Coming soon: Slaughter County Brewing, Alaska trip, The Hub Grand Opening in Gig Harbor, and seasonal beers now available! Stay tuned!!! September 22, 2013
So Cal beer for the PNW shores August 5, 2013
My last couple of trips back home to So. Cal did not, unfortunately, include a visit to San Diego. There are many a great breweries in San Diego and the county has quite the reputation for producing some of America’s finest craft beers. About a month or two ago the very generous owner of Oceanside Ale Works, Mark Purciel, sent me a special package filled with “liquid sunshine.”
Elevation 83 Extreme Pale Ale (8.3% ABV) is a nicely hopped, well-balanced pale ale. Medium to full-bodied, this extreme pale ale is no lie! The aroma is hoppy yet has a touch of hard alcohol. Syrupy mouth feel. Toasty, very hop forward, and a bit of a whiskey finish. The overall taste reminds me of a crisp, autumn day. It would be a perfect ale for those cool summer nights on a Southern California beach, or a great fireside beer in the PNW. I really like this beer.
Thanks again to Mark and the great folks at the brewery! I know one thing: I need to get my butt down to Oceanside!
California Brewin’ June 19, 2013
Going back home to So Cal for a visit is always fun. Over the last few years my visits have become much more exciting with the addition of new craft breweries. It seems like every time I go home, there is a new crop of breweries. In the past, San Diego and Northern California were the only spots in the state that were known for brewing craft beer. It’s only over the last six-plus years that the craft brew industry has taken a hold of Orange and Los Angeles Counties with new breweries popping up what seems like every other month! That’s great news! On my last trip I was a bit pressed for time so I could only visit three of said new breweries…
Old Orange Cream Ale on Nitro (6.1% ABV) – Smooth, creamy. Light fruit. Reminds me of a 50/50 bar. Yummy!
Street Fair Orange Wheat (4.6% ABV) – Ah, memories of walking around the Orange Street Fair. I only wish I had one of these in my hand back then. Light, very easy to drink, soft orange fruit. Clean finish. Perfect for those hot, Orange County days.
Cussin’ Jim IPA (7.4% ABV) – This medium bodied ale is nicely hopped and well-balanced. Lovely floral aroma with a hop finish.
Old Dummy Strong Ale (9.3% ABV) – Brown sugar body, hard alcohol fume hits the nose. Malty and easier to drink than you would expect. Hard alcohol finish. Tread lightly, though this drinks easily it will kick your butt all the way to Riverside!
Thumb Master Double IPA (8.5% ABV) – Hoppy, well-balanced. Touch of toffee sweetness.
About a block or so away is another OC gem: Valiant Brewing Company. Set back in and industrial park, this brewery is a little harder to find, but well worth the quest. The tasting room is large and open sharing space with the brewing equipment. There are plenty of tables for anyone, just no chairs. If you get hungry there is a great food truck parked right out side the tasting room and the food will be brought right to you. But, again, you have to stand while you eat. Let’s get to the important part: the beer!
Mighty Maximus Ale (3.6% ABV) – Dark and bitter. Slightly sweet and lightly hopped. Nice, bitter finish.
Fields Ablaze Saison (6.9% ABV) – Brewed with pear and lemongrass, this baby is quite unique. Both sweet and tart with a nice crisp finish. Smooth and fruity.
31 Kings IPA (6.5% ABV) – Very well-balanced and malty. Nice hop flower aroma. Crisp, clean with a lovely hop finish.
About ten minutes away is the pride of Fullerton, CA: Bootlegger’s Brewery. Located in the historic district Bootlegger’s has been churning out the liquid gold since 2008. There is a lovely, large beer garden just outside the door.
Tropical Thunder Pale Ale (5.3% ABV) – Fruity, hoppy aroma. Well-balanced fruit body, but not sweet. Lovely hop finish.
Mountain Meadow Honey Blonde (5.5% ABV) – This little beauty was like drinking a nice glass of iced herbal tea. Honey, sage notes throughout with interesting “tea-like” qualities. Nicely balanced and finishes softly sweet. Gorgeous!
Old World Hefewiezen (5.0% ABV) – If you like german wheat beers (me, me, me) then you will really enjoy this one! Bubble gum, banana clove aroma. Sweet, honey and flowers in the body. Nicely done.
I wish I could have spent more time in “So Cal.” There are so many more new breweries yet to hit. I’ll keep you posted next time I go.
Beer 101- Fruits of May, the conclusion June 10, 2013
It’s no secret that fruit beers are among my favorite beers. Now I’m not talking about that slice of lime wedged on the side of your mexican lager. I’m talking real fruit, fruit juices, and fresh puree added to everything from ales to lagers to wheat beers,to stouts and porters during the brewing process. To some, adding fruit to beer is sacrilege but fruit has been fermented and added to alcoholic beverages for millennium. Others simply won’t try it because they consider anything with fruit “chick beer.” They are really missing out! Here are my favorites from the month of May…
Samuel Smith Organic Strawberry Fruit Ale (5.2% ABV) - Amazing strawberry aroma. Thick body, jammy, natural fruit flavor (doesn’t taste fake). Crisp and “sparkly” with a wonderful fruit finish.
Unibroue Ephemere (5/5% ABV) One of my favorite beers for “Fruits of May!” Lovely green apple aroma. Crisp apple flavor and spices. Very similar to a hard, green apple cider…but better. I wouldn’t pair this with any food. It’s best sipped on its own.
Kona Brewing Wailua Wheat (5.4% ABV) – Lovely summer beer! Passion fruit aroma and body. Slightly pungent with a sweet/tart finish. If you have ever been to Hawaii, you will have wonderful flashbacks while sipping on this!
Samuel Smiths Organic Raspberry Fruit Ale (5.1% ABV) Another one of my favorites! Actually, in my opinion any of Samuel Smiths Fruit ales are amazing. This one is thick, rich, and full of raspberry goodness. Not one to be paired with food, except maybe for some vanilla bean ice cream. Wonderful!
Brouwerif Lindemans Framboise Lambic (2.5% ABV) Pretty much ANY of the lambics from this amazing Belgian brewery is a treat! Syrupy and elegant. Fresh raspberry aroma and flavor. Very effervescent with a gorgeous fruit finish. The best way I can describe this beauty is it’s like drinking raspberry champagne. My absolute favorite beer…period!
I feel any beer drinker should try a fruit beer at least once. Fruit beers are sweet, refreshing, and can really compliment a meal or serve as a lovely desert.
What’s in store for june? How about “a blonde named June?” I like it!
Beer 101 – IPApril, the conclusion May 8, 2013
As IPApril came to a close I have to admit, I was a bit sad. IPA has long been my nemesis beer but after spending a month focusing on that particular style I have grown a bit fond of IPA. Over the last month my I have grown to enjoy the flavor of IPA’s a bit more, especially British IPA’s. I’m still not a huge fan of high IBU, “blow your head off” IPA’s but I do have a better appreciation for them.
For those new to craft beer, here’s a bit of info…
HISTORY: There is some debate regarding the history of how IPA came about and who was the first brewer to create it. Legend has it that George Hodgson of the Bow Brewery in London was the first person to create IPA. But it’s just that…a legend. Though Bow Brewery’s “pale ale for India” was the top seller there is no evidence proving that he was the first to brew IPA.
The short story that most beer geeks agree with is that IPA was first created in England in the 1700’s. Beer shipped to British troops in India would often not survive the voyage to India and would spoil. Brewers discovered that adding more hops helped preserve the beer during the voyage. And viola….India Pale Ale was born.
CHARACTERISTICS: IPA’s of today are a bit different from the IPA’s of days gone by. Americans were drawn to the crisp, citrus notes the hops added and decided to blow the flavor out of the water. A typical American IPA is going to be extremely high in grapefruit aroma and flavor whereas English IPA tends to more on the sweeter, malty side.
IBU: “International Bittering Units” is a very important tool of measurement for IPA’s. Basically, it is a scale used to measure the bitterness of the beer once the hops are added. The higher the IBU’s the more bitter taste is created. IPA’s with high IBU’s are going to have a very strong grapefruit flavor and aroma. Many IPA drinkers in the PNW prefer their IPA’s to have at least 80 IBU’s. I lovingly refer to these folks as “hop heads.”
I tasted many IPA’s during the month of April and enjoyed a majority of them. Others, not so much. So below is a list of my favorites. You can find the complete list of IPA’s I sampled on my Facebook page.
Boneyard Brewing RPM IPA (7% ABV, 50 IBU’s) – sunny orange color, floral aroma. Subtle hop character w/orange sweetness. Crisp, sparkly. Well-balanced, medium body.
The Pike Brewing Space Needle Golden Anniversary 2012 Vintage IPA (6.5% ABV, 58 IBU’s) - Sticky/resin body. Cloudy. Candy-like aroma. Full-bodied, sweet, malty, with loads of honey character. Smooth, English-style IPA.
Alameda Brewing El Torero IPA (7.2% ABV, 88 IBU’s) – THICK! Unfiltered. Clover honey aroma, full-bodied, lots of sediment. Complex hops but they don’t dominate. One of my favorites!
Mad River Brewing Jamaica Sunset IPA (7% ABV, IBU unavailable) – Spicy, nutty, dry hops. Crisp, clean finish. Quite tasty!
Lagunitas IPA (6.2% ABV, 45.6 IBU’s) - Very hoppy! Malty with floral notes. Very crisp. Nice hop finish.
Deschutes Hop Henge IPA (10.6% ABV, 95 IBU’s) - Hoppy aroma. Honey/vanilla sweetness. Nice hop finish without the bitterness. Malty and well-balanced.
For those of you just starting out in the craft beer scene, I would NOT start with an IPA. This is the stronger of the beer styles and may be too hoppy and bitter for beginners. Start slow and work your way to it.
What’s on tap for May? How about fruit and flavored beers? I shall call it ”The Flavors of May.”
Beer Styles 101 – The intro April 13, 2013
A few weeks ago I announced on my Facebook page that I was going to do a little something different for the next year. As many of you know, I consider myself a “forever student” of beer. I never want to stop learning about beer and the beer culture I have been a part of for the last 20 years. So, I have decided that each month I will focus on drinking one style of beer and at the end of the month will compose one blog to talk about my experience and the top five beers in that style. Why am I doing this?
Well, over the last 30 years the beer style doors have not just opened, they’ve been blown off the hinges! No longer is an IPA or Hefeweizen beholden to one particular taste, aroma, and experience all together. Brewers are experimenting and tweaking beer styles and taking them to new levels. You can take two Pale Ales and get two different experiences from each. It’s exciting and fascinating!
I will continue to write about breweries, beer festivals and special beers. But for my Beer Styles 101 I will write short entries about each beer I have on my Facebook page and will write my final analysis here on my blog. Check out my Facebook page to see what’s up. This month…IPApril. Yes, IPA’s are on my beer menu for the month and so far it’s been quite a ride.
Catching Island Fever April 10, 2013
Here in the PNW sunny days are few and far between. When the sun does come out the best thing to do is get into your car are drive somewhere with a gorgeous view. Bainbridge Island is one of those places. Just a ferry ride from Seattle, the island is quaint, picturesque, and laid back.
There are a couple of places I like to hit when I visit. For lunch, I usually stroll into The Harbour Public House. Just steps from the village this hip public house serves delicious, organic cuisine and some of the freshest craft beers on the island. 12 on tap and 1 on cask to be exact! You won’t find Coors or Bud Light in here. You also won’t find children. The Harbour is 21 and over.
Located in a fully restored 132 year old house, The Harbour prides itself on using only fresh, locally grown ingredients in their dishes, pouring local craft beer, and showcasing local artists in the decor. On a clear day the famed Seattle skyline is visible from the back patio along with a lovely view of the harbor below. The Harbour is a “must see.”
Another “must” is the Bainbridge Brewing Co. Just off the beaten path, the brewing company captures the laid back spirit of the island. The tap-room is pretty, open, and welcoming. The beer? Well, it’s pretty darn tasty!
Kommenter Kolsch (4.8% ABV) – Golden Grahams aroma. Sweet, crisp, effervescent. Lightly malted. Sweet finish.
Northwest Pale Ale (5.4% ABV) – Malty. Very nicely hopped. Smooth, caramel notes throughout. Very easy to drink.
Eagle Harbor IPA (6.0% ABV) – Hoppy aroma, soft citrus. Tart grapefruit finish. Only 60 IBU’s so very easy IPA to drink.
Puget Sound Giant Hoptopus IPA (8.8% ABV) – Hop/floral aroma. Sweet and malty for an IPA. Lovely grapefruit finish. Another IPA for the IPA fearful!
Battle Point Stout (6.6% ABV) – Smokey aroma. Rich, malty, dark chocolate bitterness. Smokey finish. Definitely a sipper.
Bainbridge Island is a great place for a day trip. To get there from the peninsula you can cross the Agate Pass Bridge just outside of Poulsbo. From Seattle you can hop on the ferry. And you don’t need to wait for a sunny day to enjoy it, because let’s face it…it’s the PNW!
The beer drinker’s mead March 10, 2013
I have been a big fan of mead (honey wine) for years. Thick and syrupy, drinking mead is like taking in a mouth full of honey. I just love to sip this beverage on a cool spring day! Now, many of you are probably scratching your head wondering why a beer blogger is writing about mead. Well for one thing, I don’t discriminate. And for another, it’s considered by many archeologists and food historians to be the ancestor of all fermented beverages.
Dating as far back as 2000 B.C. (and possibly further), mead has been enjoyed in Africa, Asia, Europe, and now the United States. I’m sure you are still wondering why this article even exists. Well, PNW brewing icon Rogue Brewing has taken on the task of creating lovely mead that is not only light and crisp, but easy for even the mead hater to enjoy.
Rogue Farms First Growth 19 Original Colonies Mead is Rogue’s interpretation of a beer drinker’s mead. All I can say is WOW! THIS IS GREAT MEAD! Ok, I’m obviously going to say more. The beautiful color is rivaled by the luscious aroma. Jasmine flowers and honey dominate the nose. Traditional mead is very thick and syrupy with no carbonation what so ever. Rogue, however, uses champagne yeast and free range coastal water creating a lovely, champagne-like carbonation so the body is clean and sparkly but still maintains the jammy qualities of traditional mead. Rogue uses their own Rogue Farms Hopyard honey along with wild flower honey and Jasmine Silver Tip Green Tea Leaves.
This mead is delightfully aromatic, crisp & clean. For a wine made with two types of honey, this mead is sweet but not sickening sweet. Jasmine flowers are prominent through the body and mellow out the honey. The green tea adds a nice, soft acidic tone and the finish is just, again, more heavenly jasmine. The ABV is only 5.2% but because this is a bit thicker than beer, I don’t suggest you drink it with food.
My husband can’t stand mead, but guess what? He couldn’t get enough of this one! Neither could I!! We actually went back to the bottle shop and bought a couple more bottles. Rogue Brewing got it right.
looks like I need a friend in wisconsin! February 21, 2013
I have never been to Wisconsin. I don’t know a lot about the state except that it’s beautiful in the spring, hot in the summer, a large portion of the population stems from Swiss and German immigrants and Native American tribes, milk is huge there, before prohibition there were over 200 breweries operating in the state, and Oktoberfest is a hell of a lot of fun. Why this sudden interest in “America’s Dairyland?”
My old friend Matt (from my Disneyland days) was kind enough to send me a little bottle of joy from New Glarus Brewing Company. Fat Squirrel Nut Brown Ale is a lovely English Brown Ale with a ton of hazelnut flavor and aroma. Dark brown, think, full-bodied, rich, with a touch of sweetness Fat Squirrel drinks almost like a desert. New Glarus chose hops from the Pacific Northwest, Bavaria, and Slovenia to give this beer a nice little kick. And at 5.8% ABV you can enjoy more than one without being sent over the edge. I really enjoyed this beer and was sad that there was no more to be had.
New Glarus rarely distributes outside of Wisconsin so if you’re lucky enough to find one in your area, pick it up!!