When I first heard that Drew Cluley was leaving his position as Head Brewer for Big Time Brewery & Alehouse, I was a bit disappointed. I’ve been drinking somewhat regularly at Big Time for years, which is easy since I only work a few blocks away. I enjoy a number of their beers, but also know they have been through many great brewers in their time including Dick Cantwell (most recently with Elysian Brewing Company), Bill Jenkins (now with RAM Restaurant & Brewery in Northgate), and Kevin Forhan (now with Flying Bike Cooperative Brewery). Drew has been through his share of breweries as well. In addition to Beardslee and Big Time, he’s also brewed at Pyramid Brewing Company and Pike Brewing Company.
When I heard the reason Drew was leaving Big Time was to be a part of a new venture called Beardslee Public House, however, I was excited. Drew brings over 20 years of professional brewing experience to this new venture from the John Howie Restaurant Group. You may know a few of their other establishments, including: John Howie Steak Restaurant (Bellevue), Seastar Restaurant and Raw Bar (Bellevue), Wildwood Spirits Co. (Bothell) and SPORT Restaurant and Bar (Seattle). He even operates a restaurant on the Microsoft Campus known as In.gredients.
Yesterday evening I was invited to Beardslee to sample some of their current beers, along with some small bite food pairings from Chef Howie. I also had the opportunity to meet Beardslee’s assistant brewer (and Certified Cicerone), Paige Zahnle, and Executive Chef, Jed Laprade. Unfortunately, Chef Howie himself was a bit under the weather last night and wasn’t able to join us.
Beardslee has built a beautiful space, nestled right next to the University of Washington Bothell campus. During construction, they had to harvest a giant Sequoia that was on the property, but they didn’t want it to go to waste. All of the tables in the restaurant were made from that very tree and many of the beer names are inspired by it. They’ve only been open for about two months now (they opened on August 10th), but Drew has been a busy brewer. They already have 12 different beers on tap and I had the opportunity to sample them all.
Their year round offerings include:
- Bastard Grain Pale
- Greenleaf IPA
- Four Ginger IPA
- Knotted Porter
- Widow Maker Wit
- Beaver Bait Blonde
The other/seasonal beers I had the opportunity to sample included:
- Yellowbelly Wheat
- Sasquatch CDA
- Bad Axe Double IPA
- Sidewinder Stout
- Patch Cut Pumpkin Ale
- Knuckle Boom ESB
All of the beers I sampled were quite delicious and reflected Drew’s 20+ years of experience in crafting interesting and very drinkable beers. Let me sum up a few of my favorites for you:
Greenleaf IPA: (6.4%)
Though Greenleaf is a single IPA, it actually uses more hops to create than Bad Axe Double IPA. This is because it is brewed using a technique called hop bursting, where most of the hops are added later in the boil. This has the effect of giving the beer a more subdued bitterness and an amazing hop aroma. It’s not as ‘in your face’ as so many Northwest style IPAs can be, but it definitely has a satisfying hop punch to accompany the delightful piney, citrusy hop aroma.
Knotted Porter: (5.4%)
This is what a Porter should be. It makes me wish Beardslee had plans to bottle their beers (they do not plan on bottling, but you can get growler fills). Extremely smooth drinking, Knotted Porter has a very pleasant and slightly roasty chocolate character with a very low hop bitterness. It has a medium mouth feel, went down extremely easily and reminded me how delicious well made Porters can be. I need to drink them more often.
Four Ginger IPA: (6.4%)
I haven’t tried that many ginger-infused ales. I recall having one a few years back at what was then known as Trade Route Brewing, but I wasn’t that impressed. Four Ginger IPA changed all that. As the name implies, it’s made with four different types of ginger: Fresh, Thai, Pickled and Candied. I would have thought that would be too much ginger aroma and flavor, especially for an IPA, but it’s not. The slightly sweet ginger aroma from this beer is amazing and the ginger flavor isn’t overpowering. The hops are still there and manage to balance quite nicely with the ginger. I could see drinking a lot of beer on hot Summer days.
Yellowbelly Wheat: (5.8%)
Yellowbelly pleased me with it’s clove and banana-forward aroma and taste, which is imparted primarily from the Weihenstephan yeast strain used in its fermentation. It’s light and crisp with just the right amount of hop character, and with enough mouth feel to keep it from feeling too thin on the palate. If you enjoy a more European style Hefeweizen, then you should definitely give this one a try.
As we were enjoying our beers and hearing some details about each of them from Drew, Executive Chef, Jed Laprade started bringing out a few dishes from Beardslee’s menu for us to enjoy. It’s important to note that Beardslee makes everything in-house; their breads, sauces, sausages, etc. are all made on the premises with locally sourced Northwest ingredients. All of their pork comes from Salmon Creek Farms in Idaho.
First up was a bar staple, but with a slightly gourmet twist. We were presented with two types of house made beer nuts: Sweet and Salty or Spicy. I had a few of the Spicy ones while enjoying my sample of Greenleaf IPA. Along with the nuts, Chef Laprade also brought out some Stout Infused Deviled Eggs. Who doesn’t love a good deviled egg? Add some stout and you’ve definitely got my attention. The eggs paired wonderfully with the Sidewinder Stout, of course, but also paired well with the Knuckle Boom ESB and the Bastard Grain Pale.
Next on our menu was some Greenleaf IPA Jalapeño Hummus. As the name suggests, it’s made with Beardslee’s Greenleaf IPA and a nice but not at all overpowering kick of Jalapeños. I love a good hummus and make it at home fairly often. Beardslee’s version was smooth and tasty and, of course, paired quite nicely with the Greenleaf IPA.
The parade of gastronomic delights continued with an offering of Grilled Kal-bi Pork Meat Candy. You read that right; meat candy. Think jerky, but thinner, not as tough and with a wonderful, sweet finish. This tasty treat paired incredibly with the Four Ginger IPA and also went well with the Sidewinder Stout.
Up next was a House Made Brewing Grain Pretzel (made with spent brewing grains), paired with a Smoked Gouda Cheese Sauce and some stone ground mustard. Along with the pretzel, came samples of two of Beardslee’s house made sausages: Hot Link and Garlic Chicken & Pork. I love a good stone ground mustard, but I couldn’t stop dipping my pretzel in the house made Smoked Gouda Cheese Sauce. The sausages were juicy, quite tasty and served with pickled onions and stone ground mustard. The Hot Link had a nice kick, but shouldn’t be too hot for most people.
We were starting to get a bit full by this point, but Chef Laprade wasn’t done with us yet. Beardslee offers 7 different hand tossed pizzas on their menu, and we had the opportunity to try two of them: Speck & Egg (Speck, Farm Fresh Egg, Arugula, Parmigiano Reggiano and Extra Virgin Olive Oil) and the Charcuterie Pizza (Roma Tomato, Italian Sausage, Salami, Coppacolla, Prosciutto, Speck, Roasted Peppers, Parmigiano and Extra Virgin Olive Oil). Both came on a light and airy crust that was still study enough to not become soggy or limp. Also, I don’t know who first started thee trend of putting fried egg on pizza, but I love it. The Speck & Egg pizza was quite delicious but, as a meat lover, the Charcuterie Pizza was my favorite of the two we sampled.
Just as I thought we were finishing up, I heard someone say something about a secret menu. I don’t know if Beardslee actually has one, but Chef Laprade was happy to go off-menu for our last offering of the evening: Russet Fries with Smoked Gouda Cheese Sauce and French Fried Onion Straws. Did I need this? No. Did anyone there need this? No. Did we eat it and love it? Of course. It would be perfect on game day. I wouldn’t mind seeing this become one of Beardslee’s regular appetizers.
In addition to the delicious craft beers on tap, Beardslee also offers a full bar with specialty cocktails, white and red wine, champagne and, of course, coffee from local roaster Cafe Vita.
I’d like to thank Beardslee Public House for inviting me to this very special event. I’d been meaning to check them out since they opened and this was the perfect opportunity. After sampling the beers and menu selections presented to us this evening, it makes me sad that Bearslee is all the way up in Bothell, but that’s only because I live in the South end. Either way Beardslee is definitely worth a visit. Stop by soon to check them out. You can see more photos from my visit to Beardslee on my Facebook page (and you can click any of the images above to see it larger).
Drink responsibly and stay safe out there.