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There are three options for driving between San Francisco & Los Angeles, depending on how much time you have for the journey. Following the 101 is the middle speed option, taking a somewhat less direct route through the small cities of central California. These cities make for nice weekend getaways or stopovers along the way. On a trip from San Francisco to San Diego & back, I stopped for a few nights in various cities along the 101. On the final evening of my trip, I visited Atascadero, which is about halfway between San Francisco & Los Angeles. It’s a cute little city with a small downtown with several wine bars, art galleries, restaurants, and craft breweries. I was pleasantly surprised by how charming it was, particularly the gorgeous city hall & sunken gardens, which I walked through in between visiting breweries. Here’s where you can find the best craft beer in Atascadero, California.
The best craft beer in Atascadero
Tent City Beer Company
Tent City Beer Company is the oldest & largest brewery in Atascadero. The bar has around 17 or so taps of their own beer, along with plenty of space to enjoy it in. I particularly liked their black IPA.
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Over the last week, I drove from San Francisco to San Diego & back, mostly along the Pacific Coast Highway & the 101. I saw the best of California, and I also passed through recently burned areas with homemade banners thanking the firefighters. Each night, I hit up local breweries. Here is a nice black IPA I had last night in Atascadero. I mostly travel internationally, but it’s nice to explore my home state every now and then! I’ll have more photos from my trip over the next few days
Outside, you’ll find a massive outdoor patio, which is perfect for Atascadero’s year-round great weather.
Should you want to be inside, Tent City also has you covered, as they have bar games, including a nice shuffleboard table & a Super Nintendo. The bar also hosts trivia nights on Sundays.
Dead Oak Brewing Company
After walking through the aforementioned sunken gardens, which are home to the annual Central Coast Craft Beer Fest, I arrived at the nearby Dead Oak Brewing Company. Owners Jesse & Nikki Kaltenberg opened the brewery in October 2017.
Dead Oak has 10 taps of their own beers available, though when I visited 8 were on. Tasters & flights are available.
It’s a big, brightly lit space. One thing I noticed was that it was particularly kid-friendly, with families far outnumbering other patrons on a Saturday evening. Given all the large tables & games on hand, it’s a good bar for groups like this. Related, Dead Oak Brewing Company also hosts board game nights on the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays of each month.
As with Tent City, Dead Oak does not have food on site, but both breweries have pretzels with mustard available for snacking.
Street Side Ale House
Street Side Ale House is the best craft beer bar in Atascadero if you’re looking for a full meal, full bar, & rotating selection of beers. It’s a big, busy place on a Saturday night, but I still had no problems getting a seat at the bar, which had several TVs hanging over it.
The bar has a total of 25 taps, 10 of which are rotating. The list isn’t as locally focused as some places, though there are still several beers from smaller California breweries. They are also opening a second location in Paso Robles.
In addition to these Atascadero craft beer bars & breweries, long-time Central Coast brewery Santa Maria Brewing Company is opening a brewpub & distillery in Atascadero. I visited one of Santa Maria’s other locations when I was drinking craft beer in Paso Robles.
Hotels in Atascadero
Atascadero’s small downtown means it’s easy to check into a hotel & then walk around to the various breweries. I stayed at the Vino Inn & Suites. The historic Carlton Hotel is another convenient option.
While the region has more of a reputation for wine, there’s something for beer drinkers as well. Whether you’re just passing through or looking for a weekend getaway, Atascadero has a nice selection of places to drink craft beer.
Do you love craft beer? Check out more of my recommendations for the best craft beer around the world!
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