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.
Last night my wife and I, along with several other members of the local media, were fortunate to attend a special preview night at Seattle’s newest craft beer and gourmet food spot: Tankard & Tun. Created by Charles and Rose Ann Finkel, the same people who brought you Seattle’s iconic Pike Brewing Company, this Oyster bar and restaurant is a bit more upscale and, fittingly, is right upstairs from The Pike.
I first told you aboutTankard & Tun back in April, when it was first announced and the Finkels were deep into construction and planning. It’s a beautiful, spread out space with a moderately sized bar area (the only section that is 21 and over only) a fermentation deck and few separate seating areas, including a private event mezzanine that’s upstairs but somehow still doesn’t make you feel removed from the market.
Maybe it’s just me, but it feels like the past year has flown by so quickly. Seattle Beer Week #8 almost feels like it was just a few weeks ago. Yet here we are, with Seattle Beer Week #9 kicking off in just two days. Have you had an opportunity to look over the ever-growing list of events on the official Seattle Beer Week website? With so many events to choose from, many of which happen on the same day or even at the same time, you may have to make some difficult choices regarding which events to attend. Here are my top picks for Seattle Beer Week #9.
Things get under way with the Official Seattle Beer Week Kickoff this Thursday, May 4th. There are 5 stops on the Seattle Beer Week (SBW) kickoff tour. Things start off at 4:30 pm at the new Flatstick Pub location in Pioneer Square. The other stops on this year’s kickoff tour include: Beveridge Place Pub (6:30 pm and Cask-O-Rama will be going on), Brouwer’s Cafe (7:45 pm), Naked City Brewery & Taphouse (9:00 pm), with the evening closing out at The Pine Box (10:30 pm).
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.
Scotch Ales are a style the often gets overlooked by your average craft beer drinker. They aren’t as prominent out there as Pale Ales, Stouts and, of course, IPAs, but if you enjoy a robust, malty beer that’s perfect for this chilly Fall weather we’ve been having, then give a Scotch Ale a try.
There are a few local breweries that make some excellent Scotch Ales, and one of my favorites is the award winning Second Sight Scotch Ale from Black Raven Brewing Company (CBM Sponsor). As good as Second Sight is, however, it gets even better when Black Raven ages it in Bourbon Barrels and christens it with the name of Splinters.
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.
I enjoy a good Wee Heavy Scotch Ale when I can get one. The rich, malty and slightly smoky/peaty full flavor doesn’t agree with everyone but, when they’re made right, Scotch Ales are quite delicious. The problem is, not a whole lot of local breweries make a Scotch Ale with any regularity. One of my favorites from breweries in the Northwest is Fat Scotch from Silver City Brewing Company out on the Olympic peninsula. It’s especially good when you can get the more rare Fat Woody Scotch (bourbon barrel aged).
Another locally made Scotch Ale that’s very high on my list is the one from Bellevue Brewing Company (CBM Sponsor), which also comes in a more rare bourbon barrel aged variety. Unfortunately, it’s not quite bourbon barrel time yet (in bottles at least – the bourbon barrel aged version is on tap at the brewery right now but won’t be for long!), but the regular version of Bellevue Brewing’s Scotch Ale will be making its return in bottles on February 20th. This is one of Bellevue Brewing’s flagship beers (meaning that it’s always on tap at Bellevue Brewing), and the only flagship beer they bottle seasonally. Their other seasonally bottled beers include their Rye IPA and their Winter Ale (Summer & Winter, respectively).