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Bottle Shop Tales: Seattle’s Most Shiny and New

February 3, 2011 2 comments

Photo credit: yelp.com

I might as well stick with it.  Let’s call it a trend.  Today I hit up 2 Seattle area bottle shops [sic] that I have never visited before.  One is very new, the other is newish, mostly “under new management”, or so I understand.

First up was Chuck’s 85th St. Market.  I have been following these guys for a little while now via Twitter (am I obsessed?).  They go by @chucks85th in case you’d like to follow.  I noticed that they have been having a lot of tastings lately and that they seem to get most of the coveted releases, though often a bit later than the big(er) guys.  They just tweeted that they got Firestone Walker Double Jack in and I have been in need of that ever since it hit the Seattle market.  I had seen the place on many occasions, but never really believed that it would be worth a damn as a bottle shop.  In fact, I used to run past it on a daily basis when I lived on Cleopatra Place NW, one block north of The Dray.

Speaking of The Dray, please check out this article at Seattle Beer News about the soon to be opened bar called The Yard by the same owners.  I’m super excited!

Back to the bottles.  Chuck’s is oddly similar to the Lake Stevens place that I posted about yesterday.  It’s a god damn convenience store with a more than normal bottle collection.  In this case, unlike that of Norm’s, the selection is, as Tim Webb may say, “smart”.  There’s significantly less refrigerators at Chuck’s that are designated to beer as are at Norms, but there is much, much more excitement.  Yes, you will find six packs of your standard, slightly cheaper micro varieties, but you will find almost equal parts eye poppers and “trendy” offerings.  I walked away with a North Coast Twentieth Anniversary, a HOD Blue Dot and 2 Double Jacks.  Great Success!

After a brief stop at 74th St. Alehouse to grab a pint of Two Beers cask Evo IPA dry hopped and infused with D’anjou pears and Pink Lady Apples (drool) I headed over to Seth’s (of Collins Pub/Hudson New American Public House fame) new bottle shop, The Last Drop.

I must admit that I’m massively jealous of what Seth has created here.  From the first moment that I walked through the doors of Belmont Station in Portland I knew that pubs and bottle shops were meant to live in harmony, side by side.  I promised myself that my bar/brewpub would have an adjoining bottle shop.  I stand by that, and you know what, fuck it, you should do it too.  The more options the better.  Let us beer nerds take over the world…of commerce.

I digress.  The Last Drop is a bit stark at the moment, but I have a strong feeling that Seth has made it this way to allow for it to grow organically with time.  He was a lot of space to work with, which excites me.  I want to work for him and help fill the voids, both figuratively and literally.  There is a lot of potential there.

TLD has about 7 (I forgot to count) beers on tap behind the register for growler fills.  Some solid offerings, no doubt.  There’s a few wine options available as well, but beer is clearly the motif here.  If it’s not clear by now, I’m a cranky old snob when it comes to bottle shops.  If I want something cheap I’ll go to Safeway and buy a 12er of Rainier.  When I go to a bottle shop I want the newest releases and I plan to spend $50.  I want to build my cellar or I want to get something that I have never had before.  I also work for a living and find it very challenging to arrive on the doorsteps of Bottleworks when this shit gets released.  The Last Drop, at least as of now in its infantile stage, fucking rules my life.

It’s clear that Seth was buying/cellaring beers for his bottle shop long before the doors opened. I love him for that.  Though some of the rarer offerings have been sicken with an up-charge, it’s to be expected, and honestly, it excites me because it inadvertently offers monetary fortitude to what I’ve cellared in the past 6 months.  This is far different from offering horrible out of season beers like Norm’s does.  This is offering a virtual get out of jail free card to the lazy or the busy (like myself).  If I didn’t already have a 2010 Black Xanthus I’d have picked one up.  If you don’t have one, get over to Last Drop now!

Allow me to state, for the record, that I know I can sound highly narcissistic at times when I write these articles.  Please understand that that is my role here at beerblottter.com.  I’m the uber-nerd that plays to the sensibilities of the Northwest beer connoisseur.  For those that are not connoisseurs, please feel free to mock me, mostly for spending nearly all of my meager earnings on beer that I horde away and rarely actually drink.  One day, most likely very soon, I’ll die and leave a god-awful amount of amazing beer to some lo-life that has zero respect/understanding for what I have and it’ll be all for naught.  I repeat, mock at will.

Seattle’s Newest Bottle Shop: The Last Drop Opens Today!

January 18, 2011 2 comments

Bottle shops rock! Add one to your Seattle list.

 

Just saw a tweet from Collins Pub that The Last Drop Bottle Shop will open today! The Last Drop is the brainchild of Seth Howard, owner of Seattle’s Collins Pub and Maple Leaf’s Hudson Public House.

We do not know much about The Last Drop (hey, it just opened!), but they claim to be filling growlers and selling a bevy of bottles. The shop is right next door to the Hudson Public House, up in Seattle’s Maple Leaf neighborhood.

So, get on in to The Last Drop. You can find a map to the location by following this link. Their initial hours will be 2 to 10 on Monday – Thursday, 1 to 11 on Friday – Saturday, and 2 to 7 on Sunday.

While their website is currently under construction, you can follow them on Twitter by clicking this link. For the time being, they will be using the Collins Pub Twitter page to post updates.

If you make a visit, please leave us comments below about what we can all expect! Very excited to see the new digs.

Happy Birthday to Beer Blotter Editor Jessica Reiser

BeerBlotter.com's Jessica Reiser at the Manneken Pis in Brussels, Belgium.

Yesterday was the 27th birthday of our editor and fearless leader – Jessica Reiser. We all really appreciate her dedication to BeerBlotter.com and her amazing thirst for excellent beer at home and abroad on our many beer excursions!

We celebrated this joyous event with a weekend full of camping in Southern Washington’s Seaquest Park, topped off with a day in Seattle drinking beer at Collins Pub, dining at Cafe Campagne and having a nightcap supplied by cellar treats! There was some good beer along the way….

On the way down south, we stopped for a lunch over at the Nothwest Sausage and Deli, the home of Dicks Brewing Co. This place is a mecca of smoked meats, cheeses and of course Dick Young’s famous beers. A more substantive article will appear this week in our 52 Weeks column – but this place is simply amazing and should never be missed by any beer lover.

Lazy Boy Brewing supplied a jockey box and 1/4 kegs of its new Pale Ale and its Imperial Red for our camping trip over the weekend. New Lazy Boy assistant and Beer Blotter writer Timperial Stout helped create what we are calling a “dixie cup randall” filled with fresh smoked wood chips, soaked in Makers Mark. We used the mini-randall to create a bourbon wood infused imperial red (we kind of wish we had used the Pale Ale, but this was still a damn good beer).

Yesterday, Seattle’s Collins Pub supplied some exciting beers with pours of Boundary Bay’s Imperial IPA, Midnight Sun’s 3767 Belgian-style IPA, New Belgium’s Eric Sour Peach Ale and Allagash’s Trippel. We are all such big fans of 3767, an IPA wort engineered by Ballast Point Brewing (San Diego) and infused with 3 different yeast strains (Brett included) and bottle conditioned by Midnight Sun (Anchorage). Its amazing beer in the bottle – and better on the tap.

We enjoyed an incredible dinner at Cafe Campagne, comprised of escargot, country pate, roast duck, steak and fine grenache wine. But we finished up with a nite cap filled with some cellar favorites that had been pushed back for a special occasion. Avery Brewing‘s Brabant Wild Ale was a splendid surprise. The beer has the body of a Cascadian Dark Ale, but the Belgian undertones of a Jolly Pumpkin Bam Noire. The beer is fermented with Brett and conditioned in Zinfendel barrels. Very impressive, though not as sour as we hoped.

The Grand Cru Bruscella from Cantillon.

We also enjoyed a special beer from Brussels’ Brasserie Cantillon. Cantillon’s Grand Cru Bruscella was a beer that we first enjoyed during a meal at De Gans, a quirky house/restaurant on the outskirts of Ghent, Belgium. After visiting the Cantillon brewery back in March, we decided to take a bottle for the road. The beer is a simple 3 years old lambic with virtually no carbonation and little body – but bursting with flavor. This particular bottle was from the 2006 vintage and is from the “Bio” series of beers made with organically grown ingredients. We very much enjoy this beer, as its flavor develops down to the last drop.

Again – Happy Birthday to Jessica! Expect to see an article reviewing her night with Tomme Arthur during Seattle Beer Week at Brouwers Cafe, later this week.

Collins Pub Showcases Real Strong Ale Fest in Seattle

Two Deschutes masters - Mirror Mirror and Black Butte XXI

Last night we ventured over to Collins Pub in Pioneer Square to enjoy the opening day of the bar’s Real Strong Ale Fest. Nice start guys!

The pub opened with a bevy of Deschutes Reserve Series and Bond Street Ales.  In fact, Collins Pub had the entire Reserve lineup, absent my personal favorite – the Dissident – which had earlier been expected, but according to our favorite bartender Amy, didn’t make the shipment (damn).

On tap yesterday were some amazing beers:

from Deschutes – The Abyss, Hop Henge, Jubel 2010, Black Butte XXI and what we believe was a keg of Mirror Mirror 2008? – apparently aged in Collins Pub’s basement over the past year.

from others – Naked City The Big Lebrewski (stepped up at 8-9%), Port Brewing Mongo Double IPA, and Mad River Wheat Wine.

We had a Mirror Mirror, Black Butte XXI and Big Lebrewski. The Mirror Mirror was impeccable. After trying this beer every year, in many different formats and glasses – this was by far the best pour we have ever had. The aging did it right, as the residual bitter sweetness had resided and the maltiness carried a prune and nectarine flavor. Get this one.

Black Butte XXI was as always – very good. This is one of the most ultimate in heavy beers that can be drank in volume. No surprises here, just very enjoyable out of the whiskey barrel with the added coffee notes.

The Big Lebrewski left us a little disappointed – and we hate saying that. We are huge fans of the people over at Naked City and we love that they are finally pumping out some great ales! But the new version pumps up the alcohol while killing some of the great flavor prevalent in the former version. We would stick with the older creamy and coffee version. (*Note: our palates may have been tainted by the Black Butte XXI we had just drank)

We also want to throw a thank you out to Mr. Seth Howard, the Collins Pub owner, who threw some great shwag our way! Thanks for the pint glass and shirt. We will cherish.

Today is no slouch of a day. Collins Pub is reporting on Twitter that they will showcase what we believe to be the 3 best barleywines of the season:

Real strong beer goodness! Firestone abacus, angels share (carbonated!), 05 full sail old boardhead, older viscosity, fish old woody, etc  – @CollinsPub

Do not leave this place without doing a side by side between Firestone’s whiskey monster – Abacus – and Lost Abbey’s brandy barreled gemini – Angels Share. Port Brewing’s Older Viscosity has the body of motor oil and the hint of fresh baked pretzels! yum.

Stop in and grab a beer this week while the festival continues. It goes on through March 7. You can read the lineup over at Seattle Beer News. Have fun.

Pliny the Younger, Best Beer in the World?

February 16, 2010 2 comments

PTY: get it today in Seattle!

On Saturday beeradvocate.com announced, via their twitter feed, that the very long standing #1 on their list of the Best Beer on Planet Earth, Westvleteren 12, had been overtaken by Russian River Brewing Co.’s Pliny the Younger.  This news comes in the wake of San Francisco Beer Week, which was kicked off with the annual release of said beer at the Russian River Brewery in Santa Rosa, CA.  The beer was completely drained from the coffers of the brewery in less than a day.

For all the rating nerds out there, BA has it at an A+ / 4.63, where Westvleteren 12 is at A+ / 4.62.  Yes, an extremely thin margin.  Just for a little perspective, the other beer rating giant, ratebeer.com, pegs the beer at #12 in its top beers in the world.  Its elder uncle, Pliny the Elder, makes the list in the 18 position.

For those that don’t know, Russian River’s Pliny the Younger is a draft only triple IPA that weighs in at 11% abv and is a liquid hop candy delight poured from the chalice of God himself.  It is pretty darn rare, but if you live on the West Coast, keep your eyes and ears peeled at all times, have a really fast car and no job, and know someone important in the bar industry, chances are at least plausible that you could get a taste.  This is unlike the overtaken Westvleteren 12, which has been unanimously the best beer in the world for as long as I have been aware of these lists, and is even more difficult to acquire.

Westvleteren 12 is a bottle conditioned Belgian Trappist Ale brewed by Saint Sixtus Abbey in Northwest Belgium.  Only 160,000 cases of 12 are produced each year and, with the exception of a very few number of crafty European beer bars, can only be purchased from the Abbey that brews it.  To top it all off, due to the limited nature of the brew, the Abbey limits the amount of cases one can purchase at any one time.

Check out the Thirty Pilgram site for a beginner course on how to get your hands on the elusive 12.

Point is, as rare as Younger is, not many beers in the world are rarer than 12.  One can assume, of course, that flavor plays a large role in the grand status of these beers as well.  I have, luckily, had the fortune to taste the great Younger and can honestly say that I believe it is worth the hype.  It is, well… a liquid hop candy delight poured from the chalice of God himself.  I cannot, yet, tell you of the flavor majesty of 12, but Belgium is only a month away and you can be assured that Saint Sixtus Abbey is on the agenda.

Now, how can us Seattleites find Younger?

Sadly, the first Seattle keg has already been slain.

Collins Pub in Pioneer Square was the first Seattle bar to tap Younger, putting it on at 4:00 pm on Friday and announcing it, again via Twitter, at 12:41pm.  The keg was kicked in 20 minutes. We do however believe that this was a 1/6 barrel keg (per rumor). We hold out some hope for 1/2 barrels elsewhere.

Your next chance: Naked City Taphouse in Greenwood.  Today at 5:00 pm the next keg will be tapped alongside a keg of Elder.  Naked City, yet again proving why it was rated the 42nd best beer bar in the world on ratebeer.com.

Beer Blotter has also caught wind of a tapping at Brouwer’s Café tonight (we don’t need to talk up Brouwer’s). Indications were that Brouwer’s would be tapping around 6:00 PM.

If you work today, or otherwise have a life not entirely dictated by beer, there may be more opportunities to savor Younger in the near future.  Considering Brouwer’s relationship with Vinnie Cilurzo of Russian River, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they have more than one keg, and that they save it for Brett Pack night of Seattle Beer Week or for their annual IPA fest.

Beer Blotter, on the other hand, has a life entirely dictated by beer, and therefore will be found, most likely, at both Naked City and Brouwer’s tonight.  Find us, say hi, and salute great beer!

Pliny the Younger, Best Beer in the World?

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