Driving home up the 101 after Thanksgiving, I stopped in San Luis Obispo for gas. And a sandwich. And another bottle of Central Coast Brewing's Chai Cream Ale. (I swear they have improved it since those '07 ratings.) But what I found was much more exciting.
I parked in front of a space with construction going on. The sign hanging in front caught my eye: Creekside Brewing. I asked if it was going to be a brewery or, more likely, a brewpub and the guys didn't know. Mental note: check back in next time I pass through SLO. And that's just what I did when, after returning to LA. yet again (5 times in 4 months--ridiculous) for one of my oldest friend's wedding. (Best open bar selection ever including several single malts including my fave, Laphroaig. Yet typical crappy LA beer: Amstel Light, Corona, Bud.)
Half Pint has long told me about these great friends of hers, Jeanine and Johnnie, who live near SLO, and could we stop there to meet them for a drink? Cue lightbulb.
It turns out the brewpub just opened this week! Our waiter ran down all the things that delayed the opening, from a held-up brewing license to orders from the NSA to put the equipment behind special glass in case terrorists try to taint the brew. Because Al Qaida is more interested in a 10-bbl brewing system in SLO, pop. 44,147, than a large city's municipal water supply that has a chain link fence around it.
Anyhoo, the sad part about the pitfalls that befell Creekside Brewing is that they needed to open in a hurry yet only had enough time to offer one house beer on: Creekside Opening Pale Ale. It was perfectly good (think Cascade and Crystal). There's an IPA and an imperial stout in the fermenters as I blog. The selling point on this place is its namesake. It is situated above SLO Creek and if you get patio seating like we did, it makes for one of best vistas of any brewpub.The menu offers appetizers and small plates (the difference?) so it's great for sharing amongst friends. The sampler plate had bites of smoked brisket, brie, a goat cheese and fig concoction, cherry tomatoes with mozzarella, etc. No sooner had I commented that this was no jalapeno poppers place, they pointed out the menu offers "plant-ripened jalapenos" stuffed with cream cheese. I guess poppers are ripened off the vine. Anyway, that's what Johnnie ordered and they were amazing.
Lastly, as we were wrapping up our time together so Half Pint and I could return to the road for the remaining 3 1/2 hour drive, the owner, John Moule, came by our table to check in on us and ended up offering us a tour (unless you know there's a downstairs, touring the main floor doesn't take long). Downstairs is where the beer gets sent to ferment. It's also where the cellar-cum-bar is and when business picks up (fingers crossed) and you can't find a seat on the patio, head downstairs.
John poured us a taste of the IPA that wasn't nearly ready. Give 'em time. And there will be seasonals, too. But I suspect by the time I make it back, the four of us will have more good time and good beers to look forward to.