It’s been too long. My apologies for taking so long to give any updates beyond the occasional press release. The truth is I’ve been working hard to get Santa Barbara Beer Week up and running, and there is lots of exciting news about that coming soon, so stay tuned. I’d also like to say that I had a good time at the third annual Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Festival. It’s got to be one of the best beer festivals in the country – it’s certainly the best I’ve experienced. Tons of good beer, great food and oh yeah – great beer.
In the meantime, I’ve had the pleasure of tasting some new beers from Pure Order and Santa Barbara Brewing Company, and they’re quite good. Let’s start with Brewco.
I popped by Brewco last week and sat down with brewmaster Kevin Pratt. He had two beers that will be perfect for the summer and those early morning World Cup matches (by the way – Brewco is going to be doing big things for the World Cup – stay tuned for that as well). The first was an American Lager. There’s no real sugar coating it – this beer is not something I’d drink every day. However, it’s hard to knock the quality. It’s crisp, clean and wholly unoffensive. For a non-craft drinker, it’s great.
But when I’m in the mood for something light and refreshing, I’d go with another option – the Berliner Weisse. Kevin let this beer sour in the kettle before brewing and transferring into the fermentation tanks (pretty much the only option in a small brewery like his). The result is a slightly tart, pleasantly fizzy beer with a very faint grapefruit/lemon vibe to it. I don’t think I’d ever desecrate a beer this way, but this would make a great shandy mixed with a little sprite.
FIrst of all – HOP BINES!
That’s the co-founder and brewer, James Burge, standing next to some proud shoots coming out of the ground. That’s going to be a beautiful sight once those little girls grow up.
Next, I popped in with my father-in-law to say hello and grab a beer. I was excited to see a few pieces of equipment laying in wait to be put into use — a bottling line and a DE filter among the biggest. I loved James’ dedication to making beautiful, unfiltered beers. However, I couldn’t help but wonder if it was the best idea to put out a cloudy IPA. For us hard-core beer geeks, the unfiltered quality was part of Pure Order’s charm, but I’m not sure everyone felt the same way.
A bottling line will only help the brewery grow, as Pure Order will be able to bottle up its limited-release type beers and sell beer to go.
There were also a few barrels stacked up next to the tanks, with some of the Hop Tarts Saison as well as other beers resting in them for future releases. You can expect to taste some of these beers during Beer Week, which will be July 7-13 (again, a lot more on this soon – stay tuned).
As far as the new beer was concerned, it was one I’ve been waiting for — the Santa Barbara Common. This is an nontraditional California Common (the traditional version is Anchor Steam) that ferments using ale yeast at lager temperatures. The result is a rich caramel flavor with a slight hint of fruit – perhaps a little raisin or citrus bouncing off each other in there. I’ve been pleasantly surprised with just about every offering from Pure Order, and this one is no exception. I’m enough of a nerd that when I see a certain style, I expect a certain flavor. What I get at Pure Order is always a little different, and when the surprise wears off I’m always wanting more. The Santa Barbara Common and Black Gull Porter are two fantastic offerings from these guys, who are getting bigger and better every day.