Yesterday I was up at Valley Brewers to buy ingredients to get ingredients for a couple batches I’ll be brewing for their upcoming competition* and Sandy Harrison, the proprietor, mentioned that John Palmer, the author of How to Brew and the guy who essentially first taught me how to make beer (through his book, not in person) will be in the store on September 14. I must stress that this is not completely official, so I don’t want to give out specific times that could very likely change. This is also the same day as Firestone-Walker’s release of Velvet Merkin, so there may be some sort of tie-in or there could be a conflict. Right now it’s basically just a rumor, but it’s kind of a juicy one so I wanted to get it out there.
Yet another rumor – There will be a new brewery opening in Goleta. That’s basically all I have right now, but trust there will be more info on that once I get it.
Yesterday was essentially a free day for me, so I spent it doing what I do best – drinking beer. After Valley Brewers (where another brewer shared a couple of Belgian Strong Ales with me that were much appreciated), it was back down to Santa Barbara proper for the new SIPA at Santa Barbara Brewing Company. The new beer isn’t quite a Pale Ale, and not quite an IPA. It’s something interesting. Made with 100% Munich Malt for the grist and with a healthy dose of Nelson Sauvign aroma hops (but no dry hops), it’s a beer that is simultaneously straightforward and complex. As always, it’s Kevin Pratt demonstrating that he clearly knows how to make the most out of his ingredients. I tasted it earlier in the week before it had been carbonated and filtered, and the grassy bitterness really took me by surprise. I had been expecting something with a ton of aroma but not a ton of bitterness, but it was almost the opposite (granted, the Nelson hops still stood out in the nose). On tap, it was just right. The bubbles lifted the bitterness off the tongue and took the harsh edge off it while helping the aroma pop out some more as well. It’s a one-off and might not be around for long, so get it while you can.
Next it was over to Fig. Mountain’s Funk Zone location. I wanted to chat with brewer A.J. Stoll about Figtoberfest and get some quotes for my column, so Kevin Pratt and I went on over to see what was new. There were 16 beers on tap, the most I’ve seen at that location, including a Dunkel and a Bock. The Bock was called Sisquoc Bock – and I can’t remember the name of the Dunkel. Both are excellent dark lagers. These beers can have a tendency to get overpowered by plum flavors in the hands of less-skilled brewers, but A.J. is quite adept at making lagers and these are clean beers that allow the beautiful malt to really take the stage and shine.
Because Santa Barbara is essentially a fishbowl, the boys from Pure Order brewing stopped by as well. James and David Burge said it was their first time at the Funk Zone spot (presumably they were the last Santa Barbarans to make it in there – but considering how busy they’ve been getting their own place up and running it’s understandable), and they wanted to meet A.J. and see what his brewery was like as well as taste his beers. In the meantime, we all wanted to know how things were going and they gave a little update. I had to leave before we could ply them with enough beer to spill all the details, but it sounded as though complications with their new power plant and the city of Santa Barbara have presented yet another hurdle in their opening. They still hope to open soon, and the beer community is anxious to see what they can do, but as always there’s a bit of red tape to get out of the way first.
That’s it. I will update those rumors (John Palmer, Pure Order’s opening, etc.) if I hear any more about them. If you’re wondering how the rest of the day went, it ended with a Lucero concert at Velvet Jones and enough F-W Double Barrel Ales to merit a cab ride home and a hangover this morning.
*I believe I mentioned before that Figtoberfest and the Valley Brewers Pro-Am would be the subject of my October column. It will instead be the focus of my September column (wouldn’t make too much sense to write about a homebrew competition two days before it’s judged when it would be way to late for folks to brew for it). It will come out on Sept. 5 – and will be on this blog on the 19th (or 20th… sometimes I forget).