Santa Barbara Brewing Company

Santa Barbara Brewing CompanySanta Barbara Brewing Company

Type: Brewery, Bar, Eatery

501 State Street
Santa Barbara, California, 93101
United States

(805) 730-1040 | map

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Reviews: 31 | Ratings: 46
Photo of Mehinaman
4.25/5  rDev +25.4%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.25 | food: 4.25

The food was much better here than I expected it would be. I ordered the Ahi salad and it was very good and the portions were more than fair. As for beer I had the Vat 629 IPA, which was a good if not amazing IPA. I am here on vacation, but if I was a local I would come back here regularly.

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Photo of Nhoelzen
3.9/5  rDev +15%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4 | service: 3.75 | selection: 3.75 | food: 4

Great place for decent beer and great people watching. Classic small pub feel in the center of all the action on State Street. Just wish they brewed more of their speciality beers more often. Always seem to have the basics (blondes, ambers, wheats, etc.) and are always out of the rest. Still a favorite place to grab a beer though.

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Photo of scottgs
1.89/5  rDev -44.2%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 1.5 | service: 1 | selection: 2.5

Awful.. I had the King Saaz Pilsner, and obviously the brew master doesn't know what the style is. The bartender told me it wasn't very hoppy. How funny. Pretty much a watered down IPA. I waited 30 minutes for the bartender to take my order as I choked down the beer. it never happened... and in the mean time someone sat next to me, ordered, and finished thier meal... my menu still sitting lonely in front of me.I cut my losses and just went somewhere good, just shown the street.

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Photo of TheMarkE
3.49/5  rDev +2.9%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3.75 | selection: 3 | food: 4

Nice place, good food (I love the pizza), average beer. It's on the main drag, so you pay a premium for location.

Consider it a good restaurant/sports bar in a tourist town that happens to brew their own beer.

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Photo of DesMoinesMike
3.78/5  rDev +11.5%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5 | food: 3.5

Located on State St. with good parking options. Sat at one of the few window seats for some good people watching. The beer sampler had 5 of their concoctions, one was a messy pour that leaked on the table and floor. Ended up choosing the Gold Coast Wheat that was nice fruity wheat beer. We weren't very hungry so we picked the potato skins, which were 1/4 potatoes with sour cream, chives, and bacon that were tasty. The menu had some good looking options we were still full from the free breakfast at the hotel. It's a nice place with decent beer. If you want some intense beer, hit the Brewhouse on the other side of the highway.

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Photo of TheSevenDuffs
3.35/5  rDev -1.2%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3 | service: 4 | selection: 3 | food: 3.5

Didn't go out of my way to visit this place based on the reviews but happened to stumble up it while looking for a place to have a beer after a concert.

Selection was decent but not great. There were about 8 or so offering on tap with another 2 form the menu tapped out. I had the stout, which was good and the IPA which was also good. Neither was anything to write home about though. The rest of the styles on the menu were fairly tame and I would have had trouble coming up with a 3rd style to try had we stayed longer.

Atmosphere was ok. Typical brewpub-like arrangement but nothing that sets it apart.

Service was extremely friendly although beer knowledge seemed average.

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Photo of Offa
2.08/5  rDev -38.6%
vibe: 3 | quality: 1 | service: 2 | selection: 3

This is a very popular and busy place in the heart of downtown Santa Barbara on State St, but it seems all flash and no substance.

The location is great and the place itself is nice, an old building with big windows looking onto the attractive street, brick walls, nice bar, etc.

However, the beer is worse than subpar and is some of the worst beer I have had. The selection on its face seems good, a nice range, but the quality is incredibly bad, being bland, thin, almost utterly characterless and barely recognizable as beer from the smell or taste. I mean that literally and in all sincerity – the beers we had were almost wholly lacking in character and the stout had the taste and feel of tap water.

Our food experiences were limited since e basically got just some dessert, so I cannot really comment on that. Service was not horrid, and was better than the beer, but it was not good – somewhat abrupt, not rude but not friendly, and not overly efficient.

In the end, this seems a place for people to go and be loud, seem popular, and show off their “coolness” and it’s not a place to get even decent beer. The “vibe” as a result is more annoying than pleasant, giving one the feeling of being around people who only care about seeming cool and loudly partying rather than being comfortable and enjoying good food and drink.

The prices, though not bad compared to other places, are bad for the quality that you get in return for the money.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
2.65/5  rDev -21.8%
vibe: 2 | quality: 3 | service: 2 | selection: 3 | food: 3

Visited on 2/4/11.

Stopped in for dinner here. Feels like a run down BJ's in a way. Lots of seating but not very many patrons.

Beer: They had 5 of their house brews on tap along with 2 or 3 guest taps (Chimay was one of them but the menu didn't mention which one). I got the State Street Stout and my wife got the Old Town Nut Brown. Both were very average and after one beer I really didn't want to get any more.

Food: They have a pretty decent menu of foods again similar to BJ's: salads, burgers, wraps, etc. Our dinners were pretty good but nothing too fancy or memorable.

Overall, the beer was fairly cheap ($3.00 pints during happy hour) but not too impressive and the food was good but kind of pricey ($9.99 for a smallish buffalo chicken wrap).

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Photo of Shumista
2.73/5  rDev -19.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 2.5 | service: 3 | selection: 2.5 | food: 2

During our road trip up the California coast we decided to stop in Santa Barbara for lunch and to check the downtown out. Saw the brewing company sign and immediately knew where we'd be having lunch.

Atmosphere is pretty cool, basic non-descript brewpub. Clean, local stuff on the walls, brew kettles in the back. The beer selection consisted of 6 or 7 of their beers on tap. Nothing really too exciting. I sampled a few and settled on the maibock. All that I tried were pretty mediocre, the maibock was a little better than the rest.

The menu was what you would expect. I don't remember a ton about it except that it wasn't interesting or exciting. I got a cheeseburger and my girlfriend got a citrus chicken dish. That really says it all, it was about as forgettable as it sounds. Nothing bad or offensive, but a fairly poor effort. Our service was friendly but no one in the brewpub seemed to enthusiastic about beer, food, or what they were doing.

Mediocre beer, unenthusiastic service, and unmemorable food made for an experience I'm not really looking to try again. Especially dissapointing because they were some other much better looking restaurants I saw as we walked up and down main street after lunch. My advice is to eat somewhere else and stop in here for a beer or two at the bar afterwards. Or just skip it all together and save your money.

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Photo of nomomentwasted
3.35/5  rDev -1.2%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4

Came here on the State Street outing Friday night, hoping to try some new brews. I went in hoping it'd be more of a brewery than a Rock Bottom-style restaurant first, brewery second, but it was more the former than the latter.

Atmosphere was more of a place to get some food before hitting the bars than a destination for the evening. Not a whole lot of beer drinking going on, and their beer list, while looking rather impressive in numbers, all seemed to be a little weak on flavor.

I had their flagship Santa Barbara Blonde and was disappointed in the lack of much complexity or taste, and had some of the Belgian and IPA on tap as well, and wasn't impressed by any of them. The food looked and smelled tasty, and service was good, albeit a little more on the "I just give you the beer and know one line about each of them" side and less on the "I actually drink beer and could give you a nudge in the right direction" side. Still, friendly and more than willing to get you some more beer.

In all, it wasn't great. But, it wasn't awful either. For a family-environment or a place to grab a few forgettable, yet relatively cheap, craft brews while watching a game, it's not bad. Just don't expect to be blown away.

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2.94/5  rDev -13.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 2 | service: 4 | selection: 2.5

Sorely disappointed.

Going through the tasters all of the beer had this homogenized flavor, they all tasted the same. Very soda-ish, and lacking in flavor. They were also out of a red ale, and replaced it on my sampler with a pear cider. That's messed up, why do you hate me SBBC?

I went here twice before taking the trip to Hollister Brewing, where I found refuge in the bosom of a brewery who respects their customers.

Decor was nice, I really liked the copper bar. One thing that irked me was the overwhelming stench of ammonia, or some disinfectant close to the fermenters. Absolutely nauseating.

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Photo of getkrunkhoe
4.03/5  rDev +18.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4

I was impressed when I walked in, nice mixed crowd, interesting setup of the tanks.
Tun and kettle upstairs while fermenters/serving vessels downstairs.

I got greeted as soon as I sat down, menus right in front of me. I ordered their "egg hots" which were probably the best and unique chile poppers. Green chiles with cheddar, red chiles with cream cheese on the same platter.

The beer selection was a generous amount, the beers were hit and miss but the one brew that stood out was their incredible Honey Porter.

they have a nice IPA, Brown was decent, very nice belgian pale, and their pumpkin was a nice treat.

Their SB fish n chips were really great.

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Photo of barleywinefiend
3.23/5  rDev -4.7%
vibe: 3 | quality: 2 | service: 4 | selection: 4

Nice place, not so good beer. We went in on a Sat afternoon and there was maybe 10 people inside. She was very nice and accomadating. The bar is a nice size and I liked it. Plenty of seating and a nice feel to the place. I here that it gets crazy when the UCSB crowd comes in on weekends, later night. They have a good scotch selection. No food here but sampled all of the beers here. Overall, my second favorite place but the beer was mediocre at best sadly. I would go back if in the area but not go out of my way to drink the beer here.

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Photo of charlzm
2.58/5  rDev -23.9%
vibe: 2.75 | quality: 1.25 | service: 3 | selection: 3.5 | food: 3

Visited in the afternoon of Monday, 2/18/08. Brass and wood decor dominate this brewpub (like untold countless others). Also just like hundreds of brewpubs, flat screen TVs are everywhere you look, showing different sports channels. Lots of smiling faces to be seen on the customers. The wait staff, while attractive and young, didn't seem especially interested in being there. There were nine of their own brews on tap, which would have been a great selection if even one of them had been any good. The food is better than the beer (another typical brewpub quality). If you want good beer, go about a half mile to The Brewhouse and skip this State Street spot.

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Photo of Talisker
2.73/5  rDev -19.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 2 | service: 2.5 | selection: 3 | food: 3.5

I hate to write it, since Santa Barbara Brewing is so conveniently located, so pleasantly outfitted inside, and serves decent food - but for beer fans in Santa Barbara, this place is worth a miss.

I stopped in around noon on a Saturday. Not crowded. Had lunch at the bar. Bartender was nice, but knew nothing about the beers other than their names (said he was the night guy and had rarely met the brewer, who works in the early mornings). On paper the selection was broad - "blonde" cream ale, red ale, brown ale, pale ale, IPA, stout, winter warmer, and a cider. I ordered a sampler and spent a decent amount of time with each. But in reality it was nearly impossible to tell any of the beers apart by taste - no individual character at all, and only the faintest hints of their supposed style.

They've done a nice job integrating the equipment of a working brewery into the restaurant - not just behind a plexiglas wall or otherwise invisible, as at so many other brewpubs. And despite the high prices typical of Santa Barbara - $12 for a cheeseburger - the food tastes fine. But there are plenty of better places to eat on Santa Barbara's State Street, and the beer on this occasion sure didn't make Santa Barbara Brewing Company worth the time.

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Photo of 86sportster883
3.25/5  rDev -4.1%
vibe: 2.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 2

Better in the Dark

Located right on what appeared to be the main drag in downtown Santa Barbara, the SBBC struck me more as a tourist party bar than a local’s hangout. I stopped in for a late lunch on a Thursday afternoon when there were few other customers. I ordered a sampler ($10) which included eight 3oz beers and one cider. The Pear Cider was surprisingly light and refreshing and may even cause me to reconsider my current aversion to ciders. The beers in the sampler included:

Harbor Light (Kolsch) - Although served ice cold this light still had a ton of taste and may be one of the better Kolsch beers that I've had,
Santa Barbara Blonde - A cream ale that I didn’t care for,
Gold Coast Wheat - Seemed a little watery,
Pacific Pale - Decent,
Oktoberfest - Very drinkable,
Cry Baby IPA – Solid, with an aggressive hop bitterness that's not overdone.
Nut Brown - Very good, probably my favorite of the group, and the
Honey Porter - Good

The SBBC is mainly just one large rectangular room with brewing equipment in the back. The bar is a decent size, and is sectioned off from the restaurant tables that occupy most of the room. About a dozen large flat screens line the walls. Large front windows let in a lot of light to an otherwise dingy dark wood and brick interior. From my seat at the bar the place appeared filthy. Everything, from the glass on the beer coolers to the 4 large serving tanks behind the bar, to the screen on the cash register, everything appeared to have a film of grime that was clearly visible in the bright afternoon light. Even the air was polluted, with bad 70's dance/pop music that is (e.g., We are Family), which seemed like an odd genre given the youth of the bartender and wait staff.

I ordered the Fish and Chips ($10.99) which came out supper quick, but wasn’t all that good. The cole slaw was nice and fresh, but the fries seemed like they had been sitting for a while and the fish tasted a little too fishy.

Not horrible, but I don’t see myself going back to the SBBC anytime soon.

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Photo of Floydster
3.38/5  rDev -0.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3 | food: 4.5

This place is located on the infamous State Street, aka the homeless capital of the world from what I have seen in the past few years

Cool atmosphere filled with a lot of locals

Easily accessible right on a corner and gets rather crowded, especially during sporting events and later at night

Pale ale is good, not sure about the others, but I would not mind trying their double IPA because I have heard good things about it

Burgers are good, but the best thing on their menu is the rosemary and garlic french fries, and wow do they make you stink

Service was pretty good, but food did take pretty long to come out

Pretty decent beer selection for a place of this nature, prices are a little steep, but you can expect this pretty much anywhere in this neighborhood

Look forward to going back soon when I am in this area again

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Photo of PhxHorn
3.3/5  rDev -2.7%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 2 | selection: 4 | food: 3

Typical and TVs all going at the same time. The selection of beers was good, about a dozen on tap when I visited. We had a pitcher of the pale ale (good, not great), and the double IPA, which was excellent and got rave reviews from all four of us.

The food was good, not a great selection, but not bad at all. The men's room toilet barely functioned.

The staff tended to hang out and chat while ignoring customers, and when they dropped by our table, they seemed completely uninterested in what the customers were looking for. Not only that, but the female in our party noted that our waitress used the restroom without washing her hands. If they do this in front of customers, what goes on behind the scenes?

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Photo of rallison
3.55/5  rDev +4.7%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 3 | food: 4

Edit: Beers have gone downhill since I first starting going here (probably related to Hollister stealing Eric as the brewmaster), and the scene often seems a bit more dead. I rarely stop in now. For reference, I previously gave this places 4s across the board. The plus side? They still mostly hire based on looks.

I have gone here many times, being my hometown and all. It's a fun brewpub to grab a pint at, and evenings on weekends it's usually packed and fun. Food is always tasty - tasty burgers, great garlic rosemary fries, etc. Service is usually good, although every once in a while is a little on the sucky side.

Selection is decent. I mark them down a bit for focusing on a lot of the usual suspects - and not too amazing examples of them here. However, they redeem themselves with their IPAs and occasional other forays into the more interesting. They generally have some IPA on tap, and they've all been good to really good. So, for a local brewpub, the selection is not bad at all. Prices are reasonable for downtown, although food can get a little pricey. Beers at happy hour (3-6 M-F) are $2.75.

Recommended. Try this and Brewhouse if you are in Santa Barbara for two good places that contrast each other nicely.

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Photo of Goldorak
3.18/5  rDev -6.2%
vibe: 2.5 | quality: 3 | service: 2.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4

If you’ve ever done any driving in Europe, driving down American freeways are a walk in the park, save for the occasional burst of traffic, something we didn’t come across too often from Santa Rosa to Santa Barbara. The downtown core of this bling-bling town on a Saturday afternoon was pretty busy however, with desynchronized stoplights every 20 feet and lots of limos and SUVs. We did eventually find a parking spot near the brewpub for a quick lunch.

Atmosphere was really similar to the pub we went to the night before in San Luis Obispo, old factory, type loft, fire truck red brick, copper and wood, so definitely no originality points here. The place was pretty full, as their prime location on one of the city’s busiest streets seemed to attract a lot of yuppies passing by. We got crammed into a little corner adjacent to the main entrance, right next to the cute hostess.

Our also cute but quite aloof waitress came by with menus eventually, while the list of available Beers was on a board. Not too bad a selection, I was expecting a very cookie cutter assortment of paint by numbers brews from a place like this, but not at all, they had a Saison (it wasn’t great, but at least they gave it a shot!) and a few other styles a bit more off the wall. The sample of double IPA I had was pretty good, though. It’s not easy to judge a place for quality on a pint and 2-3 samplers, but I didn’t detect anything terrible like bandaids or stale cardboard either. The large crowd of beautiful people seems to keep those taps busy.

Food menu was a bit more adventurous than other places I’ve been to, although for the second day in a row I had a clam chowder at a brewpub. But the tuna wrap was pretty good, with large pieces that were undercooked almost sushi-style, just the way I like it.

So kudos for them for trying different styles of Beers, although the atmosphere and crowd wasn’t really appealing to me (think upscale, 90210 fake), I’m still glad I stopped by for a pint.

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Photo of jcipa88
3.75/5  rDev +10.6%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4

I second the beergoodness' review (c below) about feeling comfy, there's something about it - along the wall on the right was the best place to hit, higher tables than when you first walk in. They did celebrate their 11th anniv., so somehting must be going well - but I noticed the nice antique cooler behind the bar and seeing BUD bottles available, that threw me off - I had to do a second take. What is this? I guess they need to please almost everyone. No big deal, I got over it. They also have a place in the back, it's under a different name, but it was more of a younger crowd - pool tables and the such. It was pretty packed in there during Sunday's football games.

I had the Pacific Pale Ale and liked it's rich aroma, but had the speciality IPA and was more enthused. I sampled their double IPA, and along with many others I've had from different establishments - this was hopped pretty well. I think the ABV was 9% - ouch!

My wife and I ordered something simple (hamburgers) and found it amazing that it came out within what fealt like less than 10 min. They were good. They do pitchers of beer, which is perfect for the price. The only thing that I noticed that was odd, was that some of the wait-staff were hanging around near the service area, gabbing away. Our waitress was great and she new her stuff - which is good.

Would like to check it out again and maybe get there for lunch instead of dinner. You can always get some good stories out of bartenders during the lunch time verses at dinner.


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Photo of BeerGoodness
3.88/5  rDev +14.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4 | food: 3.5

SBB is a wonderful location and has a great atmosphere. However I find it difficult if not impossible to feel relaxed and jovial in this establishment.

The beer is great with a consistency in flavor that surprises me still. There State Stout is great along with their Blonde and IPA. The menu is strong with lots of variety and quick service for the amount of people they pack in on a weekend. This is a great location to catch the game, but be warned everyone knows this on game day so get there early.

The pub falls victim to the huge tourist population in this town. The bar sits on the main drag on a corner, high prices on the beer and food make this an expensive place for the regular crowd. Another draw back to this location is the lack of a Patio which is key in SB. It would be nice to see them open a second location off the strip for the locals.

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Photo of Yetiman420
4.4/5  rDev +29.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 3 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

In early May 2006, I had the opportunity to visit Santa Barbara on business. As is usually the case, I fit in a couple brewpub site visits/quality checks during my travels (~170 to date). I hit The Brewhouse first and SBB later in the evening (see review - worth checking out but not as good as SBB). SBB is about as good as it gets. It's hard to say things are touristy in Santa Barbara because it's so nice. The location is right on the main drag of shops and if you were going to be critical, you could say there were a lot of posers here. However, I come for the beer and this place gets it right. As a hop lover, I almost creamed myself when I saw they had three hoppy beers on tap - Pale Ale, IPA, and Hoptometry. All three were excellent examples of agressive Pac NW hoppy styles of beer. I look forward to the day I can return to Santa Barbara, enjoy the outdoors and indoors at SBB. Keep up the great work!

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Photo of PuckLSHS
3.14/5  rDev -7.4%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3

Went to Santa Barbara Brewing Company one day with one of my old students from the East Coast.

We went at about 9pm on a Friday night and it was quite packed in the place. Found a couple seats at the classic wood bar and picked a few pints to enjoy.

I ordered the Eternal Sunshine and my buddy ordered an IPA. I enjoyed the beer a little, but found it pretty much dumbed down. Just didn't have that taste that I was expecting or hoping. Their beers are just standard everyday choices that would appeal to the large college student clientel on State Street.

The place was rather small, so it was VERY loud and the conversation was not easy to carry on. I wouldn't suggest this spot on a weeknight during the time students have the ability to show up to the bar.

I didn't have any of the food, but it looked pretty good and wouldn't mind going back to try some. The service was not excellent, but I would not expect that with the bartendars dealing with table orders and bar orders and only having two people behind the bar.

Average is a great way to describe this place, sad to say....I really do enjoy SB though. May not be worth the drive to SB just to go to the brewpub, but it is definitely worth going up there to enjoy the rest of State Street and the beautiful ocean that is only a few blocks away. Plus, the drive to get there is ridiculously beautiful.

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Photo of JayTheFinn
3.8/5  rDev +12.1%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4

Brewpub on the lower end of State Street, the main drag in beautiful Santa Barbara. Good selection to choose from. I tried the White Star. It had a strong fruity favor. Had a sip of my wife's nut brown and that was quite good. My brother enjoyed his stout, which looked like liquid chocolate.

As many bars as there are in SB, this place can get busy.

This sort of place seems to be getting popular around here even though is "wine country". Probably because the locals are learning you can be a snob about beer too!

I'd definitely give it another shot sometime.

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Santa Barbara Brewing Company in Santa Barbara, CA
3.32 out of 5 based on 113 ratings.
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