Best Breweries in Santa Barbara

Get Beer Here: The Best Breweries in Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara has long been known for great wine, but what you might not know is that the beer scene here is pretty solid too. New craft and microbreweries have been popping up all over the place for people who like their adult beverages just a little sudsier. Whether you prefer a malty lager or a hoppy IPA, you'll find a brew that fits your tastes on this list. 

If you like tried and true beers, check out Topa Topa and Figueroa Mountain Brewing in Santa Barbara's Funk Zone. Both places have a solid tap list (something for everyone), reliable pours and plenty of space for you and your friends.

The more adventurous type? You'll want to check out brewLAB and The Apiary in Carpinteria. The former is a nanobrewery that makes exceptionally small batches, sometimes only once. The latter serves ciders and meads made using local ingredients.

Just north of Santa Barbara, Goleta is also home to a trove of great breweries. You don't want to miss the gems that are hiding in residential neighborhoods like M. Special and Draughtsmen Aleworks.

And finally, if you feel like wine after all, this is the list you're looking for.


Pure Order Brewing Company is a Santa Barbara based brewery that specializes in German-style beers, including ales, porters and more. This family owned and operated endeavor produces beers for sale and offers onsite tastings. The name comes from the German Purity Order of 1516 which stated that only malt, hops, yeast and water may be used to brew beer. A 2,000 square foot warehouse has been converted into a brewery, complete with bar, tasting garden and hop yard. Hang outside, play a few lawn games and have a beer with your friends at this neighborhood beer joint. Located a short distance from downtown and the Funk Zone, there is free street parking out front.

Recommended for Breweries because: Pure Order has good beer, a lot of spirit and fun lawn games. It's also just a neat, quiet neighborhood find.

Geneva's expert tip: Practice your parallel parking! (Or maybe don't drive.) This neighborhood brewery has street parking only.

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People who like to have a whole lot of fun while they're drinking beer head to Island Brewing Company. This wide open tasting room and brewery in Carpinteria is a local watering hole, always packed to the gills on the weekends. Located near the train tracks and within view of the beach - not to mention across the street from The Spot, a tasty hamburger shack in operation since 1914 - Island couldn't be better positioned for a good time. The brewery churns out a craft beer lineup that is full of easy drinking favorites like Island Blonde, Paradise Pale Ale and Hopliner IPA. They also have a selection of stouts and bourbon barrel-aged ales.

Recommended for Breweries because: Island Brewing Company is the definition of a lively community taproom. It's a great place to drink beer and meet or make friends.

Geneva's expert tip: Bring cash so you can dart across the street to The Spot for nachos or a chili burger.

Read more about Island Brewing Company →

Hidden away down a quiet street in Goleta is a beer passion project that you really should check out. Draughtsmen Aleworks is a microbrewery and taproom with spirit. The place is immaculate, the people are kind, and the patio is dog friendly. More importantly, the beer is good. They specialize in small batch beers with an approachable personality and taste, familiar ales, IPAs and the occasional experimental brew. Word on the street has it, there is even a gluten-reduced beer that actually tastes good. This place has an authentic sense of community, with a fun food truck and event calendar and a growing crowd of regulars. Draught Club memberships are available to serious beer drinkers, entitling them to discount beers and other perks.

Recommended for Breweries because: Draughtsmen Aleworks is an out of the way brewery with tasty beers and a friendly staff you'll be glad you found.

Geneva's expert tip: Check the "Happenings" section of their website to see an up-to-date calendar of food trucks, bands, trivia nights and more.

Read more about Draughtsmen Aleworks →

M. Special Brewing Company
Photo courtesy of Aron Ives

Looking for a local cold brew? Head out to Goleta to try some of the area's best at M. Special Brewing Company. This brewery and bar serves up fresh drafts of their own beer crafted on site. Offering up lager, Saison, IPA and more... the menu changes with what's available (it's not uncommon for local favorites to sell out). Open every day from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., this is a great place to pull up a seat at their long wooden bar and catch the game on TV. Live music isn't uncommon and some kind of food - be it truck, catering or pop up - is available pretty much every night.

Recommended for Breweries because: M. Special doesn't make a lot of beers, instead it perfects the ones it does make. A great place for lager and pale ale.

Geneva's expert tip: Even though M. Special seems like it's far out there, there's something happening (and food) every night at their taproom.

Read more about M. Special Brewing Company →

Got a thirst that water can't quench? If you're downtown, head into Third Window Brewing Co. for refreshments of the sudsy variety. Located in The Mill, a hip and happening mixed used center, this local brewery makes inventive beers you won't try anywhere else. You'll find farmhouse ales, seasonal lagers and abbey ales. Sip a Bierbara Belgian Golden made with grapes from Potek, the winery next door, or delve into HBCB & OMFUG, a triple with New Zealand hops and citrus and mango notes. This place has comfortable benches, lots of TVs showing sports and pop-up eats appear more often than not on the the weekends.

Recommended for Breweries because: Beers here are consistent, with a heavier focus on farmhouse and Abbey ales than most other local breweries.

Geneva's expert tip: Plan your trip to Third Window around dinner or lunch and grab takeout BBQ from Wildwood Kitchen just a few doors over.

Read more about Third Window Brewing Co. →


Hollister Brewing Company is a restaurant and brewpub located in the heart of Goleta, near the airport, Isla Vista and Old Town. They serve American classics here like burgers and fries, with a few surprises mixed in. And, of course, everything pairs well with their signature brews. If you enjoy what you drink here, why not take some home? Hollister Brewing Company sells half-gallon glass jugs, known as growlers, of their house-brewed beers to go. In fact, "good beer comes in growlers" is one of their mottos. Located in one of the area's larger shopping centers, there's ample free parking right in front.

Recommended for Breweries because: Hollister Brewing Company just makes really good beer. It's worth the trip this mega crowded Goleta shopping center.

Geneva's expert tip: Happy hour is from 2-6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Get $3 pints and $10 pitchers.

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For a boozy treat you can't find anywhere else, buzz over to The Apiary to sample ciders and meads made using apples, honey and herbs from Santa Barbara's farms, gardens and hillsides. This rustic tasting room in Carpinteria is all wood, whitewash and dried flowers... completely charming and instantly Instagrammable. There's a few bar stools, handwritten signs and a rotary "pizza phone" on the wall you can use to order delivery pie to pair with your beverages. Cute elements aside, the nine rotating taps pour small batch creations that are worth a visit. The Apiary is open only select hours Friday through Sunday, so plan your trip in advance!

Recommended for Breweries because: Not a traditional beer brewery, The Apiary focuses on ciders and meads brewed using local fruit, honey and herbs.

Geneva's expert tip: Pick up the pizza phone and dial 564-1111 - Santa Barbara's most memorized phone number - to have hot pie delivered while you taste.

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The small, sleepy beach community of Carpinteria is just 10 minutes away from downtown Santa Barbara and home to a surprising number of breweries. brewLAB is probably the most unique of these, being not even a microbrewery but a nanobrewery, producing ultra-small batches of just a few gallons, sometimes only once. Founded by three passionate home brewers, brewLAB is a destination for adventurous beer enthusiasts. In their own words, "We brew what we want, not what we think people will drink. We don't have flagship beers, we rarely repeat recipes, and we're not afraid to break the boundaries of the industry's norm." It's open Thursday through Sunday and located conveniently next door to The Apiary, a local cider and mead tasting room.

Recommended for Breweries because: Forget microbreweries and visit a nanobrewery instead! brewLAB showcases inventive beers you won't try anywhere else... and might not even be able to get again.

Geneva's expert tip: Don't even try visiting Monday through Wednesday, and don't be persnickety. The tap list changes all the time here. Your best bet is to ask whoever is pouring what their current favorite is.

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Visit this Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co. location in Santa Barbara's Funk Zone to try locally brewed, award-winning beers. Order a pint or sample a beer tasting. Or get a beer float! The draft list is ample, and there are long tables to accommodate groups. Red and white wines from local vineyards are also available. If you're hungry, you can order a pizza from the Lucky Penny nearby, or there are a number of other restaurants within easy walking distance. In addition to a spacious indoor bar, there's a great patio that's pet friendly. Figueroa Mountain gets pretty busy on weekend nights, so expect a line and bring your ID. Park on the street or in nearby city lots.

Recommended for Breweries because: Figueroa Mountain is probably Santa Barbara's most well known and best beloved brewery. This crowd pleaser is always busy.

Geneva's expert tip: Hungry? Order a pizza from the Lucky Penny, a wood-fired pizza place just across the parking lot. They'll bring it straight to you.

Read more about Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co. →

Topa Topa Brewing Co. is a Ventura-based brewery that recently opened a second taproom location in Santa Barbara. It took about .4 seconds to become a popular drinking destination because the beer is just that good. Head Brewer Casey Harris was Senior Brewer at Stone Brewing before coming onboard here. Named for the Topa Topa mountain range, this brand focuses on all things local. The best-selling Chief Peak IPA is named for the highest peak in nearby Ojai. Sixteen rotating taps ensures that every pour is always fresh. Topa Topa is located in the Funk Zone's Waterline project, a mixed use building that's also home to another beer bar, a winery, a few retail stations and a really great restaurant.

Recommended for Breweries because: Topa Topa makes small batches crisp, clean beer that is focused on using the finest ingedients.

Geneva's expert tip: If you're a hop fan, ask what's on tap for their Solitude Series, a rotating batch of single hop IPA released in extremely limited quantities.

Read more about Topa Topa Brewing Co. →


Meet Geneva Ives

Geneva Ives moved to Santa Barbara in 2000 on a whim (ok, and to go to college) and never looked back. She loves Santa Barbara because it’s really one of America’s greatest small towns - it...  More About Geneva