An Expert’s Guide To Breweries And Taprooms Along California’s Central Coast

Chatting with Mikealaa Crist is a bit like sitting down for a beer with a new friend. A friend who loves beer as much as she loves her home. In this case, that home is Monterey, California, and its outlying hamlets and towns. It’s the sort of place where deep knowledge is necessary, especially when you’re thinking of taking a road trip along California’s iconic Highway One — or “the One” as it’s loving referred to by West Coasters.

Crist, better known as CraftyBeerMaven on Instagram, isn’t just a holder of secrets for her home region. She’s also a master of the beer world — having worked in the beer industry for the past seven years. Crist has been on the floor as an assistant brewer and behind the scenes in sales, marketing, and social media for a long list of breweries. These days, she travels the country and world drinking, testing, and talking beer, visiting over 500 breweries so far.

With a reputation that impressive, we had to reach out to Crist to talk all things beer around California’s Central Coast and Big Sur. Crist was able to guide us through a great beer-centric road trip from the southern reaches of Big Sur back up to Half Moon Bay. Crist drops some serious knowledge below about where to grab the best brews, enjoy uniquely Californian experiences, lay your weary head down to sleep, fill your belly, and even grab a cuppa or two.

Let’s hit the road!

So, you fly into San Francisco. You jump in a rental car. We’re going to start in Big Sur in the south and work our way back up north towards the Bay Area. How far is that initial drive to get to the starting position for this trip?

It’s probably four hours. I mean, Big Sur’s such a big area.

Okay, we’ve been on the road for four hours, we need a beer. Where’s the first stop?

That’s a super easy question! The best place to get beer is Big Sur Taphouse. It’s an awesome spot. It’s family-owned. They do have food as well. The food’s good, but you’ve got to save your stomach. Just go for the beer.