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18th Barrel, Beer & Wine Tasting Room

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Taste the best of both barrels. – 18th Barrel Tasting Room

Bye bye Napa Valley, hello Central Coast.

The fertile soil between San Jose and Los Angeles has quickly grown to rival the classic wine trails of Northern California, with family-run wineries and tasting rooms popping up along the countryside. The sunny, but mild climate and rich, sloping hills provide the perfect setting for finicky wine grapes to flourish.

Click here for a list of San Benito County Wineries and Tasting Rooms.

But why settle for a mere wine tasting when you can “taste the best of both barrels,” as the 18th Barrel Tasting Room suggests. With an ever-rotating assortment of 18 wines AND 18 beers on tap, this saucy booze hall in San Juan Bautista offers exciting sips for every palette to enjoy, from dark and hoppy to light and fruity. Whether or not you’re a big beer or wine drinker, it’s hard to resist the appeal of this classy, well-lit tasting room, best suited for a casual evening gathering with friends, minus the smoky atmosphere and ear-splitting music of local dive bars.

18th Barrel co-owner, Monica Ramirez, was careful to point out that the 18th Barrel closes around 5:00 pm on weeknights and 10:00 pm on weekends, much earlier than surrounding pubs and bars, because she wants the establishment to retain the classiness of a tasting room, without the late night/early morning shenanigans.

San Juan Bautista is slowly gentrifying without losing it’s quaint, small-town, western-style spirit. New foodie attractions like Lolla soup salad sandwiches, Inaka Japanese restaurant, and the 18th Barrel Tasting Room are actively revitalizing a town where antique stores come and go quicker than I can learn their names. Newly-built neighborhoods filled with young families are finishing construction in San Juan, prompting fresh places to eat and drink downtown, much to locals’ delight.

So grab a tall chair, stand at the bar, or take in a live band on the covered patio with your favorite libation in hand on a warm, summer Friday night at the 18th Barrel. Choose from a collection of sweet, salty, or savory snacks in the corner to pair with your beverage, or finish your last sip and venture into the night toward local favorite eateries like Jardines de San Juan mexican food or Inaka sushi and Japanese cuisine.

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For those (like me) who prefer lighter brews, I recommend the deliciously sparkly ACE Pineapple hard cider.

Aren’t these beer tap handles fun?

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Equally fun is this incredible beer dispensing contraption, which fills the glass cups from the bottom up! Science!

It works like this: There is a hole in the bottom of the cup. A magnetic disk inside the glass creates a seal to prevent leakage. The bartender places the cup on top of the dispenser, which pushes up the disk and fills the glass with beer from the bottom up. Once the cup is full, the magnet moves back down to re-seal the bottom, with minimal foam at the top of the glass.

Fair warning – DON’T mess with the magnet while your glass is filled! Unless you like beer all over your lap.

Watch this video to see how it works in live action.

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Or try a beer flight to decide which ales, stouts, and lagers are your favorite before ordering a full glass.

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The wine corner.

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The wine side.

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The beer side.

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Enjoy live concerts in the spacious outdoor seating area on warm summer weekends.

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