The first thing you’ll notice about Validation Ale, now open in the Funk Zone, is how handsome it is. The former Santa Barbara Winery warehouse at the corner of Yanonali and Anacapa has been outfitted with curved walnut panels and massive doors and windows. “We didn’t just want four walls and brewing equipment,” says Brian Deignan, who founded Validation with his wife, Briana.
The name is also a guiding philosophy. The Deignans have backgrounds in tech, and inspired by the practice of market validation—running an idea by clients before bringing it to market—they have created two categories of beer on the menu. “The Validated ones are the most popular, and the Vying are the newcomers, which can also be from home brewers and other breweries,” explains Brian. “It forces us to brew what people buy and also to be innovative.”
With little-to-no experience in hospitality, the Deignans admit they have a lot to learn, but they’re also bring a fresh perspective. “We’ve been taproom patrons our whole lives—well, not our whole lives,” says Brian. “And we thought hard about how to improve the experience. Take bathrooms—there are never enough, and they’re always dirty and gross. The city only required us to have two, but we built five.” And because no one likes fighting for a bartender’s attention, Validation Ale allows you to start, manage, and/or close your tab by using one of the QR codes on the bar and tables. And thanks to the reverse-osmosis tap on the wall, you never have to ask for water.
The Deignans’ goal was to get open as soon as possible, so there’s still much to come: an expansion of the current food menu, including coffee and breakfast on weekend mornings; outside seating (the counter along the window serves quite nicely for now); live music and trivia nights; brewery tours; and more.
“I’ve been home brewing for 12 years, and I’ve always wanted a brewery,” says Brian. “But whether you’re a beer nerd like me or you’ve only had Coors your whole life, you’re welcome either way. We want this to be about community.”
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