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.
I never used to be a big fan of the can. Like most of you, I’m sure, I prefer to get my beers on tap whenever possible. When it’s not possible, the bottle was and in many cases still is my favorite choice. However, there can be no denying that cans have made a comeback in a big, big way. They’re lighter, more portable, won’t break like glass bottles and they’re easy to pack out if you want to bring some beers long for a hiking or camping trip.
Many breweries have started canning recently and now Counterbalance Brewing Company is teaming up with the new Beer Star in White Center for the official release of their first canned beers. First up for the can treatment are Counterbalance IPA and Raconteur Rye Pale Ale.
After a long Fn week. I bet you could use a Fn beer, am I right? Now, are you a fan of English style IPAs? They differ a bit from American style IPAs with their bitter yet smooth finish and a pronounced but never over-the-top hop character. American style IPAs tend to be much more in your face with the hops, slapping you with a big blast of hop aroma and flavor. American IPAs also tend to have, on average, a higher ABV than English style IPAs.
Foggy Noggin Brewing Company up in Bothell has lots of experience brewing English style Ales. In fact, it’s their specialty. Now, they’d like to devote a special day to just English style IPAs so, this coming Saturday, June 24th, Foggy Noggin will be hosting their first ever/first annual English IPA Tap Takeover.
Just the other day, I was telling you about how the changing seasons bring with them all the different Seasonal craft beers we enjoy as they make their annual returns. As the weather warms that, of course, means it’s time for most people’s taste buds to leave Stouts, Porters and other malt-heavy beers behind (for the most part) and start seeking out crisper, lighter (in some cases), refreshing, hoppier beers.
For me, the tipping point each year is the annual Underberg Back In Black Stout Fest at Brouwer’s Cafe during Seattle Beer Week. It’s sort of the last hurrah for the year before the Seasonal changeover. Granted, that changeover came a bit earlier this year, since Seattle Beer Week began a week earlier than in previous years. That doesn’t mean I never drink Stouts in the Summer, but far less so than in the colder months.
Barleywine season is almost here. The 15th Annual Hard Liver Barleywine Festival is coming up next month at Brouwer’s Cafe and the 15th Annual Barleywine Bacchanal will happen at Beveridge Place Pub in March. With these and other barleywine festivals on the way, local breweries are working hard to get their 2017 barley wines ready to go.
To that end, Black Raven Brewing Company (CBM Sponsor) is just about ready to release their 2017 Old Birdbrain Barleywine, which has been a multiple award winner at the annual Great Alaskan Beer & Barleywine Festival. This year’s vintage will arrive this coming Friday, Jaunary 27th.
These days, lining up for coveted craft beer releases has become a way of life here in Seattle. Over the past year, I’ve waited in line for the release of at least 7 or 8 different beers – probably more. The wait in line isn’t only about the beer though. For many of these releases I could have skipped the line, come in later and still gotten my bottles, but then I would have missed the opportunity to hang out with all my friends who also attend these releases.
Half the battle during bottle releases or when anticipating the return of your favorite on-tap selections, however, is knowing when they’re coming. Often times we don’t hear about a particular release until just a few days before it happens, meaning we may have to alter our plans or find a friend to pick up a few bottles, cans or growler fills for us if we can’t attend. That’s why having a release calendar can really help. To that end, Reuben’s Brews has just revealed their 2017 release calendar.
Sometimes, saying goodbye to an old friend can be difficult. While selecting just one beer as my favorite is a virtually impossible task, I do have a few favorites for several different craft beer styles. Firestone Walker Brewing Company‘s Double Jack double IPA, for example, is on my list of favorite IPAs (double IPAs actually). Now, it looks like I’ll have to say goodbye to Double Jack and a few of his brothers. Read on to find out why.
Part of the reason I don’t have a single favorite beer or a large number of set favorites is that new craft beers come out at such a brisk pace these days. It seems you can hardly go a week lately without discovering one or more new beers on tap each time you visit your favorite craft beer bar or even some local breweries. Sure, there are some breweries out there who come out with their set list of beers and hardly ever change or introduce something new, but that approach can seem downright boring next to the plethora of breweries who are constantly coming up with something new. After all, craft beer drinkers are explorers. Most love trying new things, so we don’t tend to fall into the same rut as those who prefer mass-produced American Lagers like Bud or Miller.
Earlier this month, Reuben’s Brews celebrated their 4th Anniversary. It was a great party with an amazing tap list, featuring a new IPA and 3 different barrel-aged beers to enjoy. I particularly enjoyed their new Hopped Off The Press IPA. I hope they brew it again and send some cans to local retailers.
Until then, however, I’ll have to be satisfied with Reuben’s latest news. Their Roasted Rye IPA, the beer that started it all for them, is now available in cans, and they have 3 new beers ready to debut for Fall. Say hello to Imperial Pumpkin, Life on Mars and Amarillo Fresh Hop.
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.