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Buy your buddy a beer at Santa Maria Brewing Co. 

There is nothing more altruistic than buying your buddy a beer, especially when they have no idea about the good deed you’ve done. At Santa Maria Brewing Company’s Nipomo Taproom, you can do just that (they’ll even write your pal’s name on the big chalkboard so they can redeem their gift upon their next visit). Of course, there are jollies here to be had for you, too. The food menu is all American but delivers way more flavor and quality than you’d expect from any old pub grub: Massive, extra juicy half-pound burgers (I recommend the Orcutt with huge slabs of bacon, barbecue sauce, cheese, and onion rings), thick-cut curly fries, and well-priced beer flights await at this unassuming joint, located at the intersection of Highway 101 and 166. I fell head over boots for two beers, in particular: their flagship Exhumation India Pale Ale, a classic West Coast IPA; and their American Pale Ale, which finishes remarkably clean. I liked these two so much that—with the blessing of my bartender—I even mixed the two into one growler. Of course, I went home and shared that beer with my loved ones, because—like I said before—beer’s just better when selflessly shared. Although I do recommend heading out to this rural destination, located at 115 Cuyama Lane across the street from the original Santa Maria Brewing Co. brewery (which is now over on Fairway Drive in Santa Maria), you home bums can rejoice knowing that there are taprooms coming to Paso Robles and Atascadero, too. Yeah, buddy! This calls for burgers, beers, and an extra slathering of barbecue sauce.

Sometimes, Hayley Thomas Cain needs to scarf half a pound of beef in one sitting. She can be reached at

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