Note: This column originally appeared in the Santa Barbara News Press on August 1.
Heads Up! Something’s Brewing East of the Funk Zone
David Burge walked outside of the brick building and its roll-top doors to the cement path out front. He turned to face the patch of dirt and weeds on the property, and his eyes looked outward to see what wasn’t there yet.
“Here’s where we’re going to set up the beer garden, with tables and chairs and everything,” David said. “And back there closer to the fence we are thinking about planting some hops.”
The imaginary garden is all part of the plans for Santa Barbara’s newest brewery, Pure Order Brewing Co. at 410 N. Quarantina St., where David and his cousin, James Burge hope to make the leap from amateur home brewers to professionals. The duo hopes to be open in September, and looks to be on track to make their entry into the Santa Barbara beer scene with aplomb.
James will work as the owner/brewmaster, and brings along with him 12 years of home brewing experience. But moving from the kitchen into a production brewery means more than just scaling up a recipe from five gallons to 15 barrels (one barrel = 31 gallons). Fortunately, James and David seem to be on the right path.
The brewery’s indoor facility is dominated by four fermentation tanks that nearly scrape the ceiling. The brew kettle as well as the mash and lauter tun (the vessels used to extract sugar from barley) is tucked away into a corner alongside a large cold room.
In other words the Burges are doing just about everything right. A lot of home brewers make the mistake of jumping into the business with the same cost-cutting attitude that makes home brewing so appealing. However, with poor fermentation control and substandard equipment, many of those brewers are eventually washed away by a market that demands consistency.
Santa Barbara Brewing Company brewmaster Kevin Pratt was on hand for the little, behind-the-scenes peek into Pure Order Brewing, and he left the operation with a stamp of approval.
“This isn’t an amateur setup,” Kevin said. “This is a professional brewery.”
It was important to James and David to make this leap into the brewing business the right way – not just because they cared about the beer, but because they care about Santa Barbara.
The cousins searched for a location for about 18 months before settling on the North Quarantina spot. They nearly signed a lease in Goleta, but backed out at the last second.
“When it came down to signing the paperwork, we just couldn’t pull the trigger,” James said. “We wanted to be in Santa Barbara.”
“We want to be as authentic as possible,” added David, who grew up here and whose passion for his hometown is expressed in the brewery’s slogan, “The Beer of the American Riviera.”
The Burges aren’t alone in their desire to represent Santa Barbara as an emerging destination in the beer world. Telegraph Brewing Company, which has long been the only true packaging brewery in Santa Barbara, is moving one door down into a larger facility.
The old Quonset hut, which is still being renovated and is scheduled to open to the public around Labor Day, will be host to a bigger brewing system, bigger fermentation vessels and a much larger tasting room.
The expansion means that not only will Telegraph be able to brew more of the staples that have made the brewery so popular such as White Ale and California Ale, but the extra fermentation space and storage capacity means that special beers like Reserve Wheat and Petit Obscura will see increased production as well.
It also means an end to Telegraph’s wonky tasting room hours that formerly limited tasting to a few hours on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
And as for the new competition moving in just a couple blocks away, Telegraph owner Brian Thompson isn’t too worried.
“I’ve met (James and David),” Brian said. “And they’re great guys. I’m really looking forward to their opening.”
If the lines that form outside of Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company’s funk zone location are any indication of the demand for locally-produced beer in Santa Barbara, then the light-industrial zone to the east should be able to sustain a larger presence from an old favorite and a couple of newcomers as well.
Ultimately, the addition of Pure Order and the expansion of Telegraph signifies a foamy, rising tide of better beer in Santa Barbara. The city may not be on quite the same level of a beer Mecca like Bend, Oregon, but these recent developments are steps in that direction.