When Alice and I visited Japan (a country where, as soon as I left, I was itching to return), I decided that Japanese people have this remarkable ability to focus on one thing and do it to the best of their ability. While most Americans are working hard to multitask themselves away into mediocrity, Japanese seem to hone in, focus and refine one thing with remarkable skill. You’d never confuse Buellton with Tokyo or the Santa Ynez Valley with the Kanto region, but the skills on display at Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co., those have definite Japanese tendencies.
Unlike with the extreme experimentation and delving into the nature of what beer can be that we discovered they utilize over at the Firestone-Walker Barrelworks, what they’re doing at Figueroa Mountain is getting to what is the essence of beer. They are looking to unlock its purest form of expression.
From the Lizard’s Mouth Imperial India Pale Ale to the Hoppy Poppy IPA, when you get one of their beers, you know you’re going to get the purest and most honest form of that variety that you can.
That’s not to say they don’t have fun and experiment with new ideas, see their Czech Yo Self and Weiss Weiss Baby brews to prove that point. However, they never stray from their core philosophy of purity and refinement. With each beer they produce, they’ve gone through extensive testing to ensure that they’re not going to put out something that isn’t up to their high standards.
When Alice and I visited, we had an opportunity to chat with Mike Hastings, the Director of Brewing operations. I asked him what separated Fig Mountain from other breweries.
As he explained, their extreme focus on both quality and consistency defines the brewery. Everything from the hops, yeast and malt that they select, down to controlling the very nature of the water that they use, they leave absolutely nothing to chance. If a component isn’t up to their stringent standards, they won’t use it.
During the five short years that they’ve been around, the brewery has rapidly expanded from one small shop to five distinct taprooms that each focus on the attitude and style of the location they’re in, along with the main taproom and brewery.
The same way that Mike and his team of brewers work hard to refine and get at the essence of beer, each of the taprooms they have integrates itself into its surrounding community. No two of them are alike, as each area is as diverse as a stout is from an IPA. They don’t want to storm into a town and say, “We’re here, look at us stand out!” Rather, they aim to blend each taproom into the community, so people there feel immediately comfortable, represented and respected.
That same respect shows through in the way that Mike has diligently strived towards building a team of brewery professionals that focuses retaining the same high standards for every beer they produce. Through this team building, regardless of how large they grow, or how many taprooms they open, every customer who visits will get the same exemplary experience.
With their refinement and focus on purity, emphasis on family and community, it’s easy to see why they’ve grown so quickly and created such an impeccable stable of refined brews. When you’re in the area, swing by and say hi. They’ll immediately make you feel right at home and you’ll get a cold, delicious and elegantly refined beer.
It’s hard to ask for much more out of life.