This Saturday, February 26, 2011 (TOMORROW) for approximately 4 hours, you should go on a tour of the local craft brewing industry.
The Washington Beer Commission organized an Open House of sorts where local breweries open their doors to beer lovers providing them with the good stuff to make this an epic Saturday afternoon. From 12PM-4PM you can plan your route or pick an area of Washington to tour:
CENTRAL and EASTERN WA
NORTH and EAST of SEATTLE
American Brewing, Edmonds
Anacortes Brewing, Anacortes
Black Raven Brewing, Redmond
Boundary Bay Brewing, Bellingham
Chuckanut Brewing, Bellingham
Diamond Knot Brewing, Mukilteo
Foggy Noggin Brewing, Bothell
Gallagher’s Where U Brew, Edmonds
Lazy Boy Brewing, Everett
Redhook Brewery, Woodinville
Scuttlebutt Brewing, Everett
Snoqualmie Falls Brewing, Snoqualmie
SOUTH and WEST of DOWNTOWN SEATTLE
WEST of PUGET SOUND
This event will showcase a number of special beers, beer pairings and surprises at many locations. You will just have to go and find out what is in store. Don’t forget this Saturday is the Grand Opening of American Brewing Co.
This event is free but beer prices at each location will apply. Drive safely or don’t drive at all and ENJOY!
October is nearly over, and you know what that means right? It is pretty depressing, so I’m not surprised if you are having a hard time answering. Yeah, it means that we will soon be saying goodbye to the fall seasonals until next year. Oktoberfests are pretty much already gone. Fresh Hops, you still might be able to find some, if your really search, but they are nearly gone. Pumpkin Ales…oh good god, please don’t say it…sorry but, almost gone.
Sure, if pumpkin ales were all of a sudden available year round, they would probably lose their luster after a while. I kind of like it the way it is, though I wouldn’t mind if I could hoard some bottles and crack them open at some other time in the year, where the mood to strike. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but it’s really hard to find bottles of the good stuff. It seems like the moment they hit the shelves, you blink and they’re gone. This element seems to add to the excitement around finding pumpkin ales on tap. You really have to keep your eyes and ears open and pounce when the opportunity presents itself to sip on that nectar of the great gourd.
Lucky for us here in the Seattle area, we have Elysian Brewing, kings of pumpkin mashing, right in our backyard. We get to attend The Great Pumpkin Beer Fest at their Capitol Hill location (read our review here), which is indeed great. But, it still doesn’t fulfill my unrelenting hunger for pumpkin and spice. I even made a batch at home this year…still want more.
In steps Beveridge Place Pub in West Seattle, to provide that one last dance of the season. Tonight they will be tapping five pumpkin beers for their Plethora of Pumpkin celebration: Elysian Night Owl and Dark o the Moon, Southern Tier Pumpking, Schooner Exact Gutter Punkin, and Snipes Mountain Pumpkin Death. These gems will be available all day and night, and they’re happy to pour taster trays of all 5.
If you are like me, and your hunger for pumpkin is not unlike a zombie’s hunger for brains, lurch and groan, with arms outstretched in front of you, over to West Seattle’s finest beer bar and feed on the flesh (of a pumpkin please).
Each and every time that I have perused the beer aisle or strolled into a bottle shop over the past few weeks I have noticed more and more winter beers on the shelves. I guess it’s officially that time of the year. The days are getting shorter, the trees are shedding, there is a nip in the air… we will soon be required to warm ourselves with thicker clothing, crackling fires, and most importantly, robust beers.
Yeah it’s true, the pumpkin and fresh hop beers will soon be gone for the year. As quickly as they come, they go, but let’s relish in it…enough with those hoity-toity additives…lets soak in the depths of the true beer ingredients, namely, malt, lots and lots of malt.
Winter beers are all about fending off the cold. It’s like a thick chowder that coats the inside of your belly, warms the innards, adds fat, and preps you for a lengthy hibernation. The booze levels often push boundaries, the sugar levels pose similar inner quarrels as that far to common holiday season overindulgence on cookies. It’s hearty through and through. Santa’s belly, not excluded.
And there exists not that boisterous Ho, Ho and inevitable Ho in the Seattle area without the annual Winter Beer Fest at Hale’s Ales. This year, the indulgence falls on the weekend of December 10th and 11th. One can only hope that WA’s finest will be in attendance. If you, personally, are not amongst the present, it’s quite clear that you care not about sustenance and suspension through the cold months, and you should, sooner than later, except your fate as a fallen entity…one existing only as a human icicle. Say your good-byes now.
Whether you prep for hibernation or not, attend winter beer fest or not, any beer drinker with pride for the local and the slightest holiday spirit should do their very best to seek out Washington’s finest Winter Beers.
Here is a list of some of the Washington brewed Winter Ales to keep an eye out for (note: all descriptions presented are commercial unless not supplied. Those not supplied are notated with a “*” and are provided by beerblotter):
Boundary Bay Cabin Fever – A strong ale or “Winter Warmer” with dark red-brown color and a very rich malty flavor. Dry-hopped lightly with Cascades for a pleasant aroma and slightly spicy hop finish. This big beer is deceptively strong, yet tastes very smooth thanks to extra long cold conditioning. Original Gravity: 1.072.
Fremont Abominable Winter Ale – tasty winter ale, limited release. Dark, roasty, chocolaty, malt flavors balanced by Noble hop aroma and subtle hoppy spice. Warm up to it. Don’t be Scared to be Abominable.
Lazy Boy Mistletoe Bliss – A new brown ale on steroids! Stock up now to warm those cold winter nights. ABV 7.5%, Grains: Pale, crystal, Munich, brown, Vienna, chocolate. Hops: Ahtanum.
Maritime Pacific Jolly Roger Christmas Ale – * This rich malt bomb has a dark red hue and flavors of dried fruits.
Diamond Knot Ho! Ho! Winter Ale – A robust, ‘Winter Warmer’ ale, ruby brown in color with a slightly sweet, fruity nose. Very hoppy, yet balanced with a residual sweetness.
Elysian Bifrost – Style: Winter ale, Body: Medium to Sturdy, TASTING NOTES: Pours golden with orange highlights. Smells alluringly sweet like caramel apples with a little spice and orange zest. Taste is bold and balanced with a good amount of citrus and earthy hop bitters to offset the bready, sweet malt character. Finishes dry with a bit of fruit. MALTS: Pale with small amounts of Munich and Crystal, HOPS: Bittered with Centennial, finished with Amarillo and Styrian Golding, ABV: 7.5%, IBU: 55.
Pike Auld Acquaintance Hoppy Holiday Ale – A winter treat (Wassail) dating from pre-Christian times. Celebrates the winter solstice. Festive and flavorful with delicious hints of orange peel, coriander, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
Pyramid Snow Cap – Deep mahogany in color, our full-bodied winter warmer is brewed in the spirit of British winter ales. Crafted with a flurry of roasted chocolate and caramel malts, and generously hopped, it delivers a smooth finish that makes this beer the perfect cold weather companion. Original Gravity: 17.3, Alcohol by Volume: 7.0, IBU: 47, Malts: 2-Row Barley, Caramel 80L, Chocolate Malt, Hops: Nugget, Willamette, East Kent Goldings.
Redhook Winterhook Winter Ale – The 2010/2011 Winterhook Winter Ale is a rich, full-bodied beer with a red chestnut color. It combines imported and local Caramel, Vienna, Pils, Chocolate and NW 2-Row Malts for a complex profile balanced by four hop varieties added in the brewing to emphasize the end hop character (flavor and aroma). Beautifully balanced, the flavors meld to create an overall complex profile with no single ingredient out of harmony. ABV: 6%, Malts: Caramel, Pils, Chocolate, Vienna and NW 2-Row, Hops: Cascade, Willamette, Northern Brewer and Centennial, Bitterness Units: 42 IBU, Original Gravity: 15 degrees plato.
Schooner Exact Hoppy the Woodsman – Bourbon Barrel Aged Winter Ale. Need you say more? A big brother to Hoppy Holidays, this winter ale has gained a level of complexity and intrigue during those months luxuriating in its bourbon barrel haven. Chocolate malt and a healthy dose of hops help maintain balance.
Scuttlebutt 10 Below – Style: imperial dunkelweiss, Aroma: crisp citrus, Taste: medium body with a rich chocolate finish, Hops: mt. hood & american saaz, 22 ibu’s, 7.4% alcohol by volume.
Silver City Old Scrooge – If Old Scrooge can’t get you in the Holiday spirit nothing can. A rich amber ale, ripe with fruit and spice, Old Scrooge’s character will fully develop as it warms. Intriguing notes of apple, cherry and apricot occur naturally as a result of its unique fermentation and extended aging – 9% ABV.
Hale’s Ales Wee Heavy – * This style is Scottish and piles on thick like a marching calvary of bagpipers. There’s malty ales of the old world, and then there’s wee heavys.
Port Townsend Winter Ale – Our winter ale is made from a blend of pale and crystal malts, roasted barley and Belgian aromatic malts. Cooler fermentation and a longer aging time adds further complexity to this Old Ale style. Original Gravity:1.072 Alcohol by Volume: 7.4%.
Two Beers Winter Hop – Winter Hop – The sun doesn’t shine much in winter around here. It’s darker, more subdued and subtle. If you enjoy this about winter, then there is a pretty good chance Winter Hop will find comfort with you. It’s darker, its slightly chocolate-y and dry-hopped with Amarillos. Cheers! IBU’s: 67, OG: 1.068, Hops Used: Amarillo, Galena, Magnum.
Ram Sleigher – * Brew pub chain…don’t make exciting beers…? You’re wrong folks, this is one of the best winter beers I have ever had.
Dick’s Double Diamond Winter Ale – Northwest style seasonal with massive amount of grain and several healthy additions of hops.
Fish Tale Winter Fish – Here is the full-bodied seasonal ale that brings meaning to “Winter Warmer”. With a snappy hop character, this isn’t just another brown beer masquerading as a seasonal. This is hearty fare brewed for the season of celebrations. Enjoyed at ease with friends and food, Winterfish will put a glow in the cheeks and warmth in the veins. Pale and honey malts provide an abundantly deep foundation. Then, for bittering, flavor, and aroma, we use 100% Yakima Chinook hops in the kettle. For additional flavor and aroma, it’s more Yakima Chinooks in the hop-back. Perfect for festive feast, this is the hoppiest winter ale we know of! Savor a pint and you’ll know why Northwesterners agree: An ice-cold Winter never sounded better! 7.5% alc/vol 1.071 O.G. 70 IBUs.
Jillian’s Billiards Club of Seattle is your quintessential sports bar: pool tables galore, a wide collection of large, flat screen TVs, sports apparel on the walls, okay food and a slim selection macro-brews on tap.
This past Friday, Jillian’s changed that with a beer fest called Micros and Music. $5.00 bought you 10 2oz pours of local, craft brews and unlimited finger foods, such as min-burgers, hot pretzels and spring rolls. As stated on Washington Beer Blog’s preview post about the event, this new direction and focus on craft brewing is largely due to new management. I think sports and great beer should always go hand in hand.
Aside from the fact that this was a great deal, I was able to taste not just Washington State beers, but several local, Seattle beers.
Georgetown’s Lucille IPA- fruity, smooth and refreshing.
Odin’s Smoky Bacon Beer- robust, perfectly smoked and slightly salty.
Schooner Exact Brewing’s Puget Soundian Dark Ale, Black IPA- a great balance of hops and roasted malt remaining consistent with the body and texture of an IPA- well done!
Other note worthy brews:
Big Al’s 5 Star Chili IPA got the group’s attention. Brewed with jalapenos, chili peppers and habeneros, this IPA will scorch your mouth and leave you wanting more.
Two Beers Brewing’s Fresh Hop was one of the first of its kind to pour this season, this beer uses 5 different hops in the process and is finished with fresh Centenniel. This was my first beer of the night and its balance of bittering hops and sweet, honey flavors kept me thinking about it the entire time (plus they were giving out stickers).
Sad to say, I did not get to taste all of the beers due to time constraints. Breweries I missed: Naked City, Diamond Knot, Red Hook, Widmer Bros., Alaskan Brewing Co. and Emerald City Brewing Co. This event was a great showcase of what Jillian’s plans on rotating on tap in the future. So if you hesitated about going to Jillian’s due to the lack of options, grab some friends, play some pool and enjoy the craft beer we love so much.
I just read an excellent article put together by Seattle Times writer Melissa Allison. The article presents a duel look at the positions of supporters and opponents of Initiative 1100. Our blog has discussed I-1100 in the past, and if you still don’t know what it is, read these posts for more on the issue.
In any event, the article takes you on a whirlwind tour of the Initiative, what it seeks out to do, and who is on each side. For instance, did you know that Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors have collectively donated at least $2 Million to the opposition party? Neither did we.
Mike Hale, of Hale’s Ales, a brewery between Fremont and Ballard, figures he would do well in an open market, and said the laws that I-1100 would nix are easily circumvented now.
“There are many loopholes and exceptions and shenanigans,” said Hale, who has brewed for 27 years and served on a state task force in 2006 with other industry representatives and the Liquor Control Board.
Hale’s Ales and others create products for Costco and other retailers that no one else buys — for example, beer on pallets without cardboard separations — and sell them at prices that might as well be volume discounts.
Some breweries pay consulting firms to place their beer at eye level in grocery stores, a service cheap or free to the grocers and therefore a gift in exchange for shelf space from breweries, Hale said.
“No one could enforce these silly laws,” he said. But the result is “supporting the middlemen culture [distributors], who have a guaranteed sweet spot.”
I am not sure how this fits into the big picture. Hales Ales is one of the few Washington brewers who bottles and has been selling in volume for some time. That might have an impact on their point of view.
The Guild‘s Heather McClung (Schooner Exact Brewing) made an appearance, resonating the Guild‘s position that I-1100 makes it more difficult for local brewers to sustain pricing and find shelf and bar space. Beer consumers can feel for the Guild’s position, as it certainly would be a blind-side change for brewers in Washington state.
But, its apparent that the Guild is ready for some change. Heather advised that the Guild would like to see slow and steady deregulation – as opposed to the sudden, complete deregulation in place under 1100.
In the end, the issue might come down to trusting Washington consumers to dictate the market. I think that the statement made by Ashley Bach, spokesman for the “Yes to 1100″ campaign resonates much of the sentiment of beer consumers:
“Wineries and breweries are worried about the unknown, but the wine and beer industries are very well established in Washington and consumers are among the most sophisticated in the country and will seek out good products no matter who’s selling liquor in Washington state”
Regardless of where you lean, the article presents a good look at the pluses and minuses. This Initiative might come down to the final week of campaigning. For now, its a toss up for most consumers.