This was originally posted by bb.com back in 2009. Damn time flies. All of these places are worth a second post. So check ‘em out, if you haven’t before!
Sunday, November 29, 2009 marked Beer Blotter’s adventure to beer bars unknown and a brewery worth the trip. This trip refers to a 25 minute drive from downtown Seattle to Redmond, Washington. “What is there besides Microsoft in Redmond?” Well, that is why we are here, to stimulate your brain and your taste buds.
Stop #1 Black Raven Brewing Company
Known for their Trickster IPA (which won Beverage Place Pub‘s year round IPA tap spot), Black Raven Brewing Company’s brew pub is part of a commercial park. Inside, the space is warming and welcoming. We immediately walk up to the bar, order the sampler (and an extra Wisdom Seeker Double IPA) and take a seat at a wooden top table. Sunlight, well what Seattleites consider sunlight, streamed through the windows. The bartender and bar regulars were very passionate about beer and Black Raven. Beer blotter would like to thank Lee Killough for the pictures and insider facts about the brewery. Aside from the two IPAs, the Brown Porter and Second Sight Scotch Ale come highly recommended. The porter is surprising light for the style and is nutty with caramel undertones. This brew was an experimental recipe when the brewery first opened and they got it right the first time around!
Black Raven is located at 14687 NE 95th Street, Redmond, WA 98052. Beware: This brewery might have great brewing equipment (which you can sit near in the back room) but they do not serve food. Menus are placed at every table for delivery option to the brewery.
Stop #2 Malt and Vine Bottle Shop
After a great time at Black Raven, we decide to stick around Redmond for a little while longer. This provides us with a great opportunity to visit the local bottle shop, Malt and Vine. Like so many establishments in Redmond, Malt and Vine is located in a strip mall off of Redmond Way and my dear beer lovers, it is worth the stop in every way, shape and form. Not only does this bottle shop have approximately 15 taps flowing at any given time, (Lets take a moment for some name dropping: New Belgium Love, Lost Abbey Angel Share) their bottle selection is amazing and the refrigerators are organized by brewery, not by style. This approach to organizing your beer coolers, in our humble opinion, makes bottle shopping easier and that much more enjoyable. The only negative about this bottle shop is that the area in which one might enjoy one of these profound beers is not very welcoming and is reminiscent of a high school cafeteria. If only high school cafeterias sold rare beer and had an amazing tap list…the world would be a better place….or not… But during our time spent at Malt and Vine, the world did seem a bit better or at least bearable.
Malt and Vine is located at 16851 Redmond Way, Redmond, WA 98052. Less than 5 miles from Black Raven Brewery.
Stop #3 Wedgewood Ale House
We had heard such great things, had such high expectations. Maybe that was our problem. A cold November day, we were looking for a place to walk into, to warm our hearts and fill our souls. The only thing warm about the Wedgewood Ale House was the Boundary Bay Brewing Cabin Fever and Port Townsend Winter Ale on nitro. Although it was too cold and the wings were too small, Wedgewood Ale House has the quintessential bar menu and they support Washington breweries. With only Washington breweries on tap, the BB Cabin Fever is perfect for the winter/holiday season. It tantalizes your taste buds and tickles the back of your throat with hops and vanilla. The Port Townsend Winter Ale was inviting and spiced well with a malt balance.
The Wedgewood Ale House is located at 8515 35th Ave NE, Seattle, WA 98115
Stop #4 Fiddler’s Inn
Fiddler’s Inn has a hidden rustic quality upon first sight with a comfortable, “home for the holidays” atmosphere inside. Stuffed from our previous stops, no food was ordered, but the menu boasted pizzas and what we would call Italian fare. But food isn’t really why were are hear as the tap list and wall mounted taps prove their passion for the punch. A taste of this so-called “punch” included New Belgium Wild Ale, Anchor Steam Christmas Ale and Fremont Brewing Co. Little Woody Pale Ale. A quick side note about New Belgium Wild Ale, it is brewed with schisandra berries. WAIT! Keep reading. This berry is known as the “5 flavored berry” presenting notes of sweet, sour, salty, spicy and bitter. This beer is all that rolled into one.
Fiddler’s Inn is located at 9219 35th Avenue NE, Seattle, WA 98115.
Stop #5 Pub at Pipers Creek
The space is awkwardly open and if you decide to take a seat that is not at the bar, your very far away from the only light that brightly shines. Taps form a crescent shape in the middle of the bar. At this point, food was the last thing on our minds, so we are sticking to what we know and love, beer. Big Al Brewing Winter Warmer had stout like qualities and was spicy, somewhat creamy and delicious. We were all pleasantly surprised by Elysian’s BiFrost which has an undeniable hop presence as well as Dick’s Brewing’s, Silk Lady.
Pub at Pipers Creek is located at 10527 Greenwood Avenue N, Seattle, WA 98133
We met some friends along the way, tried some great beers, bought some bottles and beat the Sunday blues. Let us know if there are other Seattle or Washington State beer bars for us to try. Hell, we will even leave the state or the country if need be.
Leave a comment or email your bar idea to email@example.com.
If you have yet to get out to Black Raven – shame on you. Come on, man. Black Raven is arguably the best brewer in the great State of Washington. Don’t fear Redmond.
In all seriousness, Black Raven is a must visit. Located in a tiny commercial park in Redmond, Washington, Black Raven produces some of the best beer in Washington. From big IPAs, to well-conditioned barleywine and all the way to their new imperial stout(Grandfather Raven), their beer is incredible.
Well, now you have more reason to get out and visit them. Black Raven recently underwent construction to expand their taproom and add a second bar. The taproom can now accomodate a much larger amount of people, which will make cask night a bit more comfy.
If you need an excuse to head out there – tomorrow is Cask Night. Each Wednesday, Black Raven and Redmond’s special bottle shop – Malt & Vine – do a dual cask event. Starting at 4 PM, both venues will host a special cask.
Since Editor Jess is off living in the lap of luxury by means of a massive sea-faring vessel and therefore finds herself unable to pen the much heralded Events column, I figured I’d bring you my version of the events.
Many of our local readers may very well be savvy in the 140 character world of Twitter, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they both follow all of the tweeters that I do and actually keep up with what they are saying on a daily basis. Admittedly, I find it nearly impossible myself, but today I made a point to sift through all the bird calls and pull out a few of the Seattle area events and/or beers on tap that may interest you all.
Let me know if you find this helpful or simply redundant by leaving a comment below. Have a great week and drink good beer!
Latona Pub (@latonapub) in Greenlake has the following on tap (as of 1/31/11):
Port Townsent Nitro Stout
Roslyn Dark Lager
Sierra Nevada Hoptimum
Full Sail LTD 4 Pale
Hale’s Wee Heavy
Firestone Walker Union Jack
New Belgium Vrienden
Silver City Whoop Ass
Super Deli Mart (@superdelimart) in West Seattle (9051 35th Ave SW) has Oskar Blues G’Knight Imperial Red and Flyers Hop Duster IPA on tap as of 1/31/11.
It’s most likely a joke, but Iron Horse Brewing (@ironhorsebeer) of Ellensburg claims to be releasing a beer called Double Rainbow Ale inspired by the impossibly hilarious YouTube video that went viral last year. Check it out here.
The Toronado (@toronado), an absolutely epic beer bar in San Francisco, is having a special event on 2/18/11 for the release of Pliny the Younger. Yes, that is during San Fran’s annual Beer Week, but this, most likely means that we should see kegs in the Seattle market either slightly before that or around the same time. Are you ready?
This Wednesday at the 74th St. Alehouse (via @twobeersbrewing) in Phinny – Two Beers Brewing will be providing a very special cask of Evo IPA. Here are the details from their Facebook page:
Wednesday Night: 74th St. Alehouse Cask of Double Dry-Hopped (Simcoe, Amarillo, Sorachi Ace, Centenniel) Evo. IPA. We also threw in some D’Anjou Pears and Pink Lady Apples to help with the secondary fermentation. Uhhh, you won’t want to miss this one of a kind beer.
That sounds redonculous!
Elliot Bay Brewing (@elliotbay_beer)will be sending out two barrel-aged beers today, one “Sour” to the West Seattle location and a “Bourbon Stout” to Burien. I would highly recommend checking these out if you are able.
The Porterhouse Pub (via @diamondknot) in West Seattle is hosting a Super Bowl party/fundraiser in conjunction with Beer Church that will feature brews from Diamond Knot, Port Townsend and Georgetown. For more details please check out this site. Go to this!
This Friday, 2/4/11, at 5pm, Cooper’s Alehouse (@coopersalehouse) in Maple Leaf will be hosting a 5 year vertical tasting of Sierra Nevada’s Celebration Ale. You can order a tasting tray and try all 5 side by side. If there are any beer aging naysayers out there, get you ass out to this event and see what age can do for yourself. They also have Sierra’s Bigfoot Barleywine on tap (as of Sunday).
As of Sunday night, Naked City (@nakedcitybeer) had Fish Brewing’s 10 Squared Barleywine on tap. If it’s still on, it won’t be for long. They also have Sierra Nevada’s Hoptimum and Snipes Zombie Killer.
Apparently, Grandfather Raven, Black Raven’s Imperial Stout, is still on tap at the brewery’s taproom (as of Sunday, via @seattlebeerclub) .
Oh yes, the annual RateBeer.com awards are upon us. Every year in January, beer nerds come out from the woodwork, run a regression analysis, compute multiple methodology, average the cosign – plus tangent – and come up with these pretty rad rankings. Bon appetite.
I believe its a bit more simple than I made it out to be, but the rankings are up and that means the chatter begins. I have always been a staunch supporter of the RateBeer rankings. In fact, they have led the way on a number of significant beer tours around this great globe. Lets see how they did this year.
Here are the top performers in each category and some notes about NW people performing well:
Best Beer: (Click here to see list)
Närke Kaggen Stormaktsporter – If you have had this beer, kudos to you. I have looked, believe me. From Belgium to the Netherlands, you aren’t going to find it. Someday, someday. It is interesting to see Westvleteren 12 unseated. Perhaps the lore of Michael Jackson has finally left the building. For the NW – Deschutes Abyss came in at a very impressive #17. Hair of the Dog’s Matt and Adam both made the Top 100. Surprising that Adam still topples Fred.
Top Beers By Category (Click here for the list)
I am not going to spend a lot of time on these, you can review them here. Suffice it to say that the only showings from the NW were from a sake producer out of Oregon and a surpirsing top spot in dark lager for Rogue’s Chatoe Rogue Dirtoir Black Lager. Yikes. While expected, its so sad to see this repeated each year. Russian River whooped some ass, once again.
Best Beer in USA (Click here for the list)
Russian River Pliny the Younger – By now, we are all familiar with this hop monster. Though we would prefer to see something with a bit more complexity, its a deliciously unmatched hop beast. As for the NW, Deschutes Abyss at #13 and Hair of the Dog Adam #43 are all that made it. Strikeout, Washington.
Best Brewer in World (Click here to see list)
Three Floyds Brewing – I like em; hell i love em. But are they really the best? Their lengthy list of offerings and impressive showings in multiple categories (stout, IPA, pale, etc.) probably gets them the spot. My choice would have been the #2 on the list – Founders Brewing Company. Great to Hoppin Frog, Akron, OH, at #17. Great work Fred! Oregon did incredibly well: Rogue #21, Hair of the Dog #24, Deschutes #49, Cascade Brewing #57, and Upright Brewing #92 (wow). Washington = Elysian #92. I was actually surprised not to see Black Raven Brewing on this list. I think this is a testament to the fact that Black Raven is not yet bottling. Upright is probably smaller in production, but they send bottles into various states. I think thats the ticket here (plus great brewing).
Best Beer Bars in World (Click to see list)
The Kulminator – Its probably the most deserving, considering their iconic collection of cellar aged beers. Kudos to them for keeping this epic collection rolling. Our visit to Kulminator in March could not have been more eye-popping. The most amazing thing on this list – Avenue Pub at #8!!! Congratulations to Polly, the bar’s owner, who has worked her ass off to deserve this recognition. This is the only must see in New Orleans. This is typically a strong category for Washington – perhaps the only one where they typically overtake Oregon. This year they did the same, but only 2-0. Uber Tavern was #14 and Brouwers Cafe was #22. This is a bit of a drop for both of these two. The list also booted Naked City Taphouse, who made a daring showing last year. Nothing in Oregon made the list.
Best Brewpubs in World (Click to see list)
Brouwerij de Molen – The Windmill strikes again! This place has climbed up and up the list and I will agree that it deserves this spot. In a remote area of Holland, Bodegraven’s only beer spot is hidden inside a windmill. Inside you can enjoy excellent food, phenomenal beer and a pretty incredible bottle shop with a collection of US brews that makes me jealous in Seattle. This is a must see for anyone in Northern Europe. Great to see Walking Man make the list at #10. We finally got out there this past summer and thoroughly enjoyed this sunny spot. Deschutes Brewing was #18, Cascade’s Racoon Lodge was #48 (and will be bumped next year for the new Barrel Room) and then there is Pelican Brewing at #26. 26? Cmon man. If you have ever been to this magical surfers cove, you would spit at anyone that left this out of their Top 5. Go visit.
Best Beer Store in World (Click here to see list)
Het Oude Schooltje – Struise Brouwers @ The Old School – Ummm, I’m confused. I was in Oostvleteren and never saw this place! Kill me now. This is my own fault and I’m stuck with the consequences. Next time. Great to see some Washington guys on here as well: Malt & Vine #27 and Bottleworks #29. Oregon got showings from The Bier Stein in Eugene and Belmont Station in Portland, who fell all the way to #44.
Best Restaurant in World (Click here to see list)
Ebenezer Kezars Restaurant and Pub – This is on my list and will be visited in June when we do a brief NE trip. Tucked away in the Maine mountains in the little town of Lowell – this gem awaits. Is it shocking to anyone else that despite the NW’s extremely well-received culinary presence and beer presence, we cannot produce one beer restaurant in the Top 50? What about Brouwers Cafe? Ebenezars is just a pub, too.
Best Breweries to Visit in World (Click here to see list)
Picobrouwerij Alvinne Den Bier- en Proefzolder – Yes, yes and yes x 1000. This is the single greatest beer visit of my entire life. If its a little strange that we have yet to speak about this visit here on BB.com, its because I am intimidated. Timperial and I have feared drafting this inconic article for just about a year. Alvinne is located in a large barn-like space off a highway in Belgium. We arrived after closing on St. Patricks day and were awarded with private drinking stock from the owner. An unprecedented adventure. I was so glad to see Hair of the Dog Brewing on here as well at #2. Alan Sprints has done an incredible job putting together their new taproom, which is a must for any visitor to the NW. Great to also see Upright Brewing (Portland), who has a very cool tasting room where you can grab some schooners and some tunes for a few hours. Rogue, Bridgeport and Hopworks also made the list. A complete zero for Washington.
Ugh. Washington has to take a failing grade this year. I am really disappointed to see so many of the stalwarts take drops. It was very encouraging to see the locations do alright, but what about our beer?!
In short, most of our beer stays here. I think you can somewhat blame that on our alcohol regulation rules, because they facilitate a healthy market at home. But, you can see that the Oregon brewers making a name for themselves are selling bottles.
Forget Rogue and Deschutes – they are pretty big. But, think about Hair of the Dog, Hopworks and especially Upright. These guys all have bottle sales that go across state borders. That stuff helps.
In the near future, we hope to see bottles from great upstarts like Black Raven Brewing, Schooner Exact, Fremont Brewing and more. Hopefully, we can start to show the world why Washington beer is so damn good.
Did you make it out to Winter Beer Festival 2010? Hope that you did. We heard they poured some damn good beer.
The Washington Beer Commission has gone ahead and released the results for the attendants’ voting. I was very happy to see Fremont Brewing win for their Bourbon Abominable – an absolutely delicious beer.
It was no surprise that Black Raven Brewing walked home with a few awards, including the best booth decoration. Check out the official voting results below:
Winter Fest 2010
Thank you to all of you who came out to the 2010 Winter Beer Festival at Hale’s Palladium this past weekend. 34 Washington breweries from across the state poured a diverse sampling of amazing winter seasonal beers. This year’s People’s Choice Awards winners included:
Friday, Dec. 10
1) Iron Horse Mocha Death
2) Big Time Holy Molë
Saturday, Dec. 11 Session #1
1)Fremont Bourbon Abominable Ale “B Bomb”
2)Black Raven Festivus IPA
Saturday, Dec. 11 Session #2
1) Black Raven Bourbon Barrel Petite Mort
2) Two Beers 20:20 Blonde
Booth Decoration Winner:
Written by our in-house cellar dweller, Timperial Stout.
When it comes to big, specialty releases that make waves on a national level, the Northwest is painfully lacking. Washington state, more specifically, pretty much has none. We don’t have a Dark Lord or a Black Tuesday or a Kate the Great or a Sexual Chocolate…
I can’t think of a single time that I rushed out to the bottle shop for a WA release. I have rushed out to bars to catch WA beers while they were on draft, but that is such a fleeting pursuit. I want to be able to add a bottle to the cellar and age it and show it off and pretend that I’m cool that I have a crazy barrel-aged imperial stout that’s 4 years old and nearly impossible to get. I have low self-esteem so if I don’t have an impressive cellar I have nothing.
But seriously, why can’t Washington brewers do this for me. I guess I do have that Black Raven wheat wine that they made for Malt and Vine‘s anniversary. Oh yeah, and those Pike Entires. Both are wax-dipped and shit, totally impressive. Well, whatever…I want more.
Our neighbors to the south are doing a little bit better than us on this front, but it’s by no means a landslide. Hair of the Dog and Cascade bottles are pretty sweet trophies to show off. I’ve got a New Old Lompoc Oak Aged Dopplebock down in my cellar. Pretty cool huh? I know.
The ultimate bottled prizes in the PNW come from Deschutes in Bend, OR. I know you know what they are. I know you are jealous of my ’07 Abyss. Your best bet to rival me in supremacy is to camp outside of your local bottle shop tonight, and every subsequent night until more bottle of The Dissident hit Western Washington (if we are so lucky). Then do the same thing in mid-December for The Abyss. Buy as many as they will allow, drink one of each on New Years and hide the rest in the deepest recesses of your cellar. In 15 years when your first-born turns twentyfun, make his/her first ‘legal’ beer be one of paramount class.
Friday, November 19th
We are super excited to officially announce the release of The Dissident, our sour brown ale brewed with Washington cherries, that takes 18 plus months to reach near perfection. A limited amount of bottles will go on sale at both Brew Pubs and our Tasting Room on Friday, November 19th at 11 am. Fans will be able to pick up six bottles of this beloved brew at a time.
Wednesday, December 1st
The wait is finally over for the fifth release of The Abyss, our imperial stout brewed with molasses and licorice aged in bourbon and oak wine barrels. Join us at our Brew Pubs on December 1st as we tap the first kegs and make the 2010 bottles available for you to add to your collection.
…Also of note, here is information on those two beers and other upcoming releases as it was received this morning from a brewery representative…
When: End of November
What: Reserve Series (22-ounce wax-dipped bottles and draft)
Finally…. perfection. After nearly two years aging in isolation, the 2010 Dissident has reached its pinnacle. Deschutes Brewery’s only wild yeast beer, brettanomyces and lactobacillus “critters” (a technical brewing term) create a distinctive Oud Bruin, Flanders-style sour brown ale, with a fruity aroma and flavor. To make things even more interesting, whole Central Washington cherries – pits, stems and all were also added to the mix. The result? A beer that’s anything but conventional.
Where: Very limited available in most states where Deschutes is sold
Beer Geek Information:
10.5% Alcohol by Volume (ABV)
What: Reserve Series (22-ounce wax-dipped bottles and draft)
The Abyss has immeasurable depth inviting you to explore and discover its rich, complex profile. Hints of molasses, licorice and other alluring flavors draw you in further and further with each sip. And at 11% alcohol by volume, you will want to slowly savor each and every ounce.
2010 marks the fifth release of this dark and mysterious imperial stout rated the 4th best beer on planet earth by BeerAdvocate.com.
Where: Available in most states where Deschutes is sold
Beer Geek Information:
~11% Alcohol by Volume (ABV)
Every year, local TV station, KING 5 takes a tally from the Washington State population on their favorite bars, restaurants, friendliest athlete, bike shops and so much more. This year and for the third year in a row, Silver City Brewing Co. located on the Kitsap Peninsula won best brewpub! Trust me, it is well deserved.
Silver City gives us Seattleites a reason to hop on a ferry to Silverdale, WA. A large facility, Silver City brews amazing beers, showcases only the finest bar food and is very welcoming to its patrons.
Runners up include: 5th Place-Diamond Knot Brewing Co. (Mukilteo, WA), 4th Place- Redhook Brewing Co. (Woodenville, WA), 3rd Place-Boundary Bay Bar and Bistro and rolling in at 2nd Place-Fishbowl Brewpub (home of Fish Brewing Co. in Olympia, WA)
So, congrats to Silver City who brews amazing beers such as their Woop PAss Double IPA, Fat Scotch Ale (so good), Indianola Pale Ale IPA and several others including some amazing seasonals. I am looking forward to their Winter Bock, Nutcracker Special Belgium Brown Ale and their Christmas Ale, Old Scrooge. Tis the season.
***Notes of a Beer Nerd is a column written by resident cellar dwelling mammal, Timperial Stout. Feel free to e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions, concerns or comments***
Enjoyed on 7/19/2010
Brewery: Big Time Brewery & Alehouse
Location: Seattle, WA
Beer: Old Sol Wheatwine Ale
Presentation: 22 oz. – Brown Glass Bottle – Capped
Vessel: Oversized Wine Glass
Recommended Serving Temp: 50 degrees
Notes From the Bottle: The labels on Big Time bottles have a very DIY feel to them. This isn’t surprising considering that they only sell the bottle in-house. The website offers the following information:
Old Sol Wheatwine Ale, our summertime barleywine style ale, introduced in 2002, Old Sol is available on tap and in bottles to go.
The 2003 Old Sol won a GOLD MEDAL at the Great American Beer Festival. This summertime version of Barleywine made with 46% wheat and Warrior, Simcoe & Amarillo hops will be a sure winner.
OG 23.6 Plato 1.100 SG 9.75% by vol. 7.75% by wt. Brewed on the Lunar New Year, tapped on the Summer Solstice.
Food Pairings: Shellfish, chicken, salad
Cheese Pairings: Gorgonzola, Limburger, Feta
Beer Advocate: A
Rate Beer: 89 (3.52)
Wheatwine is a strange animal. The style is still very new, and no one seems to know quite what to make of it. The specs, more often than not, require a malt bill that is nearly 50% wheat and an abv ranging from 9% to 14%. When it comes to competitions or indexing within beer rating websites, wheatwine is often lumped into the barleywine or strong ale category. Even though it seems that large beer festivals like GABF are permanently expanding the number of categories up for vote, wheatwine has yet to be added. Something tells me that it won’t be long until this exciting style has its day in the spotlight.
That something is the fact that wheatwines seem to be gaining trendiness by the day. More and more breweries have been making them, and if you were to take a look at some of the community run sites like beeradvocate.com or ratebeer.com, you’d probably be surprised that it didn’t catch on much earlier. Unlike ratebeer.com, beeradvocate.com actually has wheatwine as a category, and lists 70 beers. That may seem like a lot, but it really isn’t when you take into consideration that other not-so-popular styles like rye beer, old ale, and rauchbier have 322, 248, and 125 entries respectively. Also, a large percentage of the beers listed under wheatwine are variations on the same beer, one-offs, or brewery only draft specialties. But, my point that this style should have caught on earlier isn’t solely based on the fact that it’s an untapped resource. Even more so, it’s the ratings that have been acquired by the wheatwines that do exist.
There are very, very few wheatwines on beeradvocate.com that are rated lower than a B. ratebeer.com’s number system may offer a bit better of a perspective, but like I said earlier, they don’t recognize the style on its own, so it takes a bit of digging.
Smuttynose Brewing out of Portsmouth, NH makes, most likely, the longest standing, most widely known wheatwine in the States. In fact, other than the beer reviewed here tonight (and one mentioned later in this article), the entire Beer Blotter collective has only ever had one wheatwine…that of Smutty. Smuttynose Wheat Wine is a 95 on ratebeer.com. The much talked about collaboration Oatgoop, between Three Floyds Brewing of Munster, IN and Mikkeller of Denmark, recieved a 98 on ratebeer.com. General stalwarts of the style, New Holland Pilgrim’s Dole and Terrapin Gamma Ray are rated 91 and 90 respectively. Point being, the people like the wheatwine.
Just a year ago, it seems to me that it would have been very safe to say that there was only a handful of breweries in America making the style. Most likely, a good percentage of the craft beer lovers out there are not all that different from us, and have only tried one or two different wheatwines in total. In the last few months, more and more brews have been popping up in the style. Boulevard Brewing out of Kansas City, MO just recently added a wheatwine to the Smokestack Series called Harvest Dance. It received a 97 on ratebeer.com. Locally, Black Raven Brewing of Redmond, WA just made a wheatwine for Malt and Vine‘s (a Redmond based bottle shop) third anniversary. Only three ratings exist so far on ratebeer.com. – not enough for a score, but I can tell you first hand, it’s delicious. I was lucky enough to taste this little gem the day it was released. The 9% brew was enhanced with the addition of California orange peel, black pepper corns, local nettles, and a distinct sour quality. Quite possibly, Black Raven is so far ahead of the game that they are already throwing curve balls at the competition.
Just today (yesterday as you read this), there was a report on the front page of beernews.org that Duclaw Brewing out of Baltimore, MD will be releasing a wheatwine called Misery. They just keep coming and coming. You won’t get any complaints from me.
Enough about the rest, lets talk about the best…well, for tonight at least. The beer on the menu this evening is brought to you by Bill Jenkins of Big Time Brewery. ***Attention all, this is a name that you need to memorize.*** This guy can brew a beer! Yes, Bill is a celebrity in my eyes. I dare you to make a list of the best breweries in WA that doesn’t include Big Time. Yes I know, it is nearly impossible to get their beer outside of the University District brewpub, but that’s the charm of it, right?
Lets gather in the experience of Old Sol.
Old Sol fills the glass with a beautiful, clearly filtered, orange-tinged amber that looks ever so inviting. The carbonation is clearly minimal here, and the head, or lack there of, is right inline. What foam does develop on the pour is stark white and leaves a faint bit of lacing on the inside of the glass after each sip. A ring of white persists, in conjunction with the slightest cirrus cloud of a wisp.
The odor is very fruity, sweet, and boozy. Belgian style ales come to mind immediately. Notes of mango, nectarine, peach, banana… where it not for the malty scents at the core I’d sense this was a fruit juice before me. The malts are light and biscuity with a dash of caramel and vanilla. The wheat is doing things that I’m not entirely used to it doing, and I like it. So many of my experiences with wheat beers have been with unfiltered beers. Most often these brews are jammed up with suspended yeast that, inevitably, steals a lot of the subtle fragrances of the wheat itself. I finally feel like I am spinning, arms outstretched, through the great wheat fields that dominate the Mid-Western states of this great country, and it’s a good feeling. This thought may be just what sparks thoughts of a barnyard scent lingering deep within the nose.
The most elegant characteristic of this beer, and for that matter – this style, is the mouthfeel. “Velvety” seems to be the word of choice in the style guidelines, and I’d have to agree. The carbonation and alcohol seem to hibernate all the way until the swallow, which leaves only the viscous, sugary, syrupy, mouth-coating, wheaty goodness at the forefront for ultimate enjoyment. I’d be lying if I said it was hard to swallow, but sometimes I just want to revel in the moment and let the fluid glide around my mouth for ages.
Honestly, as odd as it sounds, the taste of this beer is the least exciting. I know, that sounds ridiculous, but it by no means takes away from the marvelous and unique experience that this beer provides.. What can I say, wheat is subtle. I’m also a tea drinker, so I know and respect subtle. The Belgian thoughts creep back, but then quickly subside when the wheat strikes. Infused sugars dominate, with a bit of spice and banana essence that seems to be a constant extract of the malt in question, or possibly the yeast. With great warmth, some bubblegum flavors make their presence known. There is another bizarre attribute found post-swallow – the flavors remain but the sweetness if so dominant that a dryness competes. I want more but I don’t need more. Confused, I’m fearful of a hangover, but I’ll take it in stride. All for the joy of sipping down the next big thing in craft brewing.
If you like Big Time Brewery & Alehouse Old Sol Wheatwine Ale, you should try…
Disclaimer: This beer was purchased on my own with my own hard-earned money at a local bottle shop, and aged to perfection by yours truly.
***This post was originally posted on BreweryLaw.com, the nation’s first, and maybe the only, blog devoted to beer law! The blog is published by Reiser Legal, LLC, a Seattle, Washington law office. Reiser Legal’s Douglas Reiser is our regular legal columnist.***
This is somewhat of a travesty – but truly the way that trademark law works. Yesterday, June 21, 2010, Black Raven Brewing Co. lost a trademark battle over its “Black Raven Brewing Company” name and mark design. The story was first reported over at Seattle Beer News.
The challenge was brought by Franciscan Vineyards, who holds trademarks for wine and related products identified by the names “Ravenswood” “Ravens” and “Ragin’ Raven.” These names are associated with its Ravenswood Winery label that produces a large volume of wine in the United States.
There are a few things that really struck me about this case. The first is that this ruling comes at a time when Black Raven Brewing Co. is flying high, gaining every recognition in the brewing world, and putting a major dent in the Seattle craft brewing market. This is the same brewery who recently took home 3 medals at each the North American Beer Awards and the World Cup of Beer. They are on a roll.
Secondly, this was no easy challenge for Franciscan. They moved for summary judgment back in December 2008 and claimed that wine and beer were almost interchangeable, that the channels for sale were similar, and that the mark was confusingly similar. The court rejected this analysis, stating that Franciscan had failed to meet their burden of proof.
The Court proceeded to set the matter for trial. Several motions to strike were filed in 2009 that prompted a delay in the trial of the matter. But, the matter proceeded with briefing early this year; trial was held on the briefs and the decision issued this month.
Third, the Court refuses to sever the beer and wine industry. At times in its decision, its clear that the Court believes that they are virtually interchangeable. The Court provides:
Indeed, when the proper evidence has been made of record, the Board’s precedential authority specifically holds beer and wine are related products….
In sum, the factors relating to the goods, namely the similarities between wine and beer, the identity in trade channels and prospective purchasers, and the conditions of sale weigh in favor of a finding of likelihood of confusion.
This appears to be the first time that the trademark court has had to decide on a similar mark between beer and wine. They did cite the findings of a case between beer and tequila and one pertaining to malt liquor and tequila. But, the Court did not appear to draw any inferences from a similar beer and wine showdown.
This is an important distinction. This country has a glut of wine and beer producers. Many have extremely similar names (i.e. Stone Cellars v. Stone Brewing; Fat Cat Beer v. Red Cat Wine; Sea Dog, Laughing Dog, Lazy Dog, Spotted Dog and whole mess of other dog breweries and wineries). This could open the floodgates for more challenges in between these two industries.
Fourth, the Court used a strip down technique to tear away what it perceived to be generic terms. The Court stripped off “brewing company” and focused its attention on “black raven” v. “ravens”:
In the case of applicant’s mark, BLACK RAVEN clearly dominates the BREWING COMPANY portion. The generic words BREWING COMPANY are disclaimed, and, although we have compared the marks in their entireties, these words play a subordinate role in the mark.
The most important discussion of the word “raven” was in looking to the dictionary definition, which provided that the addition of the word “black” was essentially superfluous, not differentiating the two terms:
The marks share the word RAVEN (the plural form in opposer’s mark) and, thus, look and sound similar.
As for meaning, the term “raven” is defined, in pertinent part, as “a large, black, omnivorous and occasionally predatory bird; glossy black.” The New Lexicon Webster’s Dictionary of the English Language (1987).
Applicant’s promotional materials show that its logo depicts a black bird, as does opposer’s advertising materials. We find that RAVENS and BLACK RAVEN convey substantially similar, if not virtually identical meanings. Although the addition of BREWING COMPANY in applicant’s mark informs prospective consumers that the entity is a brewery, the evidence indicates, as discussed above, that beer and wine may emanate from the same entity.
So, its a crushing blow for Black Raven Brewing Co., but they are not out of options. They are entitled to appeal this decision in the future.
Initial accounts from Beux Bowman, the owner of the brewery, are that the brewery is not going to relinquish use of the name. Who can blame them? The young brewery has sunk an incredible amount of time, money and effort into building up a successful and well-known business icon.
It is very possible that Franciscan will approach the brewery about a licensing arrangement, which would permit them to use the mark, for a price. This is a typical goal of the trademark opposition procedure.
Whatever, Black Raven decides to do, we hope they continue building an incredibly successful brewing operation here in Washington state. Hopefully, the mere fact that they were a part of this dispute only provides additional marketing opportunities.