On March 24, the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden (SBBG) held its fifth annual Beer Garden fundraiser with 15 breweries pouring at locations throughout the scenic garden. Once again, beer sommelier Zachary Rosen collaborated with area breweries to create a garden where the beers go with their botanical surroundings. He also collaborated with area chefs to design appropriate gourmet food pairings. About 200 fortunate souls got to indulge in this beer lover’s Eden, with general admission tickets selling out within three hours and VIP tickets also going quickly. The event raised an estimated $50,000.
The $250 VIP ticket included a lovely Premium Beer Brunch on the Pritzlaff Conservation Center grounds with stunning ocean and mountain views and the Good Lion on hand serving signature beer cocktails. Event Co-chair and Trustee Jesse Smith warmly welcomed the guests and thanked the breweries, food purveyors, and sponsors for stepping up in a year that has been a very difficult one for businesses.
Executive Director Steve Windhager thanked the guests for their support, which allows the SBBG to maintain the garden, do conservation work, and provide education programs. Windhager explained that in addition to being a great place to drink beer, the SBBG is a conservation organization focused on preventing species extinction and that this work is even more critical now because of climate change and other challenges. SBBG is also helping to rebuild damaged wild places and bring back natural diversity. The garden has projects from Baja to Morro Bay, inland in the Carrizo Plains, and 23 projects in the Channel Islands. On top of all the conservation work, Windhager shared how the garden is also such a great resource for the community to visit and unwind.
Along with a glass, guests were given a map of the breweries’ locations and Rosen’s detailed tasting notes. A standout among the many fine beers was Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company’s Imperial Red Cask with Oak and Hops, which according to Rosen, is “A strong red ale with soothing caramel malt flavors and conditioned with hops and French oak cubes to match the grace of the majestic redwoods.” Some breweries incorporated sage in their beers, including Santa Barbara Brewing Company’s Black Sage Ale, whose sage was harvested straight from the SBBG. Pure Order Brewing Company once again was adventurous, this year with Chocolate Cricket Stout, which cleverly used cricket flour to mellow the robustness of the stout.
Barbareno shined once again, this year with its lamb gyro on dill pita with nasturtium pesto and crispy chick peas, which paired nicely with the Barrelworks El Gourdo wheat beer. The Apiary Ciderworks and Meadery poured two tasty honey-based beverages and was quite suitably situated next to a honey bee hive and the garden’s Discovery Station on bees. Director of Conservation and Research Denise Knapp was on hand here to share knowledge about these essential creatures, of which there are 1,600 kinds in California.
As if superb beer, food, and scenery weren’t enough, the event also featured live music along the paths — a harpist in the Meadow, a bagpipe player in the Redwoods, and a guitar player in the Manzanita Arroyo.
SBBG has 5.5 miles of paths meandering through 78 acres of scenic grounds, which contain more than 1,000 different taxa of plants. SBBG offers a wide range of classes for the general public as well as school programs. Memberships provide essential support and come with myriad benefits.The garden’s Spring Native Plant Sale, which runs March 31 to April 30, offers more than 400 varieties of plants.
For more info about the Botanic Garden, go to sbbg.org. If viewing this from a mobile device, click on “Desktop site” for more pics. Send invites to firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Gail Arnold