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!
Good friend to Beer Blotter and head honcho down at Airways Brewing contacted me yesterday with some really exciting news. If you have been following them on Twitter (@airwaysbrewing), you’d know that they have been subtly hinting at a coming big announcement. It has finally arrived.
Check out the official press relief below, because I sure as hell couldn’t have said it better.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Airways Brewing to Expand Current Location and Open Second Location in
Downtown Kent Historic District
Kent, WA (02/14/11) – Airways Brewing Company, Kent’s Brewery, today announced the
expansion of its North Kent production facility and tap room, as well as a new location in the Downtown Kent Historic District.
The brewery’s current location, in the North Kent industrial area, will expand from 1,200 to
2,400 square feet. The larger space will feature a larger tap room and a new 10-barrel
brewing system. The tap room expansion is expected to be open in early April, while the new
brewing system should arrive in early summer.
Airways has also leased space in the Downtown Kent Historic District for the Airways
Brewing Company Beer & Bistro. The location will feature a full food menu, as well as an
extensive tap beer lineup. The new location is expected to open in early June.
“We planned this expansion from the beginning, so it’s exciting to see it become reality,”
said Alex Dittmar, the company’s founder and brewer. “The larger brewing system and
expanded tap room at our current location will help us more efficiently serve our customers
and allow us to introduce some new special beers.”
“We are equally excited to announce our second location in the Downtown Kent Historic
District. Being Kent’s Brewery, we knew we eventually wanted to end up downtown. It took
us about six months to find the right place, and we think people will really enjoy the location,
as well as what we’ll have to offer.”
Founded in spring of 2010, Airways Brewing Company is located in Kent, Washington. The
brewery produces five standard beers, Starliner Stout, First Class IPA, Jet City ESB, Sky Hag
IPA, and T-Tail Blonde, and features casks and special-edition beers in its Kent tap room.
Airways distributes its beer to fine microbrew specialty bars and taverns in the greater
That really is a big announcement! I couldn’t be happier for the Dittmar’s, two amazingly cool and gracious people in the local beer community. I’m sure that they are relieved and excited to finally have their own serious brewhouse in Kent. All you crazed beer junkies probably know that Airways has had production assistance from the very beginning (only last year) from SoDo’s Two Beers Brewing. With the help of those facilities, Alex has been pumping out some seriously tasty and well balanced ales and often, some of the most exciting beers offered at local brew fests. This is going to be a good thing, no doubt.
Come late summer, when all of this is in full swing, It’s going to be really exciting to go on a South End beer tour featuring the likes of Trade Route Brewing, Dog & Pony Ale House and, of course, Airways and Airways Part Deux.
Since Editor Jess is off living in the lap of luxury by means of a massive sea-faring vessel and therefore finds herself unable to pen the much heralded Events column, I figured I’d bring you my version of the events.
Many of our local readers may very well be savvy in the 140 character world of Twitter, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they both follow all of the tweeters that I do and actually keep up with what they are saying on a daily basis. Admittedly, I find it nearly impossible myself, but today I made a point to sift through all the bird calls and pull out a few of the Seattle area events and/or beers on tap that may interest you all.
Let me know if you find this helpful or simply redundant by leaving a comment below. Have a great week and drink good beer!
Latona Pub (@latonapub) in Greenlake has the following on tap (as of 1/31/11):
Port Townsent Nitro Stout
Roslyn Dark Lager
Sierra Nevada Hoptimum
Full Sail LTD 4 Pale
Hale’s Wee Heavy
Firestone Walker Union Jack
New Belgium Vrienden
Silver City Whoop Ass
Super Deli Mart (@superdelimart) in West Seattle (9051 35th Ave SW) has Oskar Blues G’Knight Imperial Red and Flyers Hop Duster IPA on tap as of 1/31/11.
It’s most likely a joke, but Iron Horse Brewing (@ironhorsebeer) of Ellensburg claims to be releasing a beer called Double Rainbow Ale inspired by the impossibly hilarious YouTube video that went viral last year. Check it out here.
The Toronado (@toronado), an absolutely epic beer bar in San Francisco, is having a special event on 2/18/11 for the release of Pliny the Younger. Yes, that is during San Fran’s annual Beer Week, but this, most likely means that we should see kegs in the Seattle market either slightly before that or around the same time. Are you ready?
This Wednesday at the 74th St. Alehouse (via @twobeersbrewing) in Phinny – Two Beers Brewing will be providing a very special cask of Evo IPA. Here are the details from their Facebook page:
Wednesday Night: 74th St. Alehouse Cask of Double Dry-Hopped (Simcoe, Amarillo, Sorachi Ace, Centenniel) Evo. IPA. We also threw in some D’Anjou Pears and Pink Lady Apples to help with the secondary fermentation. Uhhh, you won’t want to miss this one of a kind beer.
That sounds redonculous!
Elliot Bay Brewing (@elliotbay_beer)will be sending out two barrel-aged beers today, one “Sour” to the West Seattle location and a “Bourbon Stout” to Burien. I would highly recommend checking these out if you are able.
The Porterhouse Pub (via @diamondknot) in West Seattle is hosting a Super Bowl party/fundraiser in conjunction with Beer Church that will feature brews from Diamond Knot, Port Townsend and Georgetown. For more details please check out this site. Go to this!
This Friday, 2/4/11, at 5pm, Cooper’s Alehouse (@coopersalehouse) in Maple Leaf will be hosting a 5 year vertical tasting of Sierra Nevada’s Celebration Ale. You can order a tasting tray and try all 5 side by side. If there are any beer aging naysayers out there, get you ass out to this event and see what age can do for yourself. They also have Sierra’s Bigfoot Barleywine on tap (as of Sunday).
As of Sunday night, Naked City (@nakedcitybeer) had Fish Brewing’s 10 Squared Barleywine on tap. If it’s still on, it won’t be for long. They also have Sierra Nevada’s Hoptimum and Snipes Zombie Killer.
Apparently, Grandfather Raven, Black Raven’s Imperial Stout, is still on tap at the brewery’s taproom (as of Sunday, via @seattlebeerclub) .
One of several beer fests in Seattle throughout the year, Belgium Fest is the first in 2011. On January 22, 2011 this festival, run by the Washington Beer Commission will begin. Due to the high demand of this event, the venue has been moved to Magnuson Park (it will be heated, do not worry).
Word on the street is that tickets are already being sold at an alarming rate, so go online NOW and secure your spot. This is a festival that requires some advance commitment. Waiting until the day of might not be the best idea. $30.00 advance and $35.00 at the door, if available. As always, the designated driver ticket is $5.00 and only available at the door- includes free water and soda.
You pick one of two sessions on Saturday, January 22, 2011-
Session 1: 12:00-4:00 p.m.
Session 2: 5:30-9:30 p.m.
The Workshop at Magnuson Park
6310 NE 74th St., Seattle, WA
Now for the important stuff. The beers. For now all I have are the breweries, but hope to have a list of all the beers in the next week or so.
Breweries expected to participate:
Big Al Brewing
Big Time Brewery
Black Raven Brewing
Boundary Bay Brewery
Der Blokken Brewing Co.
Elliott Bay Brewing
Hale’s Ales Brewery
Lazy Boy Brewing
Naked City Brewery
Paradise Creek Brewery
Redhook Ale Brewery
Snipes Mountain Brewery
Snoqualmie Falls Brewing
Silver City Brewery
Two Beers Brewing
Its going to be a doozy!
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.
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.
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.