My brother recently moved away from San Francisco down to Santa Barbara. I don’t see this as losing my brother, but as gaining access to more California microbreweries. Luke Smith, Beer at Joe’s Santa Barbara correspondent, tells us about a festival near his house:
The Santa Barbara Beer Festival is exactly what you’d expect it to be: a drunken good time filled with music, amazing weather, beautiful views, experienced connoisseurs, passionate home brewers and beer-guzzling college students determined to consume an entire keg all by themselves– the perfect mix for a great day.
In all, over 30 brewers took part in the SB Beer Festival, happily providing large amounts of alcohol to the more fervent inebriates or enthusiastically answering questions to satisfy the palates of the more refined beer drinkers. I like to think of myself as being somewhere in between; we’ll say I’m a curious drunk. Arriving at the event early proved to be the best thing I could have done all day. I guess the more serious revelers find it hard to attend something that starts at noon on a Saturday – even if the sole purpose of that event is to drink beer.
One of the first breweries to catch my attention was The Great Beer Company out of Chatsworth, CA. I think what caught my attention first were the beer taps that I’m pretty sure were modeled after Jessica Rabbit. Secondly, I was curious about their Hollywood Blonde, which is a Kölsch style ale. Since I had never heard of this style before, Brewer Dean Lynn explained to me that Kölsch ales are only allowed to be brewed in certain areas of Germany. Getting the rights to brew something similar here in the US was a difficult process. They aren’t even allowed to call the beer a Kölsch ale; they have to call it a Kölsch-style ale. What’s so unique about this ale is that it is fermented at a warm temperature like all ales, then cold-aged like lagers. This gives it a nice full flavor without the bitter aftertaste found in most ales. It also provides both malty and hoppy qualities that blend together quite nicely; almost like the malt and hops are holding each other’s hands as they go skipping along your taste buds.
Reinforcing Californian’s passionate love affair with ales (Indian, pale or other), The Santa Barbara Beer Festival offered a plethora of unique, exciting ales to try. A few of my favorites included two beers produced by Island Brewing Company in Carpenteria, CA – Paradise Pale Ale and Jubilee Ale. Paradise might have been my favorite pale ale at the event. It had the perfect aroma of fresh hops with a crisp, clean taste and only a hint of bitterness. I’m sure to find myself cursing its drinkability some morning very soon. Jubilee lacks the hops and replaces them with a rich malt flavor leading to a sweet finish. At 6.8% alcohol, I think I’ll only stick to one or two of these a night.
Another unique ale offered by the Telegraph Brewing Company was their seasonal Harvest Ale, which I can only describe as tasty, satisfying and confusing. “What is a harvest ale?” I asked the brewmaster. His answer might have been even more confusing. Apparently naming an ale “harvest” can mean many different things; there is no industry standard. Telegraph’s Harvest Ale was specially brewed to be served at local wineries for the 2008 wine harvest, thus giving it the harvest ale name. It is made with a hefeweizen yeast and an amber wheat malt to give it a light and fruity yet full flavor.
Many more beers were tried throughout the day, but my memory tends to get a bit fuzzy, and my handwriting tends to lose its legibility. Although I do remember dancing to a 90’s cover band with a bachelorette party at some point.
We can only hope the Curious Drunk will continue to regale us with tales of Santa Barbara beer. Thanks, Luke!