Right now, Oktoberfest is probably the last thing on your mind. We’ve been having a great Spring and Summer is right around the corner so why, you might be asking yourself, is anyone thinking about Oktoberfest already?
Granted, Oktoberfest is quite a ways off at this point. However, if you want to make sure you can attend this year’s festivities, you’ll want to purchase your tickets before they sell out (especially VIP and Fest Stein & Beer Package tickets). That’s why, even though it’s only Spring, it’s a really good idea to purchase your tickets for Oktoberfest Northwest now. Buying early even gets you a discount. This year’s event is presented by Evergreen Eye Center.
Are you a homebrewer? Even if you aren’t, but you are a craft beer fan, I’m willing to bet you know at least a few people who are homebrewers. I myself first started homebrewing well over 20 years ago (but I’m between systems right now, which is killing me!) and back then, just like today, many homebrewers started out by trying to recreate some of their favorite craft beers at home.
Back in my early days, when craft breweries were few and far between, the holy grail for many homebrewers was to successfully reproduce or ‘clone’ beers like Sierra Nevada Brewing‘s Pale Ale. If you could do that as a homebrewer back in the early 90’s, then you really knew your stuff. The challenge was that you pretty much had to come up with the recipe on your own. The homebrewing community was much smaller, there were few helpful recipe guides and there was no brewing software like BeerSmith or Brewtarget to help you out.
There are several breweries in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood. Most of them do great work but, for me, there are a few standouts who are head and shoulders above the rest. One of those standouts is Reuben’s Brews. They’ve earned over 100 medals at various competitions since first opening back in 2012 (quite an achievement for such a young brewery), and they make some of the best Rye beers I’ve ever had.
Now it’s time to celebrate those achievements in style. Coming up this weekend is Reuben’s Brews’ 4th Anniversary celebration. They’ll be tapping 25 different beers, including a brand new IPA dubbed Hopped off the Press!
The winners have just been announced for the 2016 US Open Beer Championship. Unique in it’s format, the US Open Beer Championship is the only brewing competition to allow award winning home brewers to compete against commercial breweries Worldwide. Beers from 95 different categories (including non-alcoholic) were ranked and the top 10 breweries and medal winners were also listed.
We’re fortunate in the Seattle area to have lots of great craft bottle shops around where we can find our favorite craft beers and ciders, and discover new ones from breweries and cideries both near and far. One such bottle shop is Full Throttle Bottles.*
Nestled in the heart of Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood, Full Throttle is a specialty beer and wine (and cider and mead) store that manages to carry an impressive selection of craft beers, craft ciders, wines and meads for you to choose from, despite its somewhat small size.
Just yesterday, I told you about a place where you can go to try flights of German style beers. Most of the styles contained in those flights are Lagers, but not the Alt. Traditional German Altbier (or Dusseldorfer Alt) is one of just a few traditional German Ales rather than Lagers (along with Kolsch, Gose, Hefeweizen, Berliner Weisse, Weizenbock and a few others).
From the German Beer Institute: One of only a handful of traditional German ales. Altbier is Copper-colored, cool-fermented, cold-conditioned, clean-tasting, with an aromatic hop presence, a firm creamy head, a medium body, and a dry finish. It is indigenous to the Rheinland, which is part of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia in the northwestern part of Germany, near the Dutch border. The best known Altbiers come from the Düsseldorf, the state capital.
Most craft beer fans I know gravitate towards Ales more than Lagers, and I think the reason is obvious. Pale Ales, IPAs, Stouts, Porters, Barleywines, Saisons and other Belgian Styles, etc. are all Ales, not Lagers. There are a few Lagers out there in the craft World but, for the most part, most of us tend to lean towards the Ale side of things much more often.
Unfortunately, that sometimes means we don’t take the time to appreciate some of the classic Germany styles (which are mostly Lagers) that are readily available at several places around Seattle. One of those places is Altstadt in Pioneer Square. To help you explore and appreciate some of these styles, Altstadt is serving up three different German beer flights, featuring classic German beer styles.
How many different craft beer styles can you name? Can you rattle off a long list or is your style vocabulary limited to just IPA, Stout and perhaps a few others? I hope you can name a few more than that, but if you can’t don’t worry. You can always keep learning.
One style most casual beer drinkers aren’t familiar with is Altbier. When most people think of German beers, they think of lagers; and that’s true. Most German beer styles we know today are Lagers. However, long before they were known for Lagers, Germans brewed Ales – as far back as 3,000 years ago. “Not many specific styles of beer can be traced thousands of years, however Altbier is one of them. The name Altbier was put to use back in the 1800’s when much of central Europe decided to switch to onslaught of light-coloured lagers, while the local beer drinkers in the Rhineland stayed loyal to beers brewed the old school way (ales). ” (*)