Photo Credit: Pure Order Brewing Company
Home to more than 175 wineries and 22,000 acres of vineyards, Santa Barbara County wine is naturally top of mind. However, in the past decade, visitors are enjoying greater drinking diversity, and a big part of that evolution can be credited to craft breweries in Santa Barbara.
Pete Johnson and Casey Smith preside over this restaurant and brewery near the Santa Barbara Amtrak station. Their brewhouse has been active since 2002 and houses copper kettles that yield ales, Belgian-style ales and lagers. The Brewhouse owners clearly have a sense of humor, choosing beer names like Motivation Destroyer IPA and Lobotomator Doppelbock. Their Habanero Pilsner is fairly unusual, featuring chile-infused Condor Pilsner. Fierce chilies also factor into several food items. Have man’s best friend with you? Bring ’em along! Not only does The Brewhouse specialize in craft beers, they’re also dog-friendly, with a dedicated menu just for your four-legged friend.
Jaime Dietenhofer and his wife Meghan started with a brewery on Buellton’s Industrial Way. Now the couple’s ambitions have spread across Southern California, including a brewery in central Santa Barbara.
This Funk Zone outpost features reclaimed wood, Wild West-inspired wagon wheels and horseshoes, and a plant-lined patio shaded by red umbrellas. House beers flow from 20 taps. Depending on the season, you might find Hop For Teacher golden IPA, Ole Mole amber ale incorporating mole spices like cumin, cinnamon and chocolate; and Scary Spice Imperial pumpkin ale seasoned with cinnamon, mace, ginger, and nutmeg. They also offer four-beer flights, and beer floats bobbing with McConnell’s ice cream, a local favorite.
Firestone Walker Barrelworks
Craft beer powerhouse Firestone Walker Brewing Co. built a branch of their popular Paso Robles brewpub in Buellton alongside U.S. Route 101. The biggest excitement takes place in back at their Barrelworks, where mixmasters Jeffers Richardson and “Sour Jim” Crooks craft sour ales and strong ales in a sea of oak barrels. Sit at a shiny bar, where 18 taps dispense properly funky beers like SLOambic, which pours purple and tart thanks to the addition of marionberries and boysenberries. Krieky Bones is a Belgian-style kriek that’s bright red thanks to the addition of cherries. Stronger pours include Helldorado blonde barleywine, Stickee Monkee Central Coast Quad, and Parabola Russian Imperial Stout. A fridge allows beer lovers to grab and go, though supply often can’t keep pace with demand.
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Hoffmann Brat Haus
This newish Old World restaurant honors Bernhard Hoffmann, who imported Spanish Revival architecture to Santa Barbara in 1925. This two-story restaurant features an inviting patio, over 20 sausages, and beers sourced from Germany and Belgium. Eight draft beers and over 20 bottles are served in style-appropriate glassware. This being California, you’ll find gluten-free beer from breweries like Belgium’s Brunehaut and Spain’s Estrella Damm. Specialty beer cocktails include a Burnt Lizard with Murphy’s Irish Stout and Lizard’s Mouth IPA, and a Radler with Reissdorf Kolsch and lemon soda.
Since 2007, this brewpub has been a popular option in Goleta’s Camino Real Marketplace. Co-owner Eric Rose got his start at Santa Barbara Brewing Company and then teamed up with his dad Marshall, who handles the business side. Brewer Noah Regnery now helps steer brewing efforts. House beers flow from 15 taps and are hoppy but balanced, with a wealth of IPAs and pale ales. Popular options include Pencil Pusher Pale Ale, Hippie Kicker IPA, and Shaky Hands, an Imperial coffee porter that doubles as both an upper or downer.
The creations at Pure Order Brewing Company adhere to German traditions. The Reinheitsgebot is a 1516 purity law that required that only hops, malt, water and yeast factor into craft beer. Those strict dictates have carried over into Pure Order beers like Crooked Neck hefeweizen, Red Eye wheat and Black Gull Porter. The Burge family, including “fearless leader” James Burge and brewmaster David Burge, arm their 2000-square-foot brewhouse with 10 taps of house beers and host two full sized outdoor bocce ball courts .
Santa Barbara Brewing Company
The grandfather of Santa Barbara’s craft beer scene dates to 1995 and has helped to inspire many craft beer careers, including Hollister Brewing co-owner Eric Rose and Beachwood BBQ & Brewing co-owner Gabe Gordon. The company’s stainless steel and copper tanks still get regular workouts. Eight house beers are typically on tap, including flagship Santa Barbara Blonde, Rincon Red Ale, and a pair of IPAs. Brewmaster Kevin Pratt is a Certified Cicerone® and Beer Judge Certification Program Grand Master.
Telegraph Brewing Company
Since 2006, Telegraph has thrived in an industrial area on a freeway-friendly side street. Brian Thompson works in lockstep with head brewer Peter Baer and their team to produce local, traditional beers. Year-round crowd pleasers include White Ale and Telegraph IPA. Depending on the season, you might find Cerveza de Fiesta Czech-style Pilsner, brewed for Santa Barbara’s popular summer celebration, or Rhinoceros Belgian-style strong ale, which packs a wallop with rye malt and considerable hops.