Wednesday, June 13, 2007

L.A. Times on Santa Barbara Brewing

As much as I'd like to just cut and paste the whole story here, you all know that would be all kinds of wrong. However, I do want to mention a great piece in the LA Times regarding brewing in the SoCal coastal town of Santa Barbara. To begin, here's the link...

While they got a few things 'off the mark' I think they did a good job portraying a thriving beer culture in this coastal community. Here's one thing I have issue with.
THE wine country milieu seems to color Santa Barbara beer. Three of the breweries — Telegraph, Hollister and Walker Firestone — age or even ferment some of their beer in wooden barrels. Most of the brewers say their beer is designed, like wine, to go with food. Typically, Santa Barbara's brewers (by contrast with certain outfits in San Diego, notably Stone Brewing) do not like a lot of hop bitterness in their beer, even when they're going for a strong hop aroma.
I know they didn't say all San Diego brewers, but I felt some implication there. That catches my attention because Lost Abbey in San Diego's suburbs does about the best job in the US at barrel aging their beers. Again, small stuff and this isn't to discount on the point that the folks down there are doing a good job themselves at making rich and complex beers using alternative methods for achieving their great flavor profile.

This next quote features a new-to-me nugget.
The wine country connection is clearest with Firestone Walker, owned by Adam Firestone — a third-generation winemaker and current president of Firestone Vineyards — and his brother-in-law, David Walker. When they decided to try brewing, they automatically thought of using wine barrels. In time, they developed a system of fermenting beer in Bourbon-style charred oak barrels.
I wasn't aware of the wine connection at one of California's most celebrated breweries. There seem to be several brewers in this state with wine connections, and I guess that all makes since. As much good beer as we have in the Golden State, this is clearly "Wine Country" and I don't see this changing anytime soon... not sure I would want to see that change either.

So, Charles Perry, good job on this, really. I have had the privilege of meeting some of the brewers from this region and am happy to see them getting some good press.