When you’re at a local craft brewery or craft beer bar and you find a beer on tap that you really enjoy, the first thing you usually want to know is whether or not they package that beer to go. As I’m sure most of you are aware, there are quite a few craft beers out there that don’t get bottled or canned – especially beers that are one-offs. That means, if you want to take some of that great new craft beer you just discovered home with you, your best bet is to see if the brewery or bar can fill you a growler to go.
Growlers are a great option and, varying opinions notwithstanding, I think they do their job quite well. However, using one means you’d have to already own one and remember to have brought it with you, or else you’ll need to spend a little at the brewery or bar (assuming the bar has some to sell) to purchase one before having it filled.
Festivals are a big part of the craft beer World, and a great way to discover new beers and new breweries. New festivals seem to pop up nearly every year and some, including myself, might say we’re starting to get too many. I have a lot of respect, however, for the festivals that helped start the craft beer festival craze and the Oregon Brewer’s Festival, which has been running for more than 30 years now, is definitely one of them.
We have great craft beer here in Washington State for sure, but we also recognize that there is a plethora of craft beer awesomeness coming out of our neighbor to the South. Showcasing all that embodies craft beer (and cider), this year’s Oregon Brewer’s Festival is set for July 24th thru the 27th.
Ten years ago. That’s when it all began. That’s when Seattle area craft beer lovers got to experience the first ever Seattle Beer Week and the first ever official Seattle Beer Week beer (a double IPA from Pike Brewing Company). Back then, many of our favorite local craft breweries and craft beer bars didn’t even exist yet. Whereas today, it seems, we have a craft brewery or craft beer bar around almost every corner.
More craft breweries and more craft beer bars means even more Seattle Beer Week events. Are you ready? Surviving the week (actually 11 days) will take careful planning. I’m here to give you some suggestions on which events you might want to check out. So sit back, if you’ve managed to pick up any yet, grab yourself a can of this year’s official Seattle Beer Week beer – Citrus Galaxy IPA from Georgetown Brewing Company – and take a look a Craft Beer Monger’s Picks for Seattle Beer Week 10.
Everyone loves a good party, especially when that party involves craft beer. Black Raven Brewing Company (CBM Sponsor) definitely knows how to throw a great craft beer party, and they prove it every Spring with their annual Flock Party/anniversary celebration.
This year is Black Raven’s 9th anniversary/Flock Party and it’s set for Saturday, May 5th from noon till 8 pm. As always, the Flock Party will feature several live music acts, plenty of ‘rare birds’ (rare and unique Black Raven beers, including some special cask infusions), delicious food, a retail merchandise booth and they usually also have an outdoor cigar lounge/booth.
Bicycling and beer seem to just go together. There are even several cycle-themed breweries here in the Northwest, including HUB in Portland, Flying Bike in Greenwood, Peddler in Ballard and, of course, Chainline Brewing Company in Kirkland. Situated along the new Cross Kirkland Corridor Trail, they’re in the perfect spot for craft beer lovers who prefer 2-wheeled, human-powered transportation.
I’ve been to Chainline Brewing several times (I drive there though – sorry), and I really enjoy their beers. Their Polaris Pilsner (2016 – GABF Silver Medal winner) and Tune Up New England Style IPA (2016 Best of Craft beer awards Silver Medal Winner) are solid and I’ve also enjoyed many of the special one-off beers they’ve produced. Their Flowtron Strawberry IPA was definitely one of my favorites and, lucky for me, it’s making a return for Chainline’s 3rd anniversary celebration coming up this weekend along with their first ever canned beer (Polaris Pilsner).
Seattle is definitely a wonderful place to live if you’re a fan of great craft beers. The high concentration of excellent breweries in the city make it one of the best craft beer destinations in the nation. However, don’t forget to take a trip out of town every now and then, because there are several breweries outside Seattle – from the Oregon border all the way up to Canada – who are doing great work.
One outside-of-Seattle destination I don’t make it to very often is the Olympia area, which is home to several craft breweries including Top Rung Brewing Company in Lacey. You may not be as familiar with Top Run as some other Olympia area breweries, because they haven’t started bottling or canning most of their beers yet, but they’ve been brewing good beers in Olympia for nearly four years now, and it’s time to celebrate. This Saturday, April 21st, Top Rung Brewing Company will celebrate their 4th anniversary.
In the World of craft beer, the IPA is king. There’s no denying it and, right now, the hazy and juicy New England Style IPA is the dominant sub-style. Everywhere you look there are cloudy, hazy, fruity IPAs that embody this very popular style.
The Brewer’s Association has taken notice of the meteoric rise in the popularity of this style and have added a new category to their 2018 Beer Style Guidelines: Juicy or Hazy Ale Styles – including: “Juicy or Hazy Pale Ale,” “Juicy or Hazy IPA” and “Juicy or Hazy Double IPA.” I’m somewhat perplexed that they didn’t call the category “New England Style”, but I’m sure they have their reasons.
Ales tend to dominate the craft beer World. Sure, there are some truly exceptional craft lagers out there but Ales, especially hoppy ones, always seem to take center stage. Even Firestone Walker Brewing Company, who first released Firestone Lager back in the year 2000, has a portfolio dominated by Ales.
Firestone Lager was discontinued back in 2007, mainly due to low demand compared with the plethora of Ales they produce. However, they feel that the craft beer landscape is changing and believe more people are open now to the idea of craft Lagers. So, Firestone Walker is pleased to announce the return of their new and improved version of Firestone Lager.
Despite the wide range of styles available to craft beer drinkers, it’s impossible to deny that the IPA is still king. In fact, just last year, the Brewer’s Association‘s annual craft sales figures showed that at least one out of every five craft beers sold in the U.S. is an IPA. Even though I try to vary the styles I drink as much as possible, I’m definitely a big IPA fan too as are most other craft beer drinkers I know.
That popularity doesn’t seem to be slowing down either. In fact, it almost seems to be expanding. Even with the incredible influx of new IPAs that are constantly hitting the market these days, most manage to find their audience and sell out, making way for the next IPA(s) coming down the pipe. I say, keep ’em coming.
As the weather gets colder and wetter out there, the Fall and Winter beer releases just keep on coming. I hope your wallet hasn’t taken too hard of a hit yet, because there are still several more releases to come. After all, Winter hasn’t even started yet.
Next up for Fall releases is Chainline Brewing Company out of Kirkland. This coming Saturday, November 18th, they’ll be hosting Bitter is Coming II – Welcome To Winter (& Return of the De-Railer!). This annual taproom party will be the setting for the release of three special, seasonal beers from Chainline.