Archive for January, 2009

Friday Five: 5 Most Anticipated Beer Day Trips From Seattle

Posted in Uncategorized on January 30, 2009 by thebeerretard

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I’ve lived in Seattle for over three years and I’ve rarely made it outside the city limits to drink beer. Here are the top 5 places I’m jonesing to make a beer day trip to:

1. The Red Hot (Tacoma) – Chris “Trashcan” Miller’s beer and hot dogs joint in Tacoma has been at the top of my list for awhile. I plan on making it the anchor of a day in Tacoma that includes the Parkway, The Swiss and Harmon Brewing. Someday I’ll make this happen even if I have to bribe my lady into renting a car and designated-driving.

2. Chuckanut Brewing (Bellingham) – I’ve tried three of their lagers (Dortmunder, Rauchbier and Vienna) this month in Seattle and they’ve all been solid. Lagers aren’t something you see much of in the Pacific NW and it’s exciting to see someone doing a lot of them and doing them well. I hear they have good food up there too. And I guess I could go to Boundary Bay while I’m in Bellingham.

3. Malt & Vine (Redmond) – A bottleshop with taps. I’ve heard it’s a cool place to have a few beers. Could be part of a beer day in Redmond once Beaux Bowman’s Black Raven opens in March.

4. The Dog & Pony (Renton) – Supposedly one of the best beer bars in the Puget Sound area that isn’t in Seattle. I hear I could do a three beer-stop tour in Renton by adding the Red House and Whistle Stop Alehouse to the list.

5. Snoqualmie Brewing (Snoqualmie) – I’ve had the chance to try most of their beers in Seattle, but I’ve never been to Snoqualmie Falls and I’m a big Twin Peaks fan. Plus they have a brewer’s choice beer on tap, so I could try something new. But yeah, this is as much about going to the place as it as about the beer.

Bottleworks X: Hair of the Dog Matt

Posted in Uncategorized on January 27, 2009 by thebeerretard

Exclusive info here about the beer that Portland’s Hair of the Dog brewed for the 10th anniversary of Seattle’s Bottleworks bottleshop…

Ten years ago this February, Bottleworks opened its doors in Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood. Each year, the store releases a special, roman numeral beer to mark their anniversary. Last year’s Bottleworks IX was Russian River Deviation. This year, they’re releasing two special beers for Bottleworks X. One is a New Belgium sour beer (details on that can be found at beernews.org) and the second is from Portland’s Hair of the Dog.

Like most HotD beers, Bottleworks X is named after a person. No surprise it’s called Matt, in honor of Bottleworks/Brouwer’s Operations Manager Matt Bonney and owner Matt Vandenberghe. To make Matt, HotD Brewer/Owner Alan Sprints took his Adam (a great beer in its own right) and blended a combination that was aged in both apple eau-de-vie and 33 year-old bourbon casks for a year.

Bottleworks will have a tasting of both X beers on February 25th from 5-7 pm. At 8pm, the festivities move to Brouwer’s where they will tap kegs of the Bottleworks X beers and older Bottleworks anniversary beers.

To add to what is already a big day, I hear that three kegs of Hair of the Dog Matt will be tapped at Brouwer’s. One was aged in apple eau-de-vie, one in bourbon and one has a blend of the two. Pretty cool that everyone will get a chance to compare the different elements that went into the bottled version.

Mark your calendars for 2/25 and keep an eye on the Bottleworks blog for more information in the coming weeks.

MLK Weekend in SF

Posted in Uncategorized on January 26, 2009 by thebeerretard

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Now I will go back in time to my MLK weekend in SF. Besides stuffing my face with burritos and falafel, and spending several hours at the Amoeba bargain bin, guess what I was doing there. No, wiseasses, not cruising the Castro for mustachioed men in assless chaps. I was drinking beer. While this trip had no real beer agenda, I did do some “research.” The highlights:

The Monk’s Kettle: My feelings on this place are still mixed. The food is decent and it’s an okay place to drink a few when it’s not crowded. Waiting for friends, I had a Moonlight Reality Czeck and Russian River Aud Blonde, good choices to start a long day of beer drinking. The problem with MK is that it’s almost always packed and some of the beer prices seem out of control (even taking into account how much it costs to run the place). $7.25 for a pint of Pliny the Elder? Or, even crazier, $11.25 for a 16.9 oz. bottle of Blind Pig? You can walk 15 minutes and have a Pliny at Toronado for $4.50 and find bottles of Blind Pig at Whole Foods & City Beer for under $5.

La Trappe: It was a stupid idea to come here for dinner late on Saturday night. It was a madhouse, crawling with the kind of people you’d expect in North Beach after 10 pm on a weekend night. Seriously, the din was so loud that my friends and I couldn’t carry on a conversation. And, during the rush, the food wasn’t up to par. In the end, one big positive outweighed all the negatives: Russian River Sanctification on tap. It was as impressive as I’d heard, one of the tastiest sour beers I’ve had.

City Beer: I spent some time talking with owner Craig Wathen and having a Telegraph Brewing Porter on tap and a bottle of Drake’s IPA. Somehow, it was my first time having the Drake’s. It leans toward the English-style with malt being more prominent than most West Coast IPAs. It was good, but when Firestone Walker Union Jack and Green Flash West Coast IPA were staring at me from the cooler, my first-time meeting with Drake’s was over.

Magnolia: I appreciated Magnolia more on this trip. How can you not love a place with five impressive beer engines (pictured above) pouring fresh, sessionable cask beers (including mild, bitter and stout)? I wish I could’ve spent all day here, but I only had time for a quick visit. As I arrived, they had just tapped a keg of their X – Belgian Abbey Single. While I waited for it to be pour-ready, they gave me a generous sample of the Proving Ground IPA on the house. It was delicious, as was the X, which was light but flavorful for a 4.7% beer.

I also had a bunch of Racer 5, Big Daddy IPA and Anchor Steam at the Kilowatt, Dovre Club and Barclay’s during my trip (my visit to Barclay’s was disappointing because they were tapping four Mt. Shasta beers half an hour after I had to head to the airport). Believe it or not, I didn’t make it to Toronado because it was too packed to brave the crowds. I wisely moved along without torturing myself with a look at the tap list. Don’t worry…I’m headed back for SF Beer Week in two weeks.

5th Annual Strange Brewfest This Weekend

Posted in Uncategorized on January 23, 2009 by thebeerretard

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I’ll be headed to Port Townsend tomorrow for the 5th Annual Strange Brewfest at Water Street. It’s my first time going to the fest and I know enough to expect two things: serious crowds and weird-ass, experimental beers. Check out the write-up on 2008 Strangebrew from Brad of the West Sound Brewers.

Using peppers seems to be a big theme in years past (last year’s brews included a red pepper porter from Flyers and a dark habanero beer from Elk Head), along with other herbs and spices like basil, ginger, ginseng, etc. I expect some of the experiments to be amazing and some to be complete train wrecks. Hopefully, I’ll choose my beers wisely.

The festival runs from 1-9 pm on Saturday and 1-5 pm on Sunday. The $20 entry gets you a souvenir tasting glass and 4 beer tokens. Seems a little steep price-wise, but I believe the tastes run around 6-8 ounces. Additional drink tokens and t-shirts will be available for purchase and they’ll have live music.

I’ll attempt to do a full recap of the event early next week, but you can also check out my drunken twitter updates from 1 pm on tomorrow (estimated time of drunkenness between 3-4 pm).

Gilligan’s Brewing Mini-Tasting This Saturday

Posted in Uncategorized on January 21, 2009 by thebeerretard

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Just heard that Gilligan’s Brewing Company is having a mini-beer tasting event on Saturday from 1-4 pm. Owner/Brewer Seth Gilligan will be pouring three beers:

Imperial Chamomile Ale (7.8% ABV)

Gilligan’s Pale Ale (5.4% ABV)

Belgian White (5.5% ABV)

There will be $1 off growlers during the tasting. Growler prices are $10 (for the Pale Ale and Belgian White) if you bring your own and $14 if you purchase a growler from Gilligan’s. Growlers of the Imperial are $12 if you bring your own and $15 if you buy one there.

Seth says beer quantities are pretty limited, so get there early. Gilligan’s is located in an ActivSpace just off the Burke-Gilman trail behind Hale’s Brewing and Hertz Rental.

First New Belgium/Elysian Collaborative Beers On Tap in Seattle

Posted in Uncategorized on January 21, 2009 by thebeerretard

Wout Bier

Back in July, Seattle’s Elysian Brewing announced a partnership with Colorado’s New Belgium Brewing. The deal allowed Elysian to make bigger batches of their flagship beers for new markets in California and New York while giving New Belgium the chance to brew smaller batches of experimental beers at Elysian’s facilities in Seattle. As we begin 2009, local beer enthusiasts are seeing the first of these experimental beers at Elysian brewpubs.

Last night, I found two new NB/Elysian collaborations on tap at Elysian Capitol Hill and both were described as Belgian-style sour beers. My first thought was “La Folie and Le Terroir…holy crap, these sour beers are gonna be amazing.” I knew I had to try both, but first I couldn’t resist having a pint of the Dry-Hopped Immortal IPA. Man, was that good. I like the Immortal okay, but the dry-hopped version is much better. It had more of a hop kick than the regular version. I say let this become the everyday Immortal.

On to the sour beers. The first one I had was Wout Bier (pictured above), a Belgian sour golden ale. For the beer tech geeks out there, it’s made with 100% pale malt, US Magnum hops, White Labs #507 Belgian yeast and it’s doctored with two kinds of Lactobacillus (Amylovorus and Delbrueckii). Wout is the first NB/Elysian collaboration and it’s named for NB Brewmaster Peter Bouckaert’s son. If you’re a sour beer freak and really love the intense tartness of those beers, this one might be a bit of a letdown. It’s a good beer, light and citrusy with a dry finish…but it doesn’t really deliver on the sour.

The second beer was Idefix, a Belgian sour persimmon ale. This one was made with curry leaves in the boil and pureed persimmon in the fermenter. It was soured with Lactobacillus Amylovorus and fermented with Brettanomyces. When I saw they used Brett, I figured it must be much tarter than the Wout. While it did have more sourness than that one, it still wasn’t what I was expecting. The beer reminded me of a milder, less acidic Flanders Red. As with the Wout, it was a good beer and I enjoyed it, but I was hoping for something in the sour ballpark of La Folie or Le Terroir.

My own (maybe unrealistic) expectations aside, Seattle beer lovers should get to Elysian and try these beers. I’d especially recommend them to people who don’t have much experience with sour beers and are interested but skeptical. These could be gateway sours that might be the first step toward someday appreciating the most hardcore gueuzes. It was cool to finally see the first collaborations between New Belgium and Elysian and I look forward to tasting what comes next.

Seattle Beer Week Coming in May

Posted in Uncategorized on January 14, 2009 by thebeerretard

Oregon’s craft beer scene is so massive, they’ve dedicated the entire month of July to it. On the city level, a big new trend is Beer Week. A week-long celebration of a city’s beer scene, Beer Week is a showcase of an area’s breweries, bars and beer community. Philadelphia had their  inaugural celebration in 2008. This year, San Francisco is putting the finishing touches on its first  SF Beer Week, taking place in February around the already-famous Bistro Double IPA Fest and Toronado Barleywine Fest.

Not to be outdone by Philly and SF, Seattle has a Beer Week of our own scheduled for May 7 -17. While no Seattle events have been set in stone, there has been one big announcement.  Pike Brewing will be creating a special, inaugural beer to commemorate the week. The beer, brewed by Pike head brewer Drew Cluley, will be a Double IPA (which will, naturally, be made entirely with Washington-grown hops).

The organizers of Seattle Beer Week are working diligently on adding exciting events to the schedule, so keep an eye on the website for breaking news. Also, check back here often. I plan to step up my blogging efforts and bring you the scoop as soon as I hear anything.

Friday Five: My Year in Beer – 2008

Posted in Uncategorized on January 2, 2009 by thebeerretard

Happy New Year. As usual, I’m late with all the stuff I wanted to get up about 2008. To get things started here are five highlights of my year in beer:

1. Virgin homebrewing experience – Gotta admit it was a big deal to brew my own beer. I may’ve been overly critical of the results, but it was a great experience and the beer was good enough to drink. Everyone I gave a bottle to was surprised that it was as drinkable as it was for a first effort (maybe they were just blowing smoke). All the credit goes to Matt and Brad of the West Sound Brewers, who guided me through every step from steeping grains to bottling. Hopefully, I can brew another batch with their help before I take the training wheels off and try to do my own thing.

2. Writing – Had the chance to write for both Seattle Metblogs and Examiner.com in 2008. Neither turned out the way I hoped (partly my own fault), but I’m glad I had the opportunities and gained some experience blogging for other sites. I’m also feeling good about helping start the Bottleworks blog. The guys at the store (Trevor and Shaughn) have taken the idea and run with it, but I will still contribute from time to time.

3. Beer Douche of the Week – These comics were, by far, the most popular thing I’ve done since I started this blog. A few people have taken issue with the idea, but the overwhelming majority enjoy the hell out of them. Too bad I can’t draw…I might be able to really do something with it…

4. Beer Trips & Festivals – It wasn’t a big year for beer trips, but I did what I could with the time off and money I had. In February, I went to the Toronado Barleywine Fest in SF for the first time and was able to try Russian River’s Pliny the Younger during my time there. In April, I headed to the East Coast for a week and explored DC, Baltimore and Philadelphia. In July, I took the train to Portland for my second OBF. I also returned to SF and Portland later in the year for beer weekends. On the home front, I went to as many festivals as I could, including all the ones at Brouwer’s (Hopfest, Hard Liver, Sourfest, Big Wood) and most of the big ones like the Washington Beer Commission’s Cask Fest and Washington Brewers Festival and the SIB.

5. Russian River beers come to Seattle – Maybe it’ll make me sound like a drooling fanboy, but Russian River’s stuff becoming available here was one of the most exciting things that happened in Seattle this year. Being able to have Blind Pig, Pliny the Elder and Damnation on a semi-regular basis is pretty great (not to mention being able to try Temptation at the Big Wood Fest and being the only place where Deviation was available). Still waiting to see Blind Pig in bottles…maybe this year?

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