I’ve been living in Washington state since 1998. Upon my arrival from Northern California, I was pleased to discover that leaving the Bay Area definitely did not mean leaving craft beer behind. Indeed, some of my favorite breweries in the World are right here in the Puget Sound (Two Beers (CBM Sponsor), Black Raven (CBM Sponsor) and Fremont, just to name a few).
Before discovering any of the amazing breweries the great Northwest had to offer, however, I already had a small stable of favorite breweries from Northern California. Lagunitas Brewing Company out of Petaluma, California (and Chicago, Illinois) has always been right near the very top of that list. Simply put, they don’t make a single beer I don’t like. The quality and consistency of their beers is absolutely top notch, which is why I’m looking forward to trying their latest offering: Born Yesterday.
The holidays are upon us, and with them all those glorious Winter seasonal beers are making their return. If you’re a fan of stouts, spiced holiday beers and other Winter seasonals, then you’re probably on your way to Nirvana about now. Make sure you don’t leave though, without picking up some Festivus Holiday Ale from Black Raven Brewing Company (CBM Sponsor).
Set to release next Tuesday, November 4th, this spiced holiday ale is teeming with cirtus peels, cranberries, galangal root and a whole host of secret holiday spices.
Two Beers Brewing Company (CBM Sponsor) has been quite a success story. From their humble beginnings back in 2007, brewing just 100 barrels a year, Two Beers Brewing has grown steadily and now brews nearly six thousand barrels of beer per year out of their brewery on Ohio Avenue South in Seattle’s SoDo neighborhood. ‘Officially’, according to their website, they brew twelve distinct beers, but that number jumps to more than twenty when you include all of their seasonals, casks and infusions.
Two Beers Brewing Company is also one of those breweries that I can put on a very short and very special list: the list of breweries that, I can honestly say, don’t brew a single beer that I don’t like. Granted, not every one of their beers is my favorite, but every beer in their lineup is solid, brewed to style and a genuine pleasure to drink. There will be a new addition to their ever-growing lineup as well, when Two Beers celebrates their 7th Anniversary on Saturday, November 8th. That date will mark both the return of Overhang Bourbon Imperial Porter from Two Beers’ Alta Series as well as the release of a special 7th Anniversary American Sour Ale. Both beers will be available on tap during the anniversary celebration and in bottles to go.
Located in Kent, Washington, Airways Brewing Company (CBM Sponsor) first opened their doors to the public in March 2010. In October of that same year, they introduced their signature IPA: Sky Hag, the first new beer to be added to the Airways Brewing lineup since their launch earlier in the year.
Now, with Halloween fast approaching, it’s time once again to celebrate Sky Hag’s birthday and Airways Brewing has decided to combine that celebration with a Halloween party and costume contest at the brewery on Friday, October 31st. Also on tap for the celebration will be a keg of Ol’ Wooden Hag – Sky Hag’s ‘sister’ (aged on toasted oak), as well as Loud Lady Imperial IPA.
Fall has indeed returned to the Northwest and yes, Winter is on the way. One reason I don’t really mind the return of the cold, wet weather too much is that, along with it, return some of my favorite styles: Winter Seasonals, Imperial Stouts and Holiday Ales. While I may be a hophead at heart, my palate gets a decidedly seasonal craving for stronger, darker, maltier, wood-aged and even spicier beers around this time of year.
The craft brewing industry in Seattle and indeed across the nation owes a lot to the dedicated efforts of Charles and Rose Ann Finkel. After a chance meeting at a wine tasting in 1968, Charles and Rose Ann teamed up and founded Bon Vin, America’s first boutique wine distributor. A few years later, in 1974, Charles and Rose Ann Finkel sold Bon Vin to the owners of the St. Michelle Winery and moved to Seattle.
In 1978 there were only 40 breweries in the entire United States, and every one of those breweries but one were using corn syrup, rice and other fillers and adjuncts in their beers. Unfortunately, that also included most of the small, independent brewers, many of which Charles visited, dismayed to discover they they were copying the ‘big boys’ in their methods as well as their sub-par ingredients. That’s not what the Finkels were looking for. So Charles and Rose Ann founded a second importing company to bring in more of the authentic beers they craved from Europe. In the years that followed, the Finkels became the exclusive agents for such beers as Orval, Samuel Smith, Traquair House, Ayinger, Lindemans and several others. At the same time, they set out to educate the American beer drinker about the classic and authentic styles these breweries put out, and encouraged independent American brewers to do better.
I love a good IPA. If you’re one of my regular readers, then you know this all too well. Of course, sometimes I want the hoppy character of an IPA without the high ABV that will make me want to take a nap after having a few. Enter the Session IPA. ‘Session’ beers are designed to be lower in alcohol, so you can drink more at a stretch without getting too silly.
Granted, I enjoy the extra flavor kick a decent ABV gives a good IPA, which is why most of my favorite IPAs are actually Double/Imperial IPAs. Still, I have found a few different session IPAs that I really enjoy despite the lower ABV, simply because they are hopped properly (aggressively, some might say), giving you that hop kick you expect from a good IPA. One session IPA that does this particularly well is Nothing But Flowers Session IPA from Black Raven Brewing Company (CBM Sponsor).
After years of planning and preparation, Head Brewer Colin Lenfesty, President Adam Paysse and VP of Sales Mike Murphy, are preparing to start distributing beers from Holy Mountain Brewing in the Seattle market.
Starting out in a small industrial space in Seattle’s SoDo neighborhood back in 2010, Colin and Adam spent their evenings brewing pilot batches, refining their brewing techniques and recipes along the way. Holy Mountain Brewing will specialize in seasonal releases, including barrel-fermented beers. They intend to create a brewery that will prominently feature several different unique, barrel-aged beers, with no particular ‘Flagship’ beer in mind.
Fall has returned to the Northwest. I can already feel that little chill in the air, telling me that shorter days and grayer skies are indeed on their way back. I don’t really mind the Fall. In fact I’ve always enjoyed the cooler weather (especially after a particularly hot Summer) and the grey skies.
Now, Two Beers Brewing Company (CBM Sponsor) has given me yet another reason to enjoy the return of Fall: Grey Skies Dark Pale Ale. I know, I know. Don’t get me started on the whole ‘Dark Pale’ thing (perhaps it should be called ‘Cascadian Pale Ale’ – similar to the term that was settled on for what used to be called ‘Black IPA’ (now ‘Cascadian Dark Ale’ or ‘CDA’)).
At last year’s event, attendees had the opportunity to vote on Brewery of the Year. In 2013, that honor went to Big Al Brewing, who will be returning as this year’s defending champion. Will Big Al be able to retain their title for 2014? Why not help decide. This year’s event takes place on October 10th and will feature over 25 Seattle Breweries and even more great local food.