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Beers in the Hood: Ballard, Seattle

October 26, 2010 4 comments

An ariel view of Ballard's ship yard.

Over the past three years, I have done my share of research on beer spots in Seattle. Every neighborhood has a beer bar, a bar with a decent tap list or a bottle shop to offer those that search the land for all that is fermented yeast. One of the things I love most about Seattle is the variety of neighborhoods (reminiscent of Manhattan) where you step out of one and into the next…almost immediately it becomes obvious that you’re in a whole new world.

Tonight: Ballard.

I’ll start with a nice wiki excerpt:

Historically Ballard is the traditional center of Seattle’s ethnically Scandinavian seafaring community, who were drawn to the area because of the salmon fishing opportunities. In recent years the decline of the fishing industry, and the addition of numerous condo buildings, has decreased the proportion of Scandinavian residents but the neighborhood is still proud of its heritage.

Ballard is situated by so many unique landmarks: the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks (a facility that move boats from the water level of the lakes to the water level of Puget Sound, and vice versa and is the location of a salmon ladder); the Ballard Farmer’s Market; the Ballard Bridge and historic Ballard. This neighborhood was Redhook Brewing Co.’s first home, has colorful public art works as well as restaurants with the freshest ingredients. With all of this going on, spending a day in Ballard will keep you entertained. Stopping at these places will satisfy your beer needs.

Old Peculiar

An Irish pub, Old Peculiar has a large wooden bar with a mirrored bar back lined with whiskeys.  Cozy nooks and an outdoor patio make this a versitle space while killer tater tots and at least 10 microbrews on tap nurture a bar patron’s desires. A place where the young and the old co-exist, I’ve seen Ninaski, Dogfish head and local brews such as Hales on tap.

During happy hour, food items such as Irish nachos, tater tots, chicken strips and chips are $4 with microbrews clocking in at just $3. When does this amazing deal occur? So glad you asked– during the hours of 4-6 pm and 10 pm-midnight ANY DAY of the week.

Its been awhile since I have visited Old Peculiar. Located on the main drag, Market St. NW, you step in and immediately your past journeys melt away. The space is a good size- not so big that you have trouble navigating and not so small that you are sitting on a stranger’s lap (unless that is your thing, then don’t let us stop you). There are plenty of regulars and some wildly entertaining people watching.

The Jolly Roger Taproom

This taproom is home to Maritime Pacific Brewery and is a new space. Before this newer, much bigger space, the Jolly Roger Taproom was located right across the Ballard Bridge in a small warehouse. The old warehouse was used for brewing with the taproom there for us to enjoy the fruits of Maritime’s labor. That’s what beer drinking is all about, right? It was a quirky space that felt as though you were on a shipwreck which fits with the whole Ballard, fisherman, Maritime, pirate theme.


Maritime's taproom is shiny and new.

Then one day, we were riding past the space and it was empty with a FOR LEASE sign. Oh no! Soon after, we found out that they were just moving to a larger space, but we would have to wait, as the space was being remodeled.

I honestly can’t remember how many months past before the new space opened, but when it did, we were the 4th and 5th people in line to experience Maritime’s new dwellings. The new space still alludes to the fisherman, pirate, sea captain theme except the boat is way nicer with bright, finished wood, plenty of natural light and amazing food and beers. I’ll start with some food recommendations: the fried pickles are delicious, as is the dipping sauce they come with, the onion rings are massive and tasty and the mahi sliders are killer– add some of the homemade hot sauce that is on the table.

BEERS: Maritime is more or less the staple local microbrew. Even bars that don’t focus any energy on beer will have a Maritime beer on tap and is usually my saving grace. Their dark amber ale, Nightwatch is a personal favorite- it is bitter, smooth and hoppy with that roasted flavor. Maritime has a good line up of beers that will appeal to any beer drinker, so check it out.

Old Town Alehouse

If your looking for something a little more sophisticated, a little more upscale, but still want some damn good beer then stop by the Old Town Alehouse. Their food and beer prices are not outrageous by any means, but the motif lends itself to the low key evening. Every time we walk by here, we pop in to see what they have on tap and generally there is at least one intriguing option.

Their beer selection says they are trying to keep a diverse tap list, but aren’t willing to do the research to get the rarer, more innovative beers on tap.

Great looking menu, a wide selection of beers - a place I need to visit.

For example, currently they have three Belgium beers on tap: Hoegarden Wit, Chimay White Label and Lindemans Framboise. All good beers but commonplace compared to several other Belgium breweries. In looking at their current tap list, it appears that the Old Town Alehouse tries to keep one of every style pouring. Port Townsend Brewing Co.’s Straight Stout, Georgetown Brewing Co.’s Georgetown Porter and Boundary Bay IPA is enough to make me stop in and wet the whistle.

I am very intrigued by their menu and its making me hungry. Your average appetizers such as fries, onion rings and hummus are followed by many affordable and delicious sounding options: gumbo, the spicy fried chicken sandwich (smothered in hot wing sauce- SOLD), the Ballard Beef Dip Sandwich (lets see if it rivals Chicago) and fish and chips. All sandwiches are $10.75 and most of the appetizers are under $9. So those of you that have experienced this joint, please leave a comment and let the world know!

So that’s Ballard’s beer scene in a nutshell. If you have a place that you love in this neighborhood (I can’t cover them all), leave a comment or email me at jess@beerblotter.com.

Next up: Belltown.

52 Weeks: Big Mario’s Pizza, Seattle, WA

October 20, 2010 1 comment

 

Seattle's #1 Pizza Joint

Written by Jess R.

Week 38 of 52 (I can’t believe it’s almost the end of 2010)

Big Mario’s New York Style Pizzeria

1009 E. Pike St.

Seattle, WA 98122

(206) 922-3875

Rank: 4/5

Type of Establishment: Pizzeria

Visit: After arriving at Elysian Brewing Co.’s Pumpkin Beer Fest at 11:30AM, we were starved by 2PM. Big Mario’s was right down the street and had the potential to fill our stomachs and our need for quality beer.

Beers on Tap (at time of visit):

Lagunitas IPA

Stella Artois

Coors Light

Blue Moon

Georgetown Manny’s Pale Ale

Miller High Life

Rolling Rock

Stone Porter

Sierra Nevada

Hales Kolsh

Maritime Flagship Ale

HUB Abominable Ale

Bottle List:

Expect your average Budweiser, Bud Light, Corona and Rainer in a can.

Food Options:

Now, I am a girl who grew up in Brooklyn, New York. Since then, I have lived in Ohio, New Orleans and Seattle and had yet to find a place that rivals the pizza I grew up on, the pizza that was easy to grab on-the-go and was always so good no matter what time of the day or night. As of Saturday, October 16th, 2010, my world has changed. Big Mario’s offers pies and slices with variety, weight and a price tag I appreciate. With a Lagunitas IPA in my hand, I ordered the sausage and pepperoni slice as well as the fresh basil and mozzarella slice (I was hungry). The slices are fresh, oily, cheesy, with a thin crust that has the perfect amount of soft, doughy texture. This is the best pizza in Seattle- hands down.

PIZZA!

Some background on the owner, Mario Velliotti may convince you of the authenticity even more. I present to you, a little piece of history from Big Mario’s website:

In the winter of 1964, Mario Vellotti emigrated from Naples, Italy to live and work on Mulberry Street in New York City. Mario made his early living tossing pizza and cooking in some of New York’s most notorious kitchens; Angelo’s, Casa Bella on Mulberry Street and Nanni Al Valletto on 59th Street. Later Mario joined his brother and uncle in the family business, opening their world-famous pizzerias in all five Burroughs, including Sal’s on Broome Street, Bensonhurst’s J & V and the original Patricia’s in the Bronx. Big Mario is in Seattle now…enjoy!

Bar Opinions:

Like some of the best pizza joints in NYC, Big Mario’s is open late, until 2AM on Monday through Thursday and Sunday and until 4AM on Friday and Saturday nights. Today, we waltzed in around 2PM. As we walk through the front door, there is a showcase of slices and pies to my right with the oven in the back drop and red booths to my left.

Big Mario’s boasts a narrow space and provides a pizzeria feel without the starkness. Instead, this venue is a pizzeria with a comfortable, neighborhood bar atmosphere. Baseball was on the one TV, several taps of micro-brews were available behind the bar and board games were there to keep you occupied. This is a place I could hang out at all day just grazing on pizza slices.

Located in the edgy Capital Hill neighborhood of Seattle, I felt like I was back home in Brooklyn– hanging out with friends, watching the Yanks and eating delicious slices. With the addition of Seattle’s dedication to craft beer,  I must say, I am in love. From here on out, this is the place in Seattle that I will turn to and satisfy my pizza craving.

And if having amazing pizza and micro-brews wasn’t enough, Big Mario’s keeps things exciting this Halloween by celebrating with the best of them on Saturday, October 30th. Event details below.

Big Mario circa 1971

Sat Oct 30
1st Annual Big Mario’s Halloween Party & Lookalike Contest!
Dress like Modern Big Mario or 1971 Big Mario
1st Place winner each night gets $250 Tab at Mario’s, 2nd Place $100 tab
Free! 21+ Only.

This is going to be hilarious! So stop by big Mario’s for a delicious pie, a beer and maybe you’ll even meet the man behind it all, Big Mario circa 2010.

Events for the week of May 10, 2010

Brouwer's Cafe in Seattle: Where the magic happens.

This Thursday marks the opening day of Seattle Beer Week, so events might be a bit Seattlecentric for the next week or two.   For those of you who live in Seattle- awesome for you and for those of you who do not, its time to visit!

Monday, May 10, 2010

FredFest 2010: Portland, Oregon

6:00PM-10:00PM @ Hair of the Dog Brewing Co.

The date of this event recently changed from May 8th to May 10th. Check out our post for more information on the event.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Belgium Beer Fest: Santa Monica, California

4:00PM- 12:00AM @ the Library Ale House

This is just the beginning of a two-week festival featuring, you guessed it, Belgium style beers.  Guests can purchase a logo Chimay glass for $15 and refill it with one of the 8 rotating Belgian handles for only $5 during the entire two weeks of the festival. Each beer will be on for one keg only, so once its gone.. its gone.  This event stars: Goose Island‘s Matilda, Urthel Hop-it, Russian River‘s Consecration and many more.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Great Beers of the Great Lakes: Bronx, New York

7:00PM-9:00PM @ the Bronx Ale House

You know we have an affinity for beers from the Mid-West and now you lucky New Yorkers can drink up and report back. Beers from Founders Brewing Co. and Erie Brewing Co. will be available for your enjoyment. Cheers!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

OPENING DAY FOR SEATTLE BEER WEEK!!: Seattle, Washington

5:00PM @ Hales Ales Pub

Kick it off with visits to Hale’s Brewery for the featured SBW beer on cask, Shultzy’s Sausage for a special imported cask and end the night at Naked City Taphouse for some special Washington beers on tap!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Back in Black Stout Night: Seattle, Washington

3:00PM-3:00AM @ Brouwer’s Cafe

All I can say, is “Thank God this is on a Friday night.” With a line up of rare and wonderful stouts on tap, surely a beer lover will need a day to recover. Brouwer’s Cafe always gets the finest selections for these events, so if you’re a stout fan, this is not to be missed!

Lazy Boy Brewing Night: Seattle, Washington

5:00PM- close @ Naked City Taphouse

Come join Shawn Loring, owner and brewer for a night of special Lazy Boy Brewing beers! Prizes and giveaways will also be in the mix.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Tour de Pints: Seattle, Washington

11:00AM @ Pike Brewing Co.

Grab your helmet, check your brakes and jump on your bike.  Today is full of physical activity rewarded with plenty o’ beer. The Seattle Beer Week website states:

The 2010 Seattle Beer Week Tour de Pints, a bike ride with stops at some great beer bars, is now upon us. If you were there last year, we will be following a very similar route. Only one Feat of Strength this year as we hope to keep the group more together. We plan to spend about 30-45 mins at each location.

Route is as follows:

11am – Pike Brewing; Brouwers Cafe; The Dray; Naked City Taphouse; Fiddlers Inn (FOS) or Latona Pub (FOW); Shultzys Sausage; Whiskey Bar and Elysian Fields.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Brett Brunch: Seattle, Washington

11:00AM- 2:00PM @ Hudson Public House

This is my dream brunch:

Brett Brunch!  Four beer, three course brunch featuring the sour beers of Russian River, Cascade, New Belgium, and Jolly Pumpkin paired with Chef Nicole’s special brunch menu.  $30/pp plus tax and tip.

Seattle Beer Week- if only I could take a vacation from work to enjoy all of the amazing events lined up EVERY DAY. Those of you who get to go to an event, please email me at jess@beerblotter.com or leave a comment. I want to live vicariously through you!

Seattle Beer Week 2010: One Week From the Opening Ceremonies

SBW 2010 approaches. Primed liver - check. Requested time off - check....

The dawn of Seattle’s epic 10 day beer mania approaches. Are you ready?

Seattle Beer Week 2010 is one week away and already the schedule explodes with events. Lets take them one at a time though, shall we?

Lets start with the Opening Ceremonies, which begin May 13, 2010. The night starts off with the annual Seattle Beer Week keg tapping at this year’s brewer – Hales Brewery.

The pandemonium will continue on over at Schultzy’s Sausage in the University District – which the subject of our most recent 52 Weeks column article.

Last but certainly not least, the crowd will head over to Naked City Brewery & Taphouse in Greenwood (one of our favorites).

We hope to see you all out, as much as can be done without losing your jobs.

For easy access to all that is Seattle Beer Week, we have added a linked image to the top of our website. You can click the link to visit their web page, or otherwise follow them on Twitter or Facebook; or get updates on your phone by texting “SBW” to 839863.

Seattle Beer Week Launches New Website

March 25, 2010 1 comment

SBW is back! Look out for updates on the best event in Seattle

Our friend Ian Roberts is back at it with another offering of Seattle Beer Week!

Fresh off a trip to Belgium, Ian is back in town and recently launched a nice website laying out the schedule for Seattle’s best beer extravaganza.

With a massive bevy of sponsors, the Week looks to offer even more juicy beer magic than last year. You can check out the amazing lineup by navigating through the Events portion of their website.

This year Hales Brewery has been selected to put together the brew for the Week, a double IPA. We cannot wait!

The Beer Blotter Guide to Beveridge Place Pub’s Bacchanal 2010

February 24, 2010 1 comment

The facade of Beveridge Place Pub in West Seattle - the site of the Annual Bacchanal of Barleywines

Beveridge Place Pub’s 7th Annual Barleywine Bacchanal kicks off this Friday, February 26th, with over 40 barleywines pouring for a week straight from 24 taps.  That’s a lot of big bold brews to choose from.  Since there is clearly more beers than taps, there will be a constant rotation of kegs a flowin’.  As one blows, another will replace it, and so on.

The folks over at the Washington Beer Blog were kind enough to post the complete list for all to slobber over. Below you will find the entire list.  Clearly, all are barleywines, and thus, all are going to be packed with copious quantities of both malt and hops.  All will be fairly high in alcohol, and chances are good that all will taste pretty darn good.  Your main fear should be a harsh, young vintage.  Sometimes these fellas just need some time to mature and mellow out.  Too much bitterness and not enough sweetness can make your barleywine experience akin to being strangled by a hop vine.  There is no question, if you read this site with any regularity, that Beer Blotter holds great respect for Father Time and his agile hand at improving beers of many kinds, especially barleywines.

For Beer Blotter, the older the vintage, the more excited we are to try it.  Both rare and refined, these pours should improve your evening no matter who brewed them.

So our first overarching tip to you, “age is all the rage”.

But we need more detail than that.  Let’s dig deeper.

The biggest challenge of the Bacchanal is the barrels-to-taps ratio.  The rotation system will make it difficult to have a clear game plan for your visit, whatever day you choose to attend.  You will never really know exactly what to expect, which, granted, offers its own brand of excitement.  Your best bet is to pre-create a list of b-dubs that you’re most excited to taste, and chances are that no matter what day you decide to venture out to West Seattle there will be at least a few of them available.

Perhaps a look at the Beer Blotter list could assist you in creating your own list.  Below, as promised, is the unadulterated list.  Below that, the Beer Blotter list.

Complete List:

Alaskan, Barleywine ‘06, ‘07,’08

Anacortes, Old Sebastes ‘07

Anchor, Old Foghorn ‘06, ‘07, ‘08

Anderson Valley, Horn of the Beer ‘09

Avery, Hog Heaven ‘09

Big Sky, Old Blue Hair ‘06

Boulder, Killer Penguin ‘09

Boundary Bay, Old Bounder ‘09

Deschutes, Mirror Mirror ‘09

Diamond Knot, Icebreaker ‘09

Dick’s, Barleywine ‘05, ‘09

Dogfish Head, Olde School ‘09

Elliott Bay, Old Portside ‘09

Elysian, Cyclops ‘09

Fish, 10 Squared ‘08, ‘09

Fish, Leviathan ‘06

Flying Dog, Horndog ‘09

Full Sail, Old Boardhead ‘06

Full Sail, Old Boilermaker 98 (yes, 1998)

Hale’s, Rudyard’s Rare ‘06, ‘09

Hopworks Urban Brewery, Noggin Floggin ‘09

Hood Canal, Breidablik ‘06, ‘07, ‘09

Lagunitas, Old Gnarleywine ‘04, ‘06, ‘07

Laurelwood, Old Reliable ‘09

Left Hand, Oak Aged Widdershins ‘07

Lucky Lab, Old Yeller ‘09

Mad River, Old Barleycorn ‘07

New Old Lompoc, Old Tavern Rat ‘08

North Coast, Old Stock ‘07, ‘09

Pike, Old Bawdy ‘07, ‘08

Port, Angel’s Share ‘09

Port Townsend, ‘09

Rogue, Old Crustacean ‘08

Schooner Exact, Old Sinking Ship ‘09

Scuttlebutt, Old #1 ‘06, ‘08

Sierra Nevada, Bigfoot ‘08

Skagit River, Shiver Me Liver ‘09

Speakeasy, Old Godfather ‘09

Stone, Old Guardian ‘07, ‘08, ‘09

Three Skulls, Wreckage ‘09

Victory, Old Horizontal ‘09

Walking Man, Old Stumblefoot ‘08

Beer Blotter List:

Alaskan, Barleywine ‘06, ‘07,’08

-This is a “must” if offered at the time of your visit.  A Northwest Masterpiece.  Alaskans know how to warm up with Barleywine.  This guy ranks very well in any festival that it is involved in.  In the last 5 years this brew has placed in the top 3 at Brouwer’s Hard Liver Barleywine Fest 3 times, and the ’07 vintage was number 1 last year.  A warning though…chances are high that these will only be available on Monday, March 1st or Tuesday, March 2nd when verticals are offered.  To try all three vintages side by side would truly be a treat.

Lagunitas, Old Gnarleywine ‘04, ‘06, ‘07

-In Beer Blotter’s humble opinion, there is not many Barleywines being made in the world better than Gnarleywine.  The ’08 vintage was awarded 3rd place in this years Toronado Barley Wine Festival, and chances are, the older the better.  Do not skip this one, any vintage.  Another warning: 3 years offered…look to vertical night for these.

Speakeasy, Old Godfather ‘09

-Though this is young, the ’06 got second place last year at Brouwer’s.  Expect this one to be high in alpha…it’s the Speakeasy way.

Stone, Old Guardian ‘07, ‘08, ‘09

-If you read Timperial’s review of the ’07 vintage you would know, this beer is sickly good.  Astounding balance, even through time.

Victory, Old Horizontal ’09 & Dogfish Head, Olde School ‘09

-With the exception of a few CO representatives, these are the only 2 offerings that aren’t from the West.  Reason?  They are astounding beers made by two of America’s best breweries.

Fish, 10 Squared ‘08, ’09 & Leviathan ‘06

-Both of these beers are incredible and hard to come by, even in their home state.  10 Squared was probably my personal favorite from last years Hard Liver Fest and old vintages of Leviathan, like this ’06, are pretty much legendary.  The barrel-aged version of Leviathan is in the top 10 on ratebeer.com’s list of barleywines.

Port, Angel’s Share ‘09

-It would be silly of me to leave this one out since it is literally one of my favorite beers of all time.  Number 9 on ratebeer.com’s barley wine list.

New Old Lompoc, Old Tavern Rat ‘08

-Beer Blotter recently had this from the always-impressive taps of Uber Tavern and really enjoyed it.  Very nutty if you’re into that.

Boundary Bay, Old Bounder ‘09

-Seattle does not see enough Boundary Bay.  Maybe if we drain this keg quickly the “will of the people” will change that depressing fact.

That’s a pretty healthy list for you, and honestly, I could go on an on.  There is A LOT of really good stuff on this list, and even a few that Beer Blotter has never had and looks forward to trying (like Lucky Lab, can we please have more of their beers in Seattle?).

Anyone and everyone within striking distance of Seattle should never, EVER miss events like this.  We are so lucky to have beer bars that put so much time, effort and money into aging beers for years and organizing such exciting festivals.  Beer Blotter sends a massive hug to Gary and The Bev for making this happen year after year.

Find us in West Seattle, raise a glass, it’s barleywine season!

Summit Public House: 1 of 52

Summit Public House, Seattle, WA

1 of 52

Summit Public House
601 Summit Ave East
Capitol Hill, Seattle

Rank: #1 of 1

Type of Establishment:  Full bar with food…sometimes.

BEERS ON TAP (at time of visit) —>

Tap List!

FOOD OPTIONS:  Sometimes food means there is a kitchen, with one cook, who sometimes decides to offer meals.  The “menu” changes everyday I gather, and is posted on the same chalkboard that one can find the rotating beer selection.  During our visit the chalkboard informed us that there would not be food today.  There was, however, a print-out taped to the wall advertising a $5 grilled cheese.   Just drinks for us.

STAFF OPINION:  Though attentive, not very smiley or talkative.

Just a few blocks east of I-5, across the street from Top Pot Doughnuts, lies an establishment that BeerBlotter had never before set foot in.  This day, we changed that.

There doesn’t seem to be a sign anywhere on the outside of the building that says Summit Public House, but there is a large Leffe Poster in one window and a few neons to tell passers by that there’s beer inside.  No false advertising here.  A very round selection of brews can be found, macros to local micros and everything between.  Liquor too.  All bases are covered in the drinks department.

The place as a whole is small and cozy.  A cove to the right as you walk through the door houses the pool table, and to the left, a row of wooden booths separate the stand-alone table section from the bar.  The bar itself is warm and comfortable.  We grabbed a Hale’s Belgian Dubbel, Dick’s Double Danger Ale and Port Townsend Stout and took a load off in one of the booths.

Our three choices...

There was a decent showing for early on a weeknight, but all were well behaved and mainly quite, most with attentions on the T.V. above the bar broadcasting the BCS National Championship game.

A diverse crowd, both young and old.  The tattooed bartenders seemed a bit annoyed to be at work.  The seats were a little uncomfortable.  Summit exists in a strange place somewhere between a dive and a classy joint.

In summary, Summit Public House is not entirely jaw dropping in the character department, but could easily have a much worse beer selection and does a good job providing nearby Capitol Hillers with a solid local spot to grab a cold one and watch a little sports, play pool, or just relax and socialize with friends.

Another Successful Year: Big Wood Fest 2009

December 4, 2009 1 comment

Big Wood Fest has something for everyone!

Upon arrival, Brouwer’s Cafe was already packed to the brim. With some patience, our group managed to take over the area with two couches and plenty of floor space.  The waitstaff was efficient and attentive, so we thank you for that!

So a list of the some of the beers we tasted:

Hair of the Dog Brewing Co. featured four beers on the menu, Bob (Lambic), Matt (Bottleworks 10th Anniversary Ale), Fred (Barrell Aged Golden Strong Ale) and Michael (Sour Red).  We have always been fans of this brewery but after last night, we have a new found respect.

BOB Lambic: This beverage looks like a magical potion. It glows with a maroon red coloring.  BOB introduces itself as a beer with wine-like qualities.  It smells like red wine vinegar, tastes like a smooth, well balanced sour and finishes with a light, smooth sensation that pours down your throat.

Fred: This Bourbon barrel aged golden strong ale will knock your socks off. A dessert masked as a beer, Fred is thick with a prevalent caramel flavor. The “Candyland Milkshake of Life,” if you will.  The smell is overwhelmingly sweet and pleasant.  Fred is named after the first person to purchase a Hair of the Dog beer back in 1993.

Moving right along to Port Brewing out of California. Both Older Viscosity, a barrel aged version of the dark ale Old Viscosity and Brouwer’s Imagination #2 Strong Sour were tasted.

Imagination Strong Sour: Smells like sweet balsamic vinaigrette. The taste is sour without a doubt. Imagination has a surprising maltiness while lacking a strong sugar taste.

Older Viscosity: This beer is complex, salty and sweet. Smells like hot, soft pretzels. The flavors are reminiscent of chocolate fudge. You can taste the age on this one as it burns the back of your throat in a way that leaves you wanting more.

Some other highlights of the night include:

New Belgium Eric’s Ale Sour Peach: This beer is similar to Love, but has hints of peach. Peach is a subtle fruit.  The natural sugars  of the fruit add a level of complexity.

Great Divide Espresso Yeti: Tastes like a smooth after dinner coffee drink.  You can taste the alcohol, but it is combined with the bitterness of the coffee flavor.

New Belgium Bottleworks 10- Wild Ale: After just having the Wild Ale this past weekend, comparing the two was quite exciting. This beer was different, much more sour than the “normal” Wild Ale.  A must try!

Other beers you should check out:  Allagash Interlude: Belgium style ale aged in Merlot and Syrah barrels, Hales Bucephales Blended Sour: sweet, bitter but mostly sour with flavor notes of licorice and vanilla, and  Port Townsend Oak Aged Imperial Porter: smooth, chocolaty flavor, thick and simply delicious.

With a list of beers from Belgium, Washington, Oregon, California, Pennsylvania, New York, Maine and Colorado, Big Wood was full of flavor, potency and unique beers.  An event that features sours, saisons, porters, stouts, IPAs, Winter Ales and more, there is something for every beer lover!

Events: Week of November 30, 2009

November 30, 2009 Leave a comment

Bar Great Harry in Brooklyn, NY is hosting the Winter Blackout Stout Night Tomorrow!

The first week of December brings Christmas cheer and Christmas beer around the country. What better way to bring people together than through beer events? Check out the list of events for the week of November 20, 2009 through December 6, 2009.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Jolly Pumpkin 2009 Noel de Calabaza Release Party: Ann Arbor, Michigan

4:00PM- 6:00 PM @ The Jolly Pumpkin Cafe and Brewery

Free to get in, this event offers a first taste of Jolly Pumpkin’s Christmas Ale to those in attendance. Get it while its hot and before its distributed!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Winter Blackout: Night of the Big Stouts: Brooklyn, New York

6:00 PM- 10:00 PM @ Bar Great Harry

This is an event not to be missed. Not only are there free meats and cheeses, but you have big players in attendance such as Brooklyn Brewery’s Mystery Stout, Goose Island’s Bourbon County Stout and Southern Tier’s Jah-Va Imperial Coffee Stout. Great line up!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

2009 Holiday Ale Festival: Portland, Oregon

2:00PM- 10:00 PM @ Pioneer Courthouse Square

Come one, come all to this Holiday Ale Festival! Beginning on December 2, 2009, this event runs through the 6th of December and features beers such as Alaskan Brewing Company’s Barley Wine, Cascade Brewing Company’s Drie Zwarte Pieten “Sang Noir 2009″ and Dogfish Head’s Chicory Stout, among many many more. For a full list of beers, visit the 2009 Holiday Ale Festival’s website.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Big Wood Festival: Seattle, Washington

11AM- until @ Brouwer’s Cafe

Those friends and followers of Beer Blotter know that the countdown to this day, to this event has been going on for quite some time. We’ve gone around Seattle recruiting fellow beer lovers to join us at this event. The more the merrier and the more beer to be ordered. This event will feature wood altered beers and provides the public with a wide range of styles. For more information on Big Wood Festival and the process of barrel aging visit our website and check under events! Big Wood lasts through the weekend. For a full list, visit Brouwer’s Cafe’s blog.

2009 Holiday Ale Festival: Portland Oregon

11:00 AM- 10:00 PM @ Pioneer Courthouse Square

Anniversary Cask Fest: New York, New York

3:00 PM- until @ Rattle -n- Hum Bar

This event presents cask beers from around the world featuring England’s very own Darkstar Brewing Company. Named the best brewery in England, Darkstar will showcase approximately a dozen beers. Other beers to get your hands on during this event include Cigar City’s Jai Alai IPA, Moylans’ Dragoons Irish Stout and Oskar Blues’ Old Chubb. For a list of full beers, visit Rattle-n-Hum Bar’s blog page.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Big Wood Festival: Seattle, Washington @ Brouwer’s Cafe

Continues on starting at 11:00 AM until close

2009 Holiday Ale Festival: Portland, Oregon @ Pioneer Courthouse Square

Continues on starting at 11:00 AM until 10:00 PM

Anniversary Cask Fest: New York, New York @ Rattle -n- Hum Bar

3:00 PM- until ???

Winter Beer Festival: Seattle, Washington

5:00 PM- 10:00 PM @ Hale’s Ale Brewery

$23.00 in advance and $25.00 at the door, this two day long festival is worth saving your energy. The ticket price includes a tasting cup and 6 5.5oz pours with additional tokens available for $1.50/each.  Last year, Hoppy the Woodsman by Schooner Exact Brewing won the Gold and our friends at Gilligan’s Brewing Co. tied their Chamomile Ale for second place with Pike Brewing Co’s Pike Entire. This year features beers such as, Water Street Brewing Company’s Chocolate Oatmeal Stout and Black Raven Brewing Company’s Second Sight Scotch Ale. For a complete list visit the Washington Beer Commission’s website.

13th  Annual San Diego Strong Ale Festival: San Diego, California

4:00 PM- 11:00 PM @ Pizza Port

Over 75 beers over 8% alcohol on tap & some cask conditioned ales at the Bottle Shop area next to Pizza Port Carlsbad. $30.00 gets you admission plus six 4 oz tasters.  Know your limits! They didn’t call this one “strong” for nothin’.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

2009 Holiday Ale Festival: Portland, Oregon @ Pioneer Courthouse Square

Continues on starting at 11:00 AM until 10:00 PM

Winter Beer Festival: Seattle, Washington @ Hales Ale’s Brewery

Continues on starting at 1:00 PM until 10:00 PM

13th  Annual San Diego Strong Ale Festival: San Diego, California @ Pizza Port

11:00 AM- 11:00 PM 

Anniversary Cask Fest: New York, New York @ Rattle -n- Hum Bar

3:00 PM- until ???

Big Wood Festival: Seattle, Washington @ Brouwer’s Cafe

Continues on starting at 11:00 AM until close

Firestone Walker 13th Anniversary Release Party: Scottsdale, Arizona

1:00 PM-3:00  PM @ AJ’s Fine Foods

It is free to get up close and personal with this new release by Firestone Walker Brewing Co. An ale with sweet aromas and tastes, it is not to be missed!  Get to AJ’s Fine Foods for the two  hours that it will be poured!

Iron Horse Brewery’s 5th Anniversary Party: Ellensburg, Washington

6:00 PM- 10:00 PM @ Iron Horse Brewery

Come celebrate Iron Horse Brewery’s 5th Birthday! 5 is a landmark year and yes there will be a heated tent outside, live music and FREE appetizers. $12.0o gets you in the door, a beverage of choice and a glass to keep. Save $2.00 if you arrive sporting Iron Horse apparel.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

2009 Holiday Ale Festival: Portland, Oregon @ Pioneer Courthouse Square

Continues on starting at 11:00 AM until 7:00 PM

Big Wood Festival: Seattle, Washington @ Brouwer’s Cafe

Continues on starting at 11:00 AM until close

Anniversary Cask Fest: New York, New York @ Rattle -n- Hum Bar

3:00 PM- until ???

And that is this week’s line up of events. So much to look forward too with the winter season in full swing. Beer Blotter can be there for all, so if you attend an event that we haven’t listed or want to share your opinions about your favorite beers at the various events, leave a comment or email us at beerblotter@gmail.com.  Cheers!

A Frugal Life: The Brewmaster’s Apprentice, Mark Leavens

November 25, 2009 1 comment

Gilligan's Brewery Co. on the Burke- Gilman Trail in Seattle.

Well, let me preface this by first mentioning that I am no brewmaster.  I may be a master of frugal cooking or of resembling a homeless person without actually being homeless, but I am definitely not a brewmaster.  I consider myself a brewing apprentice and you know what; I am absolutely okay with that.  Every brewer has to start somewhere and every brewer should have the goal of becoming a master at his or her craft.   It’s all about making good beer and drinking it of course!  With that said, I’d like to provide you all with a little insight into how I got into the industry and why I am still a master of frugal cooking.

It all began on typical brisk and dreary autumn day here in Seattle while sitting at Hale’s Ales watching of all things a Penn State football game.  Then fate walked in slow motion through the door wearing a Penn State sweatshirt.  It was Seth Gilligan, a long lost, but not forgotten friend from high school!   We hadn’t seen each other in 10 years and had no idea that we were both about to embark on an incredible beer-brewing extravaganza, that was/is Gilligan’s Brewing Company.

Seth invited me over to the ActivSpace building adjacent to Hale’s to check out his tiny 2-barrel brewing system.  With shiny stainless steel equipment tucked into a 150 sq. ft. garage, it was indeed a glorious sight.  Doesn’t it seem that most magic happens in a garage?  Anyway, it was apparent that Seth had spent a considerable amount of time and money into shaping his brewing dreams into a reality and I wanted immediately to be a part of it.  But who was I to just step in and help out?  I didn’t know the first thing about brewing beer.  I mean, I thought that alpha acids were just really strong types of hallucinogens.  I had no idea that the term actually referred to the bittering compounds found in hops.  All I knew was that I LOVED to drink beer and that I was extremely curious about the process of making it taste so darn good.   Thanks to Gilligan and his passion for brewing, I was hooked and began volunteering my time helping him run his brewery and drinking his beer.  What more could an apprentice ask for?

Conveniently located within 10 feet of the most popular biking, walking, jogging, rollerblading, long boarding, and vomiting trail in Seattle, Gilligan’s Brewing Co. quickly became a popular place.  The Burke-Gilman Trail was absolutely flooded with beer enthusiasts, but we were only able to quench their thirsty palates two days a week.  This wasn’t our day job; it was our hobby, and let it be known that hobbies still cost A LOT of money, still require proper licensing, and still take up a ton of your time.  But we all pursue our hobbies because they fill up our inner happy holes and this is especially true when your hobby is brewing beer and drinking it.

With the prices of hops, malt, and specialty ingredients all increasing tremendously over the past few years, brewing good craft beer is by no means a cheap endeavor.  Coincidentally enough, neither is drinking it.  We have all seen the price of a pint or a six-pack of our favorite microbrew go up over the years and it may not stop.  However, one thing has always remained the same and will never change.  We love to brew beer and drink it regardless of the price.  Here in Seattle the craft brewing/drinking scene is enormous and it is only getting larger as more and more people are starting up their home brewing dreams and realizing that beer made with rice just isn’t all that good.  It may get you drunk for cheap and don’t get me wrong, I like cheap stuff that gets you drunk, but mass produced beer is just so boring.  Thanks to homebrewers, nanobreweries, and microbreweries around the country that are enduring the cost of producing good beer, we can all enjoy the liquid pleasure of a more complex beverage knowing that it was crafted by the hands and minds of passionate brewers.

Unfortunately, Gilligan’s Brewing Co. on the Burke-Gilman Trail was forced to come to an end this past September, but it will never be forgotten.  We made so many amazing friends down there and we want you all to know that we are actively pursuing our next venture and look forward to making even more friends in the future, all the while expanding our inner happy holes.  We don’t know where our next brewery will be located or how profitable we’ll be, but we can assure you that we are going to try to brew you the best beer possible regardless of the price to produce it.  In the mean time though, I’m going to continue supporting the craft brewing industry while eating traditional delicacies such as pasta with red sauce or rice and beans or fresh bread from the Essential Baking Company dumpster.  Remember, I may not be a brewmaster, but I am a master of frugal cooking and of foraging too I guess.   Cheers!

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