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Santa Barbara’s Craft Brew Scene

Photo Credit: Blake Bronstad, Courtesy of Pure Order Brewing Company

Three cheers for Santa Barbara! From downtown thoroughfares to Goleta side streets, visitors are enjoying greater drinking diversity, and a big part of that evolution can be credited to the emerging craft beer scene in Santa Barbara. To help you navigate this ‘hoppy’ change of pace, we’ve carefully crafted a list of the best craft breweries in the Santa Barbara South Coast.

 THE FUNK ZONE

Enjoying pizza and beer at Figueroa Mountain Brewing in Santa Barbara.
Beer, bros and pizza at Figueroa Mountain Brewing. Photo Credit: Instagram @figmtnbrewsb

If you’re a beer connoisseur traveling to Santa Barbara, you’ve likely already tasted the hops of Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co. This Funk Zone fixture has a large selection of beers (25 on tap!), and is a friendly location to linger all afternoon. Bring the dogs, have pizza delivered from Lucky Penny next door, and kick back with a pint of the Blood Orange Summer Squeeze. Once you’re in the sunshine and under Figueroa’s signature red umbrellas, you won’t want to leave. Visiting on a weekend? Make sure to stay for live music on Saturdays.

There are so many reasons to love Lama Dog Tap Room + Bottle Shop. Not only is there a huge selection of rotating beers on tap, 20 to be exact, the menu also includes cider, wine, and boozy kombucha. If this isn’t enough, like the name and interior décor, which features a Warhol-like mural in dedication to the resident dog, Lama, this location is extremely dog-friendly. Choose to sit inside at the large communal table, or opt for a bit of sunshine on the outdoor patio. Finally, if you’re looking to grub while you indulge in their large selection of libations, The Nook serves up some seriously delicious eats.

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Tasting beers at Topa Topa Brewing in Santa BarbaraAdjacent to Lama Dog and within The Waterline, is the newly opened Topa Topa Brewing Co. While Topa Topa is definitely not new to the craft brew scene, its location in Santa Barbara is. Bringing in good vibes and great beers, we can’t help but mention how their bartenders are the nicest of all time. Recommendation: order a Chief Peak IPA and strike up a conversation with the person sitting next to you. After indulging in a beer (or two), take a few steps to The Guilded Table and browse through artisan, hand-crafted goods to take home with you.

Brass Bear Brewing & Bistro is a hidden gem within The Funk Zone. This tucked-away location is worth the find and a full pour. Don’t know what to get? Choose a beer flight with four samples. If you’re your hunger is coming out of hibernation, we’d pair the Hopping Grizzly IPA with the bistro’s new Brass Bear Burger or one of their killer grilled cheese sammies. For those who prefer grapes to hops, wine is also available by the glass. Hibernate at a table inside or opt for standing on the outside terrace.

A flight of beer at Brass Bear Brewing in Santa Barbara.
The Blood Orange/Raspberry Imperial Gose at Brass Bear is another mouth-watering recommendation. Photo Credit: Instagram @whohasbeerforus

Traveling by train? stopover at The Brewhouse, a popular locals spot just a hop, skip and jump away from the Santa Barbara Amtrak station. Those with a sense of humor will appreciate its beer list, with crafty names like Motivation Destroyer IPA and Lobotomator Doppelbock. While watching the game on one its many TV’s, experience a taste of the unusual with their chile-infused Habanero Pilsner. Traveling with man’s best friend? Bring ’em along! The Brewhouse is dog-friendly, with a dedicated food menu just for your four-legged friend.

SOCO (SOUTH OF COTA)

Off the beaten path, Pure Order Brewing Co. is family-friendly, dog-friendly, and fun-friendly. Be prepared to spend the afternoon outside. Grab a pint of Pure Order’s Santa Barbara Lager and head to the patio for a game of bocce ball or life-sized Jenga. As for their philosophy on beer, Pure Order adheres to Reinheitsgebot (“purity law”), which means just four ingredients: hops, malt, yeast and water. Rest assured, with 10 beers on tap, there’s no shortage of variety.

Housed in a retro Quonset hut, visit Telegraph Brewing Co. for a casual beer-drinking atmosphere and a menu of uniquely Californian beers. Patrons come for the crowd-pleasing ales and lagers, but stay for the low-key atmosphere and board game selection. What are we currently thirsty for? Telegraph’s Reserve Wheat Ale, which has a touch of lemon verbena.

The newly opened Third Window Brewing Co. has a local legacy – Founder/CEO Kris Parker is the grandson of late film and TV star Fess Parker and son of Santa Barbara County winemaker Eli Parker. Blazing a new frontier with brews like OKO Bomb! (brewed with OKO Caribe cocoa nibs), you can expect great things from this newcomer. Like the brewery, it’s location within The Mill is also a new kid on the block. Pair your next brew with fixings from neighbor Wildwood Kitchen.

DOWNTOWN SANTA BARBARA

If you crave sizzling pizza with your cold brews, Institution Ale Company has you covered. Their tall pours come in a wide variety of unique flavors, including Blueberry Day Dreamin’ and The Flue, a Habanero Smoked Porter that will have you sniffling with good reason. The expansive brewery’s tasting room offers ample space to gather with friends to watch the game, and their menu includes warm soft pretzels and a Spicy Honey Bacon Pizza that will leave you drooling.

Night Lizard Brewing Company combines environmental awareness with delicious beer. What more could you ask for? The high ceilings and interior greenery provide for a welcoming space to taste beer and learn about sustainability of the Central Coast. Its namesake, the Night Lizard is just one of a few dozen endangered coastal California species that the brewery dubs its beers after. Plus, 10% of all profits go towards environmental education and protection. Drink beer and save the planet at this local hot spot.

Within Santa Barbara Public Market, you’ll want to plant yourself inside The Garden all afternoon long. In addition to 41 craft beers on tap, delicious eats can be ordered from The Kitchen, or you can bring in food from the other market purveyors like Corazon Cocina and Empty Bowl Gourmet Noodle Bar. Sports fans love to catch the latest game on one of the many flatscreens.

GOLETA

Sampling beers at M. Special Brewing in Goleta
Feel among friends at M. Special Brewing in Goleta. Photo Credit: Blake Bronstad

At this recently opened microbrewery in Goleta, it’s more than just the beer that makes this place special. At M. Special Brewing Company, feel among friends as you tap into their large beer selection. With the tagline, “Good beer. Every Time.” you’re in for a treat. Live music, food trucks and frequent events have become a staple at this hopping brewery. Even the dogs love to visit! While you enjoy a Lazy Eye Special Double IPA, treat Fido to a doggie beer biscuit. There’s lots of indoor and outdoor space to invite your friends, family, neighbors and more for an afternoon of good fun.

Feel at home and enjoy really good beer when at Draughtsmen Aleworks. Bring your pals for trivia nights, live music and food trucks – their calendar of events is always full with entertaining events and an approachable atmosphere to match.  As for what’s on tap? Draughtsmen specializes in small batch beers that are inspired by the classics, ales, IPAs and the occasional experimental brew.

A glass of milk stout from Captain Fatty's brewery in Santa Barbara
Walk the Plank Milk Stout with toasted marshmallow garnish at Captain Fatty’s. Photo Credit: Instagram @captainfattys

All are welcome at Captain Fatty’s Brewery, even the kiddos. Not only is there an area for the kids to play, the root beer on tap is for all ages. For those over 21, the beer selection ranges from highly hopped IPAs to malty, velvety stouts. Try the Walk the Plank Milk Stout, topped with a toasted marshmallow.

Since 2007, Hollister Brewing Company has been a popular option in Goleta’s Camino Real Marketplace. 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 either an upper or downer.

Still thirsty? Find more information about Santa Barbara breweries.