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2010 Washington Beer Fest: Brouwer’s Cafe

It was all here. Washington beer.

Yet again, Brouwer’s Cafe rises to the occasion and presented local beer drinkers with the best of local beer. An entire 5 day stint dedicated to Washington state brewers. From Naked City to Silver City, Peaks to Paradise, Snipes Mountain and Iron Horse, it was a tap list to remember.

This post will be more informal then our other event reviews: less time = less beer. One subject that absolutely must be breached is the recent trend in WA to infuse tea with beer.  Our first experience was at Naked City, who, in the summer months, released an incredibly refreshing Ginger Peach Hefe where all of the the ginger and peach flavors came from infused herbal tea bags.  This night, we must give honorable mention to Port Townsend Brewing Co. for their Green Tea Golden Ale. We are generally not inclined to jump on the golden ale train, but PT gave it a twist and the tea like essence really came through. Several people at our table voted this their favorite of the night. It is flavorful, clean and aromatic.  The earthy green tea flavors really pop in the nose and playfully mingle with the light ale malts in the finish.

Yet another example came to us via Epic Ales Mathilda.  Though we have very little information about the ingredients used, Timperial’s love for both tea and beer seemed most inspired by this concoction.  It took some warming up, but this one seemed to grow on us like Ca…stan…za (Seinfeld reference, deal with it).  Initially, there was questions about…chamomile…no…mint…possibly both?  It was light in color and the epitome of curious in flavor.  Respect for ingenuity.

Der Blokken, a brewery out on Bremerton Island which recently opened showcased their Brown Porter. I thought I was ordering an IPA and despite the mix up, was pleasantly surprised. Dark and chocolaty, it had some bittering qualities and a perfect body. Not too thin, not to syrupy, just right!

Next, and is this really a surprise, but Black Raven’s All Washington Fresh Hops was amazing! It tasted like peaches with a perfect pairing of a bittering hop profile.

The Iron Horse Fresh Hop was a no brainer for Timperial, who sampled said beverage at the Yakima Fresh Hop fest 2 years ago and was floored.  This years version may or may not be the same in recipe, but surely produced a similar reaction as the ’08 did in him.  A near perfect example of a well balanced wet hopped IPA.  It’s a cloudy dark amber with amazing lacing.  The flavor profile is overwhelmingly syrupy sweet with a slight raw hop skunkiness in the nose and flavor.  A sizable pine profile accompanies the cannabus in both fronts as well.  Ultimately, very smooth in the mouth and a near perfect finish with little dryness and a lingering malt quality that rears many smiles.

Snipes 2 Fresh was another selection that took little to no effort to choose.  If you live in WA and drink fresh hop beers, you have most likely tasted something that Snipes head brewer Chris Miller has had a hand in.  He is the local fresh hop guru in these parts and has most recently assisted in the production of Black Raven’s and Naked City’s fresh hop IPAs.  This version, like Iron Horse’s had a green hop skunkiness and a respectable pine nose.  There was enough residual sweetness to make me happy, but not nearly on the plane of IHB.  Here, bitterness takes the reigns above and beyond anything else.  This is a great example of balance in a fresh hop and would be a supreme example for the newcommer.

At the recommendation of Brouwer’s manager Ian, a Yakima IPA 1 was ordered. Apparently, this is a different brew than the bottled version bearing the same name.  It was clear bronze in color with a stark white head.  I felt that this would have been a much more appropriate beer to begin with than to follow all of the above.  It seemed a bit thin, but the malt core had some legs.  This was a bitter bomb of an IPA with very little floral hop flavor.  The  malt profile made a gallant attempt at bringing balance, but inevitably it failed to compete against the bitter power that assaulted the back of the tongue well into the aftertaste.

Let us know which ones were your favorites!

52 Weeks: Peaks Brewpub, Port Angeles, WA

July 12, 2010 1 comment

Peaks Brewpub is the All-American pub

Week 22 of 52

Peaks Brewpub

130 S. Lincoln St.

Port Angeles, WA 98362

Rank: 3.5/5

Type of Establishment: Beer Bar and Brewery

Visit: Our first stop back in civilization after 3 days in the wilderness, drinking warm beer and soaking up the sun. A cold beer was all we wanted! That and a nice hearty meal of solid food – burgers sounded wonderful.
BEERS ON TAP —>

Wanda Fuca Gold Pale Ale

Trainwreck IPA

Ed’s Big Ass Red

Mt. Pleasant Porter


A Glorious Tap List at Peaks Brew pub!

Guest Beers:

21st Amendment Brew Free or Die IPA

Oskar Blues Old Chub Scotch Ale

Port Townsend Hop Diggity

Left Hand Sawtooth Ale

Deschutes Inversion IPA

Humbolt Hemp Ale

BOTTLED/CANNED BEER:

Surprisingly, these guys have a pretty amazing bottle selection. Not only can you purchase beer to drink at the bar – you can take it home with you. At the prices we saw, you might actually beat the grocery store prices.

Goose Island Bourbon County Stout

Lagunitas Undercover Shutdown

Stone Ruination IPA

Oskar Blues Collective: Ten Fidy, Old Chub, Gubna, Gordon, Dales and Mama’s Lil Yella

many others……

FOOD OPTIONS:

Lets get it straight: I’m from the Midwest. You don’t have to throw me a big menu to make me happy. If you own a bar and you have wings and burgers – you did your job.

Peaks has a small menu but they cover all the bases. Wings, chili dogs, soups, burgers, chicken sandwich and chili. That will fill a menu, and any hungry man’s stomach. Add to that a veggie burger and you make almost everyone happy (except hip Seattle people who can’t handle traditional pub fare – we had some of those with us).

In any event, I went with the mother of all menu items: the works. Double beef patty, four cheese slices (swiss and american), onion, pickle, bacon, tomato – all on a beautiful crusty kaiser roll (seriously the bun is really good).

Verdict: The burger did the trick. Wish I had tried to the wings though.

BAR OPINION:

Full disclosure: I like dive bars. I even like crappy bars. As long as you have some kitchy decor, interesting cold beer, and food from the grill – you will probably keep me happy.

Peaks hit all of those things on the head, even if not so squarely. But, as an added bonus, they have a brewing setup right in the pub, pumping out hand crafted ales! Can’t beat that.

The brewing setup at Peaks

The bar owner is also a brewer. They have pumping out beer for a number of years now. While some are pretty bad, there are a few bright spots on the house tap list.

Lets start with the bad. The Porter was basically an amber of sorts. It had little flavor, almost no smokiness and actually tasted like it had gone bad. The same could be said about the Pale Ale, which lacked significant flavoring. I would not recommend giving either a try.

The Big Ass Red is worth a flyer if you are looking for something with a punch. It has a aged malt flavor that is almost tart. The hop character is identifiable and the alcohol hidden quite well. Not an outstanding beer, but worth a go.

The Trainwreck IPA is the best in show. In fact, I would actually recommend this beer to many an IPA fanatic. A sweet, viscous bodied ale, the beer is dry hopped with the neighbor’s back yard grown hops. The ABV on this one is unknown – but its pretty high. If you intend on sitting around and eating, start with this one. If you like it, I would recommend sticking with it for the balance of your meal.

The bar itself is well-decorated. The kitchy feel is supported by a bevy of old images strewn across old coolers, mirrors and walls. The vast collection of church keys invites the eye for at least a good half-hour.

The brewery is located in the rear of the pub. Its enclosed with two glass sides facing the customers. So, you can get a great look at real-time brewing. The brewer was on the premises the whole time we were there, making a batch of our favorite – Trainwreck IPA.

Peaks has a nice-sized TV (though we were stuck watching women’s soccer -hmmmm…) and a full-sized pool table on the premises. There is quite a lot of space, including large tables that can accommodate at least 15 people.

The bar staff was excellent. I was so very impressed with the way Becky (I did catch her name) was able to juggle the task of handling all beer pouring, order taking, cooking and babysitting the couple drunk middle-aged guys sitting at the bar.  She managed to get us beer as we needed it, deliver our food quickly, cook it thoroughly, and keep the drunkies at bay. She gets an A+.

In sum, Peaks is a worthwhile stop. I have been to Port Angeles a few times and have never found a place worth visiting. This is it. When we are in the town again – we will make another stop.

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