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.
One of the best things about the cold, dark days of Winter are all of the dark, delicious Stouts that come along with it. Sure, you can drink a good Stout anytime, but Fall and especially Winter are when our palates seem to turn more towards the dark side and crave all those deep, rich, coffee/chocolate/roasty and often barrel-aged flavors that a good Stout provides.
February is Stout Month and Fort George Brewery is ready to celebrate with a full month of events and beer releases. Don’t worry if you can’t make it down to Oregon for some of the Traveling Carnival Of Stouts events. They’ve planned 5 events for Washington Fort George fans as well.
Some of the first Fall Seasonals I started seeing this year were appearing as early as mid August. I suppose planning ahead isn’t a bad thing but, here in the Northwest where the Summers are notoriously short, we don’t need those early reminders that our sunny Summer days are numbered. Don’t get me wrong. I love many different Fall styles and welcome their return, I guess I’m just a little sad to see Summer come to a close this year.
If there’s one thing you can be sure of when Fall arrives though, it’s that along with it comes all the different Fall seasonal craft beers (even if some of them start appearing a bit early), including pumpkin and squash style beers. I haven’t found myself as excited for the plethora of pumpkin and squash ales that always make their way to craft bottle store shelves this time of year, but there are always a few new, interesting ones that catch my attention. One such beer is Wine Barrel-Aged sQUASH Ale from Lowercase Brewing Company.
Sometimes, which breweries you tend to frequent will depend as much on location as it does on beer quality. This is one of the reasons I don’t get to a few of my favorite Seattle breweries as often as I’d like to. I work somewhat odd hours and live in the South end. So visiting any Seattle breweries that are farther North in the city requires a bit of effort on my part, largely due to our craptacular traffic.
One of Seattle’s North end breweries that I don’t visit nearly as often as I’d like to is Naked City Brewery & Taphouse in Greenwood. Owner and head brewer, Don Webb, really enjoys his work, and it shows in the quality of beers Naked City continually puts out. I’m particularly fond of The Big Lebrewski, their award-winning White Russian Imperial Stout.
Now, before April is even over, Black Raven is bringing back another award winner: Pour Les Oiseaux 2015 Vintage. A Saison aged in white wine barrels and finished with Brettanomyces, Pour Les Oiseaux won a Gold Medal at the 2011 North American Brewer’s Association Awards (Specialty and experimental catagory).
Belgianfest 2015 took place just two weeks ago in Seattle (January 31st at the Bell Harbor International Conference Center at Pier 66). It was one of the first places this year (and every year), that you can try Black Raven Brewing Company‘s annual release of Bourbon Barrel Aged La Petite Mort. This Belgian Strong Dark Ale is delicious on its own but when it’s bourbon barrel aged, it gets even better.
I had to laugh just a bit when the crowds were let in to this year’s Belgianfest too because people, literally, started running towards a few different breweries, particularly Black Raven. Calm down, people, there’s enough for everyone! Well, honestly, that’s not always the case. I can recall a few years back when Black Raven actually ran out of La Petite Mort only halfway through the first session of Belgianfest. It was that popular. I guess those running for their booth were determined that, this year, they were going to have some.
“Beer in Belgium dates back to the age of the first crusades, long before Belgium became an independent country. Under Catholic church permission, local French and Flemish abbeys brewed and distributed beer as a fund raising method. The relatively low-alcohol beer of that time was preferred as a sanitary option to available drinking water. What are now traditional, artisanal brewing methods evolved, under abbey supervision, during the next seven centuries. The Trappist monasteries that now brew beer in Belgium were occupied in the late 18th century primarily by monks fleeing the French Revolution. However, the first Trappist brewery in Belgium (Westmalle) did not start operation until 10 December 1836, almost 50 years after the Revolution. That beer was exclusively for the monks and is described as “dark and sweet.” The first recorded sale of beer (a brown beer) was on 1 June 1861.” (*Source)
Coming up this Saturday, August 10th, Two Beers Brewing will release the third beer in their popular Alta Series: High Divide Double Blonde. This new release, perfect for the wonderful Seattle Summer we’ve been having, will be in a limited run of only 1,000 bottles. Coming in at 8.9% ABV and 42 IBUs, High Divide has been brewed with honey malt, fresh Wenatchee peaches, cherries, and has been aged for four months in white wine barrels. This aging gives High Divide a dry, oak character combined with a fruity finish. You can grab your bottle(s) of High Divide Double Blonde starting at 11:00 AM at Two Beers Brewing’s tasting room: The Woods, prior to its release to bottle shops throughout the greater Seattle area the following week.