Craft Beer Month is May 2013 in the Santa Ynez ValleyAren’t we lucky? As residents of the Santa Ynez Valley, we are free to enjoy one entire month of craft beer, thanks to Visit the Santa Ynez Valley, which has extended last year’s one-week craft beer celebration to the entire month of May 2013.

Craft beer fans will have plenty of choices to sample local and non-local beers.

As the saying goes, “it takes a lot of beer to make a good wine” — and perhaps that’s why craft beer is one of the new best things in the Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Barbara and on the greater Central Coast.

American Craft Beer Week (www.craftbeer.com) takes place from May 13 to 19, with beer being celebrated in every 50 states.

Closer to home, beer aficionados can enjoy special tastings, a beer festival, classes, dinners and more throughout the entire month.

On Saturday, May 11, the Second Annual Buellton Brew Fest takes place in that town’s River View Park. Featured will be 25 breweries. Tickets are $35 in advance and $45 from May 1 through 11, and include unlimited tasting, lunch and live music.

For more information or to buy tickets, visit www.buelltonbrewfest.com, Eventbrite or the Buellton Chamber of Commerce.

Last year’s inaugural event sold out well in advance, so organizers urge those interested in securing tickets quickly.

“After a phenomenal inaugural year, it’s awesome to see the excitement continue to build in this area for beer and and the art of craft beer,” said Holly Holliday, event director and owner of Create Promotions, www.createpromotions.com

“We look to continue to bring the best of the best to the Santa Ynez Valley, in order to inspire future beers to come. This event is beer at its best, we’re proud of that.”

Friday night, May 10, Chris Knox, manager of Bin 2860, will host a special dinner at the Mendenhall Museum in Buellton. Diners at the progressive beer dinner will enjoy Americana favorites such as truffle French fries, gourmet sliders and beer floats paired with rare beers that will not be served at Saturday’s event. The dinner is limited to 100 tickets, which are available for $75.

Other beer dinners during May include Solvang Brewing Company’s brewmaster dinner, May 15; Firestone Walker Brewing Company’s dinner at the Ballard Inn & Restaurant, May 19; and a beer versus wine dinner at the Los Olivos Cafe and Wine Merchant, May 30.

In addition, food and beer pairings can be enjoyed at the Wandering Dog Wine Bar and The Good Life, both in Solvang, featuring beer with meats, cheese and desserts.

Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company in Buellton, Valley Brewers in Solvang, Wandering Dog Wine Bar and Bin 2860 in Los Olivos will host beer-themed classes. Topics range from ales versus lagers to sour beers to yeast classes and brewing demonstrations.

Firestone will release a “Library Anniversary Ale” every Friday during May, and Figueroa Mountain plans special “pint nights” and progressive brew tastings.

Visitors curious about beer businesses can plan their trip around the new SYV Craft Beer Trail Map, which can be printed via www.syvbeer.com.

Every event associated with Craft Beer Month can be found at www.visitthesantaynezvalley.com or by calling (805) 686-0053.