Archive for February, 2009

What I Learned From SF Beer Week

Posted in Uncategorized on February 19, 2009 by thebeerretard

I’ve come to realize that I’m not great at documenting my beer travels. I want to experience everything, rather than constantly take pictures and jot down notes, which really kills the mood. Also, I don’t have the discipline to sit in my hotel with my morning hangover and blog about the previous day’s adventures. I have respect for writers who go out and really enjoy themselves, and then turn around a blog post early the next day. I wish I could do that.

My experience at SF Beer Week was mostly great. I drank some amazing beer, attended my first beer dinner, met some cool people and got to spend time with friends. The Firestone Walker/Homebrew Chef dinner and the Russian River beers with the Brouwer’s/Bottleworks crew at Toronado was a definite high point. I also braved the Toronado Barleywine Fest and made time for The Celebrator Best of the West Fest, an open house at Speakeasy and Strong Beer Month at Magnolia/ 21st Amendment. And that was just the Beer Week stuff. There were also trips to Tommy’s Tequila, the Hyde-Out and Golden Boy Pizza. Nothing personal Seattle, but I miss living in SF.

The downside were the beer douches. Everyone knows how I hate them, and the events were full of them. These were the “industry people,” mostly us media folk, who split 50/50 between the friendly and the standoffish and pompous. While these assholes didn’t completely kill my desire to continue blogging, it did make me question why I write about beer and what I hope to accomplish. I want to take writing more seriously, but I fear it might lead to a place where I don’t want to be.

SF Beer Week: Firestone Walker/Homebrew Chef Dinner

Posted in Uncategorized on February 13, 2009 by thebeerretard


Last night, I started off my SF Beer Week experience with a beer dinner at the Peacock Lounge across from the Toronado. Firestone Walker provided the beer, Homebrew Chef Sean Paxton created the menu and prepared the food and the Toronado locked down the venue and made sure things ran smoothly.

It was my first beer dinner. Each food course and beer were introduced by Chef Paxton and Firestone brewer Matt Brynildson. If I wasn’t operating on limited sleep and a fuzzy head from all the Russian River beers we enjoyed after the dinner, I’d go into greater detail about the evening. All I can say is the beer was good and the food was amazing.

Time to nap for a few hours and see if I can rally for another day…

Pike Old Bawdy Vertical Tasting

Posted in Uncategorized on February 10, 2009 by thebeerretard


On Sunday afternoon, I headed down to Pike Brewing for their Old Bawdy Barley Wine vertical tasting. It was a pretty cool event featuring a taster tray of six vintages of the beer:, ’94, ’96, ’97, ’06, ’07 and ’08. Fal Allen (a former Pike brewer now at Archipelago Brewery in Singapore) made the three batches from the ‘90s, while the current Pike Head Brewer Drew Cluley brewed the three most recent versions.

Both Allen and Cluley were on hand, and each gave a speech about his creations. Allen spoke about the collaborative effort of all the Pike brewers that went into the making of his beers, while Cluley talked about reviving the barleywine style at Pike after an almost ten-year absence, and about his approach to brewing the style. Owner Charles Finkel also spoke, mentioning the former Pike brewers in attendance, a who’s who of the local beer scene: Dick Cantwell (Elysian), Bill Jenkins (Big Time), Janelle Pritchard (Snoqualmie) and Kevin Forhan (RAM-Northgate).


I went through my tasting tray pretty slowly, while the guy sitting next to me pounded each four-ounce sample down, then sat for a minute or two and threw down the next, as if he were having a drinking contest all by himself. Either he was racing the clock or trying to get shitfaced as quickly as possible.

My two favorite vintages were the ’96 and ’06, as many people agreed (although the ’97 had a lot of fans too). Fal Allen’s Bawdy from the ’90s was more of an English style barleywine, meaning it tilted toward sweeter and more malty flavors. The ’96 stood out because of how complex it was–sweet, smoky (from peated malt), and maybe a little hoppy and boozy. There was a lot going on there flavor-wise.

Cluley’s barleywines leaned more toward the American version of the style, with hops having a much bigger presence. The ’06 was the hoppiest of the bunch, and my friend Nat compared it to Avery’s Hog Heaven. No wonder I liked the ’06 so much. I’m not a barleywine fanatic, but Hog Heaven’s intense hoppiness makes it one of the few I do return to occasionally.

Overall, it was a fun event and was a good warm-up for my trip to SF Beer Week, where I’ll be taking on the craziness of Toronado’s Barleywine Fest.

Friday Five: Top 5 Most Anticipated Seattle Beer Week Events (so far)

Posted in Uncategorized on February 6, 2009 by thebeerretard


With Seattle Beer Week three months away, the Beer Gang of Four planning committee is working feverishly to add new events to the calendar. There’s still a lot to be done and, as Geoff at Seattle Beer news pointed out, there’s a need for breweries, bars, restaurants, etc. to hop on board and contribute in some way. There’s a lot to live up to with both SF and Philly Beer Weeks looking impressive, but I’m confident that Seattle’s week will be a memorable one.

Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself, but for today’s Friday Five I’m listing my Top 5 Most Anticipated Seattle Beer Week Events (so far):

1. Sour Beer Festival (Thurs 05/14 at Brouwer’s) – Over 30 sour beers on tap, with most being one-off creations or rare beers. If that wasn’t enough, Adam Avery (Avery Brewing) and Vinnie Cilurzo (Russian River) are scheduled to attend.

2. Elysian Beer Fest (Sat. 5/09 at Elysian Fields) – Elysian is one of Seattle’s strongest breweries and they plan on having around 40 of their beers on tap for this. I’m guessing several will be ones we haven’t seen before.

3. Stout Night (Fri. 05/08 at Brouwer’s) – No firm details on this one yet, but you can bet Brouwer’s will have interesting stuff that you don’t normally get a chance to try.

4. SBW Kickoff Party (Thurs. 05/07 at Pike) – This event kicks things off, with Pike brewer Drew Cluley making a Double IPA as Seattle Beer Week’s Inaugural Beer.

5. Squirreled Away at The Dray (05/10-05/16) – All week long, Jamie and Travis at The Dray will bring out special cellared kegs. Not sure what they might be, but I’m betting a couple will be ones you won’t want to miss.

This Week in Seattle Beer (2/02-2/08)

Posted in Uncategorized on February 2, 2009 by thebeerretard


We should probably just called it Tomme Arthur Week in Seattle. I already wrote about Tuesday’s events at Bottleworks and Brouwer’s on the Bottleworks blog. In addition, both Naked City and Collins Pub are hosting Tomme events. Naked City is having a brewer’s night tonight from 6-8 pm. Tomme will be on hand as Naked City taps kegs of Devotion, Red Barn and Serpent’s Stout. On Wednesday night, Collins is hosting a beer dinner featuring several courses paired with Port and Lost Abbey beers for $70 plus tax and tip. I talked to owner Seth Howard on Friday and he said there were still 10-12 spots left. If you’re interested, call Collins (206-623-1016) and see if there are any spots left.

Also happening this week:

Tuesday 2/03: Idaho’s Laughing Dog will be featured at Beveridge Place. Someone from the brewery will be there and their new Alpha Dog Imperial IPA and RyePA will be poured.

Thursday 2/05: Hale’s is honored with a brewer’s night at Beveridge Place. Mongoose IPA, Troll Porter, Kölsch and others will be available.

Sunday 2/08: Pike is hosting a vertical tasting of its Old Bawdy Barleywine. The tasting is $18 ($15 for WABL members) and includes pours of the ’94, ’96, ’97, ’06, ’07 and ’08 versions. Space is limited, so RSVP to to save a spot.

In Support Of The Session Beer Project

Posted in Uncategorized on February 2, 2009 by thebeerretard

I’m excited about Lew Bryson’s new blog, The Session Beer Project. He’s decided to champion the brewing and enjoyment of flavorful beers under 4.5% ABV and I’m with him all the way. There have been many, many times when I’ve been out drinking all day and the big beers have started taking a toll on me.

Sure, sometimes you’re just having one or two beers after work and you can choose an 8% double IPA and a 10% Belgian tripel. With a meal and plenty of water, that’s no big deal. But if you’re planning a four stop pub crawl or tasting at least 8-10 beers at a festival, it’d be nice to be able to have several beers, enjoy the taste of every one and not get hammered– and hungover the next day.

For almost a year, I’ve been saying how much I’d like to see a Seattle session beer festival. All the festivals here are packed with double this, imperial that, with everything at 7% ABV or higher. There are always a few solid, lower alcohol options, but those are in the minority. How cool would it be to go to a beer fest and have 20 samples (hopefully most of which were flavorful and interesting), and come away with nothing more than a slight buzz? Okay, some people might not think it’s a good thing, but it sounds great to someone who likes to try as many beers as possible.

Seattle breweries don’t make many true, year-round session beers. Maritime Pacific’s Old Seattle Lager is 4.3%. Pike’s Weisse, Hale’s El Hefe Weizen and Big Time’s Coal Creek Porter are all right at 4.5%. There are several beers between 4.5-5.0%, such as Elysian’s Fields Pale Ale and Zephyrus Pilsner, Hale’s Red Menace and Cream Ale, Georgetown’s Roger’s Pilsner and Pike’s Naughty Nellie. Of the beers at or under 4.5%, the Coal Creek Porter is the only one I drink with any regularity.

So I’m carrying the flag for Bryson’s cause here in the Pacific Northwest. Maybe we can get local brewers to consider making styles we don’t normally see in these parts: milds, bitters, a variety of lagers, etc. Who knows? If this movement gains momentum, maybe Seattle Session Fest will become a reality.

Beer Douche of the Week (#10)

Posted in Uncategorized on February 1, 2009 by thebeerretard


After a lengthy hiatus, Beer Douche of the Week is back. Thanks to Francesca Penchant of Reel Knitting for creating the image. She sure as hell knows what a beer douche looks like. Some people say she lives with one.


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