While I've been kept away from writing due to sickness and work during the last two weeks, I have been busy collecting material for my next article.
Recently, I took a weekend to travel down the 101 to sunny Santa Barbara. While it was a weekend getaway, I definitely saw the trip as an opportunity to have a mini beercation - AKA a vacation centered around the local craft breweries.
Here are the three breweries I hit, and my thoughts on each:
#1: Firestone Walker
One of the biggest craft breweries in the country. The Firestone Walker brewery is in Paso Robles, a couple hours north of Santa Barbara. It's a great place to take a pit stop. Also, their brewery tour is held daily, and it's free. Their tour guides do a great job explaining how their beer is made, and they do have a taproom where their beers and food are served. Highlight: Trying Firestone's take on a Pils.
#2: Island Brewing
Island Brewing is a small brewery in Carpinteria, a few miles south of Santa Barbara. This is a wonderful brewery to visit during the day. While they aren't right on the beach, they are pretty damn close. The brewery has a coffee shop feel to it in that it has a spacious inside in addition a nice sunny patio. I feel like I could read a book in the building and feel like I totally belonged. The brewery has creds too: Their Starry Night Stout won Gold at the 2012 GABF. Highlight: Drinking a beer in the warm sun and watching the ocean (in January).
Telegraph is right in downtown Santa Barbara, and their brewery is located in a garage / hangar / warehouse type building. It has a real startup feel to it, with their giant beer tanks strewn about the building. Telegraph offered a great selection of beers both on tap and in bottles. Honestly I wasn't able to spend as much time here as I would have liked, but I'm making it a point to return again soon. Highlight: Really impressed by their White Ale and can't wait to try the bottles I brought home with me.
Next time you go on a vacation, think about turning it into a beercation. It's a great experience. And if you need to drive away for a weekend, keep Santa Barbara in your mind. It's got great breweries and wonderful weather.
Beer of the moment: Lagunitas Sucks.