Business

Santa Maria Brewing buys Tap It — and plans 2 new locations

Santa Maria Brewing Co. has acquired Tap It Brewing Co. in San Luis Obispo, which features an expansive beer garden in the back.
Santa Maria Brewing Co. has acquired Tap It Brewing Co. in San Luis Obispo, which features an expansive beer garden in the back. dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

It’s been a busy year for Santa Maria Brewing Co. The brewery launched a new location in downtown Paso Robles, with two more in Atascadero and Santa Maria opening soon. And now, it’s bringing San Luis Obispo-based Tap It Brewing Co. into the fold.

Owners Byron and Karen Moles bought Tap It from the Gordon family, which started the brewery in a warehouse near the San Luis Obispo airport eight years ago.

“We already had our eye on opening up in San Luis Obispo, so it just made sense,” said Byron Moles, who declined to disclose terms of the deal or his investment in the new locations.

Both breweries will continue operating under their distinct identities, though Moles said he expects some collaboration on brewing.

“They’ve worked hard on their brand for many years and have won medals and recognition for their beer,” Moles said of Tap It. “They have a great distribution system, and we’ve had a stronger footprint in the community, so you’ll see a blend of what both do well while keeping the brands intact.”

DO Tap It017
The Tap It Brewing Co. tasting room in San Luis Obispo. Joe Johnston jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

Tap It beers are already on draft at Santa Maria’s taprooms at 1401 Park St. in Paso Robles and 115 Cuyama Lane in Nipomo as well as the Santa Maria brewery/tasting room at at 1451 Fairway Drive. Tap It, at 675 Clarion Court in San Luis Obispo, will be adding Santa Maria Brewing beers soon.

Tap It brewer Ryan Aiken and other staff will remain on with few changes to the location aside from adding a larger draft system and bringing in a Moles-owned food truck as a permanent fixture.

The new taprooms, in the old Gary Bang Harley-Davidson dealership at 7935 San Luis Ave. in Atascadero and close to the brewery in Santa Maria, are expected to open in late March or early April, Moles said. Both will feature a restaurant and distillery; Atascadero will include a new brewery to increase capacity.

Even the new Paso location is growing, expanding into leased space next door by May, Moles said.

With hiring going on at all locations, Moles expects the company to expand from its current 50 employees to about 100.

Santa Maria Brewing was started by Dan Hilker more than 20 years ago. The Moles purchased it in 2013, though Hilker has stayed on as brewmaster. Hilker will now take on the distilling, with goals of producing vodka, gin and whiskey, with tasting, bottles to go and house cocktails available at the taprooms.

Sally Buffalo writes about wine, beer and spirits. Reach her at sallybuffalo@gmail.com

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