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The Hardest Post I’ve Ever Typed: The Death of My Heart, Water Street Brewing

Water Street. Rest in Peace. You left your mark on us all.

The first time I ever gazed upon the entryway, I shuddered. Isn’t this the iconic portal where Richard Gere once had a pint in an Officer and a Gentleman? It was. But it was so much more. It was the most inviting entry on the block. It only took one glance.

I remember walking up and thinking – this is everything a brewpub should be. Its an over-sized, over-vaulted, sun sprayed, open-aired masterpiece. We can fill the pool of demographics with a sample of the bar crowd. You could swim in the smell of fresh beer wort filling the air. It was everything I had dreamed of – and there was more to come.

Before I continue my heart-wrenching words, I want to say that I have put off this article for more than a year. I might be crazy; I might be frightened. I’m just not sure. But the essence of Water Street Brewing could not be bottled and it could not be served on an outside-viewing public. It was the inside of your dreams and the best that your imagination could muster.

But now, its soon to be gone. In roughly 30 hours, all that I knew of the bar I called “perfection” will be erased from its space on the waterfront in little ole Port Townsend. I have died a little inside.

But my memories will try and live on – at least what can be maintained from the few beer-engulfed images I took home with me. The images ingrained themselves so deeply, it would be nearly impossible to forget.

Walking in, you are met with scents, images, music and aura. I don’t think that I’ve ever felt aura before. I’m just not that type of person. I notice the layout, feel, and comfort of bars – i love them. But never before did I honestly feel a sense of excitement in the air, especially in a bar that was practically empty. You could just tell that a remarkable history and passion ran rampant through this place. I was now going to be a part of it.

I took a few glances before even thinking about sitting. The pharaoh and the demon mural, the mermaid, the stage, the blown glass, the old wood, the vaulted ceilings coated in $1 bills, the veranda with its collection of broken pool cues, the air, the light and the sound. It was magnificent.

Once I had returned to earth, we saddled up at the bar. We were greeted by the image of all that is respected and loved and intertwined in the aura of Water Street – Queen Nina. Nina Law – hello.

You have never been treated by a bartender until you spend an afternoon, evening, entire calendar day with Nina as your bar mate. She is spectacularly in love with this place, its constituents, and its craft. For quite some time, the house’s greatest and most love-filled beer has been named for her – Queen Nina IPA.

A bucket of pumpkin-colored, viscous, sweet-herbed IPA is poured. I remain calm, in awe of the surroundings. The man to my right immediately strikes up the conversation – howdy. He’s a man of many a year in Port Townsend. This is his home, the bar stool beside me. I am told of the wonderful things that the crowd of this place has done for this man. I am told of the minor contributions that he made to keep the place afloat in early 2009, when the bar almost went belly-up from a loss of income. The stuttering of his voice guaranteed the reality that I was in this magical place.

Even the Iceman went to Water Street. Just part of the crowd.

What next? Food from the soul? An inspiring chat with a stranger? Some impromptu live folk music? How about some fiddling? How about  I rip this shirt off the wall and take off with my little piece of Water Street? I took it all.

Being from the Midwest, I have one food passion – wings. I know its a bit silly to get passionate about hot wings, but then again – have you been reading this article? Packed with love.

Anyways, the wings: perfection. I remember that Queen Nina brought out my platter and said – “you know what? thats the best damn wing order I’ve ever seen.” She was right. To this day, it might be the best dozen that I have ever had the pleasure of enjoying. Covered in fresh roasted garlic, rolled in tangy sauce,  cooked to perfection, served with liquid gorgonzola. It was heaven for a wing man.

We spent at least an hour in each of the five separate spaces at Water Street’s 7,000 square foot warehouse of bar. Each space had its own comfort, each providing you with a different feel. Of course, we begun at the bar – which would rival the collegiality of a World Cup soccer team. But there are other spaces with their own great comfort.

There is the restaurant area, directly in the airways of the kitchen (smell the shellfish!) and the brewery (smell the malt!). Then there is the cubby hole beneath the stairs – the perfect place to gather with cronies. Next, the upstairs veranda, full of pool tables, portals overlooking the bar from 20′ above and the malt mill! Last and certainly not least – the outside patio. Nestled beside the water, and a few feet from the brewery exhaust, its the perfect place to enjoy pitcher and a clambake.

You wanted music? How about some impromptu gypsy-folk, featuring a fiddle and guitar, on the old stage? If that’s not going on, Queen Nina is sure to keep the bar’s sound waves geared up on 1960s-1970s hippy rock. They keep it mellow.

I couldn’t leave if I wanted. To some extent, I never have. I wanted so badly to have that place in my memories, that I ripped an old shirt off the wall. It was the last shirt that remained from their economic near-collapse earlier in the year. They couldn’t afford new merchandise at the time, but Nina was more than happy to send me home with the last remaining article on the wall. Best $15 I ever spent. I wear that shirt once a week – no joke.

The first time I went – we stayed for about 8 hours. The next morning, we returned for another 5 hours. I know, that’s how much I loved it. You’d certainly think that cannot be duplicated.

After weeks of giving friends my elevator pitch on Water Street, we returned. They stopped in, had some wings, had some beer and loved every moment. But 3 hours was enough for them. They decided to check out the town. Not me. I stayed by myself, enjoying the crowd, enjoying the staff, and enjoying what would come to be my last and final glimpse into the one remaining bar, which is soaked in the love of its admirers.

Pumpkin Juice. Queen Nina IPA.

So……call me a sap. Do it. I deserve it, but I do not apologize or regress from my statements in this article.

Maybe you didn’t think the bar resembles anything close to what I said? Well, just rest easy knowing that such a perception of a watering hole is possible. Know that a person could be so very much overwhelmed by the aura of an institution that it could reduce them to near tears upon learning of its demise.

Know all of that, and continue searching for your own place. Aura exists. Rest in peace – Water Street.

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!

Grab Your Life Vest, We’re Going on a Boat: Port Townsend, WA

November 18, 2009 Leave a comment

the P-T brewpub lacks food - but has tunes, various nuts and booze

After a short Ferry ride across the Pudget Sound we land in Port Townsend. A quaint town with a local beer scene that includes Water Street Brewing Company and Port Townsend Brewing Company.

Stop #1 Water Street Brewing Co.:

It was a sunny yet windy summer day in July when we first stepped foot in Water Street Brewing Co.’s pub. Just in time for happy hour, we take a seat at the bar (would we have it any other way?).

The late afternoon sun streamed through the windows begging for a drink. As gusts of wind bellowed through the open bar door, a live banjo played to the rhythm of the outdoors.

From the moment you step foot into the wide open space you can’t help but notice the beautifully carved wooden bar and dollar bills stapled to the incredibly high ceiling. After ordering our first round of many to come, we sat back wondering how they got up there.

Queen Ninas Imperial IPA, 7%- bitter right off the tap. This beer opens up with a natural hoppy aroma. It is fresh, smooth and spikes the back of your throat with a tang of bitterness.

Mayor McPrior’s Irish Stout: medium brown in color. Coffee flavor with a hint of nuts. Slightly creamy but not thick. It has a nice, drinkable consistency.

Panama Red: stout like qualities but lighter in color. Hoppy and bitter combined with a prevalent malt flavor.

Accompanying our beers were a platter of well- crafted buffalo wings. Plump pieces of chicken smothered in spicy homemade buffalo sauce with fresh garlic were sprinkled with Parmesan cheese and scallions. Our experience was complete.

Water Street Brewing Co. is located at 639 Water Street, Port Townsend, WA 98368. A community brewpub supported and loved by locals. Check out Waterstreet’s winter beers, such as Burr’s Frosty Winter Ale and Chocolate Oatmeal Stout at the Winter Beer Festival the weekend of December 4, 2009 at Hales Brewery in Seattle, WA.

However, if this post has struck a cord and you MUST visit Water Street Brewing Co. in all its glory, then gear up for the 6th Annual Strange Beer Festival in Port Townsend, WA. Let the beer warm your soul in January as the streets surrounding the brew-pub are filled with belated holiday gifts of beer. Check back with Beer Blotter as we will keep you informed once the details about this event are released. Hope to see you there!

Stop #2 Port Townsend Brewery Co.

Upon arriving at Port Townsend Brewery, we walk through an outdoor beer garden equip with a live band and plenty of people into the tasting room. Peanuts are up for grabs on the bar and we are liking this place already. The tasting room/bar area is small with wooden walls, ceiling and bar top. Reminiscent of an isolated cabin, we feel on the outskirts of society, in the wilderness, eating peanuts and enjoying a beer.

Hop Diggity IPA, Cask Conditioned: incredible aroma of flowers, fruit. It smells as though it would taste like syrup. Instead it is crisp, not too bitter or hoppy in relation to other IPAs.

Strait Stout: black in color. Malty, sweet. Thick and smooth with a well rounded, crisp finish.

The only food this small bar sells include the following items: nuts, mixed nuts, and more nuts. So come with a full stomach or leave hungry.

Port Townsend Brewing Co, is located at 330 10th Street, #C, Port Townsend, WA 98368. During the warmer months, Port Townsend Brewing Co. is a short distance away from various campsites such as Old Fort Townsend and Fort Warden State Park.

Port Townsend, Washington is located on the Olympic Peninsula just across the Pudget Sound from Seattle.

Winter Beer Fest Time: Stage Set. Nice Lineup

November 18, 2009 Leave a comment

Water Street is showing up. They make hearty beers. This is the Queen Nina - its about as thick as V8 (good way)

We just word today that the Washington Beer Commission released its first list of the beer list for the Winter Beer Fest, which will be held at Hales Brewery once again this year.

I was very pleased to see the entries from some of our favorites. The beer list can be found here. Here are some snapshots:

Iron Horse (a group favorite) – The Ellensberg shop is putting out their IPA and their Mocha Death (YES). I am very happy to see that they aren’t simply pouring their normal releases. They simply always show up for beer events with something good.

Black Raven Brewing - Second Sight Scotch Ale, score. Citrus & Spice Trickster IPA, yep. Seriously pumped to try both of these. I was excited to see that they will be the house IPA over at Beveridge Place Pub.

Schooner Exact Brewing Co. Xman beer is my friend. Nothing sums up the Holidays more like a damn good xmas ale. (Great Lakes = best). SE has two xmas beers (Hoppy Holidays Winter Ale and Hoppy the Woodsman) and a Mystery beer. I like it.

Snipes Mountain – To keep a steady mix, snipes is bringing their fall beer, which I might add were both very much admired this season by the public. Pumpkin Death 08 (Cask Bourbon) & 09 Fresh Hop IPA (this is awesome).

Water Street Brewing Co – Heck yeah. I don’t care that Skip Madsen left. He is doing well over there with his Breakaway IPA. But, this place is still my #1 place to get a beer in the area. The life of that place is amazing on a Friday in the summer. Anyways, Burr’s Frosty Winter and a Chocolate Oatmeal Stout ought to do the trick. Nice to see them out and about in Seattle (rare)

Hope to see you all there. Seattle Weekly ran a story that tickets are moving fast, and there is an up charge at the door. Tickets are 23.00 right now and can be obtained through this site.

Hope to see you all out and about.

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