist, Firestone-Walker, SLO Brew, Central Coast Brewing and others. In bottles, Mason Bar offers hard seltzer, hard kombucha and even gluten free beer. Whiskey is another major focus for Mason Bar, which pours 25 types of bourbon and whiskey, and which is reminiscent of a whiskey lounge. Mixologists use house-made syrups, freshly pressed juices and craft ice for the cocktail program. The bar also offers pre-mixed barrel-aged cocktails like Boulevardiers, Negroni, and Manhattans. Everything pairs nicely with Mason Bar’s elevated gastropub dishes, from burgers and pasta to vegetables and even dessert.
Santa Maria Brewing Co.
At San Luis Obispo County’s southernmost edge, this brewpub features 18 taps of Santa Maria Brewing Company beer. These include hard seltzers, wheat beers, lagers, pilsners, ales, IPAs, and more. Some of the rarer offerings include the RimFire Imperial Red Ale, the Cra-Hazy New England IPA, and the B410 Imperial IPA. The taps are organized by weight and style: light, malt-forward, hop-forward, and dark. On the food menu, a wide variety of options include appetizers, burgers, hot dogs, pizza, sandwiches, and BBQ. Favorite orders like Filet Mignon Tacos, Pulled Pork Taquitos, and the Buffalo Chicken Wrap pair perfectly with the fresh beers on offer. Watch the big game on Santa Maria Brewing Co’s several widescreen TVs, or hear live music from the SMBC stage. Musicians and bands play indoors on the SMBC stage or outdoors on the patio — and everyone’s encouraged to dance. So settle in for an afternoon or evening of local beer and local music.
Other beer gardens & breweries close to Highway 1:
This area has become famous for its wines, but beer from Paso Robles is equally stellar. Start with a pint or two at Barrelhouse Brewing Co, located in the industrial zone of Tin City, and one of the most popular brewhouses around. Barrelhouse serves a wide variety of beers from juicy blondes to bright IPAs and roasty, toasty stouts. Enjoy the spacious beer garden, live music and a relaxed party atmosphere on weekends.
Firestone-Walker Brewing is another must-see brewery in Paso Robles. The Firestone-Walker label depicts a bear duking it out with a lion, which represents Californian Adam Firestone and Englishman David Walker, the brewery’s owners. The tension between West Coast-style beer and English draughts is what makes these beers such giants in the craft brewing industry. And with the release of their easy-drinking 805 Original Ale in 2012, the brand became a sensation across the West Coast. Stop in at the visitor’s center to book a tour of the brewery, or grab a pint from 14 taps at the Taproom and bites from the full gastropub menu. Don’t miss the Firestone-Walker Emporium across the street, where cold packaged beer, growlers, crowlers, and kegs can be purchased. This is also the spot to pick up Firestone-Walker and 805 Original apparel and merchandise.
Pismo and Grover Beach
Located off Highway 101 just south of Pismo Beach, Manrock Brewing is a brewpub with 17 taps of their own eclectic beers. The brewers at Manrock take the opportunity to experiment and explore with their recipes — you never know what will be on tap! Start light with a Berliner Weiss, blonde or pale ale, or go hoppy with classic, West Coast, juicy and hazy IPAs. (If you show up on the right day, you might even discover a double or tripel hazy IPA on tap here.) Brewers play with lactose milkshake IPAs, experimental yeast, and carbonic maceration. A nice variety of woodfired pizza, sliders, and other pub fare, plus regular live music on stage, make this a one-stop shop for fun and flavor.
And just one block from the Pismo Pier on Pomeroy Avenue, you’ll find Pismo Brewing. With an always-changing selection of house-brewed beers on six taps (plus their own root beer), Pismo Brewing makes a fun day at the beach that much more fun. Beers often include a blonde, pale, red and brown ale, and an IPA. Order appetizers, tacos, sandwiches, and pizzas from the menu and dine on their patio, ideal for families and pets.
San Luis Obispo (SLO)
SLO is home to several longtime respected breweries as well as a few promising newbies, all located in or on the border of Edna Valley. Beer lovers looking for something deliciously different will like There Does Not Exist Brewery, off Suburban Road. This is an insider’s hangout, with clean surfaces, provocative paintings and a constantly-changing rotation of beers on tap. Try the Kolsch-style beer on a hot day, or dip into a dark lager or porter.
Just around the corner on Tank Farm Road, Oak and Otter Brewing Co serves small-batch beers in a variety of styles. This is another boutique brewery with a strong following, pouring light, hoppy, amber, porter, and stout beers. Order a pub pretzel, nachos, charcuterie board, salads, or hot dogs — with several vegetarian options — for a fun, relaxed meal.
Near the SLO Airport, SLO Brew at the Rock offers its pioneering craft beer, a beer garden, pub menu, and entertainment venue. This is a very family-friendly and pet-friendly spot, with outdoor seating, games, and a wide selection of beers on tap. Locals tip: hit up Rod & Hammer’s SLO Stills next door for SLO Brew’s whiskey distillery.
At Liquid Gravity Brewing, hazies and West Coast IPAs rule the roost, with some lighter and darker beers in the mix, too. A nice open patio and outdoor stage welcome families, pets, and music-lovers. Foodies love the rotating cast of pop-up restaurants that serve Asian noodles, lasagna, tacos and more.
And at small craft brewery Bang the Drum, an eclectic rotation of beers range from blonde ale to a hibiscus saison and chipotle smoked porter. Enjoy pints, flights and take-away cans, growlers and crowlers. Bang the Drum also offers live music, open mic nights, trivia, salsa dancing, and patio games, making it family-friendly and pet-friendly, too.
Want someone else to decide which breweries to visit? Hop On Beer Tours is a SLO-based tour provider that brings groups of up to 15 or 20 to breweries in “pub-style limo” buses. Enjoy snacks and a cold one on the ride, learn about your destination from knowledgeable guides, and get there and back safely.