Taste Your Way Through Santa Barbara’s Craft Brewery Trail
While we absolutely love Santa Barbara County wines, we know that some of you are more “beer people”. We’re looking at you, dude, who got dragged on our wine tour with your wife/girlfriend/main chick.
Well, the time has come for us to show the rest of our imbibers how awesome the beers are in Santa Barbara plus our neighboring beach towns of Goleta and Carpinteria! Whether you’re stuck in traffic going to/from L.A. or you simply want to explore more than just the food scene in sunny Santa Barbara, we put together this full list of all the craft breweries in the area complete with our staff picks!
Funk Zone & Downtown
These guys started in our Santa Ynez Valley area – Buellton, to be exact – and quickly expanded after opening their smash success of a tasting room in the Funk Zone. We’ve been featuring them on our Funk Zone Food Tour since day one and they’re always a hit! These guys brew some excellent beers from IPAs to German-style lagers and have swooped up more than one award in a number of competitions while simultaneously expanding to five taprooms from Arroyo Grande to Westlake Village.
Known for: Hurricane Deck DIPA & Hoppy Poppy IPA
Staff Picks: Fig Mtn Mosaic & Stagecoach Stout
Deep in the heart of our beloved Funk Zone neighborhood, and nestled inside the Waterline Building, sits this boho-vibed brewery that marks the entrance to a collective of other tasting and shopping experiences. Named after the mountain range that sits over our south coast neighboring cities, these guys keep their IPA and lager brews as simple as surf culture and the great outdoors itself.
Known for: Chief Peak IPA & Tux Nitro Milk Stout
Staff Picks: Weekender Session IPA
This little mom and pop tasting room is nestled behind a smattering of wine tasting rooms on Anacapa Street near the beach. These guys started with a humble home-brewing kit and grew their biz into a full tasting room featuring their own label as well as a few other local brews. Come for the beers and stay for their tasty elevated pub food!
Known for: Goldilocks Blonde & Blood Orange/Raspberry Imperial Gose
Staff Picks: Blood Orange/Raspberry Imperial Gose
After 19 years in the biz, these guys really know how to make some exceptional West Coast style IPAs; some made with their own homegrown El Citra hops. These guys don’t just specialize in the bitter stuff, though. They’re also known for their imperial stouts made in whiskey barrels and their Habanero Pilsner. We recommend starting out with a 4oz “hot shot” before committing to a full glass of this spicy drink!
Known for: Motivation Destroyer IPA
Staff Picks: West Beach IPA
This is the tasting room where beer oficionados and foodies meet. Utilizing as many local ingredients as possible and remaining true to European roots, these guys are crafting distinctive small batch brews that uniquely reflect the Santa Barbara region. Keeping an eye on the future and always willing to try new things, their flagship beers range from ales to a dark complex porter and a citrusy Belgian saison.
Known for: California Ale & Reserve Wheat Ale
Staff Picks: California Ale
Do you shy away from the IPA trend and tend to look for good ‘ol traditional brews? Then Pure Order is your place. These guys are sticklers for brewing craft beers that remain true to the original recipes. The brew names give nod to local Santa Barbara culture and the vibe at this tasting room is very locals only with life size games to play on the patio and views of the local industrial neighborhood.
Known for: Santa Barbara Pale Ale
Staff Picks: Crooked Neck Hefeweizen
In the corner of an old mill building, appropriately renamed The Mill, sits Third Window named in honor of Barbara’s journey to sainthood. This brewery crafts beers from the Five Forms of Beer, producing seasonal, traditional, and clean brews. They also have a new eatery, Brasserie, that recently opened to the public and features locally sourced, chef driven dishes they say “pairs coincidentally well with beer.” And we would have to agree.
Known for: Hammer Pants – Vermont(ish) IPA
Staff Picks: Walkabout (Seasonal)
This way off-the-beaten path brewery can be found inside the back entrance to an industrial building and is named after a culmination of the original founders’ nicknames. Their brewing list is equally as quirky and features some highly-hopped IPAs as well as award-winning sours – one of which can be found at our local Costco and is a mega favorite among the locals!
Known for: Vortex IPA & Calypso Cucumber Sour
Staff Picks: Kalliope Wild Sour
Don’t be fooled by the fact that these guys sit side-by-side within your typical chain store/restaurant shopping center. They’ve been winning awards for years and have an impressive list of craft brews that are sure to please even the pickiest of beer tasters. Grab a seat inside or bask in the sun on their outdoor patio while you knock back West Coast style IPAs paired with upscale pub grub.
Known for: The Pope IPA & Hippie Kicker IPA
Staff Picks: Ryland & Glen Annie Golden
Nestled at the end of an industrial cul-de-sac sits a 2-story brewery owned by a bunch of guys who just plain old love a good beer. Their friendly atmosphere coupled with rotating food trucks makes this out-of-the-way haven a must-visit! Be sure to check out their award-winning brews as well as their gluten-reduced beer that has both gluten-free freaks and regular imbibers raving.
Known for: Crimson and Clover Irish Red
Staff Picks: Severance IPA & Citracide Extra Pale Ale
Lagers, ales, and IPAs, oh my! Pull up a seat at their super cool live edge bar inside or enjoy a brew on the kid and dog friendly outdoor patio where you can knock back a refreshing lager, IPA or ale. There’s more than just tasty brews happening at this pub. Be sure to check out their ongoing list of events happening almost every day of the week from trivia to food trucks to live music.
Known for: Greatland Special IPA
Staff Picks: Dozer Special American Brown Ale
If you’ve never been to Carpinteria, a tight community just south of Santa Barbara and Montecito, then you’re missing out on one of the best locals-only type beach towns! Rincon Brewery is one such place that embodies those vibes and has a killer list of brews named after local surf spots and culture. While you’re there, be sure to check out their tasty food menu – most notably their daily specials board!
Known for: Indicator IPA
Staff Picks: Rivermouth Stout & Warrior Pride Red Ale
Just up the road from the world’s safest beach is an incognito brewery that sits off the main drag and right by the train tracks with a killer view of the ocean and Channel Islands. Belly up to the bar or find a seat with a view and enjoy their varying styles of ales. (Insider tip: this brewery sits on the backside of a huge industrial building and you’ll feel like you’re trespassing getting to the front doors. We recommend parking on Linden Ave or in the public lot across the street and then follow the signs on in!)
Known for: Avocado Honey Ale
Staff Picks: King Tide DIPA
This is THE place for your palate to go off-roading! The menu at this quirky joint is never the same. The trio of owners are always experimenting using locally sourced ingredients and brewing up whatever tickles their fancy. Don’t believe us? Check out their extensive list of past brews here.
Known for: Everything!
Staff Picks: Whatever floats your boat
Other cool places to check out: Apiary Ciderworks & Meadery
Looking for a tour of some of these places? Ask us about our Private Custom Tours. If you can dream it up, chances are we can make it happen!