Despite it being 5:30 p.m. on a Wednesday, the bar is abuzz as if it were 10:30 p.m. on Saturday. “Deckers and Lockheed Martin both have happy hours going on now,” explains Scott Stefan, one of five partners behind Draughtsmen Aleworks in Goleta, which recently opened not just a microbrewery but an insta-community.
Stefan, who holds the title of ombudsman in this slightly wacky world at the railroad end of Santa Felicia Drive, first dreamed of opening a brewery 15 years ago and owns the garage where the five friends’ planning — and their requisite beers — went down. So what’s a five-person democracy like? “It’s been amazingly smooth,” said Chris Van Meeuwen, The Fixer, to which Stefan interrupted with perfect comic timing: “Whoa, whoa, whoa … are you new here?”
Tami Snow, the Storyteller (aka PR Maven), is more up-front. “It’s beer, so fun is paramount,” she said, explaining that everyone has a different strength. “Reno [King] makes beer; I do the brand; Scott builds community. We all want to create and grow something, and we all feel the best times in our lives have been around beer.”
After stints at Figueroa Mountain Brewing and Poseidon in Ventura, Reno King, a Goleta native, calls Draughtsmen his “last stop.” Although he’s a fan of less hoppy British styles, that hasn’t stopped this young brewer, who’s billed as the Hops Wrangler, from crafting The Ogre, a double IPA. “We don’t want to be pigeonholed,” he said. “We sit around on Wednesdays and have beers, and I ask, ‘So, what should I brew next?’”
The Severance IPA is the best seller of their seven beers so far, but King’s surprise hits are the Crimson & Clover Irish Red and the Meat & Potatoes Porter. Experimental batches are bubbling, too, likely starting with a gluten-reduced beer (think Stone’s Delicious IPA).
Draughtsmen is the first brewery in Santa Barbara County to offer crowlers, which are 32-ounce cans of fresh-brewed beer capped by the Automatic Master Sealer machine. “It looks so antiquated,” said Snow. “The first time I used it, I thought I broke it, but the can was sealed!” Snow says the nimble size is perfect for a picnic or the beach, while King argues that it lets you bring more types of beer to a party. “They really do help the brand,” he said. “They make a great conversation piece in someone’s fridge.”
Draughtsmen’s team hopes to impact the greater community, as well, by starting a nonprofit tap of the month that will raise money and awareness. “It’s not just ‘here’s a check,’” Snow explained, “but it’s about relationships: how to help a group get its message out and create the action they need.”
Even more innovative are their “a penny for a pint” cards, which they’re giving out to people who they see doing something nice for someone else. So far, those kind people who’ve been given the redeemable cards tend to stop and “make sure you’re for real,” said Snow, but then they give thanks.
“We’re not going to save the world — we’re making beer — but we want to do the best we can to help the community,” said Snow. “We live here; we work here — we’re about beer karma.”
Draughtsmen Aleworks is located at 53 Santa Felicia Drive in Goleta. Call (805) 387-2577 or see draughtsmenaleworks.com.