When Sue and I drove north on the 101 through a smoky Santa Barbara for our summer San Luis Obispo County getaway, we had appointments at wineries and a cheese shop plus one place to stay lined up for our three nights away. Little did we know what adventures awaited — including BEER and whiskey! In fact, we had a bit of a BEER-CATION!
Because it just so happened that SLO Brew Lofts had space for us to stay there our first night on the road!
We had visited SLO Brew when they first opened in their new creek side location and we knew we had to come back when it was more established– and to check out the Lofts which opened a few months later, and the Distillery which has its grand opening tomorrow, Sat. July 22.
A year later, the new SLO Brew location is a rockin’ spacious, hip, happening, and happy spot along the creek pedestrian path with live music most evenings until 2am. The new luxurious Lofts located above will make you feel like a rock star! And the Distillery? Well it literally ROCKS as you will see as you keep reading! And, being creekside, it’s a little bit country too!
THE SLO BREW LOFTS
We snagged a loading zone parking place out front, put in the key code that had been texted to us, and, wide-eyed, we climbed the stairs to the second floor. With our mouths agape at the coolness of it all, finding fun details in unexpected locations, we keyed in the code to our Loft: the spacious three bedroom, two bath “Voyager” which sleeps 8!
If you want a quiet resort, this is not for you. But if you want to be right in the midst of everything AND have views of a lovely little creek, you will find you are in heaven. The SLO Brew Lofts come in different sizes and configurations. Our three bedroom two bath apartment had a sleeper sofa in front of the fire-place, a small deck off the living room, and a HUGE roof top deck. The kitchen is well equipped for most meals or gatherings with more than the basics: you could even bake a birthday cake!
While possibly pricey, this Loft would comfortably accommodate 6-8 adults because it is so spacious; it would be really fun for a group of women who wanted to have some girl time together. Activities close by include going to dinner followed by dancing downstairs, sample cheese at Fromagerie Sophie, walk along the creek, go shopping, and all that is available in downtown SLO.
Plus your SLO Brew Loft is centrally located to so many activities in the area including Edna Valley and Paso Robles wineries; Santa Margarita, at only 10 miles away offers outdoor adventures including Zip Line, Santa Margarita Lake, Kayaking, and Fishing. Toward the coast, Avila Beach is only 10 miles away with hiking, concerts, hot springs, and a golf course.
We fell in love with this place immediately, and by morning, we never wanted to leave. The beds are truly luxurious– you’ll feel like you’re sleeping on a cloud! The big spacious open plan with living room, dining table, and kitchen makes you feel like you are staying in a friend’s very hip urban apartment. There are so many cool, artistic and surprising touches it is impossible to share them all here.
Located in the historic 1890s Carissa Building, SLO Brew and the Lofts renovated and remodeled the building in 2016 to highlight the original exposed brick walls, historic tin ceiling, and other unique architectural features. The Loft is a very masculine space with rich deep colors; it is also very spacious and open giving it a wonderful feeling. The surrounding trees make you feel as if you are in a treehouse. Down the hall, there is a green room conference room hang out in the loft for the entertainment that comes to SLO Brew.
The SLO Beer Lofts are not for everyone. But if they are for you, you will feel like a rock star.
SLO Brew: Brewery and Gastropub
In 1988, SLO Brew opened as the first brewpub on the Central Coast since Prohibition; following their lead, San Luis Obispo County’s booming craft beer scene offers a dozen microbreweries. In the early evening SLO Brew is full of families enjoying creek side dining, then it fills with singles and young people out for a bite or brews or dancing to live music or playing pool. The ambiance is worth coming to SLO Brew for but the food and beverages will keep you coming back.
As SLO Brew now has a distillery, we started and ended our evening with signature cocktails that showcase their rye whiskey: a SLO Fashioned made with SLO Brew Rye Whiskey, house simple syrup, and orange peel, served on the rocks ($10). A simple cocktail that lets the rye whiskey shine! We also tried a Barrel Aged Manhattan with SLO Brew Rye Whiskey, Carpano Antica, Luxardo Maraschino, and orange bitters ($12). This nicely complex cocktail has great herbal qualities without being overpowering.
We began our meal with Bacon Brussels Sprouts appetizers and these are a must if you eat meat– or even if you don’t usually you might consider making these an exception! The Brussels and Bacon is a gluten-free option ($12): Caramelized Brussels sprouts, Nueske bacon tossed with a warm cider vinaigrette, herbs, and goat cheese. These brussels were insanely great. We wanted to lick the plate when we had finished! And they were great with the cocktails which was an unexpected pleasure!
Next we had the vegetarian tomato salad which also went nicely with our cocktails. The Tomato Burrata Salad is made with Simple Peacock Farm tomatoes, burrata, basil, mint, endive, mixed greens, with a shallot red wine vinaigrette and two parmesan crostini (we asked for more!) Very nicely seasoned and beautifully presented, however, a few tomato slices were too soft and overripe. Nice as a bruchetta as well as a salad– which is why we asked for more crostini!
For our entree, we ordered two pizzas, one with meat and one vegetarian. Sue had a flight of four different beers including two fruit beers and an oatmeal stout while I focused on four of their MANY IPAs. We enjoyed how the different beers paired with the food.
As I love hoppy IPAs, I chose four of them: Mustang IPa, Nitro IPA, Cascade Pale Ale, Eiffel Good & Hoppy. These brought out the great qualities of mint and basil in our burratta salad.
Sue chose Cali-Squeeze Blood orange Heffi, a beer that really harmonized with the Green Machine Pizza while the Pismo Pils was better with the Brew Za pizza and the Blueberry Blonde Ale was tasty on its own. Her fourth choice, Nitro Feelin oatmeal stout paired well with the amazing Beer on Beer Brownie sundae with its crunchy outside, gooey inside, done in individual ramekins, topped with a delicious gelato and with a carmel sauce to die for drizzled. The stout brings out a smokey quality in the brownie.
The Brew ‘Za has house made sausage, pancetta, pepperoni, a delicious and complex marinara sauce, fresh Mozzarella, then topped with arugula and Parmesan cheese.
The Green Machine was made with spinach pesto, marinated mushrooms, melted leeks, brussels, bel paeso cheese topped with lemon dressed baby kale and pecorino.
You don’’t need to be a vegetarian to go crazy over this pizza!
Both of these pizzas are a salad and pizza rolled into one. No need to order anything else!
Food is served family style: big bowls of appetizers and salads, big pizzas: not to give people individual HUGE portions but everything is made for sharing, including dessert! This creates a very family oriented conversational environment. Everyone at the restaurant was friendly and chatted with each other creating a sense of community and sharing. We felt like we were part of something bigger — and even though we are from out of town, we felt like locals.
We concluded with their “beer” brownie: IPA salted caramel and beer gelato! It may sound gross but YOU MUST TRY THIS! Pairs well with the oatmeal stout.
SLO Brew is a great places for cocktails and appetizers, a full meal or just come by for dessert and dancing!
When I saw the Chupacabra on the menu, I knew Sue had to order it for a nightcap to take back up to our room because the flavor profile is right up her alley: SLO Brewed jalapeno ginger syrup, lime juice, tequila, triple sec, fresh limes, ginger and jalapeno, super. I had no desire to take another sip off of this drink, but Sue found it to be divine: tart and herbaceous.
For my nightcap, I explained my passion for whiskey and elderflower liquor, and so the bartender came up with this Elderflower SLO Fashioned using SLO brew rye and elderflower liquer, orange bitters, angostura bitters, and a slight bit of sweetness from the simple syrup (which I thought was unnecessary). With a refreshing taste of home squeezed Valencia oranges, he bitters cleanses the palette at the end of the evening. This drink was custom made for me, showing us that the bartenders aim to please here.
Fun to see how this place has evolved within the last year yet is staying true to what I tweeted about it a year ago at a press event.
SLO BREW ROCK
When our winemaker interview that was scheduled for the next morning was rescheduled for another day, it didn’t take long for us to decide we needed to head out to the airport to check out the SLO Brew Rock — the distillery and brewery where the bulk of the beer is made.
We then made way to SLO Brew Rock Tap Room, Eatery, and Brewery where much of the beer is made and we ordered a Complete green salad and a flight of beer to split:
Cali Weisse – Sue preferred the Blood Orange Cali Weisse that she had last night, however when paired with our wonderful salad, the outcome was nothing less than amazing.
Reggae Red – Fine with the nutty bites of our salad, but not as great with the lemony part of the salad. Sue doesn’t always like Reds, but found this to be very smooth and easy drinking.
Cascade – the tart and bitter of the kale pair nicely with the floral hops in the IPA
Coast to Coast – Also went nicely with our salad, has nice orange notes to it
The Complete Salad was full of yummy goodness, quinoa, baby kale, arugula, green apples, and a perfect lemon vinegarette. The feta grabs the delicate vinegarette and embraces it. I would stop here on a drive north just to have this salad!
We discovered that the folks at SLO Brew really do know their food — and what to pair with it!
What a great location and experience. It will definitely be exciting to see how this Brewery/Luxury Loft/Hotel continues to evolve and grow in the coming year.
The official Grand Opening for the SLO Brew Rock is tomorrow, Saturday, July 22nd from 12-4 pm. Sample award-winning craft beers, tour the brewery in a beer tour, and taste test free bites of the all new menu items from chef Thomas Fundaro. Live music too!
Featuring a taproom restaurant, catering kitchen, and event space, the setting centers around “the rock.” With extensive landscaping, casual outdoor seating and fire pits, SLO Brew Rock is one of the largest venues in San Luis Obispo County for corporate functions, weddings, and other celebratory events. SLO Brew Rock is located on the outskirts of town south near the airport at 855 Aerovista Place, San Luis Obispo, CA.
Clearly SLOW Brew is both a little bit country with both gorgeous locations and a LOT of ROCK — N ROLL! Book rooms, find out who is playing, and more at SLO Brew.