Take Me Out to the Brewhouse

Just as wine experts do, beer experts love talking about beer pairings. And like wine experts, it’s hard for beer experts to not come off a little snobby when they point out that an IPA’s herbal aroma pairs nicely with a sharp goat cheese.

It also seems to me that most pairings are simply matters of personal taste and current moods. You might like a hoppy beer to go alongside your spicy buffalo wings — I prefer a robust porter.

But I hope we can all agree that nothing goes better with beer — any beer — than baseball.

And in Santa Barbara, no place puts the two together quite like The Brewhouse on Montecito Street.

Monday marks the first full day of baseball, and it also marks the release of one of my favorite seasonal beers, Baseball Saison. It’s a big and strong saison-style ale that has the bold aromas typical of the style, but the beer remains remarkably drinkable with a relatively thin body.

The beer dates back to 2008, and The Brewhouse’s founder and brewmaster, Pete Johnson, recalls that the introduction of the beer was greeted with positive reviews — from the consumers but perhaps also from divine forces.

“The baseball gods were so pleased that they delivered my Phillies to the World Series,” Johnson said.

Indeed, the Philadelphia transplant had the rare fortune of seeing his favorite team take home the title that season. The shortstop from that Phillies squad, Jimmy Rollins, signed to play with the Dodgers this past winter.

And while you won’t be able to catch Rollins and the Dodgers on TV until Time Warner Cable resolves some contract disputes with other cable carriers, you can catch the rest of the games on screen at The Brewhouse.

And if perhaps a beer isn’t strong enough to settle down the nerves of opening day, the brewpub is offering up a “Double Play” that includes the beer and a shot of whiskey from Santa Barbara’s own Cutler’s Artisan Spirits.

Mind you, this is no ordinary whiskey. The white liquor is a distilled version of the Baseball Saison, and some of those delicious aromas make it through into the whiskey — and still others are created or modified in the distilling process.

Ian Cutler, the man behind Cutler’s, will be on premise at The Brewhouse Monday to talk about the whiskey and answer questions.

And if you order a Double Play while wearing your favorite team’s jersey, hat or T-shirt, Pete will give your team a run on a scoreboard created precisely for the Baseball Saison release. The team that scores the most runs on Monday will have its logo adorn the tap handle for the rest of the year.

So Dodgers fans, please don’t avoid wearing your Yasiel Puig jersey on Monday just because he won’t be on TV around here until ESPN airs their game on Wednesday.

“If you don’t want to see that hated red and black SF, you better come in your jersey,” Pete warned.

And if a saison isn’t your beer of choice, The Brewhouse has several new beers that will go well with the start of baseball season.

I enjoy El Citra — a “session IPA” that has all the hop aromas and flavors of a regular IPA but is considerably lower in alcohol. The bitterness is also scaled back, as low alcohol typically means low malt, and a bitter beer without some caramel malt flavors to balance it out is not the kind of beer I’d like to quaff again and again while watching a game.

This may be the only time I ever say this, but Monday, and baseball season, can’t come soon enough.

Sean Lewis is a beer drinker, beer maker and the author of “We Make Beer: Inside the Spirit and Artistry of America’s Craft Brewers” (St. Martin’s Press).



Hollister Canned Food Drive returns

Note: the following was received via email from Hollister Brewing Company. It is reposted here, as this is a great community service event that will get you a discount at one of our county’s best brewpubs.

Please Help Feed
Santa Barbara’s Hungry this Holiday Season With Hollister Brewing Company  

HBC is happy to announce its
5th Annual Food Drive to benefit the local community in partnership with Foodbank of Santa Barbara County

December 8-10 we are offering a 20% discount*
to every customer who
donates one of the following items at
Hollister Brewing Company:

Peanut Butter
Canned Fruit or Vegetables
Canned Fish or Meat
Coffee, Tea or Juice

*Discount applicable per person per donated
food item.  Multiple donations per table/bill accepted. Discount not available in conjunction with
any other HBC promotion or discount.
Not applicable on gift card purchases.

SB Brewing Company – A Convo with Kevin Pratt

I’m freaking out as my book is coming due at the end of the week, so I’m taking a semi-related break to refocus my mind. I had the opportunity to chat with Brewco’s brewer, Kevin Pratt, about a  lot of things – especially the rehabilitation of Santa Barbara Brewing Company’s much-maligned image.

I won’t give away everything, you can always buy my book if you want more (obviously it’s not out yet), but here are some fun gems from our conversation.

“I wouldn’t say we have the reputation fixed, but we’ve turned the corner on the reputation to where we don’t get dismissed quite as easily. I’m seeing that reach a little further and a little further. The reach is down to Los Angeles and a little down to San Diego. We’re I’m hearing form people in the Midwest where people want to come out and see this place as much as they want to see our two competitors. If I’m on equal footing with those two guys, that’s’ a very happy place. They’ve kept their quality consistent, and ours haven’t been. We’ve turned the corner where we are at least consistent.”

“The hardest thing any brewer can do is walk in and try to take over a brewery with a bad reputation. It’s second only to walking in after an award-winning brewer has left to start their own brewery. What have you heard from Pizza Port brewery lately? They’re still making fantastic beer, but it’s not the same. It’s because the names are gone.”

“A brewer can leave for a month and nobody will really notice. Then after about two months they’re wondering, why isn’t there any beer and how come nobody’s seen him? Here, I have to work the overnight. I get here after we close, and I can leave before we open. A brewday, not necessarily, I take more time with that and I like to be seen. I don’t really disappear so they know I haven’t run off.”
–On the previous brewer, who had been gone for over a month before anybody even realized he wasn’t brewing anymore.

“There seem to be, really, three types of brewers. There are the ones who are real dedicated, stay in one place and end up in ownership or management. They just keep doing what they do and don’t listen to critics, don’t worry about trends, and don’t do anything but make good beer. That’s it, that’s all they’re interested in. They want to sell it, and they want to be profitable. It’s a business with all of the efficiencies of that business.

“Then you’ve got the rock stars that somehow develop a cult following. Sometimes they want it, sometimes they don’t. sometimes they cultivate it. Oftentimes, they’re very inspired and they hit a cord with a certain vocal group of beer aficionados, or the hopperazzis as I like to call them.”

–We didn’t get to the third type of brewer… we went on a tangent about the hopperazzis.

Speaking of the hopperazzis:

“I’m all for exploring and trying to gather and taste those kind of things, but realize that taste is the operative word. But for some of them, just the mere bottle, unopened, and the ability to trade it is the badge. I find that deplorable. I find that to be really deplorable. That’s what that group of people are trying to do to define what craft beer is. Some kind of artistic, tradable investment, and it isn’t. sure there are things out there that go past anything that’s been tried in living memory of what beer is, or even written memory of what beer is and those are exciting places to go. But on the other hand, they’re not the only places to go.”

Alright, back to work for me.