I wasn’t always a fan of Sour Ales. They weren’t a big thing when I first got into craft beer back in the 80’s but, since first discovering them several years ago, I can’t get enough. Super sour or just mildly tart, fruited or not, I’ve come to appreciate a wide variety of Sour Ales.
They weren’t the first Sour Ales I’ve ever had, but I’ve enjoyed just about every sour offering from Firestone Walker Brewing Company‘s Barrelworks series. Each year they keep expanding their wild/sour portfolio and this year is no exception. Say hello to the newest offering from Barrelworks: Bretta Tangerine. Brewed with Murcott tangerines, Bretta Tangerine is the latest beer to build on Barrelworks’ signature Bretta Weisse base beer.
Yesterday evening, I attended a preview event for Seattle’s newest brewery, Best Of Hands Barrelhouse. I first told you about Best Of Hands back at the end of January, when they announced their opening date of Friday, March 8th. Since then I’ve been eagerly anticipating the opening, and with good reason. These guys really know what they’re doing, and the beers I enjoyed yesterday proved it beyond any doubt.
If you visit The Beer Junction in West Seattle with any regularity, you may recognize two of Best Of Hands’ founders: Gregory Marlor, and Nicholas Marianetti (both are level II Certified Cicerones®). They both worked at The Beer Junction before leaving recently to launch Best Of Hands with their partner, Chris Richardson. The Beer Junction was also the first place to tap Best Of Hands’ Phantom Boots IPA last month.
I can remember when Urban Family Brewing Company wasn’t yet a brewing company. They were a craft beer bar on Ballard Ave NW, pretty much across the street from The Noble Fir. As a craft beer bar, I only visited them a couple of times before they closed and moved across Salmon Bay to their current location on 26th Avenue West in Magnolia.
I think Urban Family is a bit homesick for Ballard though. They’ve just announced that, later this year, they will be moving the brewery to a new location, back in Ballard. Sentiment isn’t the only reason for the move though. They’re starting to outgrow their current location, and their new spot in Ballard will give them more room to expand, including more space for barrel aging and additional outdoor seating.
There are lots of great breweries in Seattle and the surrounding area, and many of those breweries are definitely worth the short or even long trip required for a visit. Most of the time though, unless there’s an event or a gathering that might draw us farther away, or we’re out specifically to try a new place/new places, most of us tend to drink more often at the craft breweries that are closer to where we live. That’s a part of the reason I’m such an advocate for breweries that are more in Seattle’s South end (including West Seattle), but definitely not the only reason. Sure, their proximity to me and my commute route makes them convenient, but most of them also make some damn fine craft beers.
There aren’t that many craft breweries in West Seattle (although Future Primitive Brewing did recently open in White Center), but now we have another newcomer nearly set to go. Coming up on March 8th, Best Of Hands Barrelhosue will open their doors to the public. Founded by Gregory Marlor and Nicholas Marianetti (former servers at The Beer Junction – and level II Certified Cicerones), along with their partner Chris Richardson, Best Of Hands will specialize in mixed-fermentation barrel aged sours and European inspired farmhouse ales.
How long can a duck stand on one leg? Well, the mascot for Counterbalance Brewing Company (CBM Sponsor) has been doing it for nearly 4 years now and he’s definitely ready to party. You may recall that Counterbalance’s Multipass IPA came in as one of the finalists during Novemberfest at Beveridge Place Pub late last year and now they have another Fifth Element inspired beer coming your way as they prepare to celebrate another trip around the sun.
Come join Counterbalance Brewing this Friday and Saturday, January 25th and 26th, as they celebrate their 4th Anniversary with some new and returning beer releases, including their 4th Anniversary Big Bada Boom Hazy Double Mango IPA and 2019 Bourbon Barrel Kushetka Imperial Stout aged in 2Bar Spirits Bourbon Barrels.
Breakside Brewery out of Portland Oregon has a pretty diverse portfolio. I’ve had quite a few of their beers over the years; everything from their IPAs to their Stouts and Sours and, for the most part, they’ve been pretty solid.
More recently, Breakside has been working to expand their barrel-aged Sour program. Perhaps you’ve had their In the City of Flowers or their popular Qualia (one of my favorites of the series). Now, as 2018 draws to a close, Breakside is preparing to release Quiescence – a blend of 13 casks of wood-aged sour beer aged for 12 months in Archery Summit Pinot Noir barrels.
Seattle is a city that’s just bursting at the seams with craft breweries. No matter were you are in the city, you’re likely not more than a few stones throws away from a craft brewery. With so many breweries to choose from though, how do you decide who the standouts are? How do you know which breweries to recommend to people here for a visit or those asking about which Seattle breweries they need to keep an eye on?
Two factors that can help you decide are, of course, the quality of the beers the brewery is putting out, and the demand for those beers whenever there’s a new release. By those two measures, among others, Fremont Brewing Company has become one of Seattle’s best known breweries, even outside of Washington. Many of their beers, particularly their barrel-aged offerings, have caught the attention of craft beer lovers both near and far. They even have a super secret society of members who “solemnly swear to devote themselves to the pursuit of the finest beers that ever were” – the Heron Hunting Club. Fremont Brewing already distributes their beers to 6 states, including Washington, and now they’re ready to expand into Montana with the help of Hayden Beverage Company.
More often than not in the craft beer World, it seems like hops are the big stars. Much of this is due to the fact that IPA is still king when it comes to craft beer and, while I still enjoy drinking IPAs through the Fall and Winter, I really start to appreciate the complex malt character of less hop forward beers like Stouts, Porters and Scotch Ales to name a few. I also enjoy many beers that have been barrel aged in Whiskey, Bourbon, Scotch or other barrels and, let’s face it, there aren’t that many barrel aged IPAs out there (though they do exist).
I’m also rather picky about my Scotch Ales. There are only a few locally made Scotch Ales that I really enjoy, and one of them is Second Sight from Black Raven Brewing Company (CBM Sponsor). Now, Black Raven is preparing to release Second Sight’s more mature brother, Splinters Bourbon Barrel Aged Scotch Ale.
Of all the breweries in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood, I think I’d have to say my favorite is Reuben’s Brews. The quality and consistency of their beers are top notch and I honestly have yet to be disappointed with any of their releases. So when I heard they were getting ready to launch their first barrel-aged sours, I was intrigued and delighted.
Reuben’s has show themselves to be the masters of Rye beers, hazy and West Coast IPAs, Goses and more, so I have high hopes that their new sour Ales will be at the same high level of quality I’ve come to expect from Reuben’s. Over 17 months in the making, the first releases from their barrel-aged sour series will be “Brettania” and “Tropical Funk”.
Specializing in Belgian-style beers, including sour/wild beers and aged, blended/mixed cluture styles, Tin Dog has been honing their craft, and their work has paid off. I’d like to offer my congratulations to Tin Dog Brewing Company for taking home Gold, Silver and Bronze medals in this year’s wild sour beer category at the Washington Beer Awards and Brewer’s Choice Awards, taking home Gold, Silver and Bronze.