I’m going to let you in on a little secret. It’s one that local craft bottle-seekers should know about, but many don’t. While I love our wonderful, local craft bottle shops like The Beer Junction, Bottleworks, 99 Bottles, etc., they aren’t the only place you can go to find great craft beer in bottles around the Sound. One of the places most people never think about when it comes to shopping for beer is their local drug store. We associate them with prescriptions and over-the-counter medications, first aid supplies, candy, toiletries and the like. Well, Bartell Drugs wants to change that.
I don’t always get to each of these places as often as I’d like, which is unfortunate. The two I tend to make it to the most often are The Beer Junction and Beveridge Place Pub, both in West Seattle. With only a minor detour, both places are basically on my way home from work. Don’t get me wrong though. Convenience is not, by any means, the only reason I frequent these two places. In fact, Beveridge Place is regularly named one of Seattle’s best pubs on many ‘Best Of’ lists and The Beer Junction was just awarded Best Bottle Shop In Washington for the 4th year in a row from Rate Beer.
Why have they grabbed my attention? It’s not because of some flashy ad campaign. In fact, they barely advertise. They don’t need to. So far, word of mouth has been doing the trick and drawing the crowds. It’s also not because of some fancy, over-the-top taproom. The taproom at Holy Mountain is actually rather minimalist; mostly white with lots of subway tile. No, the reason Holy Mountain has caught my (and everyone else’s) attention is for the best reason of all: the beers.
There seem to be a lot of high alcohol beers around lately. With Barrel Junction wrapping up at The Beer Junction (lots of high ABV, barrel-aged beers – a few are still on tap) and the Washington Hop Mob Triple IPA Roadshow right around the corner (starting this Thursday at Brouwer’s Cafe and running through the 14th at various locations), we really have to pace ourselves. That can be difficult to do, however, when even more high alcohol beers are right around the corner.
Each year, as Spring approaches, I look forward to the annual return of Barleywines from all around Washington State and all across the U.S. Two of the biggest and best local events for enjoying all those wonderful Barleywines are returning soon. I’m talking, of course, about the Barleywine Bacchanal at Beveridge Place Pub and the annual Hard Liver Barleywine Festival at Brouwer’s Cafe.
We love IPAs here in the Northwest. That’s a given. In fact, IPAs from the Northwest and West Coast in general have led some to push for the formal creation of a new IPA category: The West Coast IPA. Our IPAs out here are generally hoppier, a bit stronger on average and have that wonderful citrusy and/or piney character.
With so many great IPA options available, making a selection can be challenging at times. I’ve done several blind tasting to verify some of my favorites and one of those favorites, Wisdom Seeker, is making it’s return once again from Black Raven Brewing Company (CBM Sponsor).
Back in 2013, Two Beers Brewing Company (CBM Sponsor), released the first beer in what was dubbed their Alta Series. This is a line of specialty, high-octane brews that are Two Beers’ most over the top concoctions, pushing the limits of both complex flavors and ABV.
Upon it’s first release, the Russian Imperial Stout from their Alta Series was named Switchback, after switchback type hiking trails (in case you weren’t aware, Two Beers’ founder, Joel VandenBrink, is a huge hiking fan). Switchback was later renamed to Fall Line and was joined by the rest of the Alta Series beers: Overhang Imperial Porter, High Divide Double Blonde Ale and Ascension Triple IPA (although they haven’t brewed Ascension in a while).
It’s really been amazing to watch Seattle Cider Company grow so fast. First launched in August of 2013 by Two Beers Brewing Company (CBM Sponsor) founder Joel VandenBrink, Seattle Cider has continued to ramp up production and expand distribution. By August of 2015, they had increased production to over 23,000 barrels annually and expanded to more than ten states across the U.S.
Now, Seattle Cider Company is ready to expand distribution yet again. They have partnered with Missouri distributor, Major Brands, and starting on February 16th of this month, you’ll be able to find Seattle Cider Company Ciders across Missouri.
I recently told you about Payette Brewing Company, out of Idaho, bringing their beers to Seattle (full Payette Brewing launch details/Seattle events at this link). Now, in a case of turnabout is fair play, Seattle’s popular Fremont Brewing Company is bringing their beers to Idaho beginning this coming Monday, February 15th.
Fremont has teamed up with Hayden Beverage Company for distribution across Idaho and has several launch events scheduled in various locations around the state between the 15th and the 17th.
We may still be in the middle of Winter (damn, it was cold at my house this morning!), but that doesn’t mean we can’t dream ahead. Spring is a mere 2 months away and with the return of Spring comes the Cask Beer Festival, presented by the Washington Brewer’s Guild.
Not familiar with Cask Ale? Traditionally, Cask Ales are matured after fermentation in the container (the Cask) they are to be dispensed from, and are served without any additional carbonation beyond what carbonation they obtained from the Cask conditioning. This is why Cask Ales tend to be less carbonated and, often, served a bit warmer than their kegged counterparts.
Payette Brewing Company‘s founder Mike Francis has spent plenty of time in Seattle. A former industrial engineer for Boeing, Francis left the corporate life to work on his associate’s degree in Brewing Technology at the Siebel Institute in Chicago. After earning his degree, he spent some time brewing for Seattle’s Schooner Exact Brewing Company.
He left the Seattle area after working for Schooner Exact to head back to his home town of Boise, Idaho and in 2010 Payette Brewing was born. Now, Francis is ready to make his return to Seattle, when Payette beers debut here next month.