US - Pacific Santa Barbara Guide

Discussion in 'Beer Travel, Events and Releases' started by mrk_d, Apr 15, 2014.

  1. mrk_d

    mrk_d

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2014
    Location:
    Santa Barbara, CA
    If you're visiting/passing through Santa Barbara, here's a (by no means comprehensive) list of good stuff to check out. While Santa Barbara beer culture is a little behind when compared to LA/SF/SD, things have improved significantly in 2016. Feel free to ask questions in this thread or PM me if you're going to be visiting.

    Breweries/Brewpubs
    • Telegraph: Has improved markedly in recent years. Definitely worth a stop, some great wild ales usually available on tap and their clean beers are consistently good.
    • Third Window: Similar to Telegraph, and probably my favorite downtown SB brewery. Has ties to the Bruery. Some great clean beers, and their barrel/sour program is just getting started. Some of the Belgian-inspired beers can be a touch boring but their lineup is usually great.
    • Topa Topa: Ventura-based brewery that just opened a tasting room in Santa Barbara adjacent to Lama Dog. They are making my favorite IPAs in SB.
    • Draughtsman: Super solid brewery in Goleta, everything is well executed and the atmosphere is very relaxed.
    • Firestone Walker Barrelworks: ~45 minutes outside of Santa Barbara but by far the best beer destination nearby. Located next to the FW restaurant in Buellton, Barrelworks does primarily small-batch barrel aged beers. Definitely worth the trip if you're able to get here.
    I skip over a few breweries here (Figueroa Mountain, M. Special, Captain Fatty's, SB Brewpub, SB Brewing Company, Pure Order) since they are not worth visiting in my opinion, particularly if you're time-limited.

    Bars/Restaurants.
    • Lama Dog: The best beer bar in town, with a rotating selection of taps and an extensive bottle selection with low prices and reasonable corkage (~$2 IIRC). The adjacent Nook restaurant is good but not cheap.
    • Wine + Beer: Similar concept to Lama Dog, with a much heavier wine focus; Lama Dog is definitely the better beer spot of the two overall. You can get food to go from any of the surrounding restaurants and eat it at the bar.
    • American Ale: Good beer selection in downtown SB, though they serve everything out of small-ass mason jars and charge too much for it. Prepare yourself for flannel, mustaches, and 1920's-era music blaring from the speakers.
    • Eureka Burger: High-end burger chain, pretty good food and a decent beer selection (watch the prices/serving sizes though). They have rare bourbon at crazy markups if you're into that...
    • Mercury Lounge: Located in Goleta. Awesome dive bar vibes with a selection that ranges from decent to fantastic. Outstanding bottle prices as well, and free pool on Tuesdays. Worth the trip out of downtown SB if you're looking for somewhere low-key to hang out for a night.
    • Elsie's: Dive bar in Santa Barbara. Worth it for the vibe, second-rate in terms of beer selection but they usually have some decent CA locals on tap.
    • Dutch Gardens: No website - Yelp is linked. Cool out of the way German spot with some interesting old-school beers on tap. Probably one of my favorite restaurants in town since they serve very simple, classic food in a setting that will make you think you're not in the States.
    • Yellow Belly: Laid-back local spot. Good food, reasonable prices, consistently decent beer selection.
    • Woodstocks: Located in Isla Vista, the college down adjacent to UCSB. Worth mentioning for their great rotating taplist.
    • Blue Owl: Not really a beer destination (their beer selection is fine), but their food is awesome. Plus they're open until ~2am on weekend nights which can be useful.
    Bottle Shops

    Unfortunately Santa Barbara gets skipped over a bit when it comes to distro, so if you're from LA or SF nothing will be that exciting in comparison. Nonetheless, here are the best places for beer to-go:
    • Lama Dog: The best bottle shop in town, bar none.
    • Bevmo: There are two Bevmo locations in the Santa Barbara area: one in downtown Santa Barbara and one in Goleta. They have a pretty solid shelfturd inventory and occasionally get good limited distribution west coast beers. Good prices.
    • Whole Foods: A good option as well. Everything is refrigerated, and they have a good local mix in addition to regional/national beers.
    • Keg and Bottle: Located in Isla Vista. Really weird spot - look out for under- or over-priced beers, 2+ year old unrefrigerated IPAs, and awesome limited beers that have no business being on the shelf in a college town.
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2016
  2. obiwan_k3n00bi

    obiwan_k3n00bi

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2013
    Location:
    Northern California
    I'd also mention Island Brewing a few miles south, in Carpinteria. Solid small batch stuff when they release it, not too much of fan of their regular offerings, but it's been a long time.

    When I lived down there, San Roque Market had a pretty great beer selection. Very close to both BevMo and whole foods.

    Woodstocks seems to have greatly improved their taplist, it was fine before but never saw Parabola or non-regular FSW beers. Keg and Bottle would occasionally have some RR sours for something like 3 times retail. So... that's a thing, I guess.
     
    shelf_turd_ferguson likes this.
  3. cneville

    cneville

    Joined:
    May 3, 2013
    Location:
    A2, MI
    bumping a super dead thread! i'll be in santa barbara for a few days toward the end of september. anything changed? anything new? any tips for someone who has never even been to CA before?

    edit: mrk_d since i don't think watched thread last this long.
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2015
    More Betterness and jmgrub like this.
  4. Rau71

    Rau71

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2013
    Location:
    San Miguel, CA
    Are you only staying in Santa Barbara or will you be traveling to other parts of the state?
     
  5. cneville

    cneville

    Joined:
    May 3, 2013
    Location:
    A2, MI
    driving from lax to santa barbara and back. can stop places. my cousin lives in santa barbara and has been pestering me to visit, and i have a free flight with weird dates that i have to use by the beginning of october. i am taking advantage of his free lodging (hence not staying in l.a.), but have tons of free time and a rental car, and am definitely planning on going to FW barrelworks at least once. very much open to ideas though.
     
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  6. Rau71

    Rau71

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2013
    Location:
    San Miguel, CA
    I have been known to fly into LAX then make a detour to beachwood in Long beach. In no way is this on the way, but every time I was glad I went. Other than that I am not too familiar with SB, but I think Barrelworks is the spot to be.
     
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  7. mrk_d

    mrk_d

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2014
    Location:
    Santa Barbara, CA
    Not a whole lot new to report. Keg and Bottle's prices are now normal, but Whole Foods is still probably your best bet as most stuff there is fresh.

    Pace has closed down, and a new place called Wine + Beer has opened (more wine-oriented, but ok spot for beer). In general the distro here is sub-par relative to most of CA; I would just look forward to cans of Modern Times and Pizza Port, and maybe some BA FW stuff if you go to Keg and Bottle or San Roque. On that note, San Roque will sell you a Lot B for $600 if you're into bourbon...


    Lmk if you want to grab a beer in town btw! If you're up for cracking bottles, that's probably a possibility as well depending on the day.

    Edit - I see you mentioned Barrelworks, definitely without question the best beer spot around here.
     
    cneville likes this.
  8. cneville

    cneville

    Joined:
    May 3, 2013
    Location:
    A2, MI
    thanks! i'll definitely let you know what plans are once we're closer (going last week of sept.). will definitely load up on cans to take back since i am flying southwest. may just check a styro shipper.
     
  9. cardinalbruintriton

    cardinalbruintriton

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2014
    Location:
    Silicon Valley
    Planning a couple days in Carpinteria. Wanted to do some BBQ at Carpinteria State Beach but saw that they don't allow alcohol in the picnic areas.

    Does anyone know of some alternative spots? Or are they not strict about this alcohol policy?
     
  10. mrk_d

    mrk_d

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2014
    Location:
    Santa Barbara, CA
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2016
  11. tosh

    tosh

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2013
    Location:
    Arg
    Timely bump - looks like I am heading to SB in a couple of weeks. Primary reason for trip is to help Niece move house, but always nice to have a few places to visit for good food and beer.

    Been a while since I have been down this way.
     
    mrk_d likes this.
  12. mrk_d

    mrk_d

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2014
    Location:
    Santa Barbara, CA
    I'm gonna be pissed if we don't have a beer while you're down here.
     
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  13. tosh

    tosh

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2013
    Location:
    Arg
    Will try and make it happen - Saturday the 20th is most likely, will also be stopping at Libertine and Barrelworks on way up/down on Fri and Sunday.
     
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  14. AptosBeerDrinker

    AptosBeerDrinker

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2014
  15. mrk_d

    mrk_d

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2014
    Location:
    Santa Barbara, CA
    Still yet to open, sounds promising based on Fess Parker and Bruery ties. Will update once they've opened and I've paid them a visit.
     
    AptosBeerDrinker likes this.
  16. sb67

    sb67

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2015
    Location:
    Santa Monica, CA
    I need to swap beers with a buddy in SB soon, so maybe I'll try to make it that weekend and meet up at Barrelworks (if he's free). Mostly because I'll use nearly any excuse to go to Barrelworks... Can also IP bombard you with candy.
     
    tosh likes this.
  17. WICali

    WICali

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2015
    Location:
    California
    Late, but still. Went to Cava (Montecito) last weekend and stumbled upon The Bottle Shop (few minutes walk). Any bourbon, scotch, cigar enthusiasts, etc... need to check this place out.
     
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  18. More Betterness

    More Betterness

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2014
    Location:
    Orange County
  19. These are Talls

    These are Talls

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2014
    Location:
    California
    ^This
     
  20. mrk_d

    mrk_d

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2014
    Location:
    Santa Barbara, CA
    Third Window just opened up a couple days ago, and I made it in yesterday to check it out. The beers I tried ranged from good to great, and I am super excited to see what they put out in the coming months.

    Highlights for me were the raspberry berliner and an orange vanilla chocolate stout. The berliner is super refreshing at 3% ABV with no flaws or weirdness, just perfect execution. The stout was probably my favorite beer of the flight, which surprised me given I don't like fruited stouts and I can't stand orange chocolate. Somehow the adjuncts melded together well, and this beer made me super excited to see what they can do with other stout varieties.

    It is nice to finally have a local brewery that's producing what I consider to be national-caliber beer on the cutting edge. If their barrel program is of similar quality to the beers I tried this weekend, I will be a very happy camper.