I recently attended the 9th annual Belgian Fest at Seattle Center. I’m a big fan of well-made Belgian style beers and Belgian Fest offers some of the very best Belgian beers made by breweries in Washington State. This year’s event featured well over 40+ Washington breweries, each pouring their very best Belgian Ales.
With so many breweries pouring so many different Belgian Ales, you’d think there would be no reason to go back for a 2nd sample of anything, in the interests of trying as many different beers as possible. You’d be right to think this way but that’s now how things always work out. The goal of trying every single beer offered at a festival is noble but usually unrealistic. Believe me. I’ve tried. These days, if I find a beer at a festival that I truly enjoy, I’ll definitely go back for more.
Pike Brewing Company is more than just a brewery. They also care deeply about beer heritage and about bringing as many different styles of beers as possible to market. Long before Pike Brewing existed, owners Charles and Rose Ann Finkel were the founders of Merchant Du Vin back in 1978 and today they are the World’s largest craft beer importer.
Today, Pike is still focused on making different styles of craft beer more accessible to everyone and, to that end, they have announced that their extremely popular, multi award-winning Belgian Tripel, Monk’s Uncle, is now available in 12 oz cans.
Just a couple of years ago, beers from Melvin Brewing Company out of Wyoming started appearing in the Seattle area. Being a big fan of hoppy beers as well as strong beers, I was immediately drawn to Melvin’s offerings, which satisfied both of these cravings quite nicely. I can recall drinking quite a bit of their Melvin IPA and, of course, their extremely popular 2X4 Double (some might say triple with its 10% ABV) IPA.
Fast forward now to 2017 – just a few months ago. Melvin Brewing decided it was time to expand and opened their first brewpub up in Bellingham on June 3rd. I visited them a few weeks after their opening but had to plan my day out carefully, because Melvin’s Bellingham location wasn’t set to open until 4 pm. That’s about to change. Starting on Monday, August 14th, Melvin Brewing Bellingham will start opening at 11 am and serving lunch.
Last year, Lagunitas Brewing Company introduced 12th Of Never Ale, their first ever canned beer. This assertive IPA is citrusy and full-bodied yet still light on the palate. Like so many other beers from Lagunitas, it became an instant hit and Summertime favorite for many craft beer lovers. Lagunitas was even nice enough to provide an ample supply of 12th Of Never Ale for a local, private fundraising event I recently attended. Thanks guys!
Well, 12th Of Never Ale is back for 2017. This time, however, there’s one big difference – the size. Those cute little 12oz cans of 12th Of Never you’ve been drinking? Yeah, they have a new big brother: the 12th Of Never 19 oz tall boy. That’s right. This Summer, when you take 12th Of Never along for your adventures, you’ll be able to bring it in a new container that will give the other beers people have packed in a serious case of can envy.
What happens when you take the basic concept of a growler refill station and decide to take it National? Well, what happens is, you get something like Growler USA. Founded in 2013 by Dan White (CEO), Dave Shaw (President), and Vern Whittaker (Retired CFO), Growler USA now has 10 locations across the U.S. and are slated to open 50 more throughout 2017-2018.
Each location boasts up to 100 taps of beer (including microbrewed craft beers), hard cider, draft wine & kombucha, plus an extensive food menu. Their tap list varies by location, of course, in order to offer locally-sourced options for their patrons, and their “True to the Brew” system ensures that each brewer’s vision for their product is honored. Things are kept tightly controlled all the way from keg delivery and storage (using ‘gentle’ keg handling systems to avoid sloshing), to a meticulously maintained tap system and the proper glassware for each pour. Yesterday afternoon I took a trek out to their Redmond location, courtesy $30 in credit from Growler USA, to see what they had to offer first hand.
Last year at about this time, I attended a food and drink preview at Safeco Field for the 2015 Seattle Mariners season. It was an impressive spread with a wide variety of options like crab sandwiches, burgers, gourmet hot dogs, flatbread pizzas and more, plus a wide array of locally sourced craft beers, wines and even high end cocktails.
Well, I’ve been invited back again this year for the 2016 food and drink preview, and I’m eager to see what delicious new items and what new and returning craft beers and other drinks I’ll find available for this season. One thing is for sure, a big feature of the 2016 menu will be gourmet sandwiches, using high end ingredients like Beecher’s Cheese, Hempler’s Bacon and Baker Boys Northwest Brioche Bread. I love a good sandwich, so that sounds pretty good to me.
Last year, I told you about a new idea Lagunitas Brewing Company had for bringing new meaning to the word ‘Fresh’. They had released a new Fresh Hop Pale Ale named Born Yesterday. Just as the name implied, Lagunitas wanted to brew a Fresh Hop Ale, and then have it delivered to their main markets by the very next day.
The delivery to most markets was a success. Unfortunately, the deliveries to Washington got delayed and took a day or two longer. Hopefully, that won’t be the case again. This year’s batch of Born Yesterday was brewed and bottled yesterday, 10/26/2015, and should begin arriving today in select markets across the nation (including Seattle).
I’ve never given a lot of thought to bottle openers or to ‘venting’ cans. Since I drink the majority of my beer these days either on tap or from a growler, I don’t often have use for a bottle opener or much reason to vent a can. I’m also, in general, not a huge fan of cans anyway. I totally understand why they’re back, why so many craft breweries are canning their beers and why they’re popular but, if I have to purchase packaged beer, I’ve always preferred the bottle over the can. It’s just my personal preference.
In addition, my days of drinking straight from the bottle or the can are pretty much over. I used to drink beer that way, back in my college days, but no more. Perhaps some of you think that makes me a beer ‘snob’. I don’t agree. I just prefer to drink my beer as it was intended to be: out of a glass. Granted, if I’m offered a beer somewhere in a bottle or a can and there’s no glassware available, I will go ahead and drink it from the bottle/can. Again, it’s just not my preference.
Having said that, I know that I may be in the minority. Not everyone drinks the majority of their beer on tap or in growlers as I do. If they did, there wouldn’t be much of a reason for breweries to package their beers now would there? Also, I obviously have need of a bottle opener at times. Not every beer I drink comes from a tap or growler. We’ve also reached the point where some beers only come in cans. So I do occasionally find myself opening a can rather than a bottle. You can’t fight change. So, when the Snake Bite Co. contacted me about trying out their product, I figured I’d give it a look.