PICTURED: Guest participating in a previous virtual beer tasting event in 2020. Photo submitted

by Nancy D. Lackey Shaffer


Surf ’n’ Suds (+Buds) Virtual Beer Fest
Saturday, May 15
Streamed live 12:30-3:30 p.m.; available on demand starting Sunday, May 16

As of this writing, Andres Nuño and his crew are in the process of packing beer tasting boxes for ticket holders to this weekend’s upcoming Surf ’n’ Suds Beer Festival. But it’s a little bit different this year. 

The event is virtual, for one thing. Less scenic than the usual San Buenaventura Beach location as in years past, true, but safer — and in keeping with COVID-19 guidelines. It also features some special guests: cannabis growers.

“We’re working with Carpinteria growers — Pacific Stone Brand, Autumn Brands and Glass House Farms,” says Nuño of En Fuego Events, which organized the festival. “They’re talking about what they do as growers and telling their stories.”

Thus, the May 15 event has been redubbed Surf ’n’ Suds (+Buds), and will shed light on these community-based cannabis growers through virtual tours of the farms as well as recorded interviews with Nuño. In addition to spotlighting some decades-old local businesses (Pacific Stone and Autumn Brands are both family-run farms that started out in the cut-flower business in the 1960s-70s), Nuño hopes to demystify and destigmatize the products.

“I wanted to ask the questions that people might feel stupid asking,” he says, noting that cannabis has many different forms and medicinal qualities. “There are ways to get the benefits of cannabis without smoking it or getting high . . . It’s been proven not to be a gateway drug. I think the stigma is still there, but it’s changing every day — I don’t think we’re too far from it being declassified as a Schedule 1 drug.”

And, as Nuño notes, “brewers talk about their beers all the time! Now these guys [cannabis growers] are finally using their voices.”

For the record — there won’t be any cannabis in these boxes. But ticket holders will receive promotional codes for 30% off at partnering dispensaries The Farmacy (based in Santa Barbara), Megan’s Organic Market (San Luis Obispo) and SafePort Cannabis (in Port Hueneme). The promo codes will be active through May 24.

Surf ’n’ Suds (+Buds) is still primarily a beer fest, of course, and tasting boxes will feature selections from 12 craft brewers from Sonoma to Los Angeles, including several from the tri-county area. Caprinteria’s own brewLab, Island Brewing Co. and Rincon Brewery are featured, as well as Casa Agria, Enegren and Topa Topa from Ventura County; Figueroa Mountain and Solvang Brewing from Santa Barbara County; and Humdinger out of San Luis Obispo County. One is from out of state: Hop Valley Brewing based in Eugene, Oregon. 

Nuño will act as the host, guiding viewers through tastings of two-three beers at a time (filmed live at Island Brewing). In addition, there will be quality video footage supplied by each brewer, to inform the audience about the product and the process. Music will be provided by reggae bands Cornerstone and After the Smoke and DJ Hecktik. Nuño hopes the event will be both fun and educational.

“I’m super into beer,” he says. “I hope this event allows people to learn a lot.”

There’s still time to order a tasting box ($70) to participate in the event. Email Andres Nuño at info@surfbeerfest.com or call 805-448-7070.