Founded just four years ago in a Buellton warehouse on about 100 barrels of beer, Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company continues skyrocketing in size. The craft brewery enjoys jam-packed taprooms in Buellton, Santa Barbara, and Los Olivos; runs its own distribution network from San Luis Obispo to Orange County; plans to be the anchor tenant of a to-be-developed public market in S.L.O.; and is targeting 20,000 barrels in 2015. (For perspective, Sierra Nevada, the granddaddy of California craft brewers, makes more than 800,000, while Central Coast big boy Firestone Walker tops 140,000.)
But the Dietenhofer family owners, head brewer A.J. Stoll, and their employees keep having fun, too, best evidenced in their experimental barrel-aging project Liquamentum, which releases the two latest beers — the Double Down Davy Brown and Hell’s Half Acre Barleywine — this month.
During a visit to their chilly barrel room in May, brewer Kevin Ashford showed off these beers midway through their aging. The Double Down, he explained, is a “significantly amplified version of Davy Brown,” in which they basically doubled the ingredients to make an imperial American brown ale, which picks up butterscotch from the bourbon barrels they sourced from Cutler’s Artisan Spirits. Ashford jammed so many grains and hops into the Barleywine that he “almost broke the brewhouse,” but the ruby-red results are delicious. “It’s a snifter beer,” said Ashford. “It looks like a gem.”
The Liquamentum project, which will get its own tasting room next year, is also experimenting with wine-dosed ales (sauvignon blanc with saison, petite sirah with porter) and may even take adventures with such things as kombucha in your cup. That keeps things interesting for brewers like Ashford, who chose a job at Fig Mountain, as it’s widely known, over other options around the country. “You can grow fast, but can you continue making good-quality beer?” he explained. “I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think we were.”
You can taste Liquamentum’s Double Down Davy Brown and Hell’s Half Acre Barleywine as part of the September 27 FigtoberFest in Buellton, but all of the current releases will also be on tap — as well as sausage and music — during the September 20 FigtoberFest in Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone. See figmtnbrew.com.