I’ll admit, I was skeptical about the Surf N’ Suds Deep Fest Beer Festival at Carpinteria’s Linden Park this Saturday. To me, the second annual festival featuring local breweries (and some brands from out of state as well), surfboard shapers and local vendors had all the makings of a bro-fest with little more than flagship brands and standard offerings from everybody in attendance.
Now I have to really admit, I was wrong.
The one thing that wasn’t surprising was the pleasantness of the venue itself. Linden Park could host a manure festival and as long as there was a little bit of sun and that cool Carpinteria ocean breeze it would probably be a good time. There was ample space for the breweries and 1,000-or-so guests to amble about without having to immediately jump in line for the next tasting. As for the lines themselves, they were short enough that you could chat with a brewer or brewery rep as much as you liked — which is always a bonus for he geekiest beer geeks among us.
As for the beer itself, there were a few highlights that caught my eye:
Anderson Valley’s The Kimmie, The Yink & The Holy Gose was the first beer I tried upon entering the festival, and it was spot on. There was a sharp tartness that had a hint of lemon to it and was pleasantly effervescent on the palate.
Amazingly, that wasn’t the only Gose on hand at Deep Fest. The Libertine Pub from Morro Bay was on site with its What Gose Around, a collaboration with New Belgium Brewing Company. The small Morro Bay brewpub took a keg of sea water from Morro Bay out to Colorado to brew this collaboration with America’s second largest craft brewery, and the end result was a pleasant, tart Gose that was less sour than the Holy Gose, but still tart enough to have a nice refreshing quality.
Libertine also brought its Summer Breeze, and American Wild Ale made with Apricots and Raspberry. The fruit and funk were well balanced with one another. In another setting, I’d have liked to sit down with a tulip or two of this beer until my cheeks were permanently puckered from too much sour ale.
I was also intrigued by an Imperial Stout from J.T. Schmidt’s, which was my first introduction to the brewery. It wasn’t terribly boozy tasting or loaded with raisiny melanoidins, nor was it smacking of vanilla and oak from aging in a bourbon barrel. Instead, it was a straight-up, heavy stout that smacked of roasted barley. It was the kind of brew I’d like to drink on nitro at the end of a cold night.
There were plenty of other new, or new-to-the-area breweries on hand as well. Carpinteria brewery Brewlab comes to mind, as its Green Tea IPA blended a variety of lovely flavors in with a nice floral IPA, and its Rye Saison was delightful under the warm Carpinteria sunshine. New Ventura brewery Poseidon Brewing Company was also pouring beer, with former Figueroa Mountain brewer, Reno King, serving the beer from his new brewery. I tasted the Rye Pale Ale, which had a pronounced bitterness but felt firmly entrenched in your hop-head’s ideal range.
And of course, one of my favorites, Institution Ale Company was on hand serving its Maple Brown Ale, Restraint, and a Progress Pale Ale, Citra. The Camarillo-based brewery is steadily expanding and steadily improving, which is remarkable only because it started at such a high level. The homebrewers-turned-pros at Institution are quietly making some of the best beer in Southern California, and any chance to taste some of their creations is worth it.
I had my doubts about Deep Fest, but I shouldn’t have.