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.


Raise a pint for departing brewers

Note: This column originally appeared in the Nov. 6 edition of the Santa Barbara News-Press. For more information, you can check out my farewell Q and A pieces with A.J. Stoll and Kevin Pratt on this site. I recently met with Fig Mountain’s new director of brewing operations, Mike Hastings, and will have more info on him at this space soon.

Santa Barbara’s beer culture stretches back to the late 1990s when brewers like Island Brewing Co.’s Paul Wright, Santa Barbara Brewing Co.’s Eric Rose (now owner of Hollister Brewing Co.) and The Brewhouse’s Pete Johnson were either already brewing great beer or getting close to opening their breweries. Nevermind the budding emergence of Firestone Walker Brewing Co. in Paso Robles.

But in 2010, the local beer scene was bolstered by the arrival of two men — Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co.’s A.J. Stoll and Santa Barbara Brewing’s Kevin Pratt.

In Stoll, Fig Mountain had found a young brewer with the chemical and brewing know-how to help the new brewery expand while creating award-winning beers in the process. In Pratt, Brewco brought in an experienced brewer.

Stoll brought acclaim to Fig Mountain, and Pratt restored Brewco’s reputation as more than just a tourist trap.

And now, Santa Barbara is saying farewell to both.

Both brewmasters recently announced that they are departing their breweries this month for new ventures and new opportunities.

Stoll is off to Ireland, his ancestral homeland, where he and his partners are planning on opening Killarney Brewing Co. in a market he thinks is ready to explode in the same way the U.S. market has over the past decade or two.

“I always encouraged my staff to elevate themselves and take on new responsibilities and positions, and so that’s basically the same thing I’m doing,” Stoll told the News-Press. “My goal is to be an international brewery consultant … So in the short term, I’m going to this start-up in Ireland, and in the long term, what I’m going to be is I’ll be all over the shelf.”

Stoll will serve as a consultant for Fig, which is elevating head brewer Mike Hastings to director of brewing operations. Stoll will also help the Buellton-based brewery expand into Germany — a longtime dream of CEO Jaime Dietenhofer.

Pratt isn’t going so far — just up the road to Creekside Brewing Co. in San Luis Obispo. Pratt and his partners, under the umbrella of the newly formed Heirloom Brewing Co., are taking over the brewery as the first step toward establishing Heirloom as a production brewery.

Creekside won’t change much immediately but it will eventually serve as a tasting room and experimental facility for the larger production plant.

“We didn’t buy it to turn it into something else,” said Pratt. “We bought it because it was already a functioning brewery and already in the right construct we’re looking for — and a great location.”

The changes forced me to take stock of what we truly have here in Santa Barbara, and I went to visit an old favorite in The Brewhouse. Johnson continues to make high-quality, interesting beers out of his seven-barrel brewhouse. Recently, I sat down with him to taste some of the new beers on tap.

A favorite is the Milkman’s Handshake — a rich milk stout with loads of chocolate and roasted coffee notes to complement the sweetness from the lactose that gives the style its name.

Always a great place for strong beer, The Brewhouse also offers a Russian imperial stout playfully dubbed Crimea River. I also enjoyed the return of Football Saison, a staple for local drinkers every fall. The saison was dry and loaded with beautiful peppery aromas on the back end that you might expect from a saison, but at more than 7 percent alcohol by volume, it packs more of a punch than the typical farmhouse-style ale.

The Brewhouse is also about to release its 11th Harvest Ale. The annual beer utilizes fresh hops grown behind The Brewhouse and is a revelation of hop flavor and aroma.

It’s true that Pratt and Stoll brought great things to the Santa Barbara beer scene, and it will certainly be sad to see them and their talents go. But despair not, for the local community remains alive and well in those who have been around and are staying around.

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). His column appears the first Thursday of the month. Follow him on Twitter @Sean_M_Lewis.


Q & A with SB Brewing Company’s outgoing Brewmaster, Kevin Pratt


Last week I spoke with outgoing Figueroa Mountain brewmaster A.J. Stoll. He’s off to Ireland, but Santa Barbara Brewing Company’s Kevin Pratt is not going quite as far. He and his partners at the newly formed Heirloom Brewing Company, which will operate as a production brewery in the near future, is hoping to close escrow on San Luis Obispo’s Creekside Brewing Company this month.

I sat down with Kevin to discuss his upcoming future and his fleeting time at Brewco.

Kevin opened by discussing his feelings toward leaving Brewco to start his own brewing company.

PRATT: I feel very much the same way that a woman in the late stages of pregnancy must feel where I’ve gone through all the stages where this is what I’m doing and it’s great, I’m happy and everyone is happy for me. Then I educate myself on everything to come and I keep obsessing about it because I want everything to be great, just like a woman wants everything great for her baby. Then it gets to the last few months and it’s like here’s your due date. Then you get past that date and you say, ‘Ok, I’m done. I’m done now. Let’s have this, I’m really done.’ I feel very much like I’m slightly overdue.

Q: So you feel like you’re ready for Heirloom to be born.

A: I’m really ready for this. And I know there will be sleepless nights, and I’m Ok with that.

Q: When it starts, will it start off as Heirloom right away or is there an intermediate step.

A: First off, this project is Creekside Brewing. It’s not Heirloom. Heirloom is the parent company.

Q: Heirloom is the company buying Creekside?

A: Correct.

We’re not going to change Creekside to begin with. We didn’t buy it to turn it into something else. We bought it because it was already a functioning brewery and already in the right construct we’re looking for — and a great location. It just happened to be the right magical combination to make this purpose.

So we didn’t buy it right away saying hey we want to change everything. We could have bought any other bar and done that. It doesn’t work for us to change the name until we have a production brewery to stand behind it and provide more core beers. Hopefully this place will make a lot of experimental beers and fun stuff. It will be a great place to go to have the beers, have great food and a few things that are not on the beer menu.

Q: Under the leadership of you and Heirloom, and your partners, what can we expect in the near future at Creekside?

A: It’s always going to be classic beers in the modern world. This is how we’re, we’re always going to be making beers that are the core of beer culture — the best of beer culture. We’re always going to offer food that is the best of going out to a pub and casual dining. You can always expect the highest quality of both. And every now and then, some fun. We want to have some fun while we’re brewing, we want to have fun while we’re cooking and we want to be creative. Beer has been a wonderful set of evolution and creation over time. America is just the latest to enter the particular fray.

Q: What do you feel about your time here in Santa Barbara?

A: I love it. This has been one of the best challenges of my career. It’s been rewarding because I’ve been able to meet that challenge. It’s been rewarding on a business level because I’ve helped my company become something really important. It’s been rewarding because even as I exit, the transition here is about keeping it an important place, keeping the quality up, making sure we hire the right person, making sure that person follows it, and making sure that I’m available if there’s an issue. This is not a just a sudden departure.

Q: Along those lines you’re going to be hiring and training a new brewer to take over before you leave.

A: Hopefully I’m going to be hiring a brewer with a lot of training and skill. Hopefully I’m hiring a brewer that wants to make their own mark. I don’t want a brewer that just wants to take over. At least a third of my job has been being creative, getting new and interesting things going and getting new and interesting thought process among the public about it. The next brewer has to be able to embrace that.

The most important part of this is that the new brewer understands where we’re at and where we need to go. They need to stay on the path of making great classic beers, balanced beers in this market that meet the goals of the restaurant and still allow him or her enough room to play. There’s plenty of room for that. There are only three or four recipes that need to carry on, everything else they can put their own stamp on.

Q: This being your fourth year here, are there any regrets as far as things you didn’t get to accomplish or any things that you would like to change?

A: I really wish I had time to do more collaboration beers. I’m very much going to miss this brewery. I feel like I’ve built a hot rod I learned to drive really well and I’m going to miss not being able to drive that brewery. I’m going to miss some of the mentoring opportunities I’ve had with brewers. I’m going to miss the new breweries that are in town and the growth of that, but I’m also looking forward to basically regaining all of that in San Luis Obispo.


— That’s it. And if you’re sad about the departure of Kevin and AJ, fear not — there are plenty of new breweries on the horizon. I’ll be discussing Captain Fatty’s in Goleta and Rincon and BrewLab in Carpinteria in this space soon. Stay tuned.

Fig Mountain’s Real Ale Invitational is Saturday

Note: the following is a press release from Fig Mountain Brewing Company. Please note I’ll be there signing copies of We make Beer – so I won’t be providing any feedback or coverage of the event to avoid conflicts of interest. I will say I’m really looking forward to this though.

Cask Beer Tasting Event Features 20 Craft Breweries
Buellton, California—   Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company is celebrating the increased presence of cask ale on the West Coast by hosting a festival dedicated to this type of beer on Saturday, October 25, 2014 from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM.  Twenty California craft breweries will be showcasing their own styles of real ale at Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company’s flagship brewery and taproom in Buellton, California located at 45 Industrial Way.

Hosted by Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company and sponsored by Montecito Bank & Trust, the Real Ale Invitational will donate a portion of the proceeds as well as a funds raised from a silent auction to the Los Padres Forest Watch.  The Invitational features the following twenty breweries:

Ballast Point Brewing Co. | Beachwood Brewing Co. | Belching Beaver Brewing Co. | Bottle Logic Brewing | Central Coast Brewing | Coronado Brewing Company | Eagle Rock Brewery | El Segundo Brewing Co. |Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co. | Golden Road Brewing | Ironfire Brewing Company | The Libertine Pub | MacLeod Ale Brewing Company | Monkish Brewing | Noble Ale Works | Pizza Port Brewing Co. | Poseidon Brewing Company | Santa Barbara Brewing Co. | Smog City Brewing Company | Stone Brewing Company

Admission in advance is $40—or $45 at the door­—and includes a souvenir glass along with unlimited cask ale tastings.  Live music will include DJ Selecta Shaggy during the invitational followed by The Caverns and Figueroa Jones inside the taproom from 5:00 to 9:00 PM.  Food trucks, Al Fresco Picnic and The Pairing Knife, will have food for sale during the event.  Sean Lewis, author of We Make Beer, will be signing and selling books during the tasting.  Vendors include art from the Will Rise Project, a new Santa Barbara-based company dedicated to highlighting the work of local artists in whatever form that takes.

A limited number of tickets are available for a 4-course pairing lunch prior to the Invitational from 11:30 AM until 1:00 PM.  Meet the cask masters who have perfected the skill of brewing real ale while enjoying a 4-course meal prepared by Beto Huizar, Executive Chef of Beto’s Place, a new restaurant slated to open in Fig Mtn Brew’s Buellton taproom later this year. The family-style meal offers paired with cask ales from Pizza Port Brewing Co., Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co., El Segundo Brewing Co. and Noble Ale Works.  The menu includes dishes such as citrus-cured Alaskan Halibut, Roasted Squash with bacon and pecans, Duck Confit, and beer-braised Short Ribs; just to name a few.  Tickets to the lunch cost $75 and include admission to the Invitational.

Shuttle tickets are available from Santa Barbara to Buellton via Jump on the School Bus which will pick up passengers at the Santa Barbara taproom before noon and then return from Buellton at 4:30 PM.  Shuttle reservations can be placed at the Santa Barbara taproom located at 137 Anacapa Street, Suite F.  Tickets cost $15 and include round-trip transportation and a complimentary beer.

For more information about Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company’s Real Ale Invitational or to purchase tickets, visit http://RealAle.NightOut.com or pick up tickets at any FigMtnBrew taproom.

High Resolution Photos and Interviews Available Upon Request.   
Hashtag: #RealAle   Tag: @FigMtnBrew

About Real Ale: 
Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company has embraced cask ale via their cask program run by Head Brewer of Santa Barbara, Kevin C. Ashford.  Each taproom boasts a cask engine for new releases every “Firkin Friday” featuring many of their standard ales. These casks contain high quality ingredients such as hops, spices, coffee, cacao, and even locally grown fruits. Real Ale, or cask beer, is “beer that is unfiltered which undergoes a secondary fermentation and conditioning process. This process naturally carbonates the beer to a softer texture.  It is poured directly from the cask—essentially a 10.8 gallon stainless steel barrel—without additional Nitrogen or Carbon Dioxide assistance,” Ashford explains.

About Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company:
Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co. was founded by father and son team, Jim and Jaime Dietenhofer, in 2010.  With a passion for craft beer, they set out to pay homage to the beautiful Santa Ynez Valley with handcrafted beer and hand-drawn artwork depicting the local landscape on their labels. They brought on Brewmaster AJ Stoll who now oversees a team of brewers in their Buellton, California brewery.  With three locations in Santa Barbara County, Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co. beer can be found in their taprooms or at select retailers and restaurants throughout California.  Learn more about #FigMtnBrew or where to find their beer at www.figmtnbrew.com.

Football and Beer Season

OK – It’s football season (kickoff is tonight). If you don’t know by now, some of the best places to watch the games in Santa Barbara County are our local breweries. Both Hollister Brewing Company and Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company have sent out press releases, and they are attached below.

I think it would be silly not to start with one of the obvious places in town though — Santa Barbara Brewing Company. The back lounge is a traditional location for Raiders and 49ers games, and will continue to be so. That said – here are the following press releases, starting with Fig Mountain’s.

Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co.
Hosts Events for NFL Season

Buellton, California—   Football season is in full swing starting September 4, 2014 and Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company is celebrating with special events and deals in their Buellton Taproom located at 45 Industrial Way in Buellton, California.  With the full NFL package on tv, football fans can immerse themselves in the game.   Wear your favorite team’s jersey during the game and get your pints for only $4.

Fantasy Football leagues can register their groups for pitcher and food discounts by contacting Taproom Manager, David Esdaile, at david@figmtnbrew.com  or (805) 694-2252 ext. 114.  Free shuttle service is available on Sundays for registered groups with a reservation by the previous Friday at 5pm.

Enjoy food for sale on Monday and Thursday nights such as hot dogs and tamales and food trucks on College Football Saturdays.  On Sundays the taproom will be open extra early, starting at 9:30am, with Micheladas and Hopped-mosas, for fans wanting to take advantage of the full day of football.  In the afternoon, BBQ sandwiches will be sold by Beto’s Place in the beer garden for $10.

If being a spectator isn’t enough, Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co. will be hosting half-time games such as the nostalgic game of paper football with a chance to win a free pint of beer on Mondays.  Los Olivos locals can watch football at the Los Olivos Taproom located at 2446 Alamo Pintado, Suite C.  For more information visit www.FigMtnBrew.com/Football.

Breakfast is Back!

  Starting Sunday, September 7th   breakfast is back!
Join HBC as we celebrate the
2014-2015 NFL season with
breakfast served Sundays 10am-2pm.
We’ve got the NFL package on 7 wide screen tvs, so you can watch your favorite team.




Not a football fan?  Enjoy our relaxing patio with our special Sunday drink specials, breakfast or our complete menu served 10am-close.





Breakfast Served 10am-2pm  


Chorizo and Egg Tacos…..10.5

3 corn tortillas filled with house-made chorizo, scrambled eggs, avocado, chipotle crema, cilantro and queso fresco.

Served with potatoes


Sausage, Gravy & Biscuits…..10

Homemade breakfast sausage and milk gravy over

buttermilk biscuits with two sunny side-up eggs


Hollister Scramble…..10.5

3 eggs, bacon, caramelized onions, sauteed spinach with gruyere cheese, served with a side of potatoes and toast


Huevos Con Chile…..10

Pork chili verde served atop a crispy corn tortilla with

refried beans and two eggs served scrambled or fried


Prosciutto, Bacon & Egg Sandwich…..12.5

Prosciutto, smoked bacon, frisee,
garlic aioli and two fried eggs on ciabatta.

Served with a side of potatoes


Mushroom & Goat Cheese Frittata…..11

Eggs baked with mushrooms, asparagus, creamy goat cheese

and topped with wild arugula and olive oil


Brioche French Toast…..9.5

Brioche French toast topped with maple whipped cream

and macerated berries




2 eggs….4



Rye or Sourdough Toast…..2

Cup of Fruit…..4.5





Beachside Blonde, Worcestershire, lime juice,

salt and pepper on the rocks with a salted rim



Fresh orange juice over our house sparkling wine,

Michel Olivier Blanc de Blanc


Sunday Special Bloody Mary…..8

Finlandia vodka, rich tomato juice and a handful of

other ingredients which shall remain nameless


Tastings – Amigose Del Mar and High Thai’d

You may recall a certain collaboration brew Kevin Pratt at Santa Barbara Brewing Company and I did in October of 2013. It was the first in an installment of several Blogger Beers that Pratt wanted to work on. Two of those beers have come to fruition.

The first, which will be released on Monday as part of Santa Barbara Beer Week, is a collaboration with Edible Santa Barbara’s Laura Sanchez, and it’s incredible. Amigose Del Mar, a play on words that hints at “Friend of the Ocean” is a saltwater Gose that tips the scale at just above 4% ABV. It’s super light and crisp, but also silky smooth. There’s a slight tartness to it and a gentle citrus flavor, but it’s far from puckering.

At a preview tasting of the beer on Tuesday, Sanchez noted the minerality of the finish, which only makes you want to drink another, and another and another.


On the other end of the spectrum is High Thai’d Curry Saison brewed in collaboration with the Santa Barbara Sentinel beer columnist, Zach Rosen. Where Amigoes Del Mar is subtle and its complexity is fairly nuanced, High Thai’d is richly complex and very bold in its flavor.

The beer will be released on Wednesday and boasts a big pepper, fresh ginger and fennel notes with a hint of cinnamon. There’s also a delicate sweetness that stems from the late coconut milk addition that helps even out the spice. It’s super interesting and would go really well with one of Santa Barbara Brewing Company’s pizzas.

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.



World Cup at Santa Barbara Brewing Company

Presidio Sports and Santa Barbara Brewing Company teamed up throughout the fall and winter for football games, and they will be doing so again during the World Cup.

Brewmaster Kevin Pratt told me that he wants Brewco to be the “Santa Barbara Headquarters for the World Cup,” and Presidio is offering a little incentive.

You can join PresidioSports.com’s World Cup bracket here: http://games.espn.go.com/world-cup-bracket-predictor/en/group?groupID=21395&invitesource=email&inviteuser=NDAzNDQwMzMzA&ex_cid=invite-email-worldcupbp
The most impressive prizes are Jurassic 5 tickets and a $100 gift card to Brewco, as well as a gift package to Spa Del Mar for the best-finishing female — a $125 value.

More information about prizes and featured games at Brewco can be found here:


Goings on at Pure Order and SB Brewing Co.

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.

Screen Shot 2013-07-18 at 8.59.16 PMIMG_1067

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.


Santa Barbara Deserves a Beer Week

Note: This column originally appeared in the April 3 edition of the Santa Barbara News-Press. Stay tuned to this space for more information about Santa Barbara Beer Week in July.

There have been few beers that I’ve looked forward to this year as much as Telegraph Brewing’s Obscura Peche. The peach sour ale has all the potential of being yet another great hit from brewer Paul Rey, and is due to be released soon.

The sad thing is, if we lived in Sacramento, we might have already tasted it.

Telegraph debuted the beer in early March for Sacramento Beer Week — a weeklong celebration of beer in the California capitol.

This is not to accuse Telegraph of abandoning its local market, as the Santa Barbara brewery is working to ensure a smooth release of the sour ale in bottles and on tap in its tasting room for the local community. Rather, this is an example of what Santa Barbara is missing without its own beer week.

The concept is simple — one calendar week dedicated to the promotion and celebration of beer. Breweries, bars and restaurants work together to host tap-takeovers, beer dinners and other sorts of beer-centric events.

I’m proud to say that we will soon have its own beer week, as fellow Santa Barbara beer columnist Zach Rosen (SB Sentinel) and myself are working together to organize the local beer community. The project is still a fledgling, but as it grows its wings Zach and I will fill in the details here in this space as well as others.

But this project, still in the conceptual phase, is not without its detractors.

I was chatting with a well-respected brewer friend of mine, and he told me that Santa Barbara’s beer wasn’t good enough for a beer week. He said that the consumers weren’t ready for one either.

Frankly, I had to disagree with him on both counts.

I look at the crisp and brilliant lagers brewed by Kevin Pratt Santa Barbara Brewing Company, and I see excellence. I see the same high-quality brewing at Hollister Brewing Company, where brewer Eric Rose showcases hops in a masterful way. I look at Telegraph, and I see truly fascinating and unique wild ales rivaled only by those being produced at Firestone Walker Barrelworks in Buellton, where it must be said the production budget is much larger than Telegraph’s.

I see the popularity of the Figueroa Mountain tasting room in the Funk Zone, and I know that crowds of locals and tourists are there for the wide variety and often extremely interesting beer produced by A.J. Stoll and his team of brewers. I look at the laid-back Island Brewing Company in Carpinteria, and I find great joy in pints of Jubilee Ale and Starry Night Stout.

It is still too early to assign any sort of judgment on the newest entry to Santa Barbara, Pure Order Brewing Company, but the early product has been impressive.

Add in local beer bars like Eureka!, American Ale and Brat Haus, as well as restaurants that showcase great beer like Pace Food + Drink, Olio E Limone and the Wine Cask (among many others), and Santa Barbara is rife with great options for beer.

As for the consumer, it’s likely true that wine has long been king in Santa Barbara.

But beer has always been a more plebian drink than wine, and Santa Barbarans are quickly recognizing its appeal. When I see crowds of people lined up outside of Figueroa Mountain’s tasting room, or even more crowding Barrelworks for a release of special beer I can’t help but assume that the Santa Barbara consumer is quickly learning to appreciate the value of beer.

The same is true at places like Santa Barbara Brewing Co., where baseball fans pack the lounge for games and choose locally-produced beer over the cheaper bottles of Bud Light.

And if the consumer truly doesn’t appreciate beer yet in Santa Barbara, then what better way to introduce them to everything the area has to offer than with a full week dedicated to the brew.

The brewing and beer community in Santa Barbara is young and relatively immature compared to places like San Diego, San Francisco and Portland. We are only now starting to realize the kinds of treasures we have in the local fermentors around the county.

But what we do recognize is that beer is good — and Santa Barbara beer is constantly getting better and more innovative.

I think it’s time to celebrate what we have.