Farewell, Santa Barbara

Word has begun to spread already, so for many of Santa Barbara Beer’s readers this may be old news, but this will be likely the last post for this blog. It’s been a fun couple of years, but I’m moving out of the area and it wouldn’t make much sense to write about Santa Barbara beer and brewing when I live and work elsewhere.

There are plenty of projects ahead in the future, and those details when come out when they do, but for the moment let’s take a look to reflect on the past and current state of beer in Santa Barbara.

When this blog began in March of 2013, beer in the American Riviera was just beginning to take roots. Telegraph Brewing Company was in the process of expanding into its new and current location, Pure Order Brewing Company was still trying to get up and running and Island Brewing Company was the only option for beer in Carpinteria. Oh yeah, and no portion of Firestone Walker was owned by Duvel.

Two years later and not only was Pure Order up and brewing, but it is doing quite well. Telegraph continued its expansion and joined the contemporary beer scene with an IPA that stands along the best examples of the style in town. Not only does Island Brewing have some company in Carpinteria now, but it brewLAB and Rincon have proved to be impressive in their own right. As far as Island goes, the competition has seemingly only made the product coming out of the local area’s oldest production brewery that much better. Goleta’s Captain Fatty’s has become a family-friendly option in the area while Hollister Brewing Company continues to churn out Eric Rose’s typically impressive beer.

But not all developments have been unicorns and rainbows. Santa Barbara Brewing Company’s reviver, Kevin Pratt, said farewell to pursue other avenues. So too did Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company’s AJ Stoll, who is now back in the United States and plying his trade in Florida’s up-and-coming Funky Buddha. Oh yeah, and Firestone Walker “combined forces” with Duvel-Moortgat.

To be honest, I’m not sure exactly what that last sentence even means. A quick text conversation with David Walker, Jeffers Richardson and Jim Crooks confirmed that Duvel didn’t “buy out” Firestone Walker, but is definitely involved. To me, this sounds as though Duvel only bought a portion of the company — and not a controlling portion. All indications point to complete autonomy for Firestone Walker, but I’m sure as a major shareholder Duvel will want to ensure that the company remains profitable. Still, Ommegang and Boulevard have thrived under Duvel ownership, and I can’t imagine that Firestone Walker will be negatively impacted from its new partnership with the Devil.

If anything, I’m curious to see what Firestone Walker does with its new influx of cash. Along with the possibility of tapping into a larger distribution network, a deal of this type will likely provide the Paso Robles-based brewery with funds to take on new projects. The canning facility at the Paso campus is already a thing of beauty, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see more beer come out in cans. Or perhaps some of the funding will go toward speeding up progress at the upcoming Venice location. This is all pure speculation, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Firestone Walker increase its national footprint the same way we have seen Sierra Nevada, Oskar Blues, Lagunitas, New Belgium and a handful of others open new plants in other regions of the country. Or perhaps Firestone may take a similar route as Figueroa Mountain and open up smaller tasting or tap rooms in various locations. Maybe Barrelworks will get its own wort production equipment as well. Who knows? The point is that this new partnership should only bring positives for Firestone Walker and beer fans across the country — perhaps across the world. Duvel has proven it has the ability to invest in craft brands without tainting the product or the spirit of the company with its efforts with Ommegang and Boulevard, and it seems likely that Firestone Walker and its customers will only benefit from this new partnership.

I’m sad to leave Santa Barbara with its perfect weather and its rapidly expanding beer scene. I wish that I would have the opportunity to report on the openings of M Special in Goleta and Third Window in Santa Barbara. My departure from the community won’t slow down the growth that we’ve already seen, and I imagine the small void I leave will be filled soon by someone else.

It’s been a fun journey. Thanks for coming along for the ride.

Advertisements

What it Means to be a Community Brewery

pure order board

Recently, I had the opportunity to give a short speech at Blue Box 2015 — a conference hosted by First Beverage Group in Boulder, Colorado. It was a great opportunity to mingle with some movers and shakers in the beverage world, but I took it as a chance to talk about what it means to be part of a brewing community, and a collaborator within that community.

I believe video from that conference will be up soon, and I’ll post a link when that happens. But rather than laboring through a video of me nervously addressing strangers, you need look no further than one of our own local breweries to see what it means to be part of a brewing community.

Pure Order Brewing Company on 410 Quarantina Street is the epitome of the neighborhood brewery. They, along with Telegraph Brewing on Salsipuedes Street, are where the locals go for a drink when the crowds of visitors in the Funk Zone get a bit outside of comfort range. And for good reason — both breweries are making incredible beer.

Pure Order was recently among the winners at the Casa Pacifica in Ventura along with Institution Ales from Camarillo and The LAB in Agoura. While those other two are both great breweries, Pure Order was the only one in the winner list with a beer off its standard and regular production line — the Santa Barbara Pale. That beer will also be part of the upcoming Cost Plus World Market Summer Seasonal Variety Pack, which will be available nationwide. That’s a pretty big deal.

And yet, it’s Pure Order’s ability to keep things small and local that sets them apart. Recently, they’ve been helping me out by loaning their time, space and some equipment to help me brew 60 gallons of beer for a friend’s upcoming June wedding (and yes, full disclosure, this help is greatly appreciated and I’m sure impacts my favorable bias toward them. They also carry my book, We Make Beer, so I’m sure that doesn’t hurt either. I’m only human, but I like to believe that my opinions can remain relatively objective). This isn’t just because I write a beer column in the local newspaper or because I run this blog. James Burge and Pure Order are willing to help me out because I’m part of the local brewing community — the same way I’ve seen them help out home brewers who come in looking for advice and perhaps experience.

10 gallons of Strawberry Solstice, a collaboration beer I've brewed with Pure Order Brewing Company for an upcoming wedding.

10 gallons of Strawberry Solstice, a collaboration beer I’ve brewed with Pure Order Brewing Company for an upcoming wedding.

More and more often I hear locals tell me that Pure Order is their favorite brewery in town. I don’t think that’s a knock on any of the other breweries, as just about every brewery from Buellton to Carpinteria is producing high-quality beer right now (and one need look no further than the recent Dia de Los Obscuras to see how the beer community has embraced Telegraph). I think what that represents is how Pure Order has managed to capture Santa Barbara’s essence. Not just in the beer, but in the entire atmosphere provided at the brewery and its beer garden.

Beer isn’t just a business, at least it shouldn’t be. The best breweries aren’t just the ones pumping out the best liquid, they’re also the ones that represent and collaborate within the community (along those lines — there was a recent Instagram post from Kevin Ashford from Fig Mountain’s SB brewery showing a collaboration effort with Island Brewing’s Ryan Morrill, as well as both breweries’ brewing teams). Pure Order, certainly isn’t the only local brewery to embrace the community, but it’s embraced me, and I’m grateful.

edit: a previous version of this post misidentified Ryan Morrill as a brewer for Telegraph — he is the head brewer for Island Brewing in Carpinteria.

American Craft Beer Week at Island Brewing Company

American Craft Beer Week at Island Brewing Company

May 11-17, 2015

 

Carpinteria, CA — Island Brewing Company will again join forces with thousands of breweries across the country celebrating the culture and community of craft beer. Island Brewing Company will commemorate this year’s American Craft Beer Week with fun and frivolity, new, seasonal, and rare beer releases, community events, brewery tours, and more. Here’s the lineup:

Monday, May 11:  Activate the preschooler part of your brain, and prepare to lose yourself in the gluestick, glitter, magic markers of Crafting with Craft, while you spend an interesting evening coloring outside the lines (6-9). For one night only we’ll be pouring a limited release keg of the Russian Imperial Stout. At 11 % abv, it’s only the biggest beer we’ve ever brewed; huge chocolate notes, big malt character, sure to inspire.  Santa Barbara Food Connection will be serving up tortas and hamburgers on the patio 4-8.

Tuesday, May 12 It’s Beer Trivia (7-8:30) a great chance to impress your friends with your vast knowledge of all things beer without being showy, and take home some prizes to boot!  It’s also Customer Appreciation with $1 off pint coupons. On tap tonight for one night only: the return of our much loved big and bold Belgian Quad, 9.3% 27 IBU.  The French Food Truck will be serving up an authentic French food experience…. but with a twist (4-8).

Wednesday, May 13: The event that you’ve hopefully spent the last year training for: the 4th Annual Rock, Paper, Scissors Tournament (6-8:30). You read that right and you already know the rules! But wait, there’s more.  Fire and Wine Catering will be on hand for some wood fired pizza! (4-8) and on tap for one night only: Belgian beer and hop lovers rejoice – We’ll be pouring a Belgian IPA 7.0 %, 62 IBUs.

Thursday, May 14: Brewer’s Appreciation Night, we will be celebrating the people that work so hard to brew the beer for you.  The brain trust that is our brewers in the back will be on hand for a guided tasting through our current beers starting at 6:30, as well as showing you and your crew around the brewery.   This is a great chance to tell them how much you love their work, probably learn a thing or two about beer, and have a few pints of deliciousness. Thursday sees the release of the 7th beer in our Variance IPA series.  The IPL, that’s an India Pale Lager, think hops, light body, and all good. Georgia’s Smokehouse will bring the Southern-style smokehouse BBQ (5-8).

Friday, May 15: Hold on to your hats. We will have Bourbon Barrel-aged Jubilee on tap. You read that right. This will not last long, so make it a point to convert your enthusiasm into action. This will also coincide with VIP Tasting $15 per tasting (ticketholders only, please) as we raid the barchives in amassing a tasting of some of yesteryear’s beers for a night not to be missed (6-8). Santa Barbara Food Connection fires up the grill from 4-8 for tacos and tortas and all things authentic.

Saturday, May 16: Excellence in sound and taste combine for Beerapalooza. We’re going to tap a cask of Chicory Vanilla Stout deliciousness for this  sun-soaked, all day, live music event featuring the soothing sounds of the Ben Wilmore Quartet (1 – 2:30), the groove of Sol Tree (3 – 4:30) and the one and only Pacific Haze (5 – 6:30). World Famous Franks parks on the patio 4-8 to deliver just what your palate is looking for.

Sunday, May 17: We’ll tap one more cask of amazingness to round out the week, a rum oaked Jubilee.  From 2-4 we’ll be conducting Hop Experiment tastings, adding different hops to the same beer for your education and the general progress of humanity. Who knows, you might end up on our sensory tasting panel. And we’ll have the always popular Beer Bingo (6 – 8). Confusion Catering will bring their unique blend of flavors to the patio from 2-6 and keep your hunger at bay.

Island Brewing Company is located at 5049 6th Street in Carpinteria, CA.  For more information about Island Brewing Company or American Craft Beer Week contact Laurie Matthews at (805)745-8272 or email laurie@islandbrewingcompany.com.  We hope you will join us in celebrating American Craft Beer Week!

How Slow Can You Go? Island Brewing Company Hosts Slow Bike Race!

Note: The following is a press release from Island Brewing Company

image003

Carpinteria, CA — Ladies and gentlemen, start your…bicycles! Island Brewing Company will host a Slow Bike Race on Saturday February 28th from 12:00 – 4:00 pm. ‘Wait, wait, wait, what exactly is a Slow Bike Race,’ you may be asking. Here’s how it works: contestants will ride a two-wheeled bicycle over a fixed course, aiming for the longest interval of time. Slowest bike wins (feet go down, and you’re out, no fixed gears, or fancy shoes please!)

The format will include three divisions: 12 and under, 13-17, and 18 and over. The slowest three in each division will then compete for victory, bragging rights, and prizes. In short, it will be fun for the whole family. “This is an event that we’ve wanted to do for a long time,” says founder and owner Paul Wright. “The competition should be fun and fierce across all age groups. Moments of hilarity are pretty much guaranteed.”

There will be a $10 entry fee per rider 21 and over and $5 entry for under 21, proceeds which will be used to benefit the Carpinteria Children’s Project to purchase bicycles from Trek Bikes of Ventura (TBOV), which will also be donating to the event. So start riding slow and slower and slower and we’ll see you then.

For more information call: 805.745.8272

Local Breweries at GABF

Print

I’m on my way to GABF for the weekend’s festivities. I’ll be signing books on Thursday and Saturday nights, but will also be covering the local breweries there in this space and in the Santa Barbara News-Press.

Firestone-Walker, Figueroa Mountain, Telegraph and Island Brewing have all won medals at the festival before, and they have once again entered into the competition. However, of the four, only Firestone-Walker and Figueroa Mountain will have booths at the event.

Both Firestone-Walker and Figueroa Mountain are entering beer into the competition from their side labels as well, with Barrelworks and the newly-debuted Liquamentum lines both up for judging.

Stay tuned for more details and coverage.

Fest Review: Deep Fest

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.

Santa Barbara Beer Week is Coming Soon

Santa Barbara Craft Beer Week is Here

July 7-13

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — For the first time ever, the Santa Barbara beer community has rallied together to celebrate good beer in the American Riviera. For the week of July 7-13, local breweries, bars and restaurants are hosting events and offering specials that honor locally crafted brews and the local community.

These events include, but are certainly not limited to, rare releases, tasting sessions with local brewmasters, live music and lots of food and beer. Santa Barbara Beer Week already has events lined up from Firestone Walker Brewing Company, Telegraph Brewing Company, Santa Barbara Brewing Company, Island Brewing Company, Pure Order Brewing Company, The Brewhouse, Armada Wine and Beer Merchant, Eureka! Burger and many more, with new events still being added every day.

For more information, visit www.sbbeerweek.com and follow us on Twitter: @SBBeerWeek with the hashtags #SBBeer and #SBBeerWeek. If you’d like to add an event or if you have any questions, please email sbbeerweek@gmail.com.

Cheers!

 

VIP tasting at Island Brewing Company for Craft Beer Week

The Following is a press release from Island Brewing Company. Expect to read more about this in my June 5 column in the Santa Barbara News Press.

 

CARPINTERIA, CA – Island Brewing Company will be celebrating American Craft Beer Week in a big way and one of the events deserving a special mention is the Archived and Vertical Beer Tasting on Friday May 16th.  This is a once in a lifetime tasting featuring a selection of our most prized beers with Island Brewing’s Paul Wright.  There will be two tasting selections to choose from:

Flight 1 – $15 Flight 2 – $15
 
2011 Bourbon Barrel-aged Big Island 2012 Bourbon Barrel-aged IPA
2012 Bourbon Barrel-aged Big Island 2013 Bourbon Barrel-aged IPA
2013 Bourbon Barrel-aged Big Island 2012 Barrel-aged Kriek

First, we’ll be hosting a vertical flight tasting format.  We’ll be opening the 2011, 2012 and 2013 editions of our Barrel-aged Big Island.  Big hops, big alcohol and the subtle aging process ensure a unique flavor profile for those lucky enough to sign up for this limited event.

Second, we’ll be hosting a tasting of our Bourbon Barrel-aged IPA from two consecutive years, 2012 and 2013.  We will also be opening  a few of the 2012 Barrel-aged Kriek, a blend of two different ales aged in bourbon barrels for two and three years, with sour cherries added.

First come, first serve!  Limited space. Contact paul@islandbrewingcompany or call (805)745-8272 to learn more or sign up for this event.

Island Brewing Company Names Ryan Morrill to Head Brewer

The following is a press release from Island Brewing Company. It’s been too long since I’ve been down south for a beer in paradise, so expect some more on this soon.

-1

(Carpinteria, CA)  — Island Brewing Company announced today that Ryan Morrill has been named to the position of Head Brewer. “We’re happy to announce the promotion of Ryan to Head Brewer for the brewery,” says owner Paul Wright. “Ryan started as a delivery driver with us four years ago, then moved into the cellar as an assistant brewer, and from day one he has been a major driving force in our efforts toward brewing fresh, flavorful, and local beer.”

The move signals a renewed energy for the brewery. “Ryan has proved a great asset for the brewery and consistently raised the bar in terms of brewing technique and expertise. His consistency and insight promises to improve our capabilities in terms of what we offer now and what we’ll be offering in the future. The promotion follows our philosophy of promoting from within and as the brewery grows, so likewise do its personnel.”

Recent new beer releases have garnered praise and awards. In January, Island Brewing Company’s Jubilee Ale earned 92 points at the World Beer Championships. The brewery is currently in the midst of its Variance IPA series, in which it brews a new style of IPA every ten weeks. The release of the Big Island, a barleywine has captivated locals and visitors alike while the return of the King Tide, a double IPA, has won favor among beer enthusiasts favoring hop-forward beers.

Ryan is an avid home brewer and long time resident of Carpinteria with a penchant for brewing with conventional and unconventional ingredients. Ryan brings enthusiasm for the brewing process and we’re excited to see what the future holds. “Definitely excited,” says Ryan of the position. “I’m Happy to be brewing in Carpinteria and looking forward to pushing some more boundaries and continuing the trend of brewing great beer here.”

For more info, tastings or tours, 805-745-8272 or email paul@islandbrewingcompany.com

A Walk in the (Beer) Garden

Saturday was the first of what the Santa Barbara Botanic Gardens hopes to be an annual event – the Santa Barbara Beer Gardens. I was able to attend, along with my wife and dog*, and take a couple photos and enjoy each of the beers thoroughly. Below, in italics, are the individual beer stations and the tasting notes provided by event host and fellow Santa Barbara beer columnist, Zach Rosen. The non-italicized words are my own – the photos are courtesy of my wife, Victoria Knowles.

Cheers to Zach for a well-run event!

1. Pure Order Brewing Co Crooked Neck Hefeweizen

Blaksley Boulder

Help us welcome Santa Barbara’s newest brewery, Pure Order Brewing Co, in their first public appearance. The meadow is undergoing an extensive renovation that will revive it to an indigenous display of wildflowers and grasses. The young shoots emerging from the ground capture the delicate state of this fledgling brewery, that, with time, will become a fixture in our community as permanent as the Blaksley Boulder. Crooked Neck Hefeweizen is full of refreshing flavors of banana, clove, and honey bread that will prepare your palate for the path ahead.

Indeed, this was a great way to introduce Santa Barbara’s newest members to the beer community. The Crooked Neck Hef was the perfect warm-up beer on the sunny, but just-so-slightly cool day.

2. Surf Brewery Imperial Red Ale

Meadow View

When you reach the top of the Meadow Section, make the short trip up the flight of stairs to reach the mesmerizing Meadow View. Fill your glass with Surf’s Imperial Red Ale then turn around to take in the expanse of the American Riviera. Mosaic hops create a rich tapestry of tropical, floral, and fruity flavors whose diverse character captures the sight of this unique blend of California coast and Mediterranean climate. Return here at dusk and watch the beer’s burgundy hues complement the violet sky, green landscapes, and deep blues of the breaking surf as Waters Risin’ plays a gentle but vivid meadow set to draw the festival to a close.

IMG_0727

The Imperial Red only built upon the good feelings starting to rise after Pure Order’s Crooked Neck. Although the setting was truly not too different from the Blaksley Boulder and Pure Order’s table, the Imperial Red managed to set a starkly different tone. Or rather, it provided a fairly complementary tone, as it elevated the event from a friendly exploration of beer and the Botanic Gardens to a truly serious beer tasting. It was rich and complex, and had enough punch to carry you on to the next stop of the tour.

3. Santa Barbara Brewing Co King Saaz

Redwood Section

Take a seat and relax in this grove of coastal redwoods. Let the crisp, maltiness of this imperial Pilsner soothe you as you sit in this cool, shady section of the gardens. The extra dose of Saaz hops in this beer give it an enormous grassy, floral flavor that matches the size of these colossal trees while providing a green character that compliments the surrounding undergrowth. This special, unfiltered version, of King Saaz has a more substantial body and heartier flavor that helps it stand tall in the presence of these looming giants. Waters Risin’ will play a deep, bold canyon set that will draw you into the canyon and travel with you as you move down the ravine.

IMG_0719

In the above photo, SB Brewing Company’s Kevin Pratt pours a sample of King Saaz. Grassy, floral and with a strong punch of Pilsner malt, King Saaz stood up nicely to the redwoods – my favorite part of the Botanic Gardens. Although, in hindsight, I wonder if the Imperial Red wouldn’t have worked as well or better in the redwoods, with King Saaz fitting nicely in the meadow section as well. Next time, Zach.

4. The Brewhouse Abbey Ale

Mission Dam & Aqueduct

The Mission Dam lies between The Brewhouse and Santa Barbara Brewing Co, the two foundations of our local beer scene. This State and County Historic Landmark was built  in 1807 to supply the Santa Barbara Mission with water. This cornerstone of Santa Barbara is serving their Abbey Ale, a beer inspired by the monastic brews of Belgium. Its flavors of yeast, apricot and caramel apple, completed by a prickle of clove, provide sweet, bubbling notes to the swoosh of water and crackle of birdsong.

I think Zach’s description here really says it best. It was fitting, it was enjoyable and it was a lot of fun to see it next to King Saaz – which is a drastically different beer. As Zach writes, two cornerstones of Santa Barbara’s beer scene with two very different styles.

5. The Dudes Brewing Co Grinning Face Porter on Cask

Campbell Bridge

What is a bridge but a smile that you can walk upon, bringing you from one pleasant spot to the next. The Grinning Face Porter will certainly put a smile on your face and take you to that happy place. Walk over the Campbell Bridge, and let the lush surroundings and swirling stream below give you an exotic mood that fits the tropical flavors coming from the coconut sugar, toasted coconut flakes and vanilla beans used in this decadent brew. This special edition cask has been aged on additional coconut flakes and vanilla beans.

This beer was like German chocolate cake in a glass. I could have come back for this at the end and called it dessert. The Dudes were also serving this beer on top of vanilla ice cram as a beer float – something in which I didn’t partake, but was receiving rave reviews from those in attendance.

6. Island Brewing Co Avocado Honey Ale

Office Terrace

Grab a glass of Avocado Honey Ale and take a seat at this peaceful patio overlooking Mission Creek. A brisk flavor of sweet malts and floral hops spring out of the glass to bring a breathtaking freshness that accompanies the lovely views of the canyon below. Avocado honey is used in this beer to give it a crisp character that highlights the live honey bee hive in the nearby Manzanita section.

Victoria and I actually hit this stop last, but were so glad that we didn’t just skip out on it. This beer is a favorite among Santa Barbara and Carpinteria locals, and I’m always reminded why when I drink it. Island Brewing is pure relaxation in a bottle.

IMG_3042

7. Telegraph Brewing Co Handlebar Abbey on Oak

Discovery Garden

The Discovery Garden is full of interactive exhibits and plants that inspire the senses. Explore this section as you sip on Handlebar Abbey Ale. This special edition of Abbey Ale is blended with an oak tincture and cold-pressed Salvadorian coffee from Handlebar Coffee Roasters. The lively coffee aromas give way to flavors of caramel and maraschino cherries that are softened by the woody notes of oak. This complex beer with layers of flavor will give you plenty to discover as you take in the different tree exhibits and surrounding coffeeberry plants.

This is another winner from Telegraph, which has begun to emerge as a leader in experimental beers in the area. Fig Mountain, up next on the tasting tour, does a good job of trying new things at its Funk Zone location and in Buellton, but Telegraph really nailed this one with the oak playing quite nicely with the coffee and caramel of the Abbey Ale.

8. Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co Davy Brown Ale

ShinKanAn Teahouse & Gardens

A Japanese tea garden is designed to connect man with nature and in California there was no man more connected to nature than Davy Brown. This bold but balanced American brown ale captures the wild spirit of the famed bear hunter and contrasts it with the delicate, structured nature of the chanoyu tea ceremony. This authentic teahouse is surrounded by local native plants in a traditional Japanese form to create an atmosphere that is uniquely Californian. Flavors of toffee and cocoa blend with a touch of piney hops in a sturdy but refreshing beer that embodies the enduring, harmonious nature of Japanese architecture.

I know that Zach enjoyed pairing Davy Brown Ale with the Japanese tea garden. The two concepts are simultaneously alike and dissident enough to make for a really interesting pairing. Coupled with an award-winning Davy Brown Ale, and Figueroa Mountain’s showing at the Beer Garden was a natural fit.

IMG_9299

*Dogs are typically allowed in the garden, but were not supposed to be for this event. However, enough of us showed up with our pooches that they let us in as long as we were not in the food area. Lucky dogs.