Wine & Beer

SLO Brew Rock adding a distillery, while downtown bar to get interior makeover

Changes are coming to SLO Brew’s two San Luis Obispo locations.

A long-anticipated distillery producing a rye, bourbon and other liquors is expected to open soon at the SLO Brew Rock complex center.

And in a separate plan at its cross-town establishment, SLO Brew’s downtown bar site on Higuera Street will undergo an interior makeover.

The new distillery is now under construction at The Rock at 855 Aerovista Lane near the San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport, with plans to finish the new addition by the middle of August, said Hamish Marshall, a SLO Brew co-founder.

“We’re basically doing brown liqueurs,” Marshall said. “We’ll have a rye, a bourbon, a single malt. We’ll be selling bottles on site. There will be a tasting room, and our hope is to go to distribution by the end of the year.”

The distillery will be called Rod & Hammer’s SLO Stills, a title coined from the nicknames ascribed to Marshall and his business partner, Rodney Cegelski.

“It has been part of our vision for SLO Brew for the past three years,” Marshall said. “It has always been part of our vision to finish off our product line.”

The distillery would join more than a dozen SLO County distilleries operated by various businesses throughout the Central Coast.

A rendering shows the look of a planned new distillery at The Rock in SLO. Courtesy photo

Marshall said the cost for the Rod & Hammer’s bottles will range roughly from $35 to $60, though the official prices have yet to be finalized.

The distillery will be located to the right of the front entrance of The Rock’s commercial complex, adding to a space that features a 30-barrel brewhouse, canning line, tasting room, a taproom restaurant, catering kitchen and event area.

Live music at the venue on a weekly basis includes a wide range of music that “all ages can enjoy,” according to Marshall.

Rodney Cegelski (left) and Hamish Marshall (right) are opening Rod & Hammer’s SLO Stills at The Rock. Courtesy photo

Some upcoming shows there include: local country star Jade Jackson performing June 29; the Technicolor Unicorn Party will play July 13 for Pride weekend; and Bob Marley’s son Julian Marley will play Aug. 21.

At the downtown SLO Brew location at 736 Higuera St., a new outside deck has been added and the interior will go through a remodel, as well, said Marshall, though plans haven’t been finalized yet.

“We’re 100 percent committed to the downtown,” Marshall said. “We have some ideas for remodel though, and will release some of our plans and thoughts about that in coming weeks. ... As a downtown SLO business, you have to continually remain agile. You can’t stay stagnate, and we’ll continue to do the best we can.”

Marshall also has a stake in the incoming Hotel Cerro, where a new distillery is under development that will make liquors for its restaurant and offer bottles for sale to its guests.

But the Hotel Cerro distillery won’t be distributing or have a public tasting room, though the restaurant will be open to the public with its liquors available, he said.

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Nick Wilson covers the city of San Luis Obispo and has been a reporter at The Tribune in San Luis Obispo since 2004. He also writes regularly about K-12 education, Cal Poly, Morro Bay and Los Osos. He is a graduate of UC Santa Barbara and UC Berkeley and is originally from Ojai.