Who’s Pouring for Indy Hops?

Meet the Seven Breweries & Brewpubs Serving You Suds and Stamps at 10 Santa Barbara County Locations This Month

Who’s Pouring for Indy Hops?

Meet the Seven Breweries & Brewpubs
Serving You Suds and Stamps at
10 Santa Barbara County Locations This Month

By Matt Kettmann | June 27, 2024

Credit: radekcho – stock.adobe.com

After seemingly endless weeks of overcast skies, it feels like the sunshine is finally ready to shine on Santa Barbara. What better way to wash in summertime than with a frosty brew? 

Good thing that it’s time again for Indy Hops, our annual celebration of suds that’s pouring all through the month of July. This year features seven different breweries, taphouses, and restaurants serving at 10 locations, from the Santa Ynez Valley down to Carpinteria. 

To officially join the fun, make sure to get your Indy Hops passport below and, starting on July 1, collect stamps from each of the participants, including both Rincon locations. Those who’ve completed their passports are invited to the “Drop Party” at Validation Ale on July 29, where gift cards will be awarded to winners in person. Stay tuned to @sbindependent on Instagram for updates and more prizes. 

Here’s a rundown of where to snag brew and passport stamps this month. 

The Brewhouse 

Credit: Courtesy

Opened on May 26, 1998, The Brewhouse is the oldest brewery in Santa Barbara today, having just celebrated its 26th anniversary. Grant Danely and Joal Clayton are in their second year of ownership, having taken it over from the founders in the fall of 2022. “They continue to make small but noticeable changes to keep the tradition of The Brewhouse alive while bringing it up to date more and elevating guest experiences,” said manager Kathy Brown. 

Similarly, longtime brewmaster Casey Smith adheres to tradition while adding creative twists, like adding hibiscus to a pilsner base to produce the refreshing El Condor de Jamaica. First-timers should try the West Beach, said Brown, explaining, “It’s a people pleaser and one that we will always have on our beer list.” Those seeking more of a kick might as well go straight to the Motivation Destroyer, a potent IPA. 

229 W. Montecito St.; (805) 884-4664; sbbrewhouse.com; @sbbrewhouse

Figueroa Mountain
Brewing Co.

Lagerville 2019 | Credit: Courtesy

The father-son duo of Jim and Jaime Dietenhofer opened Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co. in Buellton back in 2010. “They set out to pay homage to the beautiful Santa Ynez Valley with handcrafted beer and hand-drawn artwork depicting the local landscape on their labels,” said retail director Tony Grimes. While tallying up more than 30 national and eight global awards, “Fig Mountain,” as everyone calls it, now employs more than 200 people at taprooms in Los Olivos, Buellton, Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone, and even Westlake Village. 

During Indy Hops, they’ll be pouring $4 pints of a selected tap that will change weekly. Grimes suggested the Guava Point Conception for “a fresh spin on our California IPA” or the stalwarts Hoppy Poppy and Danish Red Lager for those new to the brand. Those seeking more innovation should check out the Lagerville collab beer that Fig Mountain did with West Coast Brewing of Japan and Wild Fields from Atascadero. 

“We’ve crafted a super intricate rice lager using cereal mashing techniques and the finest short-grain rice available,” said Grimes. “Paired with exquisite matcha tea from Shizuoka, this snappy, clean crusher boasts a delicate herbal note that’s sure to hit the spot at @lagervilleusa this year! Cheers and Kanpai!”

Three locations: 137 Anacapa St., Ste. F; 45 Industrial Wy., Buellton; 2363 Alamo Pintado Ave., Los Olivos; figmtnbrew.com; @figmtnbrew

Credit: Courtesy

Institution Ale

Institution Ale is a father-and-sons story, founded in 2013 by dad Roger Smith and sons Shaun and Ryan Smith. From their original Camarillo location, where the brewery can be spotted from the 101, the family expanded to Santa Barbara’s State Street in 2019, becoming a central source of downtown energy and refreshment.

“We specialize in brewing hop-forward, West Coast–style ales, as well as classic-style lagers,” said McKenna Outram, Institution’s marketing and events coordinator. “Our Mexican Lager is crisp, dry, and extremely drinkable. Enjoy a fresh glass of it with a lime. Our namesake Institution IPA has all the makeup of a great West Coast–style IPA. It’s crisp, dry, bitter, and bursting with hop flavor.”

516 State St.; (805) 482-3777; institutionales.com; @institutionales_sb

Credit: Courtesy

Islands Restaurant

Islands Restaurant was founded in May 1982 at the corner of Pico and Veteran in West Los Angeles by Tony DeGrazier, who craved burgers while surfing in Oahu with his Navy buddies decades earlier. But the tropically themed, sit-down burger chain didn’t open in Santa Barbara until February 2018, when the La Cumbre Plaza location became one of more than 55 restaurants in California and four other states.

Islands’ extensive bar menu features a number of house beers, and general manager Bailee Epperson recommends trying both the Mango IPA and the Sunny Blonde. Plus, she promised, “We have the coldest beer in town!”

3825 State St.; (805) 946-0044; islandsrestaurants.com; @islandburgers

Peter Burnham | Credit: Paul Wellman file photo

Lama Dog
Tap Room +
Bottle Shop

“We have the best beer available in California and therefore, possibly, the world,” said Peter Burnham, who owns Lama Dog Tap Room + Bottle Shop. After years of traveling the country to try interesting beers, Burnham opened this always-been-busy Funk Zone beer hub back in May 2016, when he realized Santa Barbara was lacking a proper globe-spanning taproom. 

His original formula of many taps and fully stocked shelves holds true, proving to be a reliable place to find crisp lagers, funky sours, rich stouts, and even ciders. Burnham suggests that beer nerds give the Trappist ale Westvleteren VIII a shot. Potent at 8 percent alcohol, the dark amber brew is toasty and complex. Plus, during Indy Hops, Lama Dog is offering a 15 percent discount for all passport holders. 

116 Santa Barbara St.; (805) 880-3364; lamadog.com; @lamadogtaproom

Credit: Courtesy

Rincon Brewery

 Founded in Carpinteria during the fall of 2014 by Luisa and Mark Hyatt, Rincon Brewery is coming up on its 10th anniversary and now features additional locations in Santa Barbara and Ventura. Both the Carp. and Funk Zone locations are official Indy Hops participants, so make sure to get stamps on your passport at both in order to win prizes at the Drop Party. 

The Hyatts are proud of their food menu, which includes a number of dishes featuring Rincon beers and is also ocean-friendly certified by the Surfrider Foundation. Rincon is also one of the only breweries in the region really embracing sustainability on the production side. “Our spent grain is picked up by a rancher and fed to his cows,” said Luisa. “We are always looking to make things as efficient as possible.”

As to the beers, Mark is excited for the imminent release of this year’s Friendship Paddle beer and suggests the Strawberry Blonde that they made for the X Games, which go down this weekend in Ventura. Another Rincon collab is the Merrick Lager, which they made in conjunction with Channel Islands Surfboards. IPA lovers should opt for the Indicator or the Beached Hazy, while dark brew fans will find satisfaction in the Mac Brown.

Two locations: 5065 Carpinteria Ave., Carpinteria; (805) 684-6044; 205 Santa Barbara St., Ste. 1B; (805) 869-6627; rinconbrewery.com; @rinconbreweryinc 

Credit: Courtesy

Validation Ale

Validation Ale is the baby of Brian and Briana Deignan, two married tech veterans who wanted to “create a jewel in the heart of the Funk Zone with an environment and food/drink options that are welcome to anyone and everyone.” Aside from great food, an open-air vibe, and what they believe are the best bathrooms in Santa Barbara, the Deignans’ “Validation concept” is what makes this place special. 

The “Validated” beer in each category, as displayed on a digital screen, is the most ordered beer by visitors of the tap room, while the “Vying” beer is a new recipe, challenging the incumbent. If the challenger sells more, it becomes the new Validated brew. Said Brian, “Our concept is the enemy of complacency, forcing innovation in an ongoing effort to continually improve our tap list for our customers.”

Favorites right now include the “Mo’ Frosty” Cold IPA, the Italian Pilsner IPA, the Golden Coffee Ale on Nitro, and the “Santa Rosa” Weizenbock. Validation Ale is also hosting the “Drop Party” on July 29. 

102 E. Yanonali St.; (805) 500-3111; validationale.com; @validationale


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