It seems these days, there’s a ‘National’ day of… well, just about anything. We’ve got National Rotisserie Chicken Day (June 2nd), National Golf Lovers Day (October 4th), heck there’s even a National Day The Music Died day. It can be difficult to keep track of all those ‘National’ days out there but, if you’re a craft beer lover like me, there’s only a few you have to worry about.
One of the big ones that should be on your radar is National Beer Day, which takes place in just over one week on Friday, April 7th. Breweries and craft beer bars around the nation will be celebrating, and I’m here to tell you about a few selections coming your way from Elysian Brewing Company for this special day, as well as the return of a Seasonal favorite: Superfuzz Blood Orange Pale Ale.
New breweries are popping up in Seattle with such frequency, that I still haven’t been able to visit all of them yet. One of the newer kids on the block I still need to get to is Optimism Brewing Company on Capitol Hill. Founded by the husband and wife team of Troy Hakala and Gay Gilmore, Optimism wants to battle the pretension and snobbish ‘beer geek’ trends that have crept their way into some parts of the craft beer World and, as such, they don’t like to categorize their beers in to styles.
As Optimism puts it: “We do not use style names to describe our beers. Part of this is because we don’t brew beers to fit a style, we brew them to taste the way we want them to taste. Moreover, we believe that beer is “the every(wo)man’s drink”, not something that should be intimidating, pretentious or expensive. For this reason, we try to make beer approachable to everyone by describing our beers in ways that everyone can understand without beer-geek jargon. Most beer-drinkers do not even know that beer styles even exist, let alone have all 120+ memorized. We believe using flavor descriptors and a photo is the best way to encourage people to try beers that they otherwise wouldn’t have tried. Wine can be pretentious and filled with esoteric jargon to maintain an elitist status. Beer doesn’t need that.”
Today, Monday May 16th, is day number 5 of Seattle Beer Week #8, which means we’re about halfway through. Things kicked off last Thursday at Reuben’s Brews with the official tapping of the first keg of the official Seattle Beer Week beer: Daily Pale, followed by the opening night pub crawl. I had to drop by Reuben’s, of course, for the kickoff and then found my way to Beveridge Place Pub for stop #3 on the crawl.
I’ve been a fan of great craft beer ever since having my very first craft beer (a Red Tail Ale from Mendocino Brewing Company, if memory serves). However, I didn’t really immerse myself into the Seattle Craft Beer scene until sometime in 2010. Before that I was, of course, still enjoying craft beer, but my journalistic focus was geared more towards the console video game market. I used to operate a couple of console gaming review sites (focusing mostly on Xbox), which are now closed down.
That means I haven’t been attending Seattle Beer Week for as many years as some of you out there. The first time I attended a Seattle Beer Week event (and actually knew that I was doing so), was back during Seattle Beer Week #4 in 2010, and the first Seattle Beer Week I ever wrote about was Seattle Beer Week #5 in 2011. Right now, that sure seems like a long time ago.
Now, with 2016 upon us, we’re just one week away from the kickoff of Seattle Beer Week #8. That means it’s time once again for me to give you my picks for what sound like the best events at this year’s Seattle Beer Week, just as I’ve done each year since 2012.
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.
Seattle Beer Week #7 kicks off in just over 2 weeks. As of this morning, April 20th, there are over 220 different events listed for this year’s festivities. That’s incredible. Just two weeks ago, when I gave you my tips for enjoying Seattle Beer Week #7 on a budget, there were 180 events listed. As you can see, that number has grown significantly.
Now, with majority of this year’s events listed, I thought it would be a good time to review all the choices and present you with what I believe will be the best events to hit during each day of Seattle Beer Week. Unlike my budget friendly article from two weeks ago, however, this list of events will disregard cost and focus entirely on fun.
Seattle Beer Week (SBW) can be a costly endeavor. Depending on how many different events you plan on attending, in addition to any special dinners or other ticketed events, keeping up with the Jones’ can become a costly prospect this time of year for Seattle area craft beer fans. This year’s SBW kind of snuck up on me a bit. I can’t believe it starts in just one month.
Back in 2013 I ran the first version of this article: Seattle Beer Week On A Budget. In that article, I told you about one event each day during SBW #5 that would be kind to your wallet and give you the biggest bang for your buck. There are nearly 180 different events listed on the schedule for this year’s Seattle Beer Week already, and there’s still a month to go. Deciding which event(s) to attend can be a challenging task. There’s often more than one event I’d like to attend happening at the same time, and usually on opposite ends of town.
Last time, I listed just one event per day. This time, however, I’ll list two different events for each day of SBW, but you’ll have to decide which one(s) to hit. Hard choices sometimes have to be made.
Starting your own brewery can be a big decision. Some people ponder the idea for years before taking any action. Others just feel that spark and jump right in. In a way, both of these are the case for Outer Planet Brewing Company founders Renato Martins and Jim Stoccardo.
Now, stay with me here. A few years back Renato was Jim’s brother’s boss at Microsoft. Jim is an artist by trade but has been homebrewing since the mid 90’s. One afternoon when they all got together Renato and Jim started talking and Renato, considering brewing an art as well (which indeed it is), felt that spark and asked Jim if he’d ever considered opening a brewery. Honestly, what homebrewer hasn’t at least considered the idea at one point or another? Jim had, of course, thought about it but didn’t know if he had the means on his own. Renato proposed that Jim take care of the brewing, and he’d take care of the business end of things. Jim agreed. They scarped together what money they could, borrowed a bit more from friends and family and Outer Planet Brewing Company was born.
Yesterday, the big news broke about Anheuser-Busch’s purchase of Elysian Brewing. Reactions ranged all over. Some people congratulated Elysian. Many people got angry. Others just didn’t know what to make of it.
I myself decided to have a little ‘fun’ with Elysian by posting their original label design for “Loser IPA”, which carries the words: “Corporate Beer Still Sucks” (see below). I couldn’t help but find it a bit ironic, for what I think are pretty obvious reasons, and I guess I wasn’t alone in that. I posted it in jest on both Facebook and Twitter, and was frankly surprised at the reach it had/how many people responded to the image. It was even picked up by and used in a brief article that appeared on Eater Seattle.
So, today, I’d like to clarify a few things regarding my thoughts on this merger:
Dick Cantwell, Joe Bisacca, David Buhler and everyone else at Elysian have worked very hard over the years to make Elysian Brewing a successful, nationally (and even internationally) recognized brewery that puts out some damn fine beers. They have done an amazing job of building their brand and nobody can say they haven’t earned the reputation they have in today’s craft beer World.
If you’re a craft beer drinker in the Seattle area, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve been to Elysian Brewing Company. They have three brewpub locations around the city: Capitol Hill, Tangletown and Elysian Fields down by the stadiums, as well as their new Elysian Bar down on 2nd Avenue downtown. If you ever make it to Georgetown, then you’ve also likely seen their big production brewing facility down on Airport way, where they have held their Great Pumpkin Beer Festival for the past few years.
Founded in 1995 by Head Brewer and Founder, Dick Cantwell, CEO and Founder, Joe Bisacca and Founder, David Buhler, Elysian Brewing has grown to become one of Seattle’s largest and most respected craft breweries. They brew several iconic beers that are well known around the Puget Sound and indeed across the country. Now, Elysian prepares the latest release in their ‘Dick’s Picks’ Series: Knock On Nelson Wood Aged IPA.