One of the many benefits of the world wide web is the quick access to consumer opinion. Gone are the days when you had to rely on traditional journalists and official “critics” to advise you on the good and the bad. Now, all you have to do is log on to your favorite search engine and lookup a restaurant, bar, hotel, or virtually anything else and instantly see what ordinary people think of the product or service.
As a non- traditional journalist myself, I utilize the instant gratification of the internet whenever I need it and when I prepped for a California central coast beercation not long ago, I decided to ask other beer enthusiasts what breweries were most worthy of a visit. I was passing through Santa Barbara with time to visit only one brewery and when I inquired on the best beer maker in the area, the one endorsed more than any other was Third Window Brewing, located at 406 E. Haley Street.
Welcome to the Mill
Third Window Brewing is located in The Mill, a wooden structure that houses this brewing operation along with a winery, restaurant, and more. When I was driving toward the brewery, I already knew it was located in a building that housed other businesses and I was also told that the structure, with its vertical wood plats lining the exterior and its barn- like appearance, would be impossible to miss. My advisors were correct, as there was no way to overlook the distinguished architecture that sets this building apart from others.
Walking up to Third Window Brewing, I took some time to briefly check out the adjoining businesses. I like how The Mill has a central gathering space where everyone can sit down together while they enjoy their beer, food, and wine. I also noticed a fair number of canines keeping their owners’ feet warm beneath each table, so it was obvious that this small shopping complex is dog friendly, making it perfect for those who like to take their pup along for the experience.
Tap Me Some Brew
Arriving at the Third Window Brewing scene, I took a quick tour of the brewing operation before sitting down at the bar and ordering a flight sample. Here is a summary of the beers I sampled, in alphabetical order by name, with the style and my Untappd rating next to each:
- Oats of Fealty Farmhouse Ale, 3.75
- The Origin Pale Ale, 3.5
- Salusa Secundus Stout, 4.25
- Space Boat Double IPA, 4.25
- Xexo American IPA, 4.25
There wasn’t a bad beer in the bunch that I sampled and as you can see, I rated three out of the five I tried with 4.25 stars out of 5! Anyone who has followed me on Untappd or otherwise read my reviews over the years knowns that I hand out very few ratings above the 4 star level. I was clearly impressed by what I tasted and I understood fully why so many people love this Santa Barbara brewery the way they do.
Santa Barbara Times Three
Third Window Brewing is an excellent craft brewery with a personality all its own. California has several hundred breweries and it is often difficult to narrow down a brewery or two for visiting when time is tight. I had not been in this area in over thirty years when I paid my most recent visit and I knew next to nothing about the craft beer scene. I wanted something memorable, and the online community helped guide me in the right direction.
With its location in The Mill, Third Window Brewing has a unique look that already sets it apart from other area breweries. Once a feed mill, the building that houses Third Window Brewing was restored in a way that pays respect to the structures original heritage. When you walk up to the building, you feel like you are approaching a barn or similar agricultural structure. The look is authentic and while you don’t expect to find a brewery inside such a space, the fact that it does resemble a barn piques your curiosity. It makes you anticipate what it will be like inside and whether or not Third Window Brewing will incorporate some of the feed mill concept into its products and/or atmosphere.
I spent about an hour and a half at Third Window Brewing, settling into my bar stool to taste some beer right after one of the owners took me on a quick tour. The personnel at Third Window Brewing were friendly, accommodating, and ready to educate. I learned much about the brewery during my brief encounter and I couldn’t help but chuckle at the contrasts. The outside does look like a barn, yes. But on the inside, guests are greeted by modern artwork, wooden and steel seating, and state of the art beer, brewed with the utmost care and precision. The feed mill concept is still evident in the architecture, but the beer and other elements of Third Window Brewing scream modernization, loud and clear. As I said before, I liked all of the beers I tried and my only regret is that I didn’t have time to sample even more.
Modern technology has benefitted us in so many ways. For consumers, there has never been an easier time than now to learn about products and services, pro and con, before we make a final buying decision. I took the advice of online craft beer enthusiasts when I was looking for a brewery to visit in Santa Barbara and I could not have been more pleased with the results. Third Window Brewing is an outstanding operation in most every way, with delicious craft suds, excellent service, and a prime location. Be sure to stop by next time you’re in Santa Barbara, California in need of malt beverage memories. And tell them Great Beer Now sent you.