Drinking and Driving: Just Do It

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Did you find yourself painfully sober last weekend? Were you overwhelmed with the seemingly endless options of places to go and things to do in LA? Are you so dreading a repeat of your boring weekend that you just want to curl up into fetal position underneath your blankets? Well have I got a day trip for you! A friend came across this LA Times article about a burgeoning scene of new breweries in Santa Barbara, and since everyone loves a beer trek, plans were hatched to check some of them out. A road trip filled with driving and beer, now that’s a mix sure to lead to lots of fun! Hop on in if you care to come along. Or just cry away in your bed, what do I care.

Round up a small crew and head on up the 101. The article has a few suggestions you might want to consider, we picked out a few breweries we wanted to definitely visit, and a winery for good measure, thus I dubbed it the Borrachos and Winos tour. First stop, in glorious Carpinteria, Island Brewing Company.

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This is the tap room for the brewery. Even though a hand written sign reads “Now Serving Food!” the focus is on the beer. There’s a small patio in the parking lot and some tables inside as well, both are airy and relaxing, perfect place to unwind from the drive.

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For $6 you can get a sampler tray of small glasses of their brews, which included a very malty and full-bodied old ale named Jubilee, an amazingly tasty Nut Brown Ale, and a Paradise Pale Ale..

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..which is what I had. I thought this was a tad too bitter for the style and kinda lacked the punch of hoppy floral scent I was hoping for, but a good beer nonetheless. The certified beer judge among us said it was in proper keeping to the style, and I don’t doubt him one bit. Next time I’ll start with the brown ale.

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We even got a glass of pretzel sticks. Don’t try to drink em’, just chew.

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Someone pointed out the strange bathroom art.

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On the way out the Amtrak passed right in front, there’s a station just across the way. I guess if you want to avoid any more dings on the car you could come up via train, maybe even camp out at the beach. No resting for us as the next stop in Santa Barbara is only open from 1-4, time to get moving.

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Located in a small warehouse, the Telegraph Brewing Co. was easily the best stop of our tour. If you like good beer, you need to make a trek here. It’s at 416 N. Salsipuedes St, they really should play up the street name porque no me quiero salir!

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Just off to the side of the fermenting and conditioning tanks, there is a tiny bar where you can sit and enjoy the beer, but the small groups of people there were just standing around. For $4 you can get a small sample of the 3 beers on tap and a full glass of whichever one you decide you liked best.

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Easily some of the tastiest and freshest beers I’ve had in awhile. I was most impressed by the oily and flavorful Stock Porter, which they make by mixing fresh porter with some that has been aged in oak barrels, and the Golden Wheat Ale which is more like a white ale with the slight spiciness and citrusy notes, it’s the beer for Summer.

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Shhh, beer ageing. Unfortunately there were no bottles available to take home as the demand for product has outpaced the brewers ability to supply the beer. Certainly a good problem to have and a sign many others are taking an interest in these fine ales.

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And they even have a sensible restroom!

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We had to get going to our next stop but if we knew how bad this one would be, we might have stayed at Telegraph for another round instead. But that’s why you do a beer trek, to figure which places you do and don’t like. Cuz this one, just called The Brewhouse, was the pits. The lil’ kid font hints they really need to grow up.

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Oh look, they’re considered “best patio to bring your pet” by some random website, and I left my chickens pecking around at home, damn. Although I bet they’d cluck in disapproval as well. To begin with, they don’t have a printed list of their beers, the closest they come is some sort of food pairing suggestions. I’m a big boy, I can figure out what to eat on my own! Worse, the young server clearly had no training in beer info, with his meaningless descriptions of lighter and darker beers rather than just telling us the styles. It also doesn’t help to mention the other beers you have on tap (like Sierra Nevada) when we already mentioned we are here for your house beers. They were out of the “Harry Porter” or maybe they’re just waiting to release it with the book. Whatever, it happens though, no big deal. I choose the white ale since it seemed so perfect at the last stop.

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Ha, ha, a lemon slice, amateurs. And a weak tasteless beer to go with it; if I wanted that I’d just make my own.

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My friend ordered the sampler which included a Habanero ale, a sure sign this was a jock bar. A small sip and it sure was hot. What is the point of having the hottest chile in a beer when all you taste is heat? I bet it’s just for the novelty and for frat boys to challenge each others manliness. I can already hear the chants of chug, chug, chug. I think the stout was okay (didn’t taste it) but the beers were generally a let down.

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Oh look, here comes the “land shark.” Santa Barbara, you confuse me. We came here to have some food and that was a bust as well: canned black olives in a quesadilla, a veggie sandwich on flimsy burger buns, mediocre fish and chips. I’d suggest you skip the food. Actually skip the whole place as a trip to the mens restroom reveals this really is a jock bar.

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Yeah, a mermaid holding up her jugs. That’s fuckin’ clever, Bro!

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Someone must have lost their mind painting all these tiny boats. Ugg, this stop was a mistake. Time to head somewhere else, lets hit up a winery for the winos amongst us.

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Ah crap, 10-5? But all the winos in my local park go way later than that? I guess SB wine drinkers are scared of the dark. Scrap the winery tour.

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Next up, and what turned out to be the final stop, Santa Barbara Brewing Company.

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We sat in the “lounge” way in the back as they were reserving the main table area for the dinner crowd. There were a bunch of TVs everywhere which were a bit distracting, but I could see coming here to see a futbol match, maybe the Copa America final between Brazil and Argentina? I suspect that’ll get at least one monitor way in the corner. Or not.

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I had the stout which they pour with a nitrogen mix rather than just the usual CO2. Nitro creates those really tiny bubbles which give the beer a very creamy mouthfeel, if you’ve ever had a Guinness on tap you’ll know what I mean. The stout was way too cold, but after it warmed up a bit it was very enjoyable with all the power of the roasted barley coming right through.

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Not much to report here, but might as well throw this pic in. You can see the newspaper over the urinal off to the side, common in many bars but still kinda weird.

That pretty much wraps up our tour of Santa Barbara area breweries, it was time to start heading back. It might be fun to go to the Firestone Walker brewery in San Luis Obispo, as they make a great Pale Ale, but that’s way too far for this trek. Well those are my suggestions for a quick getaway, pick and choose accordingly.

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As we were exiting SBBC and contemplating the public art (I will withold my contemplations) the stupid “land shark” came by again..

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.. with a bunch of drunks going crazy on board and waving at everyone on the sidewalks, holding up the traffic behind them as if they were on their own mini parade. Weirdos.

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P.S. If you consider getting a bite to eat at Chilango’s next door, avoid the veggie burrito: it comes in a green spinach tortilla and includes raw slices of carrots. Que asco!

Island Brewing Company
5049 Sixth Street
Carpinteria, California 93013
(805) 745 8272

Telegraph Brewing Company
416 North Salsipuedes Street
Santa Barbara, CA 93103
Tel: 805-963-5018

The Brewhouse
229 W. Montecito Street
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
(805) 884-4664

Santa Barbara Brewing Company
501 State Street
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
Phone: 805-730-1040

11 Replies to “Drinking and Driving: Just Do It”

  1. Ahhh…back in my college days I did that sort of thing often. Roadtrips and beer perfect combo. I believe that is why I was a charter member of DAMM
    Drunks
    Against
    Mad
    Mothers
    ….just kidding.
    Love your humor and twist on things.

  2. Hey, if anyone is interested in doing something like this. My homebrew club is going on a bus tour from Woodland Hills to Islands, Brewhouse (personally, I like the place because it’s slightly disreputable and the guys who run it are former homebrewers) and Hollister Brewing in Goleta. (Own/run by the former brewmaster at Santa Barbara Brewing)

    We’ve got a 60 passenger bus, lunch, dinner and beer on the bus and at the breweries.

  3. That is an awesome idea there drewb, if you ever organize one of those tours with pick ups here in the SGV I’m all over it.

  4. Frazgo,

    Don’t know about pickups in the SGV, but we’ve done one of these trips per year for the past few years. When we had a whole crew up in SF, we did a tour to Russian River Brewing, Bear Repbulic, Lagunitas, Marin BRewing and Trumer Braueri. Last year we did a tour to Stone Brewing, Alesmith, Ballast Point and Pizza Port. Ahh, the beer world. :)

  5. Drewb:
    How was Hollister in Goleta? Is it sports bar-ish?
    Doesn’t Anderson Valley do weekend camping festivals at their breweries? Or maybe that’s Rogue…

  6. Chimatli,

    I’ll let you know how Hollister is after the 21st. That’s when we go!

    And Anderson Valley does a huge camping/beer festival every year. But I think it’s around the same time as the big homebrewer’s festival down in Temecula, so I haven’t been yet!

  7. Dude,

    What a loser. You only hit two good microbreweries (Island and Telegraph), and missed the best one which is Hollister Brewing Company which by far has the best beer (about 10 really nice, fresh interesting brews) and pretty good food.

    Happy Hour there (M-F from 2-6) with $2 pints and food specials.

    Next time – ask a local bro’

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