The beer craftsmen at Pismo Brewing Company slake thirst with a rotating array of six craft beers brewed in-house. In the tasting room, which is open seven days a week, bartenders pour pints of Pismo pale ale and the toasty, caramel-tinged Roadster red ale, complemented by a smattering of pub fare. Root beer is also available to fertilize the tubers of underage youngsters. The brewery's selection of logo-emblazoned T-shirts, hats, and sweatshirts displays affinity for craft brews and implicit disdain for lesser beverages, such as horse tears. Occasionally on Friday nights, the bass rumblings from live musical performances send ripples through pints of cool brews.
Enabling odysseys to Santa Barbara’s plum-shucking boozeries, The Wine Line offers patrons biodiesel-fueled hop-on, hop-off shuttle service that allows travelers to create their own itinerary and guzzle spirits at their own leisure. The Wine Line's four-stop tour offers wine tastings at each site, along with a gourmet box lunch to inspire wine couplings and potential vaudeville partnerships. Tour-goers can ladle splashes of estate-grown chardonnay and syrah at Cambria Winery or capture taster-tickling vinos of pinot noir and merlot, along with a souvenir glass perfect for the scrapbook, at Kenneth Volk Vineyards. The tour also mosies through the scenic hills of Riverbench Vineyard & Winery and Tres Hermanas Vineyard & Winery.
Committed to providing fresh pours, the winetenders of Gather Wine Bar uncork only 25 to 35 of their carefully curated central-coast wines each week. Knowledgeable staff can recommend a bottle for customers to pair with charcuterie plates, flatbread pizzas, and gourmet pub snacks such as bacon-wrapped dates. Alternatively, themed wine flights can provide a cross section of a single varietal or eclectic tastes from an array of vines. Live music acts and singles events create an upbeat atmosphere on many nights, and catered parties can gather small groups around a fire pit or feed 100 or more people with unlimited appetizers from the bar.
Quaint stone buildings, cool dark cellars full of oak barrels, and fertile fields of grapevines—these are the images that Carina Cellars hopes to evoke with its European-style wines, which celebrate grapes that originated in the Rhone region of France. The winery sources its favored grapes from vineyards all along the central coast, especially Paso Robles and the Santa Ynez Valley. In the late 2000s, Carina also purchased 83 acres of land it called Rancho del Cielo—“ranch of the sky,” after its steep slopes—to grow its own vines of viognier, syrah, grenache, and other grapes. Though Carina Cellars’ wines are manufactured using Old-World techniques and grapes, the terroir of California’s central coast shines through to define each style. Its whites feature a smooth 2006 viognier from Stolpman Vineyard, whose limestone soil adds a hint of minerality to the flavors and aromas of fruit before a butterscotch finish. In addition to several single-vineyard reds and carefully harmonized red rhone blends, Carina Cellars cultivates a list of reserve wines that includes Iconoclast, its rich flagship blend of cabernet sauvignon and syrah. Iconoclast's initial earthy aroma gives way to lush currant notes and a mocha finish, showcasing the care with which it was aged in small batches. Vintner Joey Tensley found his calling at the tender age of 12, when a radioactive wine bug bit him in a Bordeaux winery. He broke into the business 10 years later in 1993, eventually establishing his own brand that exclusively creates vineyard-designate syrahs. In 2002, he partnered with longtime enophile and businessman David Hardee to create Carina Cellars.
Founded in 2010 by father-and-son team Jim and Jaime Dietenhofer and brewer A.J. Stoll, Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co. has quickly proved its mettle by winning a series of medals, including five golds, from prestigious contests such as the Denver International Beer Competition. Visitors can peek at the brewery’s inner workings on tours, learning about the origins of such beers as Paradise Road Pilsner, Davy Brown Ale, and Hurricane Deck Double IPA. They can also view the towering stainless-steel tanks in which beer is born as a mash and undergoes an awkward adolescence as a root beer. Back in the tasting room, guests sit beneath a wood and sheet-metal awning as they sip samples of the alcohol alchemists' nine beers. The tasting room is often host to events, with live music on the weekends and quiz and darts nights on alternating Wednesdays.
Telegraph Brewing Co. uses locally grown ingredients to handcraft artisan American ales that reflect the regional brewing traditions of California's early pilsner pioneers. Set forth on a journey of sud discovery in the tasting area, an impressive collection of 18-foot fermentation tanks housing an array of award-winning drafts. The brewers themselves will pour you pints of white ale, a classic, unfiltered Belgian-style blend of coriander, orange peel, and chamomile flowers that Wine Enthusiast Magazine named one of the top 25 beers of 2010, allowing you to ply the experts with questions such as, “Why are they called hops if they’ve got no feet?” Sample the intricacies of the California ale, Telegraph’s signature medium-bodied brew featuring an earthy aroma and a good head on its shoulders. Or, tipple the Gypsy ale, a blend of rye, unmalted wheat, and local plums, before requesting a 10 oz. glass of your favorite. Sourdough pretzels are provided as a palate companion, and ale aficionados are encouraged to bring their own eats to pair with lonely lagers.