Sunday, December 31, 2017

Best of 2017

I don't have a "Best Of" list. (I'll put that on the To Do List for 2018.) If I did, it would have to include Morning Brew from O.H.S.O. Brewery. Being the last day of the year, and since everyone else is doing it, I thought I'd mention a few beers I found memorable from 2017. Morning Brew was the first to come to mind. I tried this at their location in Terminal 2 of Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. A coffee-infused beer but pale in color, Morning Brew starts with light malt and finishes with the flavor of a light-roasted coffee.

I love the roasted flavors of a dark coffee beer but Morning Brew was unique. The coffee flavor was undeniable but the light, blonde color was unexpected. The relatively low alcohol content (4.5%) made made Morning Brew a perfect breakfast beer.

My favorite brew in Hawaii was Hana Hou Hefe from Waikiki Brewing Company. Equal parts malted barley and malted wheat with noble and tettnang hops, orange peel and strawberry purée added a soft and refreshing sweetness. At 6.55% ABV, it might be a little dangerous as an all day sipper but it was definitely worth a second pint or a growler fill at the very least.

From here? It's tough to single out a favorite but The People's Pilsner from Brothers Cascadia Brewing opened my eyes to pilsner. I always thought of pilsners as generally weak, uninteresting beers until I met The People's Pilsner. The combination of floor-malted barley and noble hops created a smooth, interesting, and flavorful beer. At 5.5% ABV, it was easily drinkable but not watery. It opened my eyes to pilsner and gave me the confidence to explore more in the pilsner lane.

My favorite collaborative beer was, in fact, a pilsner -  the r&R Pils a collaboration between Reuben's Brews and Rainier Beer. Pilsner and rye malts were combined with four different hops to create a hoppy variation on the pilsner theme. Light yet flavorful, and refreshing.

Maybe I do have a "Best Of" list after all. These were some of the beers that were memorable for me in 2017. I can't wait to discover my favorite beers of 2018.

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 29, 2017

What are my credentials for writing a beer blog?

If credentials can be measured in beer, then I have a few. I've visited a total of 141 breweries in Washington. 15 of those breweries are right here in Vancouver. Those, plus another 13 breweries make up the "North Bank" breweries, so named for being located on the north side of, and relatively close to, the Columbia River. North Bank Breweries stretch along the Columbia River from Seaview to White Salmon. (Although Goldendale is not included at this time, I would make the argument that Dwinell Country Ales should be as they are almost as near to Vancouver as Seaview.) My local breweries (including North Bank breweries) make up almost 20% of the Washington breweries I've visited, and half of those are within biking distance of my house.

I have excellent access to Craft Beer.

The other 113 breweries are generally located near Interstate 5 between Vancouver (here) and the other Vancouver (up there).

My focus has always been on local beer and, when not in my own back yard, Washington beer. But I've also visited breweries in Arizona, California, Hawaii, Ohio, and Oregon. There are plenty of beer sites and blogs. Some focus on beers from the Pacific Northwest and others focus on Washington beer. I want to focus on the beer right here.

That doesn't mean I don't like to travel and try new things. I'm on the road nearly every weekend. But, as Dorothy said, "There's no place like home." It's where the heart is.

This is about the beer right here. And here is where I am.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Happy New Beer!

[Originally published January 2, 2017, on Chocolate Chip Mint]

2016 was the year of beer for me. It all started with a taster flight at Feral Public House in Vancouver, Washington, and my world was forever changed.

I soon discovered the Brewcouver Passport which led me to nine more breweries located in Vancouver alone. I moved on to the Pour of Discovery Passport which introduced me to the North Bank breweries, so named for being located on the north shore of the Columbia River - 13 more breweries to try.

And, then, I became a member of Washington Beer Lovers (WABL) which encompasses all the aforementioned breweries plus 325 more! Just since Labor Day weekend, when I received my passport in the mail, I have visited 45 breweries:

North Jetty BrewingIslands & Peninsulas9/9/16Seaview
Aslan Brewing CoNorth Sound9/28/16Bellingham
Boundary Bay Brewery and BistroNorth Sound9/29/16Bellingham
Chuckanut Brewery & KitchenNorth Sound9/29/16Bellingham
Kulshan Brewing Co.North Sound9/28/16Bellingham
Wander BrewingNorth Sound9/28/16Bellingham
20 Corners BrewerySeattle & King Co.12/24/16Woodinville
Bellevue Brewing CoSeattle & King Co.11/11/16Seattle
Geaux BrewingSeattle & King Co.11/11/16Seattle
Machine House BrewerySeattle & King Co.10/2/16Seattle
Pike BrewingSeattle & King Co.10/1/16Seattle
Resonate BrewerySeattle & King Co.11/10/16Seattle
54-40 BrewingSouth & Central9/4/16Washougal
Amnesia BrewingSouth & Central9/4/16Washougal
Ashtown Brewing CompanySouth & Central10/2/16Longview
Backwoods BrewingSouth & Central9/17/16Carson
Barrel Mountain BrewingSouth & Central10/17/16Battleground
Dick's Northwest Sausage & DeliSouth & Central11/23/16Vancouver
Doomsday Brewing CoSouth & Central9/17/16Washougal
Everybody's BrewingSouth & Central9/17/16White Salmon
Five Dons BrewingSouth & Central10/16/16Longview
Fortside Brewing CompanySouth & Central10/7/16Vancouver
Ghost Runner BrewerySouth & Central9/14/16Vancouver
Heathen BrewingSouth & Central11/5/16Vancouver
Heathen Brewing - Feral Public HouseSouth & Central11/29/16Vancouver
Loowit BrewingSouth & Central10/16/16Vancouver
McMenamins - Columbia RiverSouth & Central11/19/16Vancouver
McMenamins - East VancouverSouth & Central12/28/16Vancouver
Mill City Brew WerksSouth & Central12/30/16Camas
Northwood Public HouseSouth & Central12/28/16Vancouver
Old Ivy Brewery and TaproomSouth & Central11/26/16Vancouver
Parkers Steakhouse & BrewerySouth & Central11/26/16Castle Rock
Railside BrewingSouth & Central11/5/16Vancouver
Trap Door BrewingSouth & Central11/5/16Vancouver
Trusty Brewing Co.South & Central12/20/16Vancouver
Victor 23 BrewingSouth & Central11/29/16Vancouver
Walking Man BrewingSouth & Central12/3/16Stevenson
7 Seas Brewery and TaproomSouth Sound11/26/16Tacoma
Engine House No. 9South Sound10/2/16Tacoma
Fish Tale Brew PubSouth Sound10/16/16Olympia
Harmon Brewery & EaterySouth Sound9/3/16Olympia
McMenamins - Olympic ClubSouth Sound12/26/16Centralia
McMenamins Spar CafeSouth Sound9/4/16Olympia
Narrows Brewing Co.South Sound12/26/16Tacoma
Northwest Brewing CompanySouth Sound10/16/16Pacific

All of those listed are also in the Brewcouver or Pour of Discovery Passports (or both). However, I need to mention River Mile 38 Brewing Company in Cathlamet WA as a brewery that I visited with the Pour of Discovery Passport but haven't been back to visit since getting my WABL Passport.  (It's worth the drive so I will definitely be back.)

This doesn't cover the beer I've tasted at the quarterly beer festivals in Vancouver WA and others such as the one hosted by Shorty's Garden & Home. I also have a Brewery app on my phone that covers all of the United States which is a handy place to keep notes about the places I've visited and the beers I've tasted. Outside the state of Washington, I've visited:
Kohola Brewery - Lahaina, HI
La Quinta Brewing Co. - La Quinta, CA
Maui Brewing Co. - Lahaina, HI
Old Town Brewing - Portland, OR
Tamarack Brewing Co. - Missoula, MT
Thunder Island - Cascade Locks, OR
I must say, that's a ridiculous amount of beer! We can just say goodbye to skinny jeans in 2017!

We'll be kicking off the New Year with more new beer at the Holiday Hangover Brew Fest on January 14 in Hood River, OR.

So much beer, so little time. But, here's to new discoveries! May your 2017 be filled with new adventures and new friends. Maybe, over a pint of beer.

Beer Hunting

[Originally published December 7, 2016, on Chocolate Chip Mint]

I've discovered beer. And, pounds have discovered my waistline. I realize I don't have much to complain about. People roll their eyes when I do. (Thin, they call me.) Still, I don't like it. (The bathroom scale is back to its usual antics.)

I make excuses. Like menopause. That would do it, too, wouldn't it?

Or, I could blame my brother but he only led me to it - beer - but he didn't make me drink so much of it! We went to a taphouse - Feral Public House - about 18 months ago and had a tasting flight. We had a very informative server who picked our beers for us and introduced us to a whole range of flavors that I had no idea existed in the realm of beer. Bud Light, Coors, Pabst - those were the beers that I was familiar with and avoided. If I drank beer, it was a bottled India Pale Ale that left a syrupy residue on my tongue that I found unpleasant. I tended to avoid beer if I had the choice.

But these beers - the ones we tasted - were different. Eclectic, ranging in styles and flavors that were unfamiliar to me.

Onto the bandwagon I jumped.

It just so happens, I live near the beer capital of the world and in a town where craft beer is growing at a rapid pace. There are 11 breweries or tap houses within biking distance from where I live and countless more venues that have local craft beers on tap.

That one flight led to various brew fests, the Brewcouver passport, and the Pour of Discovery passport. Passports are passport-like booklets that get stamped every time you visit one of the breweries named within. I completed both and got, as reward, a t-shirt, pint glasses, a growler, and tokens redeemable for more beer at the next fest.

I also signed up for membership in WABL (Washing Beer Lovers). That cost $30 but my membership can be renewed for free if only I collect 50 more stamps. I started Labor Day weekend and already have 38. I should be able to 50 by the end of the year or shortly thereafter. Easy peasy.

I also have a brewery passport app on my phone which covers the United States and Canada. In the seven months since I've had that one, I've already collected 59 unique stamps.

Okay, maybe I've gone overboard but I have to say, not only is the beer good, beer people are friendly. (I would say they're friendlier than wine people but I don't want to offend my wine-o friends who have been very welcoming and generous.) Also, I find that beer is easier - than wine - to taste. By that, I mean the different ingredients, nuances, things that make one beer different than another. Wines can be so esoteric and pretentious.

And, so, I went beer hunting last weekend, all in the pursuit of more stamps. In fact, everywhere I go, I'm in search of more #WABeer.

Maybe I'll become a beer blogger and attend the annual Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference. Or, roam the country in an RV in search of great beer. (We wouldn't be the first to do it.)

Or, maybe I'll get distracted by something else. Who knows? In the meantime, I'm having fun and that's what it's all about.

Join me in a pint, won't you?