It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I blame life. Without further ado, here are some notes on recent developments in the Santa Barbara Beer Scene.
Our first trip through the American Riviera takes us to Santa Barbara Brewing Company, where brewmaster Kevin Pratt has unveiled a redesigned version of one of the brewery’s signature beers – Pacific Pale Ale.
I must admit that this news gave me mixed emotions, as Pacific Pale was one of my favorite beers there already. The good news is that the revision is even more hop-forward with a brilliant aroma. It’s still a work in progress, but it’s a solid beer. For a real beer geek, this is a great example to see how a brewer can tinker with a beer. Get a taste now, because it will be changed (and knowing Kevin, improved), and you will be able to track the differences.
This is also the time to remind you that Brewco is still serving Old Wrecollection and The Naughty List. Don’t waste your time scouring eBay for ridiculous imperial stouts when you’ve got a very good one in your own back yard. These are great beers with which to look at pictures of your friends across the country suffering through winter.
Our next stop takes us to Pure Order Brewing Company on Quarantina St. I stopped by to visit after receiving this text message (see below) from Kevin (see above), who was helping the Burge (James and David) cousins and owners of Pure Order to get the brewery up to speed (it’s good to have friends like Kevin in this town, apparently).
It’s just a water boil in the kettle, but it’s a good sign that they are ready to brew some beer. The buzz about them around town is already starting to heat up – so I guess it’s about time, boys.
Next up, we go around the corner to Telegraph Brewing Company on Salsipuedes St. Their new tasting room has been up and running for a good while now, and the results are already noticeable. The biggest boon has been more beer – as the brewers no longer have to shut down brewing operations to host tasters. This means plenty of California Ale and seasonals on tap, but it also means more frequent unique beers. That was the case with Demolicíon! – A very special 10-gallon batch of a dark sour ale (see picture above – the dark beer… obviously).
These kind of beers are exactly what sets Telegraph apart from the other breweries in the area, and many breweries in the country for that matter. The hybridization of American- and Belgian-style beers gives Santa Barbara’s first production brewery a special spot in the SB community that fits very well with the generally warm weather and wine-tasting crowd. Do yourself a favor, skip the wine and just go straight to Telegraph.
Let’s head down to the Funk Zone, where Figueroa Mountain‘s Yanonali St. Location is constantly churning out new product. I wish I could come in and bring up a specific beer to try, but I can’t. There’s so many new and interesting beers coming out that it’s hard to single out one.
OK, I lied. Try the Blackbread Porter. It’s a Rye Porter, and I love the way the spicy rye plays with the sweeter malts involved. Balance doesn’t always have to come within the interplay of sweet malt and hops, and that’s something the guys at Fig truly understand. The other good news here is that it’s more than just brewmaster AJ Stoll’s stuff here. So while you can still taste beer brewed by one of the best brewers in town, you can also taste products designed and executed by his staff. And if you get a chance to hear The Caverns play on a Friday night, even better.
I had the opportunity to attend a Valley Brewers Homebrew Club meeting earlier this month. In addition to some really tasty beers, we discussed the need for some political action, as home brewers are being squeezed out of local beer festivals in California. There’s going to be more on that in my February column for the News Press – so keep an eye out for that, please.
Lastly, it’s time for a bit of shameless self-promotion (Wait, I thought that’s what this entire blog was – oh well).
We Make Beer, the book I’ve written for St. Martin’s Press has a publication date. September 23, 2014. Mark your calendars and make sure those reading glasses are clean. It’s a 200-page journey through the American Beer scene – with emphasis on craft brewers (My mom always told me if I don’t have anything nice to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all – so the extent of my discussions on big brewers is essentially “they make real consistent beer.” I didn’t say what they consistently taste like).
Cheers! And here’s to more blog posts in 2014