Over the past 11 months, our blog has seen incredible growth. Our message has grown from a tossed together cauldron of beer musings to a plentiful editorial resource for beer fanatics around the world. Its been amazing to get comments and messages from readers as close as Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood, all the way to Utrecht, Holland.
We continue to grow each week. As we have more readers, from a broader landscape, we are trying our best to provide you with a bounty of diverse article topics. But, its often difficult to know what works, and what does not.
To obtain better reader feedback, we have instituted a few devices. We are writing this article to plead with you to take an extra second and let us know what you think about the content, and more importantly, to let others know about the Blotter. Please check this out:
We have added a simple 5 star rating system to the end of each article. Please give us a snapshot of your response to an article by selecting the quality and relevance of the content in each of our posts.
While we strive to serve a wide audience, we still need to know whether or not the content is at least interesting! If we bore you – let us know.
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Finally, we love our e-mail. In fact, now Beer Blotter writers each have a personal e-mail address! Its part of the first step to launching the new website, which is due out in the next 5 weeks.
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The Northwest Brewing News has rolled out its annual Reader’s Choice Poll – its time to vote. The Brewing News is a national brewing publication, severed into seven regional publications. Our good friend Geoff Kaiser writes for the Northwest edition, when he’s not manning the ship at Seattle Beer News.
Every year, the Brewing News holds a poll asking its readers to select the very best in the Northwest. Categories for best brewery, brewpub, bar, beer store, home brew shop and perhaps the most heated category – best bartender – are divided state by state. You may vote on the best Northwest beer for each style, as well.
When going through this poll, we noticed that we hit a few stumbling blocks. How do you pick between Hair of the Dog & Cascade Brewing? Is Uber Tavern a better place to grab a beer than The Dray? What the heck is down in Northern California? Don’t be ashamed to have to Rate Beer yourself a group of candidates, as long as you have actually experienced the pub, brewery or beer you intend to choose. But, if you are stuck – let us recommend a few:
Best Imperial IPA
Even with heavyweights like Russian River, Hopworks, Walking Man and Midnight Sun in the mix, and with Washington rising stars Boundary Bay and Port Townsend making their own cases – there can still be only one choice for us. Black Raven’s Wisdom Seeker licked the competition at Brouwers Hopfest. We have no reservations about this choice.
Best Strong Ale
The Northwest has always somewhat lacked in the big beer categories. But, there is no doubt that one strong ale has dominated the Northwest for many year – Hair of the Dog’s Fred. Alan Sprints has been making this beer for ages. If you have a vintage bottle laying around, you know what makes this complex ale so special. Vote with confidence.
Best Sour Beer
For years, I would probably have said that Russian River had this category killed with Consecration. But after recently tasting Cascade Brewing’s Noyeaux, I have reservations. Noyeaux was recently described in a post by our very own Timperial Stout. Check this one out before you mark down one of Russian River’s excellent choices.
Best NorCal Brewpub
We pushed Russian River out of the competition above, but here they take the cake. Backed by unprecedented selection and incredible beer food – there is no better place to grab a collection of beer and a delicious meal.
Best Washington Brewery
Some would say Boundary Bay has the history and fanfare to deserve this award. Some would say that Black Raven is the young gun that should take the title. We don’t disagree, but lets consider a 3rd choice – Snipes Mountain Brewing? You might think we are crazy but the Sunnyside, Washington brewer has been turning heads. Just about everything that brewer Chris Miller has put out of late, has shocked and awed. Food for thought.
Best Washington Bartender
Wow, we have some great bartenders up here in Seattle. We have a ton of love for Rachel up at Naked City, Natasha at The Dray and certainly Amy, down at Collins Pub. These three wonderful ladies have excellent beer IQs and care about their patrons. This gives them serious consideration.
But, to find someone who can advise, entertain, and take excellent care of you, all without being a giant asshole – priceless. Chris Cavanaugh is that guy. Chris can be found at three, count them, three amazing beer spots in Seattle. Once a fixture at Brouwers Cafe, Chris had to leave to tackle cancer. Once he returned to the bar, Chris grabbed spots at Elysian Brewing (Capitol Hill), The Stumbling Monk, and time behind the bar at Brouwers Cafe. There is one reason that he is at these three places – everyone loves him! Chris will give you great attention, wonderful advice, and excellent entertainment. Not once have we ever heard one person dislike him. Vote for this man.
So take a stab at the poll and let your voice be heard! You can access the poll by following this link. Got any other suggestions for choices, please post them in the comments below.
Thats right. You heard it here first. Today will live infamous amongst the various musings of beer writers in the Northwest. For today is……Hopfest.
Brouwers Cafe and Bottleworks both throw down today in the hoppiest way possible: by showcasing almost 70 hoppy masterpieces at their two locations. The festivities start at each location at 11:00 AM and will run until they throw you out. Both places promise to have hoppy ales on tap all through the weekend – until the keg runs dry.
Word to the wise: Bottleworks is out there lurking in the bushes. They have 9 taps now and will fill growlers. As a testament to their greatness and as a pseudo-means of crowd control, expect them to put up some pretty incredible IPAs today. Perhaps some you have never seen in Washington before.
We’ll pour out a lil hop juice (not too much) for our out of town homies, Kendall & Kim Jones, who are embarking on an epic trip to Great American Beer Fest. Follow their twitter stream to find out the amazing places that they are visiting.
See you there. Come by and tell us what you think of the beer – we really want to know what you like!
I want to take a quick moment and point to Seattle Beer News‘ latest article on Initiative 1100, the proposed bill to privatize liquor sales and deregulate alcohol sales in the State of Washington. We briefly discussed this in the past, posting an article from BreweryLaw.com.
The author at Seattle Beer News, Geoff Kaiser, wrote a think piece about the new proposition, considering the Washington Brewers Guild. The Guild recently released a presser openly opposing the proposed legislation, citing concerns that “I-1100 is the greatest threat the Washington craft brewing industry has experienced in a decade.”
I first want to applaud Geoff for his very honest portrayal of the tug and pull he is experiencing on the issue. Truly, he is correct to say that there are many arguments to be made in support of, and in opposition to, Initiative 1100.
Chiefly, Washington brewers are focusing on the fear that an open marketplace allows massive beer sellers (Costco, Binnys, MillerCoors, etc.) free reign to cause disruption to the beer market in Washington.
Of course, the Guild is correct to state that passage of deregulation opens up the market and can cause disruption. But, as an open market fan, you certainly hope that opens opportunities to all people and businesses. The key in deregulation is to find your niche, become innovative and be more efficient. You have to beat the big guys – and Washington brewers can do that!
Anyways, we are not going to tell anyone how to vote. But, please read the Brewers Guild position, because you should see both the good and the bad of I-1100 before you decide to vote. Brewers know the business and their opinion should resonate well in the beer community. But, fear can be blinding.
Tour de Fat is a celebration of bikes and beer, but its meant to call attention to a much larger concept. Years ago, New Belgium started Tour de Fat with the idea of ridding the earth of automobiles and replacing them with hip bikes. Of course, the disdain towards the automobile stems from several concerns, including depletion of natural resources, pollution, energy consumption and all around hatred for all things oil – at a time when the BP spill is in our minds.
New Belgium’s goal was simple: get people to trade in their car; we’ll give them a bike. This is the central theme behind Tour de Fat, which now has 12 stops across America.
This is from the site:
It’s when one fortunate soul hands over their car, title and keys to the Tour de Fat altar in exchange for a bike. Not just any bike, a New Belgium, fully-loaded, hand-crafted, Fort Collins-built commuter bike. There’s 13 Tour de Fat stops – surely one near you – and that’s 13 car/bike trade opportunities. It’s about weaning yourself off the petroleum teat. It’s about becoming a better, sexier person. It’s about rediscovering the cultural thrill of public transportation.
So, while Tour de Fat is a truly a party, celebrating funky and interesting bike contraptions and the enjoyment of beer – its also a burial for someone’s car. People wishing to be considered for the big trade-in, can find more information about it on their website.
This concept is of great interest to your writers at Beer Blotter. We recently traded in our car for bikes (and a little public transport of course). Its been one of the best decisions we ever made. It maximizes our beer consumption experiences, limits the risk that a catastrophic accident could happen, and keeps us in good shape. Consider the shift. At least, it saves you insurance and gas costs.
We hope to see you all at Tour de Fat. Its an amazing event, going down all day on July 31, 2010 at Gasworks Park in Seattle. The event concludes at 4 PM and will be followed by an after party at Brouwers Cafe, where you will no doubt get to drink some amazing New Belgium ales.
See you there!
Seattle’s newest bottle shop has opened up in West Seattle – bringing great craft beer across the bridge! We are very happy to announce that The Beer Junction has finally opened up in West Seattle. The new shop officially opened its doors on Saturday, July 3, 2010.
We have yet to pay a visit to the Junction, but we saw an article from Washington Beer Blog‘s Kendall Jones about the opening. Kendall’s article highlights the fact that two of our area’s best beer bloggers each will have a shelf to showcase their beer picks. A shelf will feature the picks of Seattle Beer News‘ Geoff Kaiser and Washington Beer Blog’s Kendall Jones.
Of course, we are very delighted to see area beer writers get some input. We would highly recommend that you take a look at their shelf when you visit – these guys know their beer!
Read more about Kendall’s picks by visiting his article. Seattle Beer News has yet to publish a listing of its picks – but check the website for more in the coming days.
The Beer Junction is located at:
4707 42nd Ave. SW
Seattle, WA 98116
Check them out.
Get your tickets now! One ticket will get you into Seattle International Beerfest all weekend!
Unfortunately, the $35.00 “Express Pass” is now SOLD OUT. This means that you will have to settle for the $20.00 ticket. Do yourself a big favor and go and grab one today at one of their ticket outlets. The ticket price will raise $5.00 at the event, and ticket lines are generally really bad.
We hope that the sun will make a rare appearance during this wretched beginning to summer in Seattle. Regardless, we hope to see you there with a good beer in hand.
I’ve decided to use the “Top 5 Lists” column to go ahead and give a brief dissertation on the Washington Brewers Festival. WaBF happened this past weekend out in Kenmore, Washington. We went out and had a blast.
As you might remember, we typically use this column to discuss our five favorite places for a beer in cities across the globe. There are quite a bit of cities – we travel often.
We plan on discussing the event more this week, but the time being, I wanted to share my five favorite places to have a beer at WaBF. This is a bit strange, considering its really all one place – a tent in one big field. But the column is more about the five great situations that I experienced at WaBF, and why I think they are significant.
Again, lets revisit the rules and disclaimer:
First, the rules: (these are the normal Top 5 rules, but they basically apply the same way here. I have edited briefly though)
- We go places because we want, not because someone asked. I cannot stress this enough. We were never enticed to these places by promises of freebies, attention, pats on the back or back room happy endings – we just went because we heard the word.
- We cannot be everywhere. Typically when we visit an event, we have limited time. This severely limits what we can visit. If there is a critically-acclaimed otherworldly thing to do that we did not make it to, we will try and asterisk it in the Top 5 list so that you know it exists.
- We are not millionaires. Wow, bet you could have guessed that one. We cannot purchase the best of the best all of the time. This limits what we might get out of a particular event. Just want you to know.
- We like all types of things. These lists are not “beer nerd” centric – far from it. In fact, you may find things that make you shake your head. But, if they have the total package of beer, character, service, food and aura – they get the mark.
- We try to poll our choices, but sometimes there is bias. This one doesn’t apply today – I am taking over.
Ok, now that we are through with the rules, lets move on to the Top 5 list for the Washington Brewers Fest.
Washington Brewers Festival
- Visits: Every year since 2007. This year, I attended on Friday, June 18, 2010.
- Area Brewers of Note: Probably every brewer in the great state of Washington (though not likely) and a few specials from out of state (Dogfish Head and Goose Island, among others). But this even included tiny nanobrewers 192 Brewing and Foggy Noggin Brewing.
- Festival Favorite: Look at the line above – Black Raven Brewing Co. In a short time of just over a year, this brewery had won the heart of locals and the attention of outsiders. I even had a discussion about them with the owner of Cigar City Brewing in Tampa, FL! They are making waves.
- The Top 5…..
#5 – The Bloggers – Geoff Kaiser and Kendall Jones
Well we have to pull for our own, don’t we? Beer blogging is becoming a popular form of art. As more and more people become intrigued by the craft beer world, more and more local breweries find market share. This forces more and more localization of beer for the public, with even tiny nanobrewers finding a place to sell their goods.
All of this lends to one thing – a need for local beer communities. The local beer community in Seattle has spawned several beer-centric bars, craft bottle shops, micro and nanobrewers and now even local beer bloggers. Most bloggers do what they do because they simply love beer – and they recognize the need for a local resource. Believe me, no blogger thinks that they are the source, but if we can shave some time of your adventure through beer, steer you towards the great venues and give you a head’s up on happenings – we are lending a hand to the beer community.
When I saw that the two most read (probably) beer bloggers in Washington state had booths at WaBF, it made me proud to be a blogger. Seattle Beer News and Washington Beer Blog are written by Geoff Kaiser and Kendall Jones, respectively. Both of these guys do an excellent job writing about beer in Washington state. I tip my hat to each of them for their commitments to great material.
But, now they are even be accepted into the brewers world. WaBF is a festival for the brewers and it was a bit touching to see that Washington Beer Commission was willing to include both these great resources. Kudos to the event; kudos to Geoff and Kendall for jumping in.
#4 – The Nanobrewers
Some time ago, I wrote an article on BeerBlotter.com about some of the nanobrewing spots that you could visit around Seattle. Later on, the focus of that story, Gilligan’s Brewing Company, became the center of a story by magazine, All About Beer.
Its funny to look back at that article now and think: those guys were nanobrewers?! Yes, I might have played down the extent of brewing operations over at Seattle brewers Big Al Brewing, Two Beers Brewing, Schooner Exact Brewing, and Fremont Brewing. Big Al can be found all across Washington state, Two Beers is the house IPA tap at many of my favorite bars, Schooner Exact recently opened a tap room with over 10 beers, and Fremont Brewing is now in the process of canning! These guys are no longer the little guys on the block.
But, there have emerged a new breed of nanobrewers in the greater Seattle area. One of my favorite things to see at this years event: the little guys having a place to pour.
My favorite might be 192 Brewing, who is doing what they do – all in a 192 square foot space. This is what its all about. It doesn’t take $500,000.00 to get started, it doesn’t require a warehouse. All you need is some love and a few good test batches to make a tasty beer that the public can enjoy. 192 has the right idea.
Similarly, Foggy Noggin made my little eyes weep. These guys are making beer on a 1/2 barrel (15 gallon) gravity system, similar to the one that BeerBlotter.com brews on. I was so proud to see these guys, without all the wonderful equipment of its surrounding brewers, put out some good brew. It does a homebrewer proud.
I hope to see more of this over the next year. It doesn’t take much to add another tent or two to WaBF (I assume). Maybe we’ll even see some home brewers involved in the next few years.
I was just out in Wenatchee and made a quick stop in Leavenworth for some cheese and brats at the Munchen Haus. When we were down in the Cheesemonger, tasting some damn good cheese, we saw some bottles from Washington brewers – brewers we had never heard of.
What we saw were bottles from Old Schoolhouse Brewing. This brewery and pub is located out in little ole Winthrop, Washington – in the south end of the Okanogon National Forest. We met the owner and brewer, a father and son, respectively, and were utterly impressed with their kind demeanor and their tasty beer. Our favorite: the Imperial IPA (coming in at 9.6% ABV!).
Old Schoolhouse was just one of many rural brewers that us city folk down in Seattle do not regularly get to try. Because of a dense brewer population in the greater Seattle area, its difficult for a rural brewer to find tap space at your bar. So WaBF is one of those great events where you finally get to try some of their concoctions.
Other rural brewers of note were Skookum Brewery, out in Arlington, WA, Snipes Mountain Brewing, down in Prosser, WA, and Flyers Restaurant & Brewery, up in Oak Harbor, WA. Each of these brewers showcase wonderful ales, including top notch IPAs from Skookum and Snipes, and a potentially best in show porter from Flyers. If you get a chance to try their beers – grab one, its not everyday you see them.
#2 – The Crazy Beers
After awhile, you’ve just had too many IPAs. You want something a bit different don’t you? You want something that makes you go – What the &%$((%$?!
In the past few years, we have seen the emergence of more creative recipes, a larger presence of wood-aging, and yeasts we cannot pronounce. Most of this shift is due to the success of sour beers, higher alcohol beverages, and fearless brewers like Dogfish Head, Lost Abbey, Jolly Pumpkin and Avery Brewing.
In my three years at this event, I have never seen more than a few “off-the-cuff” beer titles on the list. This year – the list was littered with unknowns. Some of the most mind-boggling:
Airways Triple Chocolate Stout (Stout)
Three Skulls Blood Orange Wit (Witbier)
Big al 5 Star Chile IPA (Habanero Hot)
Black Raven’s Malt & Vine 3rd Anniversary (Sour Mash Rye), Jerked Brown Porter (Herb & Spiced Ale) & Coco Jones (Coconut Brown Porter)
Foggy Noggin Christmas Duck (We just like the name)
Fremont Brewing Scary Monster Double IPA** (Ridiculous IPA)
Hale’s IX Gold on Sour Cherries (Belgian Strong Golden)
Harmon Scott’s Puget Creek Vanilla Porter (Flavored Brown Porter)
Lazy Boy Nacho Pilsner (Dry Hopped Chiles/Pilsner) & Oscuro Con Chiles** (Infused/Porter)
Snipe’s Cask Twangzister Sour Cherry Stout** (Barrel Aged Sour)
I also very much enjoy the slow emergence of more and more French and Belgian Farmhouse style ales. I have never seen so many, Biere De Garde, Saison and general white and wheat ales. I was very impressed with Double Mountain and Rock Bottom saisons.
Its a welcome change. Lets keep it up brewers.
You’d think I’d spend the most time talking about the #1 place on the list. But, this is a bittersweet love. As much as they deserve #1 – the place was inundated with a line that was no less than 10 times the length of any other line at the fest. Kudos to Black Raven for arriving on the scene – and blowing it to smithereens.
Black Raven is the best beer producer in Washington state. Its settled, there can no longer be a debate. The buzz behind everything they do can no longer be silenced, can no longer be inhibited. They are officially playing the role of the most popular brewer in the state.
Well, its not just a fad. Its really good beer, creative beer, inventive beer, flavorful beer and selective beer. They showcased several titles at the WaBF – every single one was impeccable. The Wisdom Seeker Double IPA is perhaps the best in the nation at its style. The bourbon barrel scotch ale was my #2 beer at the event. The Coconut Porter and the Malt & Vine 3rd Anniversary are both Top 20 beers as well.
Look – we know they are good. Beer bloggers are helping to create this following with our perpetual ogling over all that they do. But, that being said, we cannot stop. No matter how big the buzz, we continue to peg them at the top of the list. Nothing changes over here at BeerBlotter.com. Black Raven rules Washington beer.
Live in Washington Beer Festival? Know the event? Hate something we wrote? Let us know below in our comments, or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Well we couldn’t wait any longer, so we are going ahead and rolling out to Kenmore, Washington today for the opening day of Washington Brewers Fest. We hope to see you all out there.
Check out our incredibly extensive Washington Brewers Fest Preview, which was published yesterday here at BeerBlotter.com. You might also want to check out the preview articles put together by fellow Seattle beer bloggers – Seattle Beer News and Washington Beer Blog. We are really excited to try out some of these amazing ales.
Hope to see you there! Remember to stop by the Lazy Boy Brewing stand Saturday and Sunday to say hello to our cellar king Timperial Stout.