“We are very local oriented, bringing breweries and people together to support the local community and celebrate the best in craft beer.”
– Brant Myers, Founder Hop On Beer Tours.
Last weekend I was invited to “hop on” a social beer tour, courtesy of Hop On Beer Tours out of San Luis Obispo. Beer o’ clock, always a great idea. The tour was a world of beer on wheels, introducing guests to the tastiest frothy beverages in the 805.
Offered 2-4 times a month, these small, intimate social tours are the perfect TGIF celebration. Great for couples, colleagues, or solo riders, the tour itinerary is open to suggestions, a great way to explore some of the finest craft beer in the Central Coast. Oh, and BYOBeer on board…in case you get thirsty in between spots. With over 20 breweries spread out over 60 miles, Hop On does the work for you, with a side of prohibition history, knowledgeable guides, and swanky interiors.
At the mercy of our fabulous DD, Jennifer Thompson, we hopped in the bus (which meets in Downtown SLO at BarrelHouse Brewery’s speakeasy). Lasting four hours, our stops included Central Coast Brewing, Firestone Walker Brewing, and BarrelHouse Brewery and Beer Gardens. Our bus quickly became a rolling congregation of beer geeks, quality karaoke, and high ABV silliness.
“Our mission is to convert people to beer drinkers, there’s a style for everyone,” said Myers. “We give them a beer education, encouraging them to try new styles and experience our local beer scene and its history.”
First Stop – Central Coast Brewing, Downtown San Luis Obispo
First stop, Central Coast Brewing. Opened in 1998, this cozy, award-winning brewery in Downtown SLO is where 9-5ers mingle with co-eds, a truly local spot. Master brewer and Cal Poly Grad Brendan Gough began homebrewing in his garage while studying business. Taking the leap into professional brewing in 2009, Gough spent two and a half years brewing at Firestone Walker Brewing Company, to return with a wealth of knowledge and one-of-a-kind signature ales.
Winning big at this year’s Great American Beer Festival, their General Schwarz Black Lager was awarded the Gold Medal in German-Style Schwarzbier beating out 46 other entries, and their Monterey Street Pale Ale took Silver in the hyper competitive American-Style Pale Ale category beating out 155 other beers. Or if you prefer a hopped chai, try their Chai Ale, using their popular blonde recipe as the canvas alongside fragrant notes of sweet malt, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove. It’s DELICIOUS. Repeat often.
Second Strop – Firestone Walker Brewing Company, Paso Robles
“This Nitro Milk Stout makes me feel like a little kid, drinking cold chocolate milk on the playground…you can quote me on that!” – Hop On Anonymous
“Where beer runs deeper than blood,” this next tasting room is an institution, a haven for beer connoisseurs. A true representation of the “805,” its history runs deep in the Central Coast lifestyle – originally created for the farmers, winemakers, and local people. A fresh twist on a beloved favorite, opt for the Nitro DBA, the beer that started it all in 1996. Incorporating noble hops and an incredibly smooth delivery, 20 years looks great on Firestone. Our group decided to celebrate this landmark with another incredible beer, their 20th Anniversary Ale, all 13% ABV of it…
Twenty years of pure magic, rolled up into an incredible complex and beautifully textured beer. Brown sugar, brandy, cherries, chocolate, caramel…smooth, unfined, and unfiltered. A truly wonderful celebration of the rare art of brewing beer in oak barrels. An annual autumn rite at the brewery, the Anniversary Ale represents the best in the alchemy of blending, combining five different bourbon barrel aged beers into one magnificent blend. Linger and savor, for immediate consumption or for years to come.
Third Stop – BarrelHouse Brewery and Beer Gardens, Paso Robles
The three Bs – Beer. Babies. Beards. The essential ingredients for a successful family friendly brewery, offering live music nightly in Tin City. In addition to their stellar portfolio of classics like the Sunny Daze Citrus Blonde and their BarrelHouse IPA, the brewery has built an expansive line-up of both sour and non-sour barrel aged beers. Their Salvaje de Robles (Wild of the Oak) sour beer series is one of my favorites, sourcing fruit from local ranches and farms. Led by Barrelmeister Matthew Jacobs, their beer has put the Central Coast on the map for wild ales.
Sample Rosiline, a strawberry rose sour aged in French oak, utilizing local vine-ripened strawberries. This beer yields an incredibly fragrant aroma, with light acidity and a refreshing finish, turning any wino into a beer fan. Also on draft is Helena, a brett blonde aged in French oak. Tart and funky, with an earthy character, this beer is complex yet approachable (and highly drinkable). Hail to the brettanomyces! Mix wild ales with unbeatable atmosphere and you will make Tin City your permanent home.
…and then, there was bus karaoke
Kenny G. Rascal Flatts. 2Pac. Elton John. Perhaps the best part of a bus tour is the sheer silliness that ensues after a few tasty adult beverages. And at 10-13% beers, the singing and friendly competition for DJ rights was steeped in the awesome. Laughs abounded, great beer was discovered, and my admiration for the Central Coast beer scene further solidified. Mr. Myers, you have created something magical in the last three years. To more years of success, and much more beer in my near future.
“This is not just a party bus, this is a tasting experience,” said Myers. “We wanted to create something that wasn’t being done before.”
For more information on tours, event transportation, gift certificates, and pricing, please visit hoponbeertours.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.