Paddling and Pedaling Santa Barbara

The Earning

When traveling, meeting up with locals can make things flow more smoothly. Having experienced guides to lead me through Santa Barbara’s outdoor adventures made all the difference on this trip.

On a somewhat blustery morning at Haskell’s Beach, our kayaking guide Chani’s infectious positive energy and beaming smile set the vibe; no matter the conditions, we were going to have fun. Paddling away from shore, it was clear that the current was pulling hard to the north. We paddled south, the idea being that the way back would be a cruise. Out on the water, we became Chani’s students, her environmental education lessons reminding us of the importance of sea kelp, among other things. When she welcomed us to a spa session, putting kelp on her face and forehead, I laughed out loud and told myself that a quality guide can make all the difference when exploring new places.

Photo of author earning his beer on a steep singletrack trail

After lunch, I met up with Sergio from Cal Coast Adventures to get in a mountain biking outing. Again, the positive energy was flying high. A ball of energy and a cyclist with tight sinew, I knew I was in for it with him. We climbed some thousand feet of elevation up the road to drop in on West Fork Trail. The singletrack descent was swoopy here, with several tight turns there. Rock gardens on the lower end were a blast, if you like chunk and trying to clean technical sections of trail. At one point, Sergio goofed one, went back, and then rode it clean through, the afternoon session of a trail segment reminding me that the attitude of yesterday is still alive today.

The Beer

Photo of the Night Lizard beer in a can

Night Lizard Brewing Company on State Street is a brewery like few others. From what I heard, their ethos is entirely about environmental education, a brewery/tasting room serving as the gathering space for teaching and advocacy around protecting the unique natural resources of the Central Coast. The family-owned and operated indie brewery has a relaxing and super welcoming atmosphere, making it a friendly place to hang out. The beer? Each one is named after an endangered species from the Central Coast of California – Gnatcatcher IPA was a pleaser, but the Live Forever DIPA was the standout.

Sign in the brewery with info on the Live Forever DIPA

Still on State Street, there is M Special Brewing Company. I spotted the saison and immediately ordered it. A Farmhouse Ale, All Time Saison is exactly what you would expect, if you understand that saisons have no specific tasting profile. It had the spice and the hay mow in there, making this farmer’s son feel right at home. If lighter beer with a fruit presence hanging out in the mix is what you like, Sabado Tarde is what you are looking for, no doubt. It’s a tangerine ale that tastes like a perfect sunny day spent kayaking in the morning and mountain biking in the afternoon.

Photo of an M.Special beer on the counter

Other Breweries To Check Out:

Captain Fatty’s Mambo Hazy DIPA is a citrus gusher.

Validation Ale’s concept at their brewery/tasting room is intriguing. What’s on the board is constantly changing, based on what the voters say. Voters? Yep.

Brass Bear Brewing and Bistro in the Funkzone is another spot to get a taste of Santa Barbara’s brewing scene. The patio out back was casual and the the Goldilocks Blonde Ale went down easy.

Main image by Ben Herndon. Courtesy of Santa Barbara Adventure Company / Visit Santa Barbara


Read other Earn Your Beer columns here