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Tasting Notes Divulged for Santa Barbara Beer Garden Specialty Brews

Participants at the 2015 Santa Barbara Beer Garden enjoy unique beers while relaxing in the garden’s serene atmosphere. Click to view larger
Participants at the 2015 Santa Barbara Beer Garden enjoy unique beers while relaxing in the garden’s serene atmosphere. (Eric Isaacs / Santa Barbara Botanic Garden photo)

If you have ever wondered what beer goes with a redwood, cicerone Zach Rosen will provide the answer at the Santa Barbara Beer Garden Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016.

Rosen has worked with local craft brewers to find or create just the right beers to pair with specific spots in the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden. He will lead event goers on a beer tasting tour during the event, visiting 10 different stations while tasting brews along the way.

Acoustic tunes and munchies provided by the Burger Bus will top off the event, which will run from 1-5 p.m. with a VIP reception beginning at 12 p.m.

In its third year, the Santa Barbara Beer Garden is a fresh experience each time, and this year 10 breweries are offering beer from special reserve collections. Many of the beers were created specially for event, some with native plants collected right from the garden.  

Participants will have the chance to taste beers that no one else has ever tasted. 

One such brew is a refreshing saison from Smoke Mountain Brewery using lemons grown at the brewery and California bay laurel leaves from the Botanic Garden. Guests can taste this bright, crisp beer while walking along the vibrant meadow section. 

Another will be Third Window Brewing Co.;s Belgian-style Quad with California Sagebrush, to be served at the Mission Dam. A sweet mintiness from the garden-picked sagebrush complements the beer's notes of chocolate and dark fruits, resulting in a strong, bold beverage that reflects the area's monastic history.

“There is a certain variance in the flavor of beers created by the surroundings and settings of the tasting," says Rosen. "A beer you try at home will taste different at a brewery and have yet another taste sipped under the redwoods, or surrounded by manzanita. These beers are not only unique in themselves, but will give a unique taste experience in the garden.” 

Participating breweries include BrewLAB, Island Brewing Company, Captain Fatty's Craft Brewery, Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co., M.Special Brewing Company, Smoke Mountain Brewing Co., Rincon Brewery, Telegraph Brewing Co., Third Window Brewing and C.A.R.P. Homebrewers.

“Enjoying a beer while walking in the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden is an unforgettable experience because you learn more about both beer and the garden,” said Committee Chair Chris Parker. “I can’t think of a better cause than the garden’s conservation program. With over a third of California’s native plants rare or endangered, the garden’s research staff is racing against time to make sure future generations will be able to use and enjoy these important plants.”

Guests and brewers alike will enjoy the easy pace of the Beer Garden, which includes ample time for brewers to chat about their brews with participants. According to Trevor Scoggins, sales manager of Telegraph Brewing Co., "The Santa Barbara Beer Garden is one of the finest curated events we attend in Southern California."

VIP guests have exclusive access to a cozy lounge space with appetizers in the garden’s library throughout the day. The VIP reception starts at noon with specialty beer cocktails by The Good Lion and a deconstructed cocktail tasting, where participants can test their palates by tasting various independent flavors.

Even the coffee is special. Santa Barbara Roasting Company will provide a cold brew coffee, which is a dark roast brewed for 24 hours at 41 degrees Fahrenheit, resulting in the brew's chocolatey and smooth flavor.

In addition to the donations of the breweries, sponsors include Hutton Parker Foundation and Surf Air. 

The Beer Garden will take place rain or shine Feb. 20. The garden will be closed to the public on that day.

Tickets go on sale Jan. 13 for the VIP Lounge at $120 and Jan. 20 for general admission at $75, with special discounts available for garden members.  

Only 200 tickets are available, and interested parties should note that the event sold out in 2015. They can be purchased at or by calling 805.682/4726 x102.

Follow the Beer Garden on Facebook for the latest updates on the brews and the amazing raffle prize.

Rebecca Mordini is the communications coordinator for the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden.

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