On March 25, the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden held a delightful beer garden with 14 breweries pouring in spots spread throughout its idyllic 78-acre estate. The event raised funds for the garden’s core programs of conservation and research, education, and horticulture.
Cicerone (beer sommelier) Zachary Rosen designed the layout, selecting particular beers for each spot to maximize the tasting experience. According to Rosen, one’s perception of taste is influenced by the other senses so one’s surroundings affect the tasting experience. At a VIP/Sponsor Brew Brunch prior to the main event, Rosen encouraged guests “to engage with all their senses, to smell not just the beer but the air around them and feel the sunlight … and take in the lovely horticulture in the garden.” Rosen noted that the layout also makes guests walk a good distance between samples to lessen the risk of intoxication.
Each of the 200 guests were provided a detailed map with Rosen’s beer tasting notes. One excerpt read, “as you arrive at the top of the Meadow, gaze out upon the Pacific Ocean while tasting the microflora of our Mediterranean climate in this unique version of Figueroa Mountain’s Danish Red, fermented with yeast harvested from the Garden.”
At many of the brewery spots, there was an adjacent food purveyor offering gourmet treats especially designed to pair with its beer neighbor. Helena Avenue Bakery’s stout brownie with malted butter cream and Pure Order Brewing Company’s porter pairing was quite popular.
As if superb beer, food, and scenery weren’t enough, the event also featured live music along the paths — a flutist in the Meadow, a saxophonist in the Redwoods, and a Spanish guitarist in the Manzanita Arroyo.
Prior to the main event, VIPs and sponsors gathered on the grounds of the recently completed Pritzlaff Conservation Center for a splendid Brew Bunch. While enjoying the breathtaking views of the Channel Islands and mandolin and mandocello music from Adam Phillips, guests indulged in a lavish brunch prepared by Catering Connection. Executive Director Steve Windhager welcomed the guests and shared his excitement about the Pritzlaff Center, a research facility with labs, a seed bank, an herbarium, classroom, and workspace. Some of the guests opted for tours of the facility and grounds (which are available for event rental) before adjourning to the main event.
While for many people the main draw of the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden is walking its lovely, dog-friendly trails, it also offers an extensive array of programs, classes and events. Its Spring Native Plant Sale, featuring thousands of plants, begins Saturday April 1 and runs through the end of the month.
After the rainy winter, the garden is even more spectacular than ever. According to Director of Horticulture Betsy Collins, the garden has the best Ceanothus blooms in many years and has water running over the historic Mission Dam for the first time in a decade. For more info about the garden, go to sbbg.org.
Send event invites to Gail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Gail Arnold