Wednesday, December 26, 2018

A Minnesotan walks into a bar . . .

. . . and orders a pint of Firestone 805. He had taken the barstool next to me and introduced himself as Jack. His beer arrived but the bartender moved onto the next thirsty customer before Jack could ask for a nearby salt shaker. I noticed his unanswered request and offered to pass it to him, although I wondered what he could have wanted with it since he hadn't ordered any food.

805 is a golden ale also known as a blonde ale which according to the Denver Post is one of the fastest-growing craft beer segments and ". . . is decidedly less hoppy and in-your-face – two characteristics that describe why a majority of Americans prefer big corporate lagers to strong, bitter IPAs." (For the first time, the 3 best-selling beers in America are light beers. Can craft brewers catch up?)

Jack shook salt into his freshly poured beer, causing it to foam up slightly. Noting he ordered a lighter beer, I asked him if that was the reason for adding salt. He just shrugged and said, "It's a Minnesota thing." He further explained that to really do it right, one would toss in a couple olives as well.

Confounded, I asked a friend on Christmas day if she had every heard of adding salt to beer. She was from Buffalo and drinking Lablatt Blue, a pilsner, also a lighter style beer. She said, "Oh, yeah. Canadians do it all the time," although she didn't care for the practice herself.

Brewers will sometimes use salt in the brewing process, most often in a Gose. Sometimes, salt is used to treat the water, as in a Bitter. It might be added to a Stout to enhance mouthfeel. But, I could find no explanation for adding salt to the finished product. The internet offered few answers. Many sites offered that this became a habit of octogenarian beer drinkers since beer quality suffered during WWII due to scarcity of quality ingredients. (Jack was an older fellow but not that old.)

Another site offered this was the habit of farmers who toiled in the hot sun and found that adding salt helped quench their thirst. (I was unaware if Jack was a farmer.) Another site suggested adding salt removed beer's bitterness. (As far as I know, 805 is not bitter.)

I could find nothing about adding salt and olives to beer although I did find a website identifying a Beertini as the addition of olives to beer and called it a midwestern staple: "a simple combination of crappy beer and green olives." (PUNCH | How the Beertini Became a Midwestern Staple)

I like olives in my vodka but not in my beer! I like my beer unadorned, thank you, much like coffee and potato chips. I don't need to disguise their original flavors. But, will it improve a "crappy" beer? If salt is a flavor enhancer, then what flavor, exactly, is getting enhanced?

I think I'll steer clear of Minnesota.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Hot off the Panini Press:

Ghost Runners Brewery now has food, deemed "Really good."

Ghost Runners is my favorite brewery in Vancouver. I go there because the beers are good, the staff is friendly, and the owners, Jeff and Amy, treat everyone like family. GRB has a loyal following which makes the taproom feel welcoming. 

This brewery isn't easy to find. It's located in an industrial park off N.E. Minnehaha St., tucked in the back. It's worth the effort, though. They have ping pong, darts, and cornhole (in the summer), trivia on Thursdays*, and double-punch Tuesdays**. And, now, they have food.

Each beer has a running-based name to celebrate the fun, joy, and excitement of running - their words, not mine. "Fun, joy, and excitement" describe Christmas, not running. But, hey, I'm not a runner. I will point out this, however: the more you run, the more beer you can drink and that's something anyone can celebrate.

Until now, Ghost Runners has offered small snacks for sale (packaged chips) and over the last year, they sporadically attracted a number of food trucks. Food delivery was always welcome. Finally, they've opened their own kitchen which makes going to Ghost Runners even better because now there's good, consistent food to go along with their award winning beers. It makes the brewery more of a destination and provides one more reason to linger longer.

My on-the-spot reviewer, a retired chef, sampled the Pesto Turkey Bacon Panini with avocado and warm tomatoes. My mouth is watering just thinking about it! His verdict? "Really good." From a man who knows food, that's good enough for me. I can't wait to get over there and sample the menu myself.

I suggest you do the same. If you've never been to Ghost Runners, you don't know what you've been missing. Now, you have even more really good reasons to seek them out.

*The prize for the winning team is a $10 gift certificate per participant, up to $40.

**GRB has a beer loyalty program. Much like coffee establishments, they offer a punch card: Buy 10 pints, get the 11th free. Tuesdays, each pint earns two punches on your card.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Shoulda aimed higher.

"Studies show . . . " just about anything depending on who's sponsoring the study. Generally, the conclusion is that almost anything in moderation is good for you. Even Twinkies.

No doubt you've read somewhere that a daily alcoholic beverage is good for you. This young man has taken that to heart:
101-year-old WWII veteran credits Coors Light for long life; the company responds with free beer 
" Andrew E. Slavonic whose birthday was last week has been drinking a Coors Light every day at 4 p.m. for the past 15 years, his son, Bob, told Fox News last week."
Upon the news, Coors threw him a party and stocked Mr. Slavonic's fridge with beer. I think he should have aimed higher. He should have attributed his long life to Château Lafite or Moët & Chandon. Not that I dislike Coors but a (wine) fridge full of Rothschild or champagne would have been fine by me.

Happy birthday, Mr. Slavonic. And, cheers!

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Skip and Go Naked

A reader submitted a recipe for this drink:
Skip and Go Naked
1 1/2 oz. gin
1 1/2 oz. sweet and sour mix
3 oz. beer
Combine ingredients over ice in a double old-fashioned or tall 8 oz. beer glass.
With it, he asked what kind of beer should be used. Please, if you have ideas, let them be known.

He further suggested this food pairing and requested an invitation to dinner:

Does this change your earlier answer?
He may be waiting for some time.

I researched the interwebs to find other references to this drink and found this one that combined beer and gin although it used lemon juice and grenadine instead of the sweet and sour mix.  Wikipedia includes a reference to this drink under their entry for Porchcrawler. Here, the sweetening agent is Sprite. bon appétit has a recipe for Vitamin C Brew using orange juice.

However, when browsing the internet for Skip and Go Naked (and not without some trepidation), I mostly found recipes combining beer with vodka. Some used lemonade while others used pink lemonade or pink lemonade concentrate. (The beer, vodka, pink lemonade concentrate combination often being referred to as the Panty Dropper or Pink Panty Dropper.)

What beer to use? I say stick to your favorite and forget the mixers. Beer, like coffee or potato chips, should not be monkeyed with. They're fine just as they are. They don't need mixers, creamers, or flavors.

But, I could be wrong. Let me know if you've tried this drink or some variant of it. 

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Best of ...

There will be no shortage of "best of" lists in the last days of 2018. This is VinePair's: 50 Best Beers of 2018. To be considered,
" All beers had to be available in the U.S. in a can or bottle retail. (Sorry, crowlers! Maybe next year.) The top 50 list focuses on beers that are accessible; though a few may be hard to find, it is possible to procure them even if you’re not in that city or state. Although many beers are new in 2018, this is not a requirement. No beers from last year’s top 50 list were considered, and entries were limited to one beer per brewery. Beers were tasted more than once, particularly those among the top 10. "
Brews that made it onto this list came from all over the the world but predominantly from US breweries. Beers near here included:

Per the requirements of this ranking, all beers on this list should be available somewhere. Try your local bottle shop, Total Wine & More, or even Costco. Then, invite some friends over and enjoy!

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Fruit and Stout Cake

Don't count out all fruitcakes. (I'm talking about the edible kind.) Homemade fruitcakes are good and more varied that what you might come across at the grocery store.

This one is made with golden raisins, prunes, currants, and stout. It's a dark, dense cake that combines the sweetness of dried fruit with the smokey, roasty, chocolatey essence of stout. Bonus: it's a fruitcake you'll actually want to eat. Because it's literally fermented, you don't have time to make one before Christmas but if you hop to it now, you can slice off a piece on New Year's Day.

Go get some of your favorite stout - some for you, some for the cake. Get plenty; the cake takes several hours to make and weeks to ferment. In the end, if you don't like the cake, you will have had a good time and made a good door stop for somebody.

Monday, December 3, 2018

News to Me

"Your Favorite Shitty Beer Just Got a New Lease on Life" by Sarah Rense on
Pabst, which shut down its Milwaukee brewery in 1996, enjoyed a quick resurgence. Despite closing up shop, it had become terribly popular among the good hipsters of the Pacific Northwest, and that made it attractive to beer giant MillerCoors. [Emphasis, mine.]

Did you know, Pabst is the fifth most popular beer in America? I sure didn't.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Try This Week: Northbank Farmhouse Pale Ale

As part of North Bank Beer Week, brewers from southwest Washington collaborated on this beer. I had my first at Ghost Runners Brewery but you can find it in multiple locations.

While I loved it, it's not for everyone. (My IPA-drinking friend didn't like it at all.) I'm new to farmhouse ales myself but am enjoying getting to know the style. If you're curious about it, too, this is a good place to start.

It's described on UnTappd as ". . . fermented on red wine barrel staves from Maryhill Winery. It's also dry hopped. You'll find it light and effervescent with notes of oak, grapes, tropical fruit and clove."

BrewDad described it as ". . . a crisp and fruity Farmhouse Pale Ale. This recipe used 100% Skagit Maltto keep to our Washington roots."

While both mention 6.8% ABV, one puts it at 43 IBU and the other puts it at 25. Whichever, it has a slight tartness balanced by fruit and spice while the oak gives it a pleasant smoothness.

Roughly 30 southwest Washington brewers came up with this brew and I think it's pretty darned good. Well done!

Monday, September 10, 2018


As part of North Bank Beer Week (which celebrates breweries of southwest Washington), Trap Door Brewing hosted the Third Annual Brewers Invitational Cornhole Tournament, organized and moderated by Michael Perozzo of Zzoom Media. At stake was a guest tap at Trap Door for a year and the title of "cornholiest."

And, we're off!
With the precision of a well-organized event, and without preamble, breweries began tossing bags promptly at 1 pm. The matchup for Round 1 was as follows:

Ashtown Brewing (defending champion) vs. Shoug Brewing

Backwoods strategy session
Hubby was drafted as a team member for Ghost Runners but released before play began. Jordan, of Backwoods Brewing, seized the opportunity to draft Hubby as a free agent. This proved to be a good trade for Backwoods as they knocked out Ghost Runners in the second round. (Better luck next time, Jeff!)

Besides the prevalence of cornhole play at many of southwest Washington breweries, it was discovered that the most common name in the brewing community is Mike. If you don't know the name of someone involved in the brewing community, just go with Mike and you will have a 50/50 chance of being correct. 

The players were uniformly fashioned in logo gear, truckers hats, and facial hair. (Did I mention this was a brewers tournament?) The exception was the Loowit team who was sponsored by Nike in neon green performance gear, not that it did any good. While they were highly visible, they were knocked out in the second round by Northwest Passage, a relative newcomer to the Vancouver brewing scene.

Ashtown Brewing, defending champ, had an unfair advantage in their secret weapon, Robby, a professional cornhole player sanctioned by the American Cornhole League who brought his own bags in a hard sided carrying case. However, tournament bags were provided and byo equipment was prohibited. Everyone was aware that Ashtown was the team to beat.

Media attention with Michael Perozzo
of ZzoomMedia and Bryan Shull
of Trap Door
Play was competitive in the first round as players enjoyed what was on tap. Although a rule was instituted mid-tournament to require all players hold a beer in their non throwing hand during play, competition was not diminished in subsequent rounds although it became more convivial.

Media coverage did not include ESPN, however media was present and even that did not detract from the players fierce determination to win the coveted trophy. While this event is exclusively for brewers (and their draftees), there were rumors of a tournament next year for craft beer supporters which may include cash prizes for top finishers. This would be a welcome addition to the North Bank Beer Week event schedule.

Equipment failure threatened a delay of game in the second round matchup between Backwoods and Ghost Runners. However, the problem (mostly unnoticed by the crowd) was quickly resolved and play resumed with Backwoods edging out Ghost Runners.

In the end it all came down to Ashtown, defending their title, and Trap Door, the host brewer, in the final round. The matchup was intense and only hardcore fans remained. As many predicted, Ashtown prevailed and retained the trophy for another year. In addition, they will remain as a guest tap at Trap Door for another year.

Many thanks to Zzoom Media for organizing North Bank Beer Week and to Trap Door Brewing for hosting the Third Annual Brewers Invitational Cornhole Tournament. It was a great event and there is no doubt it will continue to grow in subsequent years. People around here like their craft beer and appreciate the opportunity to show their support for their local brewers. Be it a brew fest or a beer week, beer fans will continue to be there.
Coveted trophy (not actual size)

L to R: Second Place Trap Door, First Place Ashtown,
and a representative from Glacier Tank with prizes.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Don't worry, I haven't given up beer.

I've just been busy with life - work, mostly, but also working on my own personal estate planning. While I hope these documents won't be needed for a very long time, it's necessary to plan for what happens once I'm gone.

Speaking of which, what happens when you're gone? Succession planning in the beer industry is a big topic. Many breweries start in garages with friends or family and sometimes grow into larger businesses with formal business arrangements, often with those same friends or family members as business partners.

What happens when one partner wants out? What happens when relationships sour? What happens to the business when a solo brewer wants to retire?

Having formal arrangements for one's demise (whether personal or professional) is an integral part of life. No one likes to think about it, much less talk about it. It always seems like something that can be put off until later.

It's not fun but do it anyway. Get started and put it on paper. Get help, if you need it. If you don't know where to start, contact me. I'm no expert but I know a few people who can point you in the right direction. Believe me, not having a plan can ruin relationships as well as businesses. It's just one of those things required of mature adults as well as mature businesses.

Remember, mature people get to drink beer so don't just plan to get a beer. Get a beer and start planning!


There was a great article in the Summer 2018 edition of Sip Northwest called Grain to Glass by Catie Joyce Bulay but since I can't find a link for it online, you'll just have to subscribe (here) or pick up a copy somewhere. (They can sometimes be found at breweries.) You can also receive a subscription when you join Washington Beer Lovers.

The article was about Pacific Northwest malts, their varieties, malting techniques, and their uses. In a region known mostly for its hops, it's interesting to know about regionally sourced malts and the flavors they impart in our brewed (and distilled) beverages.

Check it out if you get a chance.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

15 to go!

[Originally published October 25, 2017 at Chocolate Chip Mint]

According to my brewery app, there are 17 breweries in the state of Hawaii:  two on Kauai, two on Maui, four on the Big Island, and nine on the island of Oahu.

  • Koholā Brewery - located in Maui Brewing's previous (non air-conditioned) brew facility, they received the Bronze Medal for their Lokahi Pilsner at the 2016 Great American Beer Festival. "Maui's best kept secret." 
  • Maui Brewing Company - the brewery and tasting room is located in Kihei with happy hour daily, and an awesome outdoor patio. They also have a brewpub located in Kahana (and Waikiki, Ohau). The brewpub has a food menu while a rotating array of food trucks currently serve the brewery although the brewery plans to add a restaurant.
Big Island:
  • Big Island Brewhaus - beer, locally sourced food, and live music. Hawaii’s highest brewpub at 2,764 feet above the sea.
  • Hawaii Nui Brewing - one of Hawaii's largest independent breweries, they brew all-natural beers.
  • Kona Brewing Company - with distribution to all 50 United States and 26 countries, Kona Brewing is the top selling of Hawaii's breweries. With two brewpub locations (Big Island and Oahu), brewery facilities are located in Portland OR Woodinville WA, Memphis TN, and Portsmouth NH in addition to its main brewery facility in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.
  • Mehana Brewing Company - owned by Hawaii Nui Brewing, their Tsunami IPA won a Gold Medal in the 2012 World Beer Championship held in Chicago. Their Hapa Brown, Volcano Red, and Southern Cross all won Silver Medals.
  • Gordon Biersch Brewery - claiming to be Honolulu's first brewpub, they are located in the Aloha Tower Marketplace on the Honolulu Harbor. Gordon Biersch operates 35 restaurants all over the United States as well as four restaurants in Taiwan. Offering food and beer daily.
  • Home of the Brave Brewing Company - aims to remember, honor, and salute the US Military with commemorative beers such as Remember Pearl Harbor Mighty American Ale, D-Day India Pale Ale, and Zamperini Extra Special Bitter. They are host to the largest collection of WWII memorabilia in the Pacific in their museum, Home of the Brave Tour Company, and a Brewseum -"Kaka'ako's best kept secret."
  • Honolulu BeerWorks - located in the heart of Kaka'ako, they produce 1500 barrels per year. Offering lunch and dinner menus, they are open Monday through Saturday.
  • Lanikai Brewing Company - open Thursday through Sunday, they are located in Kailua. "Paradise in a bomber bottle, best shared with friends." Follow them on Facebook for more information about the brewery.
  • Square Barrels - craft burgers and beers in downtown Honolulu, they also feature a happy hour menu. Closed Sundays.
  • Stewbum & Stonewall brewing Company - currently closed for expansion, they are due to reopen in 2018. Beers to look forward to include Low Elf Esteem  Spiced Winter Ale, and The Days of Our Wives Bitter Ale.

I have been to the three Maui locations but it looks like I have some work to do. Most of the bars on Maui feature both Maui breweries on tap as well as beers from Kona Brewing but the only time I've seen other Hawaiian beers is at a liquor store with a good beer selection which speaks to the high cost of distribution between islands.

Well, if the beers won't come to me, I'll just have to go to them. Beer tourism, anyone? If I plan the trip, will you come with me? It's time to do some inter-island beer hunting!

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Not Too Shabby

On our most recent road trip to Seattle to watch the Blue Angels over Lake Washington for Seafair Weekend, we managed to squeeze in visits to nine breweries:

We tasted a lot of good beer. My favorite new discovery on this trip, though, was Flying Lion Beer. It's in Columbia City, a funky, historic, up-and-coming Seattle neighborhood. Getting out of our Uber, we wondered what we were getting ourselves into but upon entering the small brewery, we were instantly at ease. The cozy taphouse is dog friendly, has (indoor and) outdoor seating, a very nice bathroom (always a plus!), and features a bicycle-powered grain mill!

Though understated on their website, their beers are award winning. The medals hanging on the brewery wall represent Gold, Silver, and Bronze awards at various events for their Rye Stout, Call It A Day Pale, and a third one that I believe was not on tap, a Hefeweizen. (Sorry if I got that wrong!)

Speaking of "at ease," Forward Operating Base (FOB) Brewing was also a good discovery. It's large space in Dupont was friendly and inviting, also had outdoor space, as well as a tattoo artist and a barber! Also, good beer! They frequently host private events so check their Current Operations page before visiting, especially if you're making a long drive.

We're making another road trip this weekend and, no doubt, a beer adventure is on tap. We'll let you know where we've been but I can tell you we don't always know where we're going!


Friday, August 3, 2018

Beer Happenings

In honor of International Beer Day, I'm launching the Beer Happenings calendar on Beer Here. Previously, beer-related events were posted on What's Up Vancouver? on my other blog, Chocolate Chip Mint (a snarky blog mostly about me). It's been on my To Do List to move the beer events to Beer Here and keep What's Up Vancouver? (WUV) for other local events such as the Cold Brew Fest at Esther Short Park on Saturday. And, now, it's finally done!

If you're confused:
  • The Cold Brew Fest is the world's largest festival featuring coffee. I'm actually going to miss this event, having scheduled a road trip for the same time. But coffee? Yes, please!
If there's an event you'd like to see listed on Beer Happenings, please let me know. Leave a comment here, or contact me directly at at g mail dot com or on Twitter @Lynn_C_Dot.

It's Friday! It's International Beer Day! Now, go find yourself a beer!

Monday, July 30, 2018

Pub Crawling without Driving

Beer Crawling on the Orange MAX Line - The Portland Mercury
" With the opening of Ruse Brewing and Mt. Hood Brewing’s new Portland outpost, the path carved by the Orange MAX line has seen notable new additions to the beer scene in recent weeks. In fact, there’s enough beer-related stuff going on in that corridor of Southeast Portland that there’s a reasonably epic beer crawl to be had—because the best kind of beer crawl is the kind where you don’t have to drive. "
This article contemplates ten stops by light rail. If you stopped at each one, it might be hazardous to pursue this by bicycle but this is what the 7.8 mile route would look like:

If you're coming from the Vancouver side, you might consider taking either the Yellow line from the Expo Center or the Red line from the Portland Airport. The Yellow line will take you by Storm Breaker Brewing, Ecliptic Brewing, Widmer Brothers Brewing, LAbrewatory, Ex Novo Brewing, Reverend Nat's Hard Cider, and Upright Brewing Company before you cross the Willamette and then Pints Brewing and Old Town Pizza & Brewing. From there, you can catch the Orange MAX line. That 3.1 mile route on foot would look like this:

The Red line will take you by Columbia River Brewing, Culmination Brewing, Mt. Tabor Brewing, and Burnside Brewing Co. The 2.3 mile route looks like this by bicycle:

The Portland Streetcar (A and B Loops) will take you by Hair of the Dog Brewing, Modern Times Beer, Wayfinder Beer, Deschutes, Von Ebert Brewing, Back Pedal Brewing, and 10 Barrel Brewing. Either Loop will connect you to the North South Line Streetcar which will take you out to Breakside Brewery. That route (including Breakside) looks like this:

There's virtually no way to do all of Portland's breweries, certainly not in one day! But, you can do quite a few without needing to drive which is good. Decide which ones you want to visit, pick a route, and enjoy.

Then come back to the Vancouver side, rest up and visit the breweries of the NorthBank! (read: NorthBank Brewers Turn Heads at Washington Beer Awards - The New School)

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Drink Beer and Save the Planet

Koozies keep it cool.

Here's the science:

  • Condensation occurs when water vapor condenses to form liquid droplets.
  • Warming occurs when water vapor condenses to form liquid droplets.
  • Condensation = Warming
  • Ergo, condensation warms your beer.

Here's something else to consider on these hot summer days: "Water vapor and carbon dioxide emit infrared radiation." - Oklahoma Climatological Survey, Earth's Energy Budget Part 2

Moreover: "The globally averaged absorption of outgoing IR radiation by water vapor exceeds that from all other greenhouse gases combined." - Physics Today

Protect your beer. Protect our planet. Use a koozie and save the world!

Monday, July 9, 2018

America's Beer Crop

The Columbian reported today that the total acreage devoted to growing hops is 53,282 in the United States and that 71% of that acreage is in (the state of) Washington. I didn't fact check those numbers but I did look to see what percentage U.S. hops acreage is to total U.S. agricultural acreage. Answer: 0.02%.

While Washington is very proud of its hops production, 2.55 million acres (or 1.01% of total U.S. agricultural acreage) is devoted to growing barley. Most of that is grown in Montana (560,000 acres), Idaho (500,000 acres), and North Dakota (440,000 acres). (USDA)

The biggest U.S. crop is corn representing 35.12% of all U.S. agricultural acreage at 89.1 million acres. (2012 Cencus of Agriculture) And, you know what corn makes?


Sunday, July 1, 2018

Sampling the OC

I don't know how far this beer adventure will go. I'm in a desert, literally and figuratively. While there  are a lot of breweries in southern California, there aren't very many in Palm Desert. In fact, there is only one. While there are three more - just three -  in neighboring towns less than six miles away, the next closest is 20 miles.

We flew into Santa Ana this time rather than Palm Springs which meant we had to drive through some very brewery-centric locations: Santa Ana. Anaheim, Riverside, and Redlands to name a few. It was an opportunity.

The way I find a new brewery to try is almost always random: I open my Brewery Passport app and see what's nearby. In this case, we had just landed and were looking for the closest brewery that also served food. Barley Forge Brewing Co. not only fit the bill but was a great find in Costa Mesa.

Named Best Brewery in Orange County in 2015 by OCWeekly, Barley Forge is located in a large space in an industrial complex - 10,000 square feet of combined tasting room, kitchen, bottling, aging, and production-brewing facilities. There, we indulged in a tasting flight and their German-style frankfurter with French fries. We tried:
Grandpa Tractor - Dortmunder-style export lager - highly drinkable, crisp and refreshing. Very light, this an all-day sipper at 5% ABV.
Travis Bickle - Blonde Sour Ale with Grapefruit - prepare to pucker, then sit back, relax, and enjoy this refreshing beer. Think about summer and fresh, real, lemonade (or in this case, grapefruitade). 
Dear Brutus - Brut IPA - layers of hop flavor in this one. Dry and effervescent on the tongue, it's flavorful without being overly bitter at 35 IBU. 
The Patsy on Nitro - Coconut Rye Stout - Silver Medal Winner at the 2018 World Beer Cup, this beer should be on everyone's tasting tray. The rye provides a toasted, spicy backbone to the roasted coconut keeping this beer from being overwhelmingly sweet. On the contrary, the coconut comes through in its pure, unsweetened form.
Hexed All - Imperial Oatmeal Coffee Stout - you had me at coffee. Also, oatmeal. If not for "imperial" (9.2% ABV), I'd say that combination makes this the perfect breakfast beer. While the brewery offered several of their beers by the bottle, this was not one of their offerings. Too bad, as I would have taken this one home. High in alcohol, Hexed All does not have the burn of a barrel aged beer. Conditioned on organic coffee beans, it is rich in coffee flavor, softened ever so slightly by the oatmeal. 
If you find yourself in the Costa Mesa area, make sure to put Barley Forge Brewing Co. on your route. It's worth a stop.

Our next visit was to Inland Empire Brewing Company in Riverside. This brewery is also in an
industrial complex and is larger than it appears. Just inside the entrance is a small bar with half a dozen barstools arranged around a small room. Before you think, "Is this it?" pass through the door on your left. You will find a short hallway that passes the brewing facility on the right, large enough to produce 2,500 gallons of beer at one time. Ahead of you is a small room with tables and chairs and a mounted TV. Further down the hall on your right, you will find a large game room with pool tables, foosball, video games, darts, and a jukebox. They even have corn hole (although, just one board and mismatched homemade bags).

Here, we had a pint of the Dunkel and the Power to the Porter which took a silver medal in the Los Angeles International Beer Competition. The Dunkel was dark, thick, and sweet, tasting of caramel and molasses. The Porter was only slightly darker, with robust flavors of coffee and cocoa. Their Brown Ale took the bronze medal at the LA Beer Competition. Based on the Porter, I'm willing to bet the Brown Ale is worth a try - next time!

Finally, we made the drive to Idyllwild Brewpub, the next closest brewery to Palm Desert outside of the four in the immediate area. It was worth the 20 mile drive. From Palm Desert, take CA-74 West through the San Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains to CA-243 North. The drive will take about an hour, depending on traffic, with an elevation gain of 5,000 feet, and a drop in temperature of 25 degrees through some beautiful scenery.

Idyllwild is a small, mountain top community with a year round population of about 4,000. It is an ideal summer retreat. The town offers a surprising amount of restaurant choices for its size, although Idyllwild Brewpub is the only brewery. They offer a full food menu as well as a wide range of beers on tap in a modern building with a comfortable, hip vibe. It features a large outdoor space with forest views. They hold many events here and it appears to be a popular gathering spot.

There, we tried the Cedar St Tart Cherry Wheat, on our server's recommendation, and the Box Canyon Bohemian Pilsner. We both liked the wheat better. It had a smooth, soft, velvet mouthfeel. The cherry is subtle coming on the back end, and is refreshing rather than sweet. The Pilsner had a different flavor than we expected but nothing we could pinpoint. It had a 40 IBU so we suspected the hops or the mountain water had something to do with it. Nothing unpleasant, just different. We should have taken the time to learn more about this beer to better appreciate it.

As our adventure came to an end, our last stop was at "world famous" Tustin Brewing Company which just took home a gold medal for their Portola Breakfast Stout and a bronze for their Clutches Wheat in the 2018 World Beer Cup. The Clutches may have been on tap when we were there (if so, I missed that) but the Portola Stout definitely was not so we tried the Blimp Hangar Porter On Nitro. Dark and low in alcohol (5%), it was not as quite as creamy as an Irish Stout. Rather, it boasted of  roasted coffee, chocolate, and nuts. This beer won bronze at the 2010 Great American Beer Festival.

I'm glad we had the opportunity to spend a little time in Orange County and sample a few of it's world class breweries. If you are ever headed to southern California and have a few hours to spare, flying in and out of Santa Ana isn't a bad way to go. In fact, it's a destination worth putting on your list.


Sunday, June 24, 2018

Beer Adventure 0618

First stop, Dystopian State Brewing Company in Tacoma where we had the Heliophant Helles Lager and their O.G. Farmhouse Barrel-Aged Saison which took a silver medal in the 2018 Washington Beer Awards. The lager was light and crisp and paired nicely with two rounds of corn hole. The saison was complex in the making but easy in the glass. The description on their website reads:
" This award winning farmhouse ale is a blend of Saison hopped with Nelson Sauvin hops and Belgian-style table beer. Both beers were aged for 8 months in sauvignon blanc wine barrels. The barrels were also inoculated with 4 strains of brettanomyces. All this creates a complex and funky farmhouse ale that has notes of fresh pineapple, lemon, white wine, oak, ripe melon, spice and citrus rind. "
Farmhouse usually connotes funky but that doesn't necessarily mean funky. In this instance, it means delicious and at 6.8% ABV it could also spell dangerous as it was highly drinkable. Enjoy with measured caution.

Our next stop was Wet Coast Brewing Company in Gig Harbor. There, they are know for their Moving Day IPA and, now, for their Wet Coast Cream Ale which took a gold medal this year. The IPA was everything an IPA should be: hoppy and flavorful. This one features Munich and Crystal hops. At 68 IBU it gets your attention but the hops don't overwhelm due to a smooth malt bill.

The description for the Cream Ale reads:
" Light, Crisp and Refreshing; Our cream ale is smooth on the palate thanks to a malt bill featuring Flaked Barley and Honey Malt. Galena hops bring a bright citrus component to this extremely quaffable beer. "
Highly drinkable it was but we needed to catch a ferry so we left it at one each. Be advised, Wet Coast has a three pint limit. While the Cream Ale was only 5% ABV, the IPA was 6.4%. I can see where a three pint limit could be a very good idea.

Our evening ended in a pentathlon competition consisting of lawn pong, ladder toss, corn hole, dining table ping pong, and indoor shuffle board.  Beer was most definitely involved.

Saturday, our local beer guides brought us to Skookum Brewery in Arlington. There, we had Amber's Hot Friend amber ale and The Manuscript IPA. Both were delicious and paired nicely with smoked ribs and pulled pork nachos from PinkyQ's and Zoup. And wouldn't you know? There was corn hole! Started in 2007, Skookum produces beers that are locally sourced with over 90% of their barley and hops grown in Washington.

Next, was North Sound Brewing Co. with all the doors rolled up. There, we had the Hopsolicious IPA, Big Wild Rye IPA and the Big Bend Blonde. We liked these beers enough for a second round while we took over the corn hole lane. The skill of our players drew a crowd and we began to hear whispers of, ESPN. We managed to get out of there before we became wildly famous.

The evening's activities included Farkel. Our hosts provided protective eyewear to ensure a safe Farkel experience. It's always Farkel until someone gets hit in the eye. Safety first!

Sunday, it was time to say goodbye to our local beer guides and head back home. Naturally, we made a couple stops on the way. The first one was at Geaux Brewing's new Auburn location. If you liked their old Bellevue location, you'll love the new Auburn facility. It's much larger, brighter, and has a full kitchen. We enjoyed the Brussels Salad with the BTR red ale and La Belle blonde ale. The BTR includes rye in their grain bill which adds a spicy character that I enjoy plus enough hops to lend it some bitterness. The Labelle includes wheat, pale, and Vienna malts that finished light and crisp. Both had gorgeous, foamy heads that laced the pint from start to finish.

Geaux took the Washington Beer Awards bronze medal in 2015 and 2018 for Wee Y'at, described on their website as:
" Crafted in the style of a Wee Heavy Scotch Ale, Wee Y’at is a complex, rich, and malty brew that unfolds with each sip. The Maris Otter malt base gives Wee Y’at nutty undertones complemented with chocolate and honey malts. If you’ve been a hop-head all your life, this is the beer to bring you over to the other side. "
Unfortunately, it was not on tap when we stopped in.

Our last stop before we made it home was at brand new Well 80 Artesian Brewing in Olympia and we were pleasantly surprised - by their facility, their story, and their beer.

The brewery is named for the well upon which they sit as explained on their website:
" In 1939, a survey of artesian wells in Olympia identified and numbered ninety-six individual wells. The well in the back of our building was designated as Well #80, with an average flow rate of 35 gallons per minute and a constant temperature of 53 degrees. When we were first shown the well inside the building our mission was clear: We had to find a way to bring this amazing resource back to brewing. "
The building was purpose-built for the brewery. The facade is clean and modern while blending respectfully with it's historical neighbors. It is open and inviting with indoor and outdoor space, convertible event space, and full kitchen. They pay homage to Olympia Brewing Company in everything they do from using artesian well water, crafting a beer in the style of Olympia Beer (Original Later Year '64), to employing the granddaughter of a former brewmaster of Olympia Brewing.

We tried a flight that included Handsome Paul's Pale Ale, Original Dark '66 Lager, Porter Patois, and Jalo's 80 Day's of Haze IPA. We were blown away by them all. Not surprising as their brewer comes from nearby Fish Brewing Company bringing considerable skill to his craft. I recommend a stop here if you're in the area and don't be afraid to try anything on the menu. My bet is it'll be good.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Beyond Epic

Congratulations to the 2018 Washington Beer Award winners! 14 of them are North Bank breweries, right here in our own backyards.

If you're curious to know who else made the list, you could embark on an epic road trip and visit them all. I used My Brewery Tour from which organized them in a generally north to south direction starting in Deming and ending in Washougal. It might take a while to visit all 102 of them so you might need to break this list up by region.

This list omits production only facilities, breweries with more than a few locations (Ram, McMenamins) and several that don't appear on the WashingtonBeer website. (I've listed those at the end if you want to add them in.) The North Bank breweries appear near the bottom, starting at number 88 and I recognize this list may not be the most efficient routing. Nevertheless, if you are adventurous and seeking award winning beer, let this be your guide.

An epic road trip for epic beer:

1) North Fork Brewers
6186 Mount Baker Hwy., Deming, WA 98244
P: 360-599-2337 -
2) Melvin Brewing
2412 Meridian St, Bellingham, WA 98225
P: (360) 306-3285 -
3) Kulshan Brewery - K2 Taproom
1538 Kentucky Street , Bellingham, WA 98229
P: (360) 389-5348 -
4) Wander Brewing
1807 Dean Ave, Bellingham, WA 98225
P: 360-647-6152 -
5) Chuckanut Brewery and Kitchen
601 W Holly St., Bellingham, WA 98225
P: 360-752-3377 -
6) Aslan Brewing Co.
1330 N Forest St, Bellingham, WA 98225
P: (360) 778-2088 -
7) Stones Throw Brewing
1009 Larrabee Ave, Bellingham, WA 98225
P: (360) 362 5058 -
8) San Juan Island Brewing Company
P: -
9) Old Schoolhouse Brewery
155 Riverside Dr., Box 112, Winthrop, WA 98862
P: 509-996-3183 -
10) Cardinal Craft Brewing
15579 Peterson Rd, Burlington, WA 98233
P: 360-416-7869 -
11) Farmstrong Brewing Co.
110 Stewart Rd, Mount Vernon, WA 98273
P: (360) 873-8852 -
12) Flyers Restaurant and Brewery
32295 State Route 20, Oak Harbor, WA 98277
P: 360-675-5858 -
13) Whitewall Brewing
14524 Smokey Point Blvd, Marysville, WA 98271
P: 425-308-7992 -
14) Propolis Brewing
2457 Jefferson St., Port Townsend , WA 98368
P: 765-215-5850 -
15) Port Townsend Brewing
330 10th St., Suite C, Port Townsend, WA 98368
P: 360-385-9967 -
16) Haywire Brewing Co.
12125 Treosti Rd, Snohomish, WA 98290
P: (360) 568-2739 -
17) Dreadnought Brewing
16726 146th ST SE Suite 153, Monroe, WA 98272
P: (360) 863-2479 -
18) Foggy Noggin Brewing
22329 53rd Avenue SE, Bothell, WA 98021
P: 206-553-9223 -
19) Beardslee Public House
19116 112th Ave NE, Bothell, WA 98011
P: (425) 456-0010 -
20) 20 Corners Brewing
14148 NE 190th St - Suite A , Woodinville, WA 98072
P: 425-375-5223 -
21) Dirty Bucket Brewing
19151 144th Ave NE, Woodinville, WA 98072
P: 206-819-1570 -
22) Cairn Brewing
7204 NE 175th St, Kenmore, WA 98028
P: (425) 949-5295 -
23) Good Brewing Company
16104 125th Pl NE, Woodinville, WA 98072
P: 425-247-3245 -
24) Sound Brewery
19815 Viking Ave NW, Poulsbo, WA 98370
P: 360-930-8696 -
25) Sumerian Brewing
15510 Woodinville-Redmond Rd NE #E110, Woodinville, WA 98072
P: (425) 486-5330 -
26) Rainy Daze Brewing
650 NW Bovela Ln #3, Poulsbo, WA 98370
P: 360-692-1858 -
27) Valholl Brewing
18970 3rd Ave NE, Poulsbo, WA 98370
P: 360-550-5825 -
28) Hellbent Brewing Company
13035 Lake City Way NE, Seattle, WA 98125
P: 206-361-3707 -
29) Flying Bike Cooperative Brewery
8570 Greenwood Ave N, Seattle, WA 98103
P: (206) 428-7709 -
30) Black Raven Brewing
14679 NE 95th St., Redmond, WA 98052
P: 425-881-3020 -
31) Chainline Brewing Company
503 6th St S, Kirkland, WA 98033
P: (425) 242-0923 -
32) Ravenna Brewing Company
5408 26th Ave NE, Seattle, WA 98105
P: 323-514-6288 -
33) Stoup Brewing
1108 NW 52nd St, Seattle, WA 98107
P: (206) 457-5524 -
34) Reubens Brews
5010 14th Ave NW, Seattle, WA 98107
P: 206-753-9538 -
35) Lucky Envelope Brewing
907 NW 50th Street, Seattle, WA 98107
P: (206) 659-4075 -
36) Populuxe Brewing
826 NW 49th St, Seattle, WA 98107
P: 206-706-3400 -
37) Postdoc Brewing
17625 NE 65th St, #100, Redmond, WA 98052
P: (425) 658-4963 -
38) No-Li Brewhouse
1003 E Trent, Box 2, Suite 180, Spokane, WA 99202
P: 509-242-2739 -
39) Silver City Restaurant and Brewery
2799 NW Myhre Rd., Silverdale, WA 98383
P: 360-698-5879 -
40) Figurehead Brewing Co
4001 21st Ave W Unit B , Seattle, WA 98199
P: 206-492-7981 -
41) River City Brewing
121 S. Cedar, Spokane, WA 99201
P: 509-413-2388 -
42) Rooftop Brewing
1220 W. Nickerson St., Seattle, WA 98109
P: 206-457-8598 -
43) Iron Goat Brewing
1302 W 2nd Ave, Spokane, WA 99201
P: 509-474-0722 -
44) Fremont Brewing
3409 Woodland Pk Ave. N, Seattle, WA 98103
P: 206-420-2407 -
45) Bainbridge Brewing
9415 Coppertop Loop, Suite 103-104, Bainbridge Island, WA 98110
P: 206-451-4646 -
46) Cash Brewing Company
3388 NW Byron Street Suite 100, Silverdale, WA 98383
P: 360-633-7852 -
47) Mollusk Restaurant & Brewery
803 DEXTER AVE N, Seattle, WA 98109
P: 206-351-3637 -
48) Redhook Brewlab
714 E Pike St., Seattle, WA 98122
P: 206-823-3026 -
49) Elysian Brewing - Capitol Hill
1221 E Pike St., Seattle, WA 98122
P: 206-860-1920 -
50) Optimism Brewing Co.
1158 Broadway, Seattle, WA 98122
P: (206) 651-5429 -
51) Cloudburst Brewing
2116 Western Ave, Seattle, WA 98121
P: 206-602-6061 -
52) Pike Brewing
1415 1st Ave., Seattle, WA 98101
P: 206-622-6044 -
53) Standard Brewing
2504 S Jackson St, Seattle, WA 98144
P: 206-535-1584 -
54) Icicle Brewing
935 Front St., Leavenworth, WA 98826
P: 509-548-2739 -
55) Big Block Brewing
3310 E Lake Sammamish Pkwy SE, Sammamish, WA 98075
P: 425-457-0515 -
56) Perihelion Brewery
2800 16th Ave S, Seattle, WA 98144
P: (206) 200-3935 -
57) Elliott Bay Brewing - W. Seattle
4720 California Ave. SW, Seattle, WA 98116
P: 206-932-8695 -
58) Flying Lion Brewing
5041 Rainier Ave S, Seattle, WA 98118
P: 206-659-9912 -
59) Georgetown Brewing
5200 Denver Ave. S, Seattle, WA 98108
P: 206-766-8055 -
60) Resonate Brewery & Pizzeria
5606 119th Ave. SE , Bellevue, WA 98006
P: (425) 644-3164 -
61) Machine House Brewery
5840 Airport Way S, Seattle, WA 98108
P: 206-402-6025 -
62) Lowercase Brewing
6235 Airport Way S, Seattle, WA 98108
P: 206-258-4987 -
63) Tin Dog Brewing
309 S. Cloverdale Street, Seattle, WA 98108
P: 206-438-4257 -
64) Four Generals Brewing
229 Wells Ave S., Renton, WA
P: (425) 282-4360 -
65) Odin Brewing
402 Baker Blvd, Tukwila, WA 98188
P: 206-762-3909 -
66) Bent Bine Brew Co.
23297 State Route 3, Belfair, WA 98528
P: 253-677-4474 -
67) Dru Bru
10 Pass Life Way, Snoqualmie Pass, WA 98068
P: 425-434-0700 -
68) Airways Brewing
8611 S 212th St., Kent, WA 98031
P: 253-200-1707 -
69) Wet Coast Brewery
6820 Kimball Dr, Suite C, Gig Harbor, WA 98335
P: 253-432-4966 -
70) Geaux Brewing
425 E Main St. , Auburn, WA 98002
P: (253) 397-3939 -
71) North 47 Brewing Co.
1000 Town Ctr NE #160, Tacoma, WA 98422
P: 253.517.9865 -
72) Pacific Brewing and Malting
610 Pacific Ave, Tacoma, WA 98402
P: (253) 591-2337 -
73) Dystopian State Brewing
611 S Baker St, Tacoma, WA 98402
P: (253) 414-1993 -
74) Odd Otter Brewing
716 Pacific Ave, Tacoma, WA 98402
P: 253.209.7064 -
75) Engine House No. 9
611 N Pine St., Tacoma, WA 98406
P: 253-272-3435 -
76) Harmon Brewery and Eatery
1938 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, WA 98402
P: 253-383-2739 -
77) Lost Woods Brewery
19944 South Prairie Rd E, Bonney Lake, WA 98391
P: -
78) Ten Pin Brewing
1165 N Stratford Rd, Moses Lake, WA 98837
P: 509-765-1248 -
79) Top Rung Brewing
8343 Hogum Bay Ln NE, Lacey, WA 98516
P: 360-915-8766 -
80) Fish Brewing
515 Jefferson St. SE, Olympia, WA 98501
P: 360-943-6480 -
81) Three Magnets Brewing
600 Franklin St SE Suite 102, Olympia, WA 98501
P: 360-972-2481 -
82) Steam Donkey Brewing Company
101 E Wishkah St, Aberdeen, WA 98520
P: (360) 637-9431 -
83) Triceratops Brewing Company
8036 River Dr SE #203, Tumwater, WA 98501
P: -
84) Bron Yr Aur Brewing Co
12160 US Hwy 12, Naches, WA 98937
P: (509) 653-1109 -
85) Dick’s Brewing
3516 Galvin Road, Centralia, WA 98531
P: (360) 736-1603 -
86) Yakima Craft Brewing
2920 River Rd. #6, Yakima, WA 98902
P: 509-654-7357 -
87) Bale Breaker Brewing
1801 Birchfield Road, Yakima, WA 98901
P: (509) 424-4000 -
88) North Jetty Brewing
4200 Pacific Way, Seaview, WA 98644
P: -
89) White Bluffs Brewing
2034 Logston Blvd, Richland, WA 99354
P: (509)578-4558 -
90) Barrel Mountain Brewing
607 E Main St, Battle Ground, WA 98604
P: 360.931.2930 -
91) Backwoods Brewing
1162 Wind River Rd, Carson, WA 98610
P: 509-427-4250 -
92) Everybodys Brewing
151 E Jewitt Blvd., White Salmon, WA 98672
P: 509-637-2774 -
93) Heathen Brewing
5612 NE 119th St., Vancouver, WA 98686
P: 360-601-7454 -
94) Brothers Cascadia Brewing
9811 NE 15th Ave, Vancouver, WA 98665
P: (360) 718-8927 -
95) Walking Man Brewing
240 1st Street, #3, Stevenson, WA 98648
P: 509-427-5520 -
96) Trap Door Brewing
2315 Main St., Vancouver, WA 98660
P: 360.314.6966 -
97) Fortside Brewing Company
2200 NE ANDRESEN, #B, Vancouver, WA 98661
P: (360)524-4692 -
98) Trusty Brewing
114 E Evergreen Blvd, Vancouver, WA 98660
P: (360) 258-0413 -
99) Loowit Brewing
507 Columbia Street, Vancouver, WA 98660
P: 360-566-2323 -
100) Hopworks Urban Brewery
17707 SE Mill Plain Blvd., Vancouver, WA 98683
P: (360)828-5139 -
101) Grains of Wrath Brewing
425 NW Birch Street, Camas, WA 98607
P: 216-269-3010 -
102) 54-40 Brewing
3801 S. Truman Rd, #1 , Washougal, WA 98671
P: 360-844-5932 -


Atwood Ales (production only) - Blaine
Headless Mumby Brewing Company - 232 Division St. NW, Olympia
Manfish Brewing Company - 19611 276th Ave. SE, Issaquah
Métier Brewing Company - 14125 NE 189th St., Suite B, Woodinville
Mirage Beer Co. - 656 NW 85th St., Seattle
Northish Beer Company - Tacoma
Puyallup River Brewing (production only) - 120 S. Meridian, Puyallup
Ram Restaurant & Brewery (multiple locations)
Watts Brewing Company (production only) 19813 - 51st Ave SE, Bothell
Willapa Brewing Co. - 556 Mill Creek Road, Raymond