Hello all from sunny Southern California! As I sit here and type while looking out onto the deep blue of the Pacific Ocean I am pressed to share my California experiences with all you Beer Friends out there! No, not the experiences that involve the scenic coastal drives, giant palm trees, foggy mountains and golden fields of wheat. Not at all. We know what you want to hear about: The Beer! And SoCal is flowing with it! Now this vacation was not centered around the beer, but I did my best (as any Beer Friend would) to sample as much of the local brew as I could along my travels - which took place mostly in the LA area, but reached as far north as Santa Ynez/Santa Barbara and as far south as the beautiful city of San Diego. Day 1 was short and only includes the Santa Barbara Brewing Company - but none-the-less it was a good one!
Santa Barbara Brewing Company
For many years I have fondly remembered a family trip up the coast to Santa Barbara, where we walked along streets lined with Spanish style stuccato tiled houses and ate at the legendary Joe's Cafe. In an effort to recreate said memories I insisted we stop into the town to perform the same rituals - only at the end we were pleasantly surprised.
After leaving Joe's Cafe (filled with an amazing tri-tip French Dip) we took a leisurely walk in the direction of the water only to be stopped in our tracks by the shining beacon that is the Santa Barbara Brewing Company. From the outside it is an unassuming building with a small label - easy to miss if you had your head down.
The inside has a very paired down feel - no frills! There is a lot of exposed brick and dark wooden furniture/bar area. Their stainless steel serving tanks line the back of the bar and the other brewing kettles fill in the back of the restaurant area giving you the feel that you are right where the brewing action is. The bartenders are friendly, welcoming and ready to pour you a cold brew. All-in-all it was a fantastic experience. We tried their IPA and their Pomegranate Wheat - here's what we thought...
Kristina (special guest) - Pomegranate Wheat - I love summer - so the pomegranate wheat is a very refreshing beer to drink at this time of year. It is very refreshing with a nice pomegranate flavor that only adds to the crispness. Better to drink in the hotter afternoon when a full beer doesn't quite fit the bill - which today was exactly what I wanted.
Graham (normal, boring guest) - IPA - Their IPA is pretty malty right off the bat. That malt flavor is pretty quickly replaced with that good ol' California hop flavor - citrusy and herbal. This brew is bigger than a usual Cali-IPA with the same flavors that you grow to love and expect. The malt makes it feel like you are drinking a heartier beer than you really are and the hops bring you back down to California earth. Definitely a must have if you're ever in the Santa Barbara area...
Stay tuned for Day 2 - coming later today! It includes some brews from the Santa Ynez/Buellton areas - Firestone Walker and one of my new favorites - Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company!