Posts Tagged ‘Washington Breweries’

A Quick GABF Review: Washington Shows Up, Pizza Port Destroys.

September 20, 2010 2 comments

The results are in. Washington takes 7 medals.

Well, the results are in. GABF 2010 is officially over and the results have been tabulated. Thanks, Pizza Port, for not taking all of the medals.

While Washington put up a reasonable fight, the show was stolen by several Southern California brewers, who swallowed up all of the best brewpub awards this year at the GABF.

Here is what we see.


Washington shows up.


Washington appears to have turned in a respectable finish, earning a total of 7 medals (well, if you count Pyramid). Out of the total 237 Medals, Washington will take 1/34th of the medals. But, in a year where the event seems to have been dominated by San Diego brewers, its an ok finish.

Washington award winners include the following:


Hales Ales – Kolsch Ale  – Gold Medal


Chuckanut Brewing – Vienna Lager – Gold Medal


RAM Tacoma – Total Disorder Porter – Gold Medal


Elysian Brewing – Dark O The Moon – Silver Medal


Pyramid Brewing – Apricot Ale – Silver Medal


Boundary Bay Imperial Oatmeal Stout – Bronze Medal


Chuckanut Brewing – Pilsner – Bronze Medal


San Diego is on fire.


This was the year for So. Cal. San Diego brewers, Port Brewing/Lost Abbey/Pizza Port, Ballast Point, Karl Strauss and Stone Brewing, took home a total of 14 medals. Los Angeles brewpub, TAPS, took home three medals, as well.

Pizza Port Carlsbad is the big winner with a total of 6 medals (almost matching Washington state). The brewpub is one of several brewpub locations for the retail line of Port Brewing/Lost Abbey. The Carlsbad location is headed by brewer Jeff Bagby, who took home the Best Large Brewpub of the Year, for the second straight year.

Pizza Port’s San Clemente pub took home the Small Brewpub of the Year, while also collecting the Gold Medals in the two most hotly-contested categories – American-Style IPA and Imperial IPA. We cannot wait to get a taste of these ales during San Diego Beer Week.

One other note: Fathead’s Brewery took home the Silver Medal in the American-Style IPA category. This is the same IPA that floored us during a recent trip to the Cleveland brewer’s pub. Try to get this if you ever visit.

Check out the complete list of winners by following this link. Start planning your trip for next year’s September event!



52 Weeks: Airways Brewing, Kent, Washington

The flight. Double entendre.

Week 19 of 52

Airways Brewing

6644 S. 196th St, #T-100

Kent, WA 98032

Rank: 3.5/5

Type of Establishment: Brewery Taproom

BEERS ON TAP (at time of visit) —>

T-Tail Blonde Ale

Jet City ESB

First Class IPA

Starliner Stout

BOTTLE OPTIONS: To my knowledge, Airways does not bottle.

FOOD OPTIONS: I was very surprised to see anything other than a bowl of peanuts or hard pretzels, but they do offer landjager and soft pretzels.

BAR OPINION: Roughly 17 miles south of the Beer Blotter home base, in a beautiful (haha) business park in Kent, WA, lies a brewery that we have never before visited.  On this day, we changed that.

South-Enders rejoice, there is a new brewery taproom in Kent, WA! And it doesn’t suck!

You must admit, Kent is a very strange place to be… for any reason.  I would imagine that owners Alex (brewer as well) and Dione (taproom manager as well) Dittmar got a pretty good deal on the brewery/taproom space.  Lucky for the Kent residents I guess (what are there, like 27 of you?).  Well, at the time of my visit, it was packed, so either every single Kent resident was there or there were a few travelers, like myself.  If they got the impression that I did, it was well worth the visit for all in attendance.

Once within the doors of Airways Brewing, the look and feel of the place bares a shocking resemblance to that of Black Raven Brewing’s taproom in Redmond, WA.  The bar area is just slightly off to your left as you enter, with seating in an “L” shape, creating a square area against the left and rear walls for the bartenders to roam and serve.  The merchandise, mostly t-shirts, are hanging on the far left wall.  Then there is a fairly small open area opposite the bar, on your right as you enter, that contains a few tables.  Then there is a bathroom and a backdoor leading to the brewery (or so I assume, I didn’t get a tour).  With the exception of Airways small outdoor seating area, and the lack of a backroom (additional seating), the space is identical to BRB’s.  Must be a fairly generic architectural schematic for the Seattle outskirt’s business parks, but that’s quite alright, the small space works just fine.  In fact, it seems to lend itself to relatively large social gatherings at strange hours of the day.

I say this because my visits to both occurred in the early afternoon on a weekday.  Both times, there was sizable attendance.  Both times there was a great bit of socializing amongst bar-top strangers.  Both times I had a blast and drank good beer with good people.  Nigel at Black Raven and Greg at Airways are both great barkeeps, both with tangible abilities to include everyone at the small bar into one single conversation.  It’s a microcosm of big city bars, in a microcosm of a big city, and it’s just right for me.

In case you have yet to make the connection, Airways Brewing possesses an airways theme.

I had the distinct privileged of meeting and chatting with Dione.  I just missed Alex.  After questioning Dione about the size of their brewing system, I was answered with the stunning words, “1/2 barrel”.  This means that they can brew one keg at a time.  15.5 gallons.  My friends, that is the definition of nanobrewery.  Nan-frickin-o!

My dismayed look prompted an explanation.  Airways has a great deal of their production contract brewed by a local brewery with a 7 barrel system.  Now that makes a lot more sense.  I must say, I was relieved.  I’d love to be able to get more of their beer without having to drive down to Kent.

This brings us to the beer.  Airways’ four standard offerings are clearly English influenced.  They are well constructed and easy to drink.  I ended up ordering a full pint of the IPA after my sampler, but it wasn’t an easy choice.  The blonde was a bit too subtle for me at the time, but each of the others could easily have been chosen.  Everything was reasonably priced as well, which is always appreciated.  Like I said before, they have t-shirts for sale, as well as pint glasses and growlers to go.

One of my favorite parts about Airways Brewing is the imagery that they use.  It’s really simple, but it’s cleaver… and sleek.  It reminds me of the mind-blowing opening credits to the movie Catch Me if You Can.  I had to take a pint glass home with me.

The bar at Airways Brewing.

The bar at Airways Brewing.

Airways was at last weekend’s Washington Brewers Fest.  They had a Triple Chocolate Stout that I was unfortunately unable to acquire.  I did, however, get to meet Alex. These guys are really kind and we are proud to support them as one of the newest breweries on the block.

Take a trip down south of the city and take a gander, drink a beer, and enjoy.

Guest Tales: Washington Cask Festival 2010 Brings Out Best in Local Beer

Schooner Exact's pirate wrapped keg

Today’s post comes to you from guest writer and friend to the Blotter, Dan Frueh. We first met Dan over a pint of Pliny the Younger. This guy knows his beer. We asked him to fill us in on the competition at Washington Cask Festival. Thanks Dan for the great post!

By: Dan Frueh

The Washington Cask Festival brings out the best in Washington beer lovers. Itʼs a room full of people, most of whom are here to dissect, explore, and be challenged by some new concoction that these Northwest breweries have brought to share. More than that however, the beer lovers are there for the intense community that happens only at these festivals, tastings, and club meetings.

Briefly, cask beer is a beer that has been conditioned in a small wooden or metal barrel instead of the huge vats used to brew the normally bottle beers. In essence, cask beer is an experiment. It enables brewers to cook beer using wild ingredients and the 2010 cask festival did not disappoint in that regard. Just as wine takes on the flavor of the container it ages in, so does beer.

Rock Bottom showed up strongly - Hop Bomb certainly is a must try

The primary experimental ingredient at cask festival was oak. Seems harmless. Brew some beer in an oak cask. Easy. Tasty. Brew some beer in a barrel that used to hold some Jack Danielʼs or bourbon. Ok now were experimenting. However those beers were still accessible such as Issaquah Brewingʼs Frosty Frog that had been aged three months in Jack Danielʼs barrels.

Now to step it up to the next level, brewers start using ingredients in the brewing process itself such as orange peel and oak chips, both of which are tasty and understandable. However, brewers often choose to go a little overboard with their ideas but  thankfully allow those of us brave enough to go to cask festival to try them.

These daring brews would include the following:

Silver Cityʼs “fat woody” (scotch ale aged in white oak)

Big Alʼs Sourlicious Sour Beer (bourbon barrel aged red with brettanomyces and lactobacillus bacterias from Belgium)

Ramʼs Groovy toasted coconut porter (infused w/ toasted coconut obviously)

Diamond Knotʼs Apple Cinnamon ESB (apple cider and cinnamon sticks, with apple chunks)

Diamond Knotʼs Scottish (peat-smoked moss, heather tips, and oak chips)

Rock Bottomʼs Hop Bomb IPA (apricot, grapefruit, and peach)

Elliot Bayʼs Tabasco Stout (tabasco barrel aged stout)

So everyone comes and is challenged by new beers and to savor old favorites. Cask festival appeared to raise the nerd level a little more than just a craft beer festival might. Long discussions could be overheard about why chinook hops were a better bittering hop, or why this yearʼs version of the trickster IPA didnʼt compare with past years, or the oft-heard complaint that these wasnʼt enough water to cleanse the palate after each beer.

The champion - Black Raven's Wisdom Seeker

Despite these more esoteric conversations, I had a few conversations with strangers about how great Northwest beer is, how tight the craftbeer community is, how everyone looks out for each other because we all have the same enemy in the Bud/Miller/Coors giant. This was the best part of cask festival – sharing a love of beer with people and then moving beyond just that point of connection into making new friends.

Beer is a social lubrication tool and what better way to do that then to actively set up a venue where everyone can come together to share in that. Thanks Washington Beer Lovers.