If you live in the Seattle area and you like beer enough to read this blog, chances are pretty good that you will be hitting up Big Wood Fest at Brouwer’s Cafe, if not on opening night (Thursday Dec. 2), at some point this coming weekend. Hopefully you have already gazed upon the outstanding preliminary list which can be found on our site here and on Brouwer’s blog.
Clearly, there’s a lot of options to chose from, and all of us, most unfortunately, only have one measly liver to assist us in tackling them. This is where we come in. We drink a lot of beer. We have been to BWF several times now. If you want to make sure that you order your barrel aged beers wisely, heed our advice. We don’t think that you will be disappointed.
I’ve decided to choose my top 15. These are the beers that I plan to sample, based on the current list. It’s my game plan. I know what you are thinking, and yes, I actually do think that I can try 15 beers. When bb.com goes to big beer events at Brouwer’s, where there is never a cover, we make sure to roll deep. We bring out as many friends as possible, we direct them on what to order, and then we drink their beers (of course we let them drink ours too). Always be sure to order the smallest size that is offered, every time. These events are all about getting your hands, and tastes buds, on as many special and rare beers as possible.
This list is, as always with Brouwer’s events, subject to change because it is very likely that the final list will include a few eye-popping secrets. This year I’m hoping to see a few more special Hair of the Dog beers, more vintage Bottleworks Anniversary beers like barrel aged Ivan the Terrible, and maybe some more killer locals like Petite Mort from Black Raven or some Big Time treats.
Deviation is the best Russian River beer that I have ever had (and that puts it very high on my all time list, if not at the top). Also, Bottleworks periodically pulls some out of their cellar and sells it for nearly $100 a bottle. I think I bought it for $15. This beer is the epitome of rare and the epitome of mind-blowingly delicious. Please, don’t order this so that I can drink it all, that is, if it really does still exist…
As you all know, we indulged in and celebrated all that is Humulus lupulus at Brouwer’s Cafe this past weekend. Highlights include Black Raven Wisdom Seeker, Dogfish Head Burton Baton and Skagit River’s Barrel Aged IPA (the only barrel aged beer on the list). We continued our hop adventure at home by cracking Dark Horse’s Imperial IPA. On Sunday, we enjoyed the weather on our roof, while drinking kegs of Lazy Boy Oktoberfest and IPA, finishing the weekend with a present from some friends who just got back from Hawaii, Maui’s Coconut Porter. My god. Although this beer, as well as their IPA, Big Swell and their Hefe are available at Whole Foods, they got a hell of a deal purchasing this beer on the motherland. But now for your week in beer.
Monday, September 13, 2010
Goose Island Invasion: Chesterfield, Missouri
7:00PM-9:00PM @ International Tap House
This tap list is outrageous. Goose Island features: 312, Honkers, their IPA, Harvest Ale, Sofie, Matilda, Pere Jacques, Bourbon County Stout, Bourbon County Stout VANILLA, Bourbon County Stout COFFEE and Pepe Nero. My god. Get Matilda, all the Bourbon County Stouts and Pere Jacques.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Double Bacon Event: Sherman Oaks, California
5:30PM-9:30PM @ Boneyard Bistro
Sip on Mikkeller Beer Geek Bacon and feast on a special tasting plate composed of about seven bacon themed bites that will compliment the smoky/salty richness of the beer. There will be a set price for the tasting plate and a glass of the beer. Sounds damn good.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
New York State IPA Fest: Peekskill, New York
6:00PM-12:00AM @ Birdshall House
An evening featuring IPAs exclusively from the Empire State. Participating breweries include but are not limited to Brooklyn Brewery, Captain Lawrence Brewing Co., Sixpoint Craft Ales, Southern Tier, Blue Point Brewing Co plus a few surprises.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Boulevard Beer and Food Tasting: Lawrence, Kansas
6:00PM-9:00PM @ Genovese
Cost- $35 bones gets you four courses of delicious foods and Kansas’ very own Boulevard beers!
First course: ZON paired with Wakarusa Valley Mesculan Salad with Grilled Pineapple, Local Goat Cheese and Toasted Almonds
Second course: Tank 7 paired wit…h Crostini with Caponata, Sliced Steve’s Meats Beef and Mustard Aioli
Third course: Lunar Ale paired with Bucatini with Lobster, Calabrian Chilies and Toasted Pistachios
Fourth course: Bully! Porter paired with Broken Arrow Ranch Braised Wild Boar in Boulevard Beer with Roasted Squash and Shaved Pecorino
Friday, September 17, 2010
2nd Annual Saisonfest: Emmaus, Pennsylvania
7:00PM-9:00PM @ Tap & Table
What a great idea- a festival dedicated to the under appreciated (by Americans anyway) style of beer- Saisons. This draft list is to die for- check out all of the amazing breweries: *jolly pumpkin es bam, *st. somewhere saison athene, jandrain iv, jandrain v, nuova mattina, blaugies la moneuse, *dupont avec les bons voeux, bruery saison de lente, glazen toren d’erpe mere, *cigar city guava groove, *lost abbey red barn ale, hopfenstark saison de repos, bullfrog fran-tastique, hop ten dormaal blonde, *nogne-o saison, pretty things jack d’or, *saison dupont. Seriously – one of the best events this fall season. So if you have been waiting for an excuse to visit Emmaus, PA- here it is!
Saturday, September 18, 2010
Iron Horse WABL Event: Ellensburg, Washington
6:00PM-10:00PM @ Iron Horse Brewery
Iron Horse Brewery in Ellensburg is inviting WABL members to their Pint and Potato Fest. The event will feature 6 varieties of Irish Eyes, freshly harvested local potatoes with unique dipping sauces, plus 6 Iron Horse beers on tap. Music by Abby Mae and the Homeschool Boys. $9 entry fee includes taters and dips but WABL members will receive $2 off admission. While you are in town make sure to visit Iron Horse’s new micropub in downtown Ellensburg!
Sunday, September 19, 2010
Arcadia Brewing Co. Shipwreck Release Party: Grand Rapids, Michigan
7:00PM-2:00AM @ HopCat
This venue always has amazing beer events and this is no exception! Come for the relase of Arcadia Brewing Co.’s Shipwreck Porter. There will be beer specials, best pirate costume prizes and other great things. I mean, beer AND pirates- how could you not go?
As always, if you go to an event, want us to post about an event or just want to speak your mind, leave a comment or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Cheers!
Week 27 of 52
314 West Gates
Mt. Vernon, WA 98273
Type of Establishment: Ale house. Good beer, good food, plain good.
Visit: This past Saturday, during and after Bite of Skagit 2010.
BEERS ON TAP (16 handles)
Deschutes (Nitro) Obsidian Stout
Boundary Bay Oatmeal Stout
Bear Republic Rop Rod Rye
Deschutes Mirror Mirror
Georgetown Manny’s Pale Ale
Dick’s Brown Ale
Skookum Amber’s Hot Friend
Scuttlebutt Imperial Red
Deschutes Miss Spelt Hefe
Lazy Boy Porter
Boundary Bay IPA
Odin Freya’s Gold Kolsch
Green Flash IPA
Two Beers Blonde
Empire has a full food menu, much like what you would expect at an alehouse. My eyes, like always, went straight for the sandwiches. There was plenty to choose from, all of which appeared to be delicious.
Just over 61 miles north of the Beer Blotter home base, within the small but beer-filled boundaries of Mount Vernon, lies a comfortable, brick-walled ale house that we have never before visited. On this day, we changed that.
First question…have you ever heard of this place?
If you are like me, and I think you might be, you most likely rely on ratebeer.com/beeradvocate.com, beer blogs and beer knowledgeable friends/acquaintances to inform you of the great beer destinations of this land. ratebeer.com does have Empire in their system, but there are only 2 reviews (both are respectable). beeradvocate has only one review of Empire and it yields a “B” rating. Not really enough to catch my eye. None of the blogs I read regularly ever seem to mention Mount Vernon. None of my friends have heard of this place. I only heard of it though talking with Dickerson Distributing reps at work. Empire carries LBB beers.
As I’ve come to realize, Mount Vernon should be on every beer lovers list of “must visit” destinations.
Dickerson and the owner of Empire, Bruce Springer, both had a hand in the creation of the beer garden at Bite of Skagit this year, which was, literally, right outside the doors of Empire on Gates St. I was pouring for both LBB and Skagit River Brewing, along side Flyers Restaurant and Brewery, so I was unable to really gather in the full experience, but the Bite is basically a street fair with a lot of food. Live music and, of course, beer played a role as well. It was a beautiful day for such an event and I had a blast talking to all the people who didn’t simply come up to me and say “I’ll have your lightest beer.”
Meeting and “working” with Bruce was a true pleasure. He was extremely accommodating to all of my needs and offered me a free lunch from the Ale House for attending and pouring. This was definitely not expected or necessary, but surely telling of his nature. You might now be thinking that I’m writing this glowing review of Empire as quid pro quo, and I couldn’t blame you for it, but you’ll have to take my word for it when I say that this place really is fantastic (and honestly, I think you already get that feeling by seeing the impressive tap list).
As you enter the front door, the bar is straight ahead, taps directly in your line of sight. Briefly after your eyes recover from the surprise of the options at hand, they follow the bar as it continues perpendicular to your line of sight and then takes a hard 90 degree turn toward the far rear wall. Between the front door and the bar there is a high top table with stools that seats four. Another high top sits to the right of that one.
Here is where you must choose your destination. Do you scooch up a stool at the bar or one of the high tops, or do you grab one of the four booths along the perimeter of the ale house to the right as you enter? If you go the booth route, you will be flush up against some very rustic brickwork. This could be quite comfortable, or…yes there is yet one more option, maybe you choose to climb the steps to your left as you enter and relax in the sofa lounge that overlooks not only all the action within Empire but all the action outside on Gates St. through the open windows.
No matter how you proceed, comfort and good service will greet you…oh, and good suds as well! Oh my god, and good food too!
During my pouring duties I had a BBQ pork medallion sandwich with mango chutney that totally rejuvenated me and increased my capacity to continue to answer the same questions over and over again. The cessation of the Bite allowed me to pull up a stool within Empire at the gorgeous bar, which seats about 14. The woodwork of said bar is so nice that I was slightly afraid to place anything on it without a coaster or a barrier of some kind. If you read my review of The Pub at Third Place, you probably know about my affinity for wood in bars. Highly enjoyable. The Glacier IPA played a serious role in my enjoyment as well, which is often hard to find in these parts.
60+ miles is no joke with alcohol in the system, so I limited myself to one, but I plan on returning very soon. Not only is Mount Vernon a must visit because of Empire and Skagit River Brewing, but because there are two other world-class ale houses within city limits. Due to its proximity to Empire (one block away), I stepped into Porterhouse Pub, just to catch a glimpse of the tap list, and was not disappointed. Had I realized at the time that Trumpeter Public House was only one more block away I would have slid in there and scoped it out as well. I hear it’s just as impressive.
It seems like you could make quite a day of it up there in tulip country. I highly suggest you make it happen.