Pacific Northwest Beer Chick

Breweries, Beers & Good Times

Great Britain and Ireland (part 1) November 10, 2017

Filed under: beer,British Beers & Ciders,Great Britain & Ireland,IPA — pnwbeerchick @ 4:46 pm

What can possibly be written about Great Britain and Ireland that hasn’t already been put to paper? The beauty, history, tragedy, and triumphs of these two islands have inspired artists, poets and writers for millennium. And after my recent trip, I can certainly see why.

Last month I took a 10 day tour of Great Britain and Ireland. It was the most amazing experience I’ve ever had and I would like to share it with you fine folks.IMG_4139

Now, my very dear friend Joy suggested that I take something with me to take photos with, like a doll. I thought about it and remembered that I had a Pleepleus doll that may be kind of fun to take with me on my travels. This proved to be true! So I packed Plee with me and took him everywhere. He was a great conversation starter, and it really was a lot of fun taking photos and creating a little story just for him. He will now be my permanent travel companion.

I signed up through Trafalgar Tours. The trip was to cover all five countries in eight days. And boy, did we ever!

After a 9 ½ hour, non-stop flight from Seattle, I landed in London on Friday the 13th. I had a private driver take me from the airport to the hotel. As we made our way through London, my driver was kind enough to point out various areas I may want to visit during my stay and gave me a bit of a history lesson along the way. We passed by so many amazing sights: centuries old buildings and homes mixed in with modern construction, gorgeous parks, and monuments a plenty. My head was swirling! I couldn’t believe I was actually in London!

My hotel was across the street from Hyde Park and the Marble Arch. I was traveling alone. Having never been to London before, I did not know my way around. My tour didn’t leave until the next day so I had the afternoon and evening to do with as I pleased. I asked my concierge to point me in the direction of Buckingham Palace. Yes, I’m fascinated by the romance of the British Monarchy. So sue me.

My concierge was concerned that I was going to walk there, by myself. He tried to talk me out of it by telling me it was a good 30 minute walk. In my best Maureen O’Hara I replied “that’s just a good stretch of the legs” and asked him to point me in the right direction. He pulled out a map and highlighted the best route. Off I went.

The walk along the busy city street of Park Ln was fascinating. I was surrounded by every ethnicity I could possibly imagine. Languages and attire from all over the world, just on this one street. It was fascinating and beautiful.

IMG_4118The sidewalks were a combination of old cobblestone and modern concrete. One really had to watch their step to keep from tripping and falling you’re your butt. As I crossed streets, I glanced down the alleyways and side streets. The beautifully aged buildings were covered in layers of black soot. History.

I crossed the main street called Piccadilly and made my way through Green Park. The park was full of tourists and locals. All enjoying the lush trees and green lawns of the park. Many were sitting or strolling in the sun. Others were taking a snooze in the shade. I wished that our parks back home saw such wonderful use.

I got to the edge of the park and looked up to the familiar building: Buckingham Palace. We’ve all seen the palace on TV or in magazines, but it’s not until you are standing in front of it that you really appreciate the majesty of the structure.

I crossed one final street and made my way to the front gates. Heavily armed guards stood watch at each entrance reminding me of the current times we’re living in. As I looked up I saw the grand balcony. For centuries that balcony has seen first wedding kisses, birthdays and coronations. It was exciting to be standing in front of such a great piece of British history and majesty.

The sun was starting to set so I finished snapping my photos and started heading back toIMG_4142 my hotel. I crossed back through Green Park and hoofed my way up Piccadilly. Down one of the aforementioned alleys was a darling pub straight out of a travel guide: Rose & Crown No. 2. I had forgotten I hadn’t eaten all day so I decided to stop in for a bit to eat and a pint. The pub was quaint and traditional. Old character and charm, wood panels, paintings and portraits of England’s heroes. There was even the expected fireplace in the corner! It was everything you would expect to see in an English Pub. I made my way past the glances of the locals and found a table all to myself next to the fireplace. I made my way through the crowd up to the bar and ordered my pint and a bag of “crisps” (potato chips to us Americans) and took my seat back at my table.

My first beer in the U.K. was GK IPA by Westgate Brewery. I love British IPA’s and this one was particularly nice. It was smooth, malty, and very easy to drink. Pair it up with some salt & vinegar chips…sorry, CRISPS, and it was a nice snack before dinner.

I settled in to my table and just observed the humanity around me. I listened to the wonderful accents and enjoyed the moment. I was really in England. I was really in the country I’ve dreamed about visiting since I was a child. It still didn’t seem real, but there I was.

As the sun lowered and the sky dimmed, I decided it was best to finish up and make my way back to my hotel. Buses and black cabs lined the streets picking up passengers. Luckily for this dumb tourist, there were markings at each cross walk reminding me which way to look for traffic. More than once I was almost barreled over because I forgot that Americans drive on the “wrong side of the road.”

I got back to my hotel, kicked off my shoes and realized how ridiculous tired I was. It was only 7:00pm but I was absolutely exhausted. I decided to call it a night. Jammies on, lights out, and settled in for the night.

Tomorrow, the tour starts.

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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.”

Cheers!

Liz

 

Sailing the 7 Seas January 5, 2013

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The pride of Gig Harbor has moved to a new pad. 7 Seas Brewing, home of the “Ultimate Proper Pint,” re-opened their doors last month. Newly located in what was the QFC grocery store and just steps from historic Gig Harbor waterfront, the new spot is bigger, shinier, and full of 7 Seas’s best brews!
Co-owners Mike Runion and Travis Guterson started the brewery three years ago in a tiny tasting room just off of Hwy 16. Having a deep concern for the environment, Mike and Travis pride themselves on operating a “green brewery.” They can their beers instead of bottling and recycle spent grain to local farmers for livestock feed. When it comes to setting up the tasting room,439 Mike used reclaimed wood when he built the long, gorgeous tables for patrons to sit at. The benches came from the recently demolished Tacoma Elks Lodge. Want to know more about the artifacts and stuff around the tap room? Just ask! The entire staff is very friendly and fun.
But enough of my jibber jabber. Let’s get to the beer!
British Pale Ale (5.4% ABV) – One of my favorites of the bunch, this pale ale is crisp and clean. Biscuity with floral notes. Very easy to drink and great year round.
Rude Parrot IPA (5.8% ABV) – This one is for the hop heads! Simcoe and Citra hops give this beauty the kick IPA fans lust after. Lovely grapefruit aroma and taste. And at 75 IBU’s, this is one rude beer!
Ballz Deep Double IPA (8.4% ABV) – 7 Seas most popular beer, Ballz Deep is another delightful IPA that would please any hop head. Surprisingly malty for an IPA but that is a plus! This is a very lovely, very drinkable IPA. Don’t get me wrong, this is a hoppy beer. 82 IBU’s to be exact. But if you don’t like to get punched in the face by hops then I highly recommend this baby.
Wheelchair Barley Wine (10.6% ABV) – You may want to sit down for this one! Thick and syrupy with a raisin and plum fruit aroma. Very warming. Very strong. Definitely a sipper. There’s a reason they names this vixen “Wheelchair.”

441Cutt’s NW Amber Ale (6.15% ABV) – Very nice. Pretty hop aroma. Citrusy and floral characters with a nice malt/hop balance. Great choice for a growler.
Port Royal Stout (6.8% ABV) –Another one of my favorites! Ink black color. Brown head. Malty and full-bodied, this stout has a lovely warming, toasty flavor notes of dark chocolate and espresso. The finish is smoky. Great as a desert beer or sitting by the fire.
Depth Finder India Red Ale (5.9% ABV) – One of 7 Seas newest seasonal releases this beer has a pretty dark red color. Hoppy aroma with clear body. Crisp and clean with a hoppy, floral finish. Very nice.
Reign Man ESB (5.5% ABV) – Another new seasonal creation, this lovely beer is malty and sweet with a nice hop finish. Crisp and clean this ESB would go great with any meal.
Belgian Imperial Stout (9.0% ABV) – Do you like chocolate covered bananas? If so you will LOVE this beer. I do! Dark brown teetering on black color and full-bodied. Malty, dark, bitter chocolate aroma and taste with hints of banana and coffee. Very smooth, rich gem.
There is no food in the tap room but patrons are more than welcome to bring in food of their own. The tap room is now open 7 days a week : Sun through Tues from 11:00-8:00, Wed through Sat 11:00-9:00.
I can’t say enough about 7 Seas except that I love this brewery! I have been coming here since their opening in 2009 and will continue to come back for years to come.

Cheers,

Liz

www.7seasbrewing.com

 

Beercation 2012 (Part3) October 18, 2012

Having never been to Bend, OR I was very surprised out how big it is. I guess what I was expecting was a tiny little town nestled on the edge of the Deschutes River. What I experienced was a large, pretty city with a huge appreciation for beer. There are ten breweries in Bend, OR each with their own style and character. There is even a “Bend Ale Trail” map that you can download onto your phone with directions to each brewery.  Most are within walking distance of each other but I highly suggest spreading your visit out over a few days. I hit as many of the breweries as I could in the two days. Although I could not visit all of them I did make a bit of a dent in the map and will tell you about my favorites.

I took up residence at the Old St. Francis School; another of McMenamin’s historic and lovingly restored hotels. Every McMenamin’s location pours their staple beers such as Ruby Ale, Hammerhead Ale and Terminator Stout. But each location also carries a beer or two that is unique only to that one. And boy was I glad to be at the Old St. Francis School during this particular week. Black Scratch Special Porter was a ridiculously awesome beer! Brewed with Mexican vanilla bean and cinnamon this porter delights as soon as you raise the glass to your nose. The aroma is a smack of cinnamon. Full-bodied and ink black color. Sweet vanilla hits the palate and the finish is dry cinnamon. This beer was like drinking a cinnamon roll! Another treat on tap, but opposite side of the flavor spectrum, was the Shade Day American Wheat. Light golden color with a soft honey aroma. Hints of caramel and wheat hit the palate. The finish is sweet with honey. This was a perfect beer for the hot day.

Making our way down the block we hit the most famous brewery from Bend: Deschutes Brewery. I started with something light. Spencer’s Gold was exactly what I was looking for. This filtered beer has a light hop aroma with a hop, citrus bite in the body. It finishes clean and floral. The Summer XPA was up next. Caramel and grapefruit are very present in the body. Bitter top notes with a hoppy finish. Very nice and not too hoppy.

About a block away is a little brewery overlooking the Deschutes River. Bend Brewing Company is very low-key and quaint. Blink and you may miss it as you pass by. But the beer is definitely worth the stop. Ludwig Pilsner is light gold in color. Flowers and caramel with a buttery body and a light hop finish. Elk Lake IPA was quite a surprise. Normally I don’t drink a lot of IPA’s but this one I could have had over and over. Pretty hop flower aroma and flavor. Well-balanced and malty, this IPA was very soft and easy to drink. Eclipse Black IPA was another great surprise. Dark brown color with toasty flavor and body. The hops are present just enough to remind one that this is still an IPA. Nice beer. And of course for the “hop heads” out there there’s the Hop Head IPA. At 100 IBU’s this is the strongest of the batch and not for hop wimps (like me). Very hoppy aroma and flavor. Strong hop finish but, like the two other IPA’s, it was very easy to drink.

My favorite brewery in Bend was also the smallest: Boneyard Brewing. A little more difficult to find (located in a residential neighborhood) but well worth the search. Just look for the vintage hearse sitting in the parking lot! But be prepared for an incredibly small, very punk rock/skater inspired tasting room (guys after my own heart). The brewers had the gals in mind when they created Girl Beer. This delicious wheat ale is re-fermented with a blend of dark, sweet, and tart Oregon cherries. Fresh cherry aroma. The first sip may make you pucker a bit, but it is quite a spectacular beer. Gentlemen, don’t let the name fool you! Most of the guys in the tasting room were asking for seconds and thirds of this little darling! Diablo Rojo is a lovely, malty red ale. Tasting a bit like dry, autumn leaves this beer is perfect for the season. for those of you who like a little “kick” in your beer, try the Diablo Rojo En Fuego! These crazy kids infused the Diablo Rojo with habanero and chipotle chilies! Talk about a crazy-good beer! But be sure you have your fire extinguisher on hand.

Bend, OR is a great place for beer enthusiasts to spend a long weekend. Again, most breweries are in walking distance of each other but a couple of them lie in the outskirts of town so I would recommend a cab. After spending two lovely days in this historic city, hubby and I packed up for our final destination on our beercation: Eugene, OR…

Cheers,

Liz

www.boneyardbeer.com

www.deschutesbrewery.com

www.bendbrewingco.com

www.mcmenamins.com

 

August 4th is International #IPADay! August 4, 2011

Filed under: beer,breweries,IPA,Micro brew — pnwbeerchick @ 5:52 am

Founded by @TheBeerWench and @RyanARoss, International #IPADay is:

” a grassroots movement created to unite the voices of craft beer enthusiasts, bloggers, and brewers worldwide, using social media as the common arena for connecting the conversation together. On Thursday August 4th, craft beer drinkers across the social sphere and across the globe will raise pints in a collective toast to one of craft beer’s most iconic styles: the India Pale Ale. This celebrated style represents the pinnacle of brewing innovation with its broad spectrum of diverse brands, subcategories, and regional flavor variations – making it the perfect style to galvanize the craft beer’s social voice.”

 

 
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