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.

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Bring Your Dog For Beer

Sometimes you need a good drinking buddy.

Sometimes you need a good drinking buddy.

Dogs are like children. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not the type to call my dog my son, and I certainly don’t refer to myself as Seamus’ dad or, God forbid, daddy (his real dad is here). Basically, I’m not this lady.

Yes, that's a dog in a baby stroller.

Yes, that’s a dog in a baby stroller.

But dogs are like children in a few ways:

— You can’t leave them in the car with the windows up.

— You can’t hit them in public, at least not in California.

— You can’t just leave them in the house all day and not expect a disaster when you get back.

So, this being a beer and brewery blog and all, I’d like to take a moment to honor the breweries in Santa Barbara that are as pet friendly as you are. The good news is that just about every brewery in the area is dog-friendly, so it’s a good-sized list. These are in no particular order, except I’m going to start with The Brewhouse, which is probably the most dog-friendly brewery in the area.

The Brewhouse

The Brewhouse is a brewpub, and therefore a restaurant, so don’t expect to be able to bring your dog inside. However, there’s a good-sized patio where dogs are welcome and servers will offer you a dog bowl for your thirsty pooch. But what makes The Brewhouse the best? It’s the dog menu.

That’s right, The Brewhouse loves dogs so much that they’ve got a menu just for your dog. Seamus is on a pretty strict diet, so we don’t necessarily go for it, but if you’d like your best friend to enjoy some dog biscuits covered in beef gravy, or steak bites, or chicken strips, then The Brewhouse has you covered.

Solvang Brewing Company

Maybe you’re in town filling up on homebrew supplies at Valley Brewers (which is also dog friendly and their own brew-dog is frequently minding the shop), or perhaps you need a break from your wine-tasting day for a beer and a burger. Whatever the case, Solvang BrewCo has a great outdoor patio much like the Brewhouse, only bigger. And while they don’t have a dog menu, a server will gladly bring you a dog bowl and your dog can just beg some scraps from you.

Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company

Both Fig’s Buellton and Santa Barbara locations have nice outdoor beer gardens where dogs are welcome. I typically shy away from bringing Seamus to the Funk Zone spot, as it’s all concrete and usually crowded, but the brewery’s main location in Buellton has a nice, soft artificial turf outside so your dog can get off his paws for a minute and chill out.

Pure Order Brewing Company

I can’t think of the last time I didn’t see a dog at Pure Order. The lush grass that originally adorned the beer garden has been replaced by a more drought-friendly landscape (I was sad to see it go, but it was a sensible and sustainable choice), but there’s plenty of room for the canine kind to roam and stretch their legs. I would never officially recommend taking your dog off-leash here, but I’ve seen more than a few dogs enjoying a little free-ranging among the hop garden*.

* A reminder — hops are toxic to dogs the same way chocolate is. If you have the kind of dog that likes to taste a little bit of everything in his environment, monitor him or her closely when the hops are out.

Telegraph Brewing Company

The city of Santa Barbara’s original production brewery welcomes friendly dogs into their tasting room. A note here though, the floor is all polished concrete, so if you happen to have a dog like mine that’s all rib bones, knee joints and ankles, bring something soft for it to lay down.

Captain Fatty’s

Enjoy Goleta’s newest brewery with the whole family — including the dog. The brewery has a certain appeal to families with young children (actually, I think Goleta in general has that appeal), so make sure your dog is good with kids before bringing them around.

Island Brewing Company

For some reason, I have a hard time heading south to Carpinteria without bringing Seamus. We’ve got friends with a dog he likes to play with (actually it’s a dog he likes to escape and explore with) and they’re welcome at all three of Carpinteria’s breweries. Island welcomes dogs on the patio, but not inside, so grab a seat under one of the umbrellas and send someone inside to get you a beer and a water bowl for your buddy.

Rincon Brewing Company

Rincon is a family-friendly brewpub, so you better bet that includes dogs. Like the other brewpubs on the list, dogs can’t come inside but are welcome on the patio. Seamus likes the high-top tables outside with plenty of room for him to stand underneath.

The brewLAB

The friendly folks at brewLAB welcome dogs to their small outdoor patio as well as inside their brewery. It can get crowded with people and other dogs from time to time, so I wouldn’t bring in a nervous animal, but your well-adjusted dog might enjoy sniffing a lot of new smells as you take in some of the best beer in the area.

Stay cool, y'all.

Stay cool, y’all.

Telegraph Brewing Announces Dia de las Obscuras Rare Beer Festival

Note: The following is a press release from Telegraph Brewing Company. Tickets go on sale March 21

Telegraph

Santa Barbara craft brewery to host two-session sour-beer/wild-ale event on May 3

Santa Barbara, CA—Telegraph Brewing Company announced details today for their Dia de las Obscuras Rare Beer Festival, showcasing its barrel-aged and wild-fermented Obscura Line of experimental beers, to be held on Sunday, May 3, 2015, at the Telegraph tasting room in downtown Santa Barbara. The award-winning Santa Barbara brewery will celebrate in grand fashion with ten Obscura beers on tap, shining a spotlight on Telegraph’s renowned experimental brewing program.

“This is an unparalleled opportunity for craft beer lovers to explore our most highly sought-after and difficult-to-find beers,” said Telegraph Brewing founder Brian Thompson. “To have ten taps dedicated to these rare beers is a testament to the flexibility and increased capacity of our new brewery space; that we have as much capacity to dedicate to the Obscura Line of beers as we do, allows us to put events like this together.” At Telegraph’s first Obscura event, Noche de las Obscuras, held as a part of Santa Barbara Beer Week 2014, the brewery poured eight different wild ales.

Dia de Las Obscuras will delight craft beer connoisseurs in two separate Sunday sessions (12 pm to 3pm, and 4pm to 7pm) hosted at Telegraph’s tasting room. Tickets and additional details about specific beers are available at TelegraphBrewing.com/obscura.htm

“The Latin word ‘Obscura’ means dark or shadowy, obscure, from unknown origins,” explained Trevor Scoggins, Telegraph’s sales manager. “And each of our Obscura beers displays that element of the unknown and the mysterious; that makes seeking out them out lots of fun for the drinker.”

Telegraph’s Obscura Line of experimental beers includes both award-winning favorites like Gypsy Ale and Reserve Wheat Ale, but also includes many one-off projects that will never exist again. Dia de las Obscuras attendees will have an opportunity to try beers from both sides of the project. Barrel master Paul Rey said, “We make a variety of elegant, complex beers that deserve a day of their own.”

Telegraph Brewing, an award-winning craft brewery located  on downtown Santa Barbara’s Salsipuedes Street, specializes in brewing uniquely American and Belgian-inspired beers using 100% domestic ingredients and as many local ingredients as possible. The brewery strives to capture in its beers the unique culinary and agricultural traditions of Santa Barbara and California’s Central Coast.

For more information, including descriptions of beers brewed by Telegraph, visit TelegraphBrewing.com.

FYI — Telegraph has an IPA

Note: This column originally appeared in the Dec. 4 edition of the Santa Barbara News-Press. Telegraph’s IPA is still on tap and they have recently released an old favorite, Rhinoceros, as well.

For a Thursday night in mid-November, Telegraph Brewing Co. was unusually busy. The local taprooms are always a common gathering place for Santa Barbara’s beer drinkers, but the crowd at Telegraph was in for something specific.

For the first time in its nearly nine-year existence, Telegraph brewed an IPA.

And while the style is ubiquitous at just about every other brewery in the country, Telegraph had built a reputation for making more esoteric styles.

“Most of our beers are, if not yeast-centric, (of a) yeast character,” Telegraph brewmaster Paul Rey said. “Cipher Key Session Ale, 1927 and the Ravena Stout are all brewed with an English strain that we really like. The two lagers are Czech Pilsner yeasts, but most of the other beers are with our house Belgian strain.”

Telegraph founder Brian Thompson stressed that this was not a matter of caving to peer pressure or doing something they didn’t want to do. According to him, this IPA was long overdue.

“The reason we haven’t brewed an IPA until now is not because we don’t like IPAs,” he said. “Every one of us really appreciates a good IPA. But Telegraph has always been about doing things differently. Looking back over the last five or six years, as the popularity of IPA grew, it felt like every brewery in the country was making multiple IPAs, and a lot of them were very mediocre, and it felt like a lot of brewers were just chasing a trend.

“Now, though, it feels very different; there is a big percentage of craft beer drinkers who only drink IPA, especially younger drinkers and new craft beer drinkers. IPA isn’t a trend anymore; IPA just is. And the style isn’t waning in popularity anytime soon.”

Telegraph’s American IPA was fermented with a neutral yeast. The strain, made popular first by Sierra Nevada up in Chico, leaves few traces that it was ever there apart from a bright, crisp ale — thus the other ingredients in beer, such as hops, are allowed to shine.

In the case of Telegraph’s IPA, that means plenty of pine and a little bit of melon notes come through in the aroma. The flavor profile is well-balanced, and there is a suitable bitterness that helps even out the sweetness from the malt.

It might not be the best IPA in town, but it’s a thoroughly enjoyable beer. Most importantly for Telegraph, it gives local drinkers another reason not to go anywhere else. Each of Santa Barbara’s breweries have their own pros and cons, and a big con at Telegraph was a lack of a real IPA — the most popular style of craft beer in America.

The recent American IPA is just the first in a series of beers for the brewery before Thompson and his team can finally settle on one brew that will become “Telegraph IPA.”

According to Rey, the ultimate goal will be to put that beer into cans — a project that will require continued growth of Telegraph’s infrastructure and is at least a year away, likely more.

In the meantime, the brewery that never made an IPA will be coming out with a few more iterations of the style — beginning with a Belgian IPA and an English IPA in early 2015.

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.

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.

It’s been too long — New beer in Santa Barbara

Things have been hectic as the publication and distribution of We Make Beer gets closer and closer. I’ve got some exciting news coming on that front soon, but for now let’s focus on Santa Barbara.

A couple glasses of Pacific Wild Time with a taster of Pacific Standard Time for comparison.

A couple glasses of Pacific Wild Time with a taster of Pacific Standard Time for comparison.

The first exciting new beer in town is Pacific Wild Time from Telegraph Brewing Company. The following is a description sent out on the brewery’s email account:

“To bring you up to speed: Last fall, Curtis and Telegraph brewers met to forge a recipe showcasing the rich and unique flavors of his unique malt. The genuinely locally sourced Pacific Standard Time was born of Santa Ynez grain which Ca Malting Co. malted only blocks from the brewery on Gutierrez Street in Santa Barbara. A straight forward Belgian-style pale ale with aromas of french bread and graham cracker compliment a rich and genuine amber malt character. We went a step further and will be showing off the classically Telegraph-esque result of this journey on the 21st of this month.

With Curtis’s blessing, we have decided to celebrate the fruits of our collective labor by tapping the wine barrel aged iteration of Pacific Standard Time, fermented with wild yeast. Paul’s creation is a floral new generation of this beer that speaks to the traditions of beers brewed in the farmhouse. Please join us if you find yourself in town next week. We will be sharing the beer in the brewery for the coming month until it runs dry. I’ve been afforded an opportunity to sip and am excited to share it with you.”

I went down on Sunday to try it out, and was thoroughly impressed. There are notes of peaches and oranges and a pleasant tartness. It’s a much rounder and more robust beer than another offering available in the tap room (in bottles, for purchase) — Reserve Wheat.

The Reserve Wheat berlinner weisse is a favorite of Telegraph fans, and neither it nor the Pacific Wild Time ale will last long.

I also paid a visit to Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company on Sunday, to taste the McKinley Peak Milk Stout served on nitro. This is the kind of beer that begs to be paired with something — anything. It would be good with a meal, with ice cream or as a dessert its self. Of course, it’s perfectly fine to enjoy it on its own as well. It’s rich, chocolatey and super creamy served on nitro. I love the way the lactose plays with the roasted malts to bring out that chocolate note. It’s a really nice job from brewmaster A.J. Stoll.

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!

 

Telegraph Brewing Teams up with Indie band, Buellton

The following is a press release from Telegraph Brewing Company.

 

Craft Beer Meets The Music Business In Unique Collaboration

Telegraph Brewing teams up with Santa Barbara-based indie-rock band Buellton to release new album as a bottle of beer

Santa Barbara, CA · Buellton, a Southern California-based band of indie rockers who previously opened for My Morning Jacket, Death Cab for Cutie, and Rilo Kiley, have released their sophomore album, Silent Partner, as a bottle of beer brewed by the cult-artisan craft-beer favorite, and fellow Santa Barbarans, Telegraph Brewing Company. Forgoing traditional record company distribution, Buellton’s album will appear on a bottle of Belgian-style saison ale, also called Silent Partner. The beer’s label serves as the cover/liner notes and a digital download code is found between the cork and cage. The album/beer will be distributed throughout California, Washington State, Arizona, Illinois, New York, and New Jersey and is available now.

With the line-up of band veterans John Nygren (guitar/vocals) and Erik Herzog (drums), and newcomers Curt Crawshaw (guitar), and Graham Palmer (bass) and the new album in the can, Buellton are ready to toast Silent Partner, their first release in over a decade.

Band member John Nygren says, “It’s been so great working with Brian Thompson and his Telegraph Brewing team. Once we realized we wanted to release our album on a bottle of beer, there was no question which brewery would best serve our aesthetic and tastes. We wanted a beer that was accessible to people not already immersed in craft beer, as well as something that was nuanced and complex for the seasoned connoisseur. We designed the recipe with the album in mind and the degree in which they pair has exceeded my expectations.”

“We were enthusiastic about this project from the first moment we discussed it,” says Telegraph Brewing founder Brian Thompson. “Beer and music go together in every way imaginable; this is such a natural pairing.”

Telegraph Brewing, an award-winning craft brewery located  on downtown Santa Barbara’s Salsipuedes Street, specializes in brewing uniquely American and Belgian-inspired beers using 100% domestic ingredients and as many local ingredients as possible. The brewery strives to capture in its beers the unique culinary and agricultural traditions of Santa Barbara and California’s Central Coast.

Album artwork and bottle photograph in jpeg format available upon request. To arrange for an interview Brian Thompson of Telegraph Brewing, or with the band members, please contact Sao Anash.

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.

Santa Barbara Beer Garden – A Tasting Tour

beergarden

Last summer, Santa Barbara Sentinel beer columnist and friend of Santa Barbara Beer Zach Rosen hosted a small festival in Santa Barbara’s Botanic Garden that celebrated local beer and California’s natural flora. The private event was a success, and he and the Botanic Garden have brought it back for another round.

On February 22, Zach, myself and about 250 Santa Barbara beerdoes (Zach’s word and my favorite descriptor for beer geeks) will tour through the Botanic Garden tasting eight beers from some terrific California Breweries. Tickets are $50 and can be purchased here.

I recently spoke with Zach for a piece that will run in Thursday’s News-Press, and you can check that out for more information. However, if you’d like to take a gander at the beers and tasting notes for them, I’ve copied them below. See you there.

Winter ’14 Beer Garden Tasting Notes

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.

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.

3. Santa Barbara Brewing Co King Saaz (unfiltered)

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.