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Beer Blotter’s Guide to Brouwer’s HopFest 2010

September 7, 2010 13 comments

Photo by Dor & Bob

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Brouwer’s is the best beer bar that I have ever been to in America, and believe me, I’ve been to quite a few good ones.  There is a lot of reasons for my confidence in that stance, but one of the larger ones is the fests that they host.  Yes, there is a decent number of bars in the country that host barleywine fests, and probably even more that organize IPA fests.  It seems pretty doubtful that there would be many that put on sour beer festivals or stout festivals, but I’m sure there are a hand full out there.  But, the question is, how many bars in America do all of those, and do them so well that beer nerds like myself take off of work to attend them?  I’d say that the answer is probably very, very few.  I love pretty much everything about Brouwer’s and HopFest is surely no exception.

So you know that I love Brouwer’s, you know that I love HopFest, you know that I will be there at the moment the doors open, and you know that I will imbibe many an IBU packed brew, but one more question need be answered: what will I be drinking?  That’s where the guide comes in.

First, check out the full list that we posted on the 1st.  After much consideration, I have developed a game plan.  Granted, there is going to be a few additions and most likely, a few exciting surprises come Friday.  If these surprises include Russian River Pliny the Younger or Firestone Walker Double Jack, you are going to want to forget the entire remainder of this article and just drink those until the kegs kick.

Top 10 beers to try:

10.) Russian River Blind Pig – I hear more and more people say “Pliny isn’t even their best IPA” in reference to Blind Pig.  I personally don’t agree, but everything that Russian River makes is good…damn good.  Blind Pig shows up in Seattle from time to time but I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a decent contingent of folks out there that haven’t gotten a hold of it yet.  Here is your chance.

9.) Black Raven Dry Hopped Trickster – My boss at Lazy Boy always gives me shit for my blog claiming that Black Raven is the best brewery in WA.  I’m sure he will also give me shit for not putting our Imperial IPA on this list (sorry boss, I feel a little weird self promoting.  It is a damn good beer though.)  Well, we stand by our claim about BRB.  The people spoke over at The Bev when they voted it in as the house IPA.  This brew is super solid in it’s regular form, I can only guess that the dry hopped version will be even better.  If you have cheated and looked down at number 1 already, you have seen another reason why we are confident in our claim.

8.) Elysian Idiot Sauvin – I honestly don’t know what this beer is.  That is precisely why I want to try it.  Elysian and experimentation go hand in hand, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this one had some peculiar adjuncts added.  No matter what, Elysian makes great beer and this will likely be worth your money.

7.) Midnight Sun XXX Black Double – When Cascadian Dark Ales, or CDAs took over the craft beer world a little while back, we all knew that it was just a matter of time before the Imperial black IPAs would show up.  Well here it is, and I must say, I’m intrigued.  I’m even more intrigued knowing that Midnight Sun is behind it.

6.) Boundary Bay Imperial – There are two Imperial IPAs produced in WA that are head and shoulders above all the rest.  This is one of them.  This is a beer that, if it were distributed with greater reach, would bring some much needed respect to Washington state in the beer war for state supremacy.  This is one of the very few beers that, if I hear that it is on tap somewhere close by, I will do all in my power to make it there immediately to get a pint.

5.)Hub Ace of Spades – I have only had this beer once before and it was at last year’s HopFest.  I can’t believe that that was a year ago, I remember it so well.  It was probably my favorite “new” beer (new to me) of the event.  As it turns out, it was voted the second best beer of the fest behind Pliny the Younger.  Now that Hub is distributing bottles in WA it may be easier to acquire this one, but I will still be ordering one and bathing in it’s brilliance.

4.) Mikkeller Single Hop – This is actually three beers in one (Cascade, Centennial, and Chinook),  sorry to cheat.  You probably don’t have to try all three, but it sure would make a fun experiment.  I absolutely love the concept of single hop beers and I love Mikkeller for making this series happen.  As a fledgling brewer I feel that spending time with these brews will help me gain a better understanding and appreciation for various hop varietals and their impact on scent and flavor. You can sometimes find these brews in 12oz bottles around town , but they are often over $6 a piece.  I don’t think I have ever seen them on draft – this is pretty special and definitely a good opportunity to taste them for, potential, a little bit less dough.

3.) Moylans Wet Hopsickle – Hopsickle is a triple IPA and it’s huge.  When you add the word “wet” before it, it means that fresh hops were used.  I’m getting emotional just thinking about the potential that this beer has to be mind-blowing.  God damn, I can’t believe it’s fresh hop season already!  Yet another reason why living in the Northwest is spectacular.

2.) Green Flash Palate Wrecker – Green Flash is masterful when it comes to hops.  Their West Coast IPA and Imperial IPA are both among the best made in America.  Like the Elysian above, I don’t really know what this beer is, but I know I need to have it.

1.) Black Raven Wisdom Seeker – This beer walks around town with a hype attached to it that is so massive and heavy that I’m amazed it can even stand on it’s own two feet, but boy does it ever.  When this beer hits a handle in the Seattle area, there is an instant buzz, and 20 minutes later (or less) she is out the door…gone…kicked.  Black Raven has clearly taken cues from other perennial buzz junkies (like Pliny the Younger) in seemingly stunting production and causing such a skewed supply and demand curve that on the rare occasion that is it available, people freak out to get a taste.  It would be silly of me to suggest that anything different will happen at HopFest.  This should go very fast so get there early and order 2 at once.

Beer Blotter’s Guide to Drinking Beer and Watching the World Cup

The biggest dance there is.

Friday June 11th marks the first day of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.  The ultimate competition in the world’s game.  The pinnacle of all beautiful dances.  The most watched sporting event on Earth.  Yeah that’s right, we are talking about the month-long soccer tournament that happens only once every four years.  32 nations competing for a place in history.

On July 11th, after finishing in the top two of the group stage, then going unbeaten through the knockout stage, the best soccer team in the world will raise the World Cup Trophy, and along the way, we will raise our glasses and cheer along.

For the biggest soccer fans out there, like myself, nothing else will matter from June 11 to July 11.  All normal activities, sleep included, will cease.  To borrow from one of Seattle’s greatest soccer pubs, The George and Dragon, “Please do not plan weddings, births or vacations June 11 to July 11″.  The Olympics is really the only other sporting event that would rival it for supremacy, but in this writers opinion, it’s not even in the same ballpark, or should I say pitch.

For all of us lucky West Coasters, the first game of the day, at least during the group stages, begins at 4:30 am.  The second game is at 7:00 am, and the last, 11:30 am.  My plan is to watch the first, and a large majority of the second each weekday before leaving for work.  Of course, this will require either a large bit of rearranging of my evening schedule to accommodate an earlier bedtime, or, more likely, a pretty serious lack of sleep.  A small price to pay for the love of the game.

Yeah, the soccer is going to be great, but here at Beer Blotter, we need beer too.  Believe it or not, some local bars will be opening in time for the 4:30 and/or 7:00 games.  For those opening for the 4:30 matches, alcohol cannot be served legally until 6:00 am.

Having a drink before noon is sometimes considered bad form, something reserved for the problem drinkers.  How about 6 hours before noon?  At that point it’s almost as though you are still drinking from the previous day!  OK, maybe that’s a stretch.  Call me a hooligan, but it sounds like a blast to me!

I think you get the point.  We love the beer, we love the soccer, we love the combo.  We also love enriching the community, and if you have ever been in a bar packed with fans, of any sport really, where everyone has their eyes on the screen, waiting on the edge of their seat for the next great flash of athletic brilliance, you know just how powerful that sense of community feels.  With that in mind, we would like to offer our thoughts on where to enjoy the World Cup in Seattle, with pint in hand.

I must state, for the record, that one should expect that all of these bars will be extremely packed for any and all games.  For the biggest games, especially those involving U.S.A, England, Brazil, Spain, Germany, Italy, etc, it is highly recommended that you attempt to arrive early and be prepared to wait in line. Also, do not expect to be accommodated as though you were in your own recliner next to the kegerator at home.

The big draw here is the atmosphere.  The people.  The elation that comes with every Christiano Ronaldo crossover, every Robinho spin move, every picture perfect pass from Cesc Fabregas, and every brilliant finish from Didier Drogba.  Don’t be afraid to offer high fives and joyous hugs to people you have never met before when the U.S. pummels England on June 12.  Then buy your Brit buddies a few pints of good American craft beer to rub it in.

As always, we strongly encourage dialogue.  If you know of a great place to watch that we missed, let us know about it.

It's going to be a madhouse.

The Soccer Bars:

The George and Dragon Pub in Fremont:  We might as well start at that great English pub that I have already mentioned, “The George” as it is often referred to as, is a Mecca for soccer fans.

Though I was not living in Seattle at the time of the previous WC, I was here to experience the Euro Championship.  I would imagine that the atmosphere in The George was very similar.  It will give you goose bumps.  I promise.  From their site…

2 PATIOS WITH TELLYS ON THEM…. FOR BIG GAMES THE PARKING LOT BECOMES A FENCED IN BEER GARDEN WITH PORTA POTTIES REFRIGERATED MOBILE BEER TRAILER & OF COURSE TELLYS …

A few extra tidbits that we shouldn’t glaze over when discussing The George: They are hosting a World Cup Eve celebration on Thursday after the Sounders game.  They have been listed in the top 10 places to watch soccer in the U.S. by the U.S. Soccer Federation and GQ Magazine.

The owners are opening up a second location in Ballard called The Market Arms at 24th and Market.  They are hoping to have it up and running in time for the start of the tournament.

What to drink:  If you want to go with a local craft, grab an Elysian Immortal.  If you want to drink like a Brit, grab a Fuller’s ESB.

Fado downtown:  Though this is a chain, the Seattle pub was named the “Best Soccer Bar in the Country” last year by the U.S. Soccer Federation.  It’s an Irish themed place, but since the Irish failed to qualify for the tourney, expect most to favor the only U.K. team in it, England.

What to drink:  You are in Ireland town, grab a Guinness.

All Nations Soccer Bar in Bitter Lake:  This place is kind of in no man’s land up north of Northgate, but it’s worth a visit.  All Nations is a South American themed soccer bar, so check this place out for the big Brazil or Argentina matches.

What to drink:  Grab a Xingu from the bottle.  It’s a delicious dark lager from Brazil.

Azzurri Vino Bar in Fremont:  This is a fairly new Italian themed soccer centric bar nearly directly across the street from The George.  The Center of the Universe is going to be hopping with soccer junkies.

What to drink:  When in Rome… a Peroni.

Kells Irish Restaurant & Pub downtown:  This is another Irish pub with a strong reputation for taking care of the soccer fans.  Eat, drink, cheer, get rowdy and take the party into the alleys of Pike Place Market.

What to drink:  Can’t go wrong with a good old Smithwick’s

The Attic in Madison Park: A quick click over to their homepage will surely give you a strong inclination of just how excited they are for the WC.  Here’s hoping that the folks over in Madison know how to get down.

What to drink:  Boundary Bay IPA is on the draft list online right now.  That’s a damn good IPA!

Fuel downtown:  This is a major Emerald City Supporters hang out, so we can assume they will be keeping the regulars happy with plenty of WC coverage.

What to drink:  Ask if they still have some Big Al Brougham Bitter.

Atlantic Crossing in Roosevelt:  Yet another Irish pub with soccer on the mind.  It looks like they are only opening in time for the 7:00 games when the U.S. is involved, but they will be showing the replays each night on taped delay.

What to drink:  Start up your session with a Harp.

Cafe Presse in Capitol Hill:  This is a small, French themed joint.  If you are looking to get out of the house to catch a game but want a more laid back atmosphere, this is your place.

What to drink:  How about something French.  Tilt back a Kronenbourg 1664.

It has it all.

The Beer Bars:

The Dray in Phinney:  If you read our site, you know we love the Dray with all of our hearts.  If you want a great beer selection, hot espresso, soccer, and a cozy atmosphere, this is your place.

What to drink:  One of the best parts about The Dray is that, though the draft selection is fairly small, it’s one of the most cleaver in the city.  Close your eyes and point at the board behind the bar, you won’t be disappointed.

Brouwer’s in Fremont:  The great Belgian Cafe of Fremont is pretty much beer heaven.  As it turns out, they like soccer too.  Their site states that they will be playing several of the games with the sound on during normal business hours.

What to drink:  Are you kidding me?  You don’t need help with this one.

Die BierStube in Roosevelt, Prost! in Phinney and West Seattle, Feierabend in South Lake Union:  These German pubs are all owned by the same folks and are pretty similar in a lot of ways.  Two of those ways come in the form of good German beer and a strong love of soccer.  Germany games should be a blast here.

What to drink:  Paulaner Salvator, by the liter.

Elysian Fields in Pioneer Square:  With its proximity to the stadiums, this place is a great pre-Sounders/Mariners/Seahawks game stop.  But you know what, it’s a decent place to watch a game as well.  It’s an even better place to get a beer.  Their site has a calendar of what games will be played when.  It looks like they will be opening at 6:30 am for select games.

What to drink:  Ask about what’s new and exciting.  There is always something new and exciting at Elysian.

The Sports Bars:

Kangaroo and Kiwi in Green Lake:  Quite obviously, this is an Australian bar.  Aussie football and rugby are normally the main attractions here, but the Soccerroos made the tourney, so you can expect a wild scene for any of their games.  New Zealand games have the potential to be interesting as well.  If things go sour, you can always walk up the street to either Duck Island, Uber, or the next destination on our list for a tasty bit of boozy relief.

What to drink:  Tilt back a Cooper’s and make like you are down under.

St. Andrew’s in Green Lake:  This is a Scottish haunt.  Though Scotland is not in the WC this year, there is a note on their calendar that says…

World Cup starts tomorrow.  You win a free shot for every goal Scotland scores or any goal scored against England.  Good luck.

This is quite humorous.  With English defender Rio Ferdinand out with an injury, I’m inclined to catch an England match here and sip up some free shots.

What to drink:  St. Andrew’s has one of Seattle’s biggest scotch selections.  Order one and drink slow.

Some other notable sports bars that could offer exuberant celebration include Spitfire, Fox Sports Grill, Sport, Paddy Coyne’s, and The Dubliner.

And finally, filed under “miscellaneous”, Nord Alley near Occidental Park has the potential to offer some interesting outdoor viewing experiences.  Check out this link for more details.

Enjoy the world’s greatest sporting event while it lasts, for it will come and go before you know it, and then it’s another grueling 4 years of waiting.

Timperial Stout’s Guide to Brouwer’s Back in Black Stout Night

No, the other type of stout.

I have been dubbed Timperial Stout for one simple reason: I love my beers deep, dark and mysterious. Lucky for me, the people over at Brouwer’s Cafe have created a night to honor that holy opaque beverage we call stout.  I’d be remiss to not mention it and provide my take on how one would work up a game plan for such an event. I’ve posted the list below, that was so thoughtfully provided by the folks over at Seattle Beer Week.  In this case, it has proven very helpful that two members of the SBW collective get a paycheck from Brouwer’s.  After each selection I have provided some commentary.  I’ve tried to be brief, but you know…I love this stuff.

Allagash Black is delicious and unique, but it’s not all that rare so I’d skip it here and get a bottle at the bottleshop if you’ve never tried it.

Avery Black Tot on the other hand…pretty damn rare.  This is the third release in Avery’s Barrel-Aged Series and is an imperial oatmeal stout aged in Gosling’s rum barrels.  I’m sure this wont be cheap, but I’d bet it’s worth every penny.

Avery Czar is, in my opinion, one of the best regularly available imperial stouts out there, but for this event, “regularly available” = “skip it”.

Avery Meph Addict is Avery Mephistopheles with coffee added.  I have never had (or seen for that matter) this one, so rare…yes.  The original Meph is a beast of a brew.  I recommend you tread lightly with these fellas, they are over 15% abv.

Avery Mephistopheles – See above

Beer Valley Black Madness – I’m either unaware of this beer or this is a mix up on words.  Beer Valley makes Black Flag Imperial Stout and Leafer Madness Imperial Pale Ale, but I’m not so sure about Black Madness.  The SBW site lists “Black Madness” again for the Firkin-Firkin event at Elysian, so I could be misinformed, or not informed at all as the case may be.

Big Sky Bottleworks 11 is going to be showing up at special events at Brouwer’s for a few years to come now I’d assume, considering the beer was made and kegged exclusively for them (Bottleworks, Brouwer’s, same difference).  Never-the-less, it’s a very intriguing beer with some intense sour and vinous notes.  Worth a taste if you missed out on the bottles.

Big Time Old Rip – Bill Jenkins knows how to make a beer folks.  If you don’t make it to the U-district with much regularity, you may have never had this one.  Go for it, drink local.

Boulevard Nitro Dry Stout – Boulevard out of Kansas City, MO has been doing a lot of experimenting lately.  They seem to be really making things happen, and everything that I have had of theirs so far has been quality.  They are still fairly new to the Seattle market…I can’t say that I’ve seen a lot a kegs come through.  I would never get this because I don’t like dry stouts, but if you are into Guinness, Murphy’s, Beamish, Moylan’s Dragoons, etc, check it out.

Chuckanut Export Foreign Stout – The words “Export Foreign Stout” are not very commonly used, but they basically indicate a “bigger” stout, built for long journeys on boats and such.  Considering the many recent accolades being tossed in Chuckanut’s direction, when I see that brewery name on something I want to try it.  Seems like a great starter to the evening to me.

Dick’s Woodford BBN Oak Cream Stout – I, sadly, don’t know a lot about this one, but the words “oak” and “cream stout” get me excited.  Worth a try, and possibly a bit more manageable in the abv category.

Dogfish Head Worldwide Stout – This one is extremely high on my list of best beers on planet Earth.  ‘Nuff said.  Oh, except beware of the strength – 18%.

Double Mountain Imperial Chaos is a draft only imperial stout from the impressive folks down in Hood River, OR.  I’ve never had this one, but I have continually been impressed by 2x Mountain.  I think I’ll be trying this one.

Elysian Dragonstooth Stout – One of the best single stouts in Washington, if not the country.  Very underrated in this area, possibly due to its permanent availability and therefore lack of hype.  Even still, I wouldn’t get it at an event like this.  Get a bottle at Whole Foods and take it home.

Firestone Walker Parabola 10 is my number one on this list.  I will scratch and claw to get it.  It is a 13% imperial stout that was blended from all sorts of different barrels, vintages, what-have-you.  It’s probably least rare this year then ever before in its existence, but still, very rare.

Firestone Walker Velvet Merkin is a fairly traditional oatmeal stout with a really great name.  Decent beer by one of the premier breweries in America.  I’d look for it on another day.

Full Sail Imperial Stout – Full Sail might be one of the largest breweries in the North West, but they still make really good beer, especially those in the Brewmaster Reserve series.  This is not Black Gold, so it’s not barrel aged, but it’s a great beer.  Worth getting on any other day, but there are better choices on this list.

Glacier Jack Daniels Impy Stout – Glacier is without a doubt one of Alaska’s finest.  Sadly, even though we are the closest neighboring state, we don’t see all that much of their work.  If this is in any way even close to matching the quality of their Big Woody Barleywine, this will be amazing.  Get it!

Great Divide Espresso Yeti – Yeti, like Avery Czar, is one of the best regularly available imperial stouts out there.  The espresso version is not as good in my opinion, but it’s a must try for all coffee junkies.

Green Flash Espresso Stout – I think this might be a keg only one-off brew.  Sounds rare.  Green Flash makes great beer.  I’d go for it!

Hales Machete – This puppy is brewed right down the street from Brouwer’s.  I give them a big “f%&@ yeah!” for the name but I think I’ll have to skip this one, only because of better options.

Hitachino Espresso Stout – This is the best espresso stout I have ever had, but you can get it in the bottle pretty easily.  Not appropriate for this event.

Laughing Dog Dogfather – This is one of the best beers to come out of Idaho.  I will skip it only because I still have a few bottles in the cellar, but it’s worthy of a purchase.

Left Hand Oak Aged Imperial Stout – This one is released annually in the bottle, and can sometimes be found during the “off-season” at local bottle shops.  This beer is really freaking good, but get a bottle.

Lost Abbey Serpents Stout is Tomme Arthur’s idea of a Belgian stout.  If there is an actual Belgian brewed stout out there that is this rich and delicious, I have yet to find it.  Alvinne Podge is about as close as I can think of.  If you have never had this beer you need to get it.  This is fairly commonly available in bottles so I’d skip it here.

Mad River BBN Export Stout – A quality California brew, but not up to par with some of the competition.

Moylan’s Ryan O’Sullivan – I don’t often think of this beer when I ponder the great impy stouts of America, but I should.  It is a high quality brew, but yet again, a bit too common for this event.

Odin Sour Stout – believe it or not, I have yet to taste the nectars produced by Odin.  I know, it’s crazy.  I don’t know much about the sour stout but I must admit I’m intrigued.  This night just might be my first dance with Odin.

Oskar Blues Ten Fiddy – One of the very few, if not only imperial stouts released in a can.  That’s pretty damn cool, and it’s delicious to boot.  If I was at Brouwer’s on a regular day, I’d get it, but not tonight.

Port Brewing Old Viscosity – This beer is great, but not as good as its older brother.  Go with the older.

Port Brewing Older Viscosity – Regular readers will know that I’m mildly obsessed with this beer.  It’s chocolate covered pretzels to a T.  Get this and be like the stout fella above…meditate for a bit – you will go places.  I will most likely only get this one late in the evening, well after my better judgment has evaded me.  This is only because I have had it a bunch of times already.

Port Brewing Santa’s Little Helper is a good impy stout, but it’s a bit thin for my liking.  I’d skip it.

Porterhouse Nitro Oyster Stout – This is a low abv dry Irish stout.  Sorry but…not interested.

Porterhouse Nitro Wrasslers 5x stout – Sorry Ireland, your stouts are boring.

Sierra Nevada Fritz & Ken – This was recently reviewed glowingly on this site by yours truly.  It’s a damn good beer with a damn good story to tell.

Southern Tier Jahva – This is a member of the ST Imperial series, which should read “AMAZING”!  Easily one of Beer Blotter’s favorite breweries in the world.  Their stouts are impeccable.  This one is just slightly less impeccable than the Oat below, so get that one.

Southern Tier Oat – See above.

Stone I.R.S. – This beer is very unique.  I have never had an impy stout with such a strong tobacco flavor, which is a good thing in my opinion.  Like Ten Fiddy, I’d order this in almost any other situation, but not tonight.

Victory Storm King – You might have heard that this was the first impy stout I ever tasted.  I owe it a lot.  Luckily for me, it’s one of the country’s best, so I started off on the right foot.  I’d get it if I didn’t already have a bunch in the cellar.

Walking Man Black Cherry Stout – Beer Blotter finds this beer to be like soda.  If that sounds good to you, hop on board.  Not so much for me, but I do love Walking Man.

Waterstreet Stout – Skip is gone.  I have little faith.

In summary, since that was probably a bit of a task to read, I offer my top 5, in order of importance.

5) Double Mountain Imperial Chaos

4) Avery Meph Addict

3) Glacier Jack Daniels

2) Avery Black Tot

1) Firestone Walker Parabola

Give me!

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