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My Craft Beer Week in Review, Part 1

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By George Horning

Well, Craft Beer Week has come and gone, and I’d have to say it was a pretty good one here in Santa Barbara, CA. The weather was a little crazy. Over 90 degree temperatures most of the week. That is not normal around these parts any time of the year, especially not mid May. Global warming? Right, another subject for another time (and probably another blog entirely).

I started off my week by grabbing a six pack of Racer 5, brewed by Bear Republic. This is one of my go to, all time favorite beers. Any time I am back home in Northern California, I do what I can to make sure I get up to Healdsburg and get in to Bear Republic. I love sitting outside on their patio on a warm afternoon. The service there is always great, there are smiles all around, and it doesn’t seem too taken over by tourists. Of course, it’s usually crowded, but seats can be found, and good times are had. I enjoyed a few of these tasty IPA’s in my backyard on Monday, and tried to remember if this was one of the first IPA’s I ever had. If it isn’t the first, it’s darn close, and I can say without a doubt, it should be enjoyed by anyone that loves a great, refreshing, well hopped IPA. If you are on a road trip, and get north of San Francisco, try to get up to Healdsburg to enjoy all Bear Republic has to offer. The town is great as well. I know I’m looking forward to my next visit.

Behind the bar at Telegraph Brewing

Behind the bar at Telegraph Brewing

Tuesday, my girlfriend and I made it over to Telegraph Brewing, which is quickly becoming one of my favorite places to get a great beer. It is a little off the beaten path, so it isn’t overcrowded. Every time I am there, I can get in a chat with the person behind the bar to catch up on what Telegraph has been up to or what interesting new beers that have available. The picture above is from the week before last, so it doesn’t have on the list the Obscura Arabic Sour that we tried when we first got there. My girlfriend loves sours, so I’m glad they had one for us to try. They aren’t easy to find around here. The Obscura was very tasty, and not too tart. I know some people love that complete face puckering sensation you can get with some sours, but I don’t mind if it isn’t quite like that. This one was very good, and I’m glad we happened to catch it on tap. Clearly, from the picture below, it was a hit with the girlfriend.

Lindsey enjoying a sour and a night off work

Lindsey enjoying a sour and a night off work

We tried a few more beers, and once you’ve had a couple, you might as well change venues, and have a couple more, right? Yep, I agree. We headed about a quarter mile over into the Funk Zone and popped into Figueroa Mountain Brewing, which was, of course, crowded. Fig Mountain (as it is called around here) has quickly become a must stop for anyone visiting from out of town, or anyone that is out just looking for a great beer. Their location is ideal, one block off State Street (the main street through town), and the whole area has turned into a beer, wine and art destination. Everything in the area is easily reached by walking, the beach is only a couple blocks one way, downtown is only a couple blocks the other way, and the train station is practically next door. It’s almost hard to miss Fig Mountain, and based on the crowds every day, not too many people are missing it. We found a spot in the corner on the patio, with a little bit of shade, as it was still around 90 degrees at 6 in the evening.

Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co.

Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co.

I opted for a Lizards Mouth, which is Fig Mountains’ Imperial IPA, and is a must try when you are here. I’ve talked to numerous people from L.A. that have driven up for the day, and a main part of that trip has to include a stop at Fig Mountain to try the Lizards Mouth. It comes in a 10oz. goblet, and at 9.2%, that is a good thing. Honestly, this beer tastes like it is over 9.2%, but it isn’t boozy at all. It just tastes like this a serious beer, and one is probably going to be enough. Fig Mountain just started bottling this beer. If you see it, grab it. Trust me on this one. I finished my beer, my girlfriend finished her glass of wine (she was “beered out” at this point, if you can imagine that), and we headed home. Time for some homemade tacos! I, of course, had to wash those tacos down with a Racer 5. Wednesday I took a beer break, but I definitely had some greatones later on in the week. I’ll finish up my Craft Beer Week recap in the next couple of days. Cheers, and stay tuned!

Bear Republic Brewing Co.
345 Healdsburg Ave.
Healdsburg, CA 95448
707-433-2337

Hours: Sunday-Thursday 11am-9:30pm, Friday and Saturday 11am-10pm
www.bearrepublic.com

Telegraph Brewing Company
418 North Salsipuedes St.
Santa Barbara, CA 93103
805-963-5018

Hours: Tuesday-Thursday 2pm-8pm, Friday and Saturday 2pm-10pm and Sunday 1pm-7pm
www.telegraphbrewing.com

Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co.
137 Anacapa St, Suite F
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
805-694-2252

Hours: 11am-11pm daily
www.figmtnbrew.com

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