Pacific Northwest Beer Chick

Breweries, Beers & Good Times

The British are Coming! April 30, 2011

Filed under: beer,breweries,British Beers & Ciders,Hard Cider,Micro brew — pnwbeerchick @ 5:03 pm

Okay, I admit it! I was one of the sappy folks who could not wait to watch the Royal Wedding! I love a good wedding and nothing tops seeing a gorgeous “commoner” marry her prince. (Sigh) How romantic! So I looked for a beverage that would get me in the spirit of this “fairytale” event, but what to choose?

Tea? Trendy. Bass Ale? Nah, too common. Boddingtons? Newcastle? Too predictable. Then it hit me… what better way to celebrate this happy event than to drink Prince William’s beverage of choice; Cider!

I’m sure many of you are saying “but PNW Beer Chick…cider isn’t beer!” I know, but some of the oldest and most respected beer breweries also dabble in ciders. And why not? Dating as far back as Ancient Egypt, it is one of the oldest fermented beverages in the world and still one of the most popular today. Now, I didn’t grab just any cider. It had to be British. Otherwise what was the point? I wanted something that screamed Great Britain so to me the choice was clear… I grabbed a bottle of Samuel Smith’s Organic Cider.

Samuel Smith’s has been producing some of the Britain’s finest beers since 1758 and it is the oldest brewery in Yorkshire. Best known in the U.S. for their Oatmeal Stout, Nut Brown Ale, and Old Brewery Pale Ale, I was quite excited to find they also made cider. Organically grown apples are used to create a crisp, sweet (but not too sweet), yet slightly dry cider that would make the Prince himself smile. It is light bodied and is perfect for spring, but could easily be a year round cider.  Samuel Smith’s Organic Cider is only 5% ABV, but so delicious it would be quite easy to get carried away.

So, to celebrate “the greatest event of the 21st century”, put on a ridiculously large hat or your favorite morning tux, pour a Samuel Smith’s Organic Cider, and raise a toast to the happy couple!




Brewing in perfect HARMONy. April 27, 2011


A staple in the Tacoma, WA brewing scene, Harmon Brewing Company has been crafting beer in Tacoma’s historic University District since 1997. I have been a frequent Harmon customer since moving to “the Sound” four years ago and upon each visit Harmon always has something new and exciting on tap! During this visit I was lucky enough to sample some of the winter and spring seasonal along with Harmon’s flagships.

Mt. Takhoma Blonde (4.4% ABV) – Brewed with Liberty hops, white wheat and German Pilsner malt, this beer is light and crisp with a touch of citrus.  Mt. Takhoma is a very easy beer to drink and perfect for spring and summer. But don’t let the fact that this is a blonde ale fool you, Mt. Takhoma is packed with beautiful flavor. The brewery serves Mt. Takhoma with an orange slice enhancing the lovely citrus characters.

Pinnacle Peak Pale Ale (4.4% ABV) – One of Harmon’s flagship beers, Pinnacle Peak is smooth, light bodied and slightly hoppy with subtle tones of caramel. 2-row malted barley, German malted barley and Palisade and Citra hops balance out the flavor rather nicely. Pinnacle Peak, from what I have been told, is one of the most popular beers served at the brewery. One sip and you will easily see why.

Vanilla Porter (5.4% ABV) – A popular winter seasonal, this was my favorite beer of the day.  Harmon uses 8 different malts and Madagascar vanilla beans to create this full-bodied beauty. Notes of milk chocolate fade in and out while the vanilla is a constant present. I would drink the Vanilla Porter by itself. It’s just too good to pair with any food.

Point Defiance IPA (6.1% ABV) – Okay hop heads, this one is for you! Point defiance IPA is not only one of Harmon’s flagship beers; it is also their most popular. Columbus and Centennial hops along with ten pounds of Amarillo hops creates that beautiful grapefruit aroma and strong hoppy flavor. Point Defiance IPA is a crisp pretty beer that even the most discriminating hop head will fall for. This beer is my hubby’s favorite.

T-Town Brown (6.2% ABV) – I enjoyed this brown ale quite a bit. I took a moment to enjoy the lovely vanilla and brown sugar aroma. Both qualities carried over into the flavor. T-Town Brown is medium to full-bodied and has a rich molasses finish.

Black Tartan IPA (6.8% ABV) – One of the most interesting beers of the day, the Black Tartan had a lot of different characteristics. Think of a stout and an IPA having a baby.  I caught a smoky, dark chocolate flavor but with a hoppy finish. Harmon uses 5 different malted barleys creating a black, full-bodied beer that they brew just in time for St. Patrick’s Day. Order one soon before they run out!

Porter Porter (8-9% ABV) – Yes, it’s really called “Porter Porter.” If you like chocolate and coffee, then this winter seasonal is for you. Harmon uses 9 different malted barleys to create this full-bodied, toasty gem. There is a strong, hard “alcoholiness” taste when you first start drinking, but don’t put it down. The hard alcohol taste mellows out by the 2nd or 3rd sip and you end up with a great fireside porter.

Want to try some of Harmon’s beautifully crafted brews? You don’t have to go far. Harmon has three locations in Tacoma that also serve a great variety of food dishes; Harmon Brewery & Eatery, The Taproom, and The Hub.  Can’t make it to the brewery? Pubs all over the Puget Sound serve up Harmon’s creations on tap. Want to take it home? Harmon by the bottle can be found in many of your local Puget Sound grocery stores or whole food markets. So really, you have no excuse not to enjoy a Harmon beer.




“There is an ancient celtic axiom that says ‘good people drink good beer.’ Which is true, then as now. Just look around you in any public barroom and you will quickly see: Bad people drinking bad beer. Think about it.” – Hunter S. Thompson April 23, 2011

Filed under: beer — pnwbeerchick @ 9:21 am

Hops & Props and Beers! Oh my! April 15, 2011

Filed under: beer,breweries,Micro brew,Pacific Northwest Beer,Seattle Hops & Props — pnwbeerchick @ 7:30 pm


What could be better than walking among some of the most beautiful and historically significant aircrafts ever built? Why, doing it with a pint in your hand of course! On April 9th, Seattle’s Museum of Flight hosted their 9th annual Hops & Props event. Fifty-six breweries from around the world brought their best spring brews and ciders along with a few flagships sprinkled in.  The entire museum was open to explore during the event and the brewers were mixed throughout the exhibits. But enough of my gibberish, let’s get to the beers!

There were so many fabulous beers that it was difficult to just focus on a few for this article. Of course it would have been physically impossible for me to try all 119 beers and ciders (unless I was willing to take an ambulance ride) so I will hit on my top 5 favorites and a couple of the “not so much” beers.

The Best  

#5 Avatar Jasmine IPA – Elysian Brewing (6.3% ABV) Seattle, WA – Being one of my favorite breweries in Washington (if not my absolute favorite) Elysian, again, does not disappoint. This tasty IPA is brewed with 4 different malts, Glacier and Amarillo hops, and dried jasmine flowers. The aroma is nice with a lovely citrus and floral note. Avatar starts hoppy and finishes clean. The jasmine flowers level out the hard grapefruit flavor you normally get with an IPA. This beer is perfect for spring and summer.

#4 Summer Solstice – Fremont Brewing (5.2% ABV) Seattle, WA – Fremont Brewing describes this beer as “Tangerine flower in a glass” and I couldn’t agree more. 2-row Pale malt and Amarillo hops create a soft, fruity beer with a nice floral finish.  Simplicity at its finest!

#3 Spring Fever Grand Cru – Snoqualmie Falls Brewing Company (7% ABV) Snoqualmie, WA – Coriander, orange, and a little banana clove are the flavors that make this beer a refreshing treat for spring and summer. Pretty aroma and flavor, Spring Fever Grand Cru reminded me more of an orange spiced iced tea than a beer. But be careful! This beer is deceptive at 7% ABV. Delicious!

#2 Samuel Smith’s Organic Strawberry Ale – Samuel Smith (5.2% ABV) N. Yorkshire, England – I enjoy a good fruit beer and this beer from Samuel Smith’s is quickly becoming one of my favorites. Full bodied and fruity, the Organic Strawberry Ale is very similar to the Belgian fruit ales and tastes more like dessert than beer. If you like strawberries, this is the ale for you!

#1 Odin’s Pearl – Odin Brewing Company (5% ABV) Seattle, WA – Hands down this beer was my absolute favorite of the event! This unfiltered Belgian Wheat Ale is medium bodied and carries notes of clove, mace spice, and orange blossoms. The finish is clean and crisp.  I can’t say enough about this gorgeous beer and can hardly wait to get my hands on this beauty of an ale again!

The Worst

Unfortunately, not all the beers I sampled were great. In fact there was a couple that were downright satanic! For example; I had such high hopes for Three Skulls Blood Orange Wit. The description given by the brewers of “a strong coriander presence is followed with a crisp finish” sounded very intriguing. I envisioned an unfiltered wit beer with a nice blood orange essence. What I received resembled watery lemonade and tasted like a watered down sweet tart.  Disappointing. 

But, the award for the worst beer of the evening goes to 192 Brewing Co.’s Granny’s Apple Ale. Now, I have NEVER dumped out a beer before, no matter how much I didn’t like it. But this beer sent even me over the edge! The smell and taste were like grabbing a warm apple juice box. In fact, this beer was so bad I really can’t give a description. I promptly poured it down the bathroom sink, found my rosary beads, and said 5 “Our Father’s” and 5 “Hail Mary’s.” 

Though there were a couple of less than palatable brews, the evening was not lost. McCormick & Schmick’s catered the event and there was live music echoing through the halls. One drawback would be that there are really no hotels near the museum. We stayed in Pioneer Square so after our hotel bill, cab ride to and from the museum, and price of admission we spent a pretty penny. All in all it was a lovely evening and I enjoyed it thoroughly. Would I do it again? We’ll just have to wait until next year.





Happy National Beer Day! April 7, 2011 April 7, 2011

It was on this day in 1933, the Cullen-Harrison Act, signed a month earlier by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, legalized the sale of beer with an alcohol content of no more than 3.2% and in the United States. This act paved the way for the eventual repeal of the 18th amendment bringing an end to the “dark times” known as Prohibition. So raise your glass and give thanks!




The Best of Orange County (part 4) April 5, 2011

As my series on Orange County pubs and microbreweries comes to a close I decided to save the best for last. The Olde Ship Pub & Restaurant and Heroes Bar & Grill are two Orange County icons that are very near and dear to my heart.

For close to eighteen years The Olde Ship in Fullerton, CA has been serving up some of the best and most authentic British beers and cuisine in Orange County. Upon first entering this cozy little pub (and I do mean little), you are surrounded by all things British. Low ceilings, dark wood paneling and beams, and more Queen Elizabeth stuff than Buckingham Palace! The Olde Ship prides itself on being British owned and operated, the almost completely British staff is warm, friendly and welcoming. In fact, The Olde Ship catch phrase is “You’ll be a stranger here but once.” What’s on tap? The best of Britain of course! Brews such as Boddingtons, Harp, Smithwick’s (pronounced “smidicks”), Abbot Ale, Fullers London Pride, Old Speckled Hen, and Blackthorn Cider are poured almost non-stop. And no British pub is complete without Guinness on tap.

The Olde Ship also serves some great, rustic, authentic pub food. The fish and chips are some of the best in Orange County along with “Bounty’s Bangers & Mash” and “Churchill’s Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding.” And the dessert…good night nurse! You haven’t lived until you’ve tried the Rhubarb Crumble or the Sticky Toffee Pudding.  If you are with a large group of friends, you may want to check out their larger, roomier location in Santa Ana, CA. The Olde Ship was the first British pub I ever stepped foot in and remains one of my all time favorite pubs. If you’re looking for a great place to sit back, relax, and actually have a conversation with your “mates” without yelling to be heard, the Old Ship is your place.

Up the road a few blocks sits the pub that started it all for me; Heroes Bar & Grill. It was here in this eclectic, unique, fun pub 17 years ago that my husband introduced me to my first “real” beer. That moment forever changed how I looked at not just microbreweries, but the beer culture in general. The walls and ceiling are saturated with antiques, vintage beer advertisements, and old photographs humbling one to remember that there were others enjoying life long before we were. Kick through the peanut shell covered floor, mosey up to the bar and stand in awe of the 119 beers on tap. Say what? Yes, 119 wonderful beers from around the world on tap! But don’t be overwhelmed, the bartenders are very knowledgeable about what they are pouring and can help you choose the right brew for you. Luckily for me, three of the beers on tap that day were from Bootlegger’s Brewery, Orange County’s newest and most exciting microbrewery.

I started off with Bootlegger’s Old World Hefeweizen. This unfiltered beauty has the gorgeous banana clove and wheat aroma that I just love. Clean, crisp and lightly hopped, this is a well balanced beer. Next up was the Palomino American Pale Ale. This ale had a smooth, creamy, almost nitro-feel with subtle hints of orange, spice and hops. I really enjoyed this ale. Lastly, I was pummeled by the Knuckle Sandwich Double IPA. I knew this beer wasn’t going to be a cakewalk; it’s a Double IPA after all. But, what I didn’t expect was to actually enjoy it. This IPA deceptively starts out smooth and then POW! Knuckle Sandwich punches you right in the face. I enjoyed the beers from Bootlegger’s and look forward to sampling their other brews.

Orange County is amazing. There’s no other place like it on earth and I look forward to my next visit and see what other new hot spots crop up. I hope you enjoyed my series on the Best of Orange County. Now, back to the PNW.




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