Atascadero is a small, sleepy town between Paso Robles and San Luis Obispo, on California's central coast. With a population of just under 30,000, you might not think their craft beer scene is anything to write home about, but a new brewery has recently opened in February of 2023, and it's one for the books. Spent Grain Brewing Company is the newest addition to Atascadero's beer scene, and they're doing things a little bit differently here. Chris Chambers, the owner and brewmaster, decided he didn't want a storefront, and instead, decided to go the speakeasy route. Now, unlike some other speakeasy-type bars I've been to, there's no secret handshake or weekly changing password. You simply call or text Chris that you'd like to come by, who's phone number is available right on Google, and he'll let you know if there's room for you. If there's no room for you at that time, he'll let you know when there will be, which is usually in just a couple hours. If there is a seat available, you'll meet Chris in the back of an apartment complex, where he will open the locked door and have you follow him down an unassuming hallway. Halfway down the hallway, you'll take a right turn, and be greeted with the wonderful smell of hops and malts, as Chris escorts you into what I can best describe as a small storage unit. And although the space is small, Chris has completely transformed it. In this small nook, Chris not only pours his beer, but also brews it. There's about 4 seats available to sit in at the bar, as well as a few more chairs to the right of the bar - and that's it. And it's completely open, so you're able to see what's brewing behind the taps. Chris offers 4-6 different beers on tap at a time, and always has something new in the works for when a keg kicks.
Chris, a U.S. Army and California Army National Guard Veteran, has been brewing beer since 1997, at multiple different breweries across California. He decided to open Spent Grain Brewing Company as his retirement project, where his main focus is on fresh, clean grains. He was hoping to open up this spot in March of 2020, but... well we all know what happened then. He was finally able to open his doors in February of 2023, and is now open daily from 3:00pm-8:00pm. When I visited in May, I tried all 4 beers on tap - an American Lager, a West Coast IPA, a Rye IPA, and a Black IPA. I could tell that each beer I tried was brewed with care and the freshest ingredients. Black and Rye IPAs are not terribly common in your average brewery, but Chris absolutely nailed them. I wouldn't expect to see these same beers on tap next time I go though - he brews with a 1 barrel system, so each batch of beer he makes can fill up about 2 kegs.
I will absolutely be back to Spent Grain Brewing Company, and I cannot wait to see what Chris is brewing up next! Be sure to give Chris a call or text at 805-464-7172 before you head over to make sure there's a seat available and so that he can let you in the door.
Address: 6300 El Camino Real, Suite C, Atascadero, CA 93422 - In the front of this building you'll see Cielo Ristorante & Rooftop Bar, as well as Karen's Beauty Supply and Salon, with apartment complexes above this. Head on over to the back of this building, and you'll see a glass door. No sign or anything will let you know that you're there, but trust me, you're there!