Brewing beer started out as a hobby, something Paul Wright played around with more than 20 years ago when his wife gave him the home-brewing kit to try it.
Favorable feedback from neighbors eventually led Wright on the path to professionally practice the trade. He and his wife, Cheryl, opened Carpinteria-based Island Brewing Company in 2001 after moving south from the Bay Area.
Thirteen years into the business and Wright can again thank his neighbors. Due to popular demand, the family-run microbrewery has plans to bring more high-quality craft brews to the Central Coast through a series of changes and company milestones.
Island Brewing Company, located at 5049 Sixth St. in Carpinteria, recently added three new 45-barrel tanks to increase production of its popular beers and free up space for a wider variety of seasonal offerings. A new, high-efficiency boiler was also added.
By the end of the year, Wright said, the local brews will be sold in cans (instead of just bottles and kegs) and the company will expand its tasting room at Linden Avenue and the railroad tracks into 3,800 square feet next door. That space will be vacant later this year with the closure of Tyco Electronics.
Growth or not, Wright said he still intends to best serve those craft-beer drinkers in Carpinteria, Santa Barbara, Goleta, Ventura and Ojai who are responsible for the brewery’s success.
“We try and keep it local,” Wright told Noozhawk. “That’s worked out for us, too. The industry is just growing like crazy. Craft beers are really popular.”
Just about all of Island Brewing Company’s brews — nine on tap, 15 including seasonal offerings — have won some type of local or even international award.
Most recently, the brewery’s Starry Night Stout and Bourbon Barrel Aged Night Sail took home a gold and silver medal from the Great American Beer Festival in Denver.
On a recent Friday afternoon, the brewery’s tasting room was packed with locals enjoying $4 pints.
Wright employs 18 people, including his daughter, Laurie Matthews, and her husband, Mark. Wright plans to hire more help for the busier summer and festival seasons.
Island Brewing Company has become somewhat of a local hangout in Carpinteria, although it doesn’t serve food. That might be why its beer is carried in nearly every restaurant in town, Wright added.
He attributed consistent staff and brewers with making the place so popular.
“We just try and do our best,” Wright said. “It’s not just a business. It’s a vocation.
“Everybody loves us,” he continued. “It’s a neat little community.”