Figueroa Mountain Brewery
Tasting Together in the Funk Zone
Name of Bar: Figueroa Mountain Brewery
Address: 137 Anacapa Street
Location: At the intersection of Yanonali and Anacapa, between the highway and the railroad, kittycorner from Red’s
Days and Hours: Monday through Thursday 4 PM – 9 PM, Friday through Sunday 11 AM – 9PM, but they’ll stay open later if business is good
Open Since: Memorial Day 2013
Deals: $4 beers every Monday
Notable Décor: Old farm equipment and a photograph of a man with a Walt Whitman beard.
Patrons: Almost exclusively 20- and 30-somethings, with a few old timers kicking around
Dress Code: Nonpartisan
Music: Nothing to write home about, but there are plenty of live events every week.
Food: Great pizza and other bar snacks. Pretzels and mustard? Yes, please!
Find of the Night: A stash of board games behind the bar.
Overheard: “You can only deal with the reality of death by realizing that we are not actually individuals, but just matter that passes into different forms — I’m sorry, can I get you a heat lamp?”
Before you leave, you should…: Get tasting notes from your friendly bartender.
My Experience: She looked around the room nervously, eyes flitting from one table of laughing patrons to the next. “Relax,” I said. “This isn’t even a bar, it’s a…tasting room.” As she raised her glass for another thin-lipped sip, I noticed something tangled around her wrist. “Shamata, is that the headlamp from your bike?” I had to laugh. Tonight was her first time in a bar, and when I looked into those big doe eyes, I recognized the taut aspect of a rookie as, once, my own.
I’d ordered us each a Davy Brown Ale, which the bartender had told us had won some big deal award in Denver. Loaded with as many rich and complex flavors as a deep dark chocolate, this ale came in with just a touch of sweetness and left with a hearty, mellow bitterness. I asked a passing server for the story behind this beer — who was Davy Brown? “Shamata? Shamata Jones?” She’d turned out to be a childhood friend from Los Olivos. I sat back as they caught up and talked about life and death and the Lucidity festival.
I left the pair to their reunion to get another beer and do some exploring. Inside, I found the warm and hearty ambience of a mead hall. Long tables were shared by many parties, and people floated freeing as though all partaking the same blissful reverie. The scene reminded me of a rooftop bar I’d been to in Austin. Impressive mustaches and flannel abounded. A wall packed with scores of taps dominated the space, and everywhere there abounded the Fig Mountain tag — with a tenor at once swashbuckling and romantic. I ordered the Black Bread Porter and was instructed to taste for notes of pumpernickel. I patted a Great Dane standing by the bar and rejoined my friend on the patio.
Under the winter full moon I finished my pint with Shamata and made her promise me she’d continue the crawl with me. Her old friend came out of the bar and stood on a table ready to make an announcement. They only needed to sell seven more beers to reach their evening goal of $3,000 in sales. I offered to buy two if others joined, and soon they did. Beer, like the bar itself I suppose, brought everyone together.