I’m guessing that most of you don’t get down to Seattle’s South Park neighborhood very often. Then again, maybe you do. After all, back in May Loretta’s Northwesterner (quite possibly the best dive bar in all of Seattle) was honored with the title of 4th Best Burger In America from Thrillist. There are only a few breweries in the South Park area: Burdick, Lowercase and Tin Dog. Back when they all first opened the South Park bridge was still closed, making launching a brewery there a somewhat risky endeavor. Despite the challenges though, all 3 South Park breweries still exist and are doing well. You’ll even find their beers on tap at Loretta’s from time to time.
Tin Dog Brewing is situated in the Cloverdale business park, between Highway 509 and Highway 99 (W Marginal Way South). They specialize in Belgian styles so you’ll often find a Saison or two on tap, along with a Belgian Dubbel or Tripel and perhaps a Wit or White IPA.
Each year, the Washington Beer Commission puts on several different festivals to celebrate the diversity and excellence of Washington craft beer. These festivals are a great way to discover new Washington breweries and to explore different craft styles that you may not be as familiar with.
It may still be a full month away, but tickets are already on sale for one of my favorite Washington Beer Commission hosted festivals: Belgian Fest 2017. Set for 2 sessions on Saturday, January 28th, Belgian Fest 2017 will feature well over 100 different Belgian style beers from over 40 different Washington State breweries. Featured beer styles include Tripels, Dubbels, Saisons, Wits, Abbeys and Lambics. In keeping with this unique style, all of the beers are brewed with Belgian yeast.
There are several different style of Belgian beers out there: Belgian Pale Ales, Witbiers, Saisons, Lambics, Gueuzes, Blondes, etc. I enjoy them all, especially the stronger varieties like Golden Strong Ale, Dark Strong Ale, Belgian Dubbels and Belgian Tripels.
Black Raven Brewing Company (CBM Sponsor) appreciates a good Belgian as well and have produced several over the years including: Diamond Tail Northwest Imperial Wit, Feral Hybrid Saison, Jackdaw Pumpkin Dark Saison, La Petite Mort (and it’s cousins, La Mort Bourbon and La Mort Rouge), Pour Les Oiseaux Wine Barrel Aged Saison, Raven de Garde Strong Pale and more.
Whenever I’m asked what my favorite beer is, I don’t really have a good answer. Sure, I’m a Hophead (and s Stouthead, and a Sourhead) but I really enjoy all styles of beer. So selecting just one favorite from the vast ocean of choices out there is a rather daunting, if not impossible task. My ‘favorite’ beer is the freshly poured one in front of me, which I’m enjoying at this very moment. Beyond that, I really don’t think declaring a favorite matters much.
That doesn’t mean I don’t prefer certain styles over others. In general, I’m much more of an Ale drinker than a Lager drinker. That can probably be said for most craft beer fans too, since the vast majority of craft beers out there are Ales (though there are some very fine craft Lagers out there too). I’m starting to wonder if that attitude isn’t becoming more prevalent across the nation as well, as evidence by Budweiser’s falling sales and craft beer, for the first time ever, reaching double digits in market share.
It took me quite a while to get into Belgian beers. It wasn’t that I didn’t like them – more that I just didn’t know them. I was so accustomed to drinking regular, American ale styles like Pale Ale, IPA, Brown Ale, Stout, etc. that I wasn’t accustomed to leaving my regular comfort zone with my beer choices.
Sometime in the last decade or so, however, I realized this limitation and forced myself to start branching out and start drinking a wider variety of beer styles, including Belgians; and I’m so glad I did. Now, Belgian beers are some of my favorites to enjoy. There are a wide variety of Belgian styles to choose from as well, with a wide range of flavors and aromas from musty, hay-like farmhouse ales, to the citrus, clove or bubblegummy aromas and flavors in many Saisons, Belgian Pales or Belgian Golden ales and more.