Hellbent Brewing Company is one of those Seattle breweries that I just don’t get to visit as often as I’d like. My unusual work hours, combined with the fact that I live in the South end, mean that I don’t get to visit many North end breweries that often. However, that doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy their beers and will enjoy a few pints whenever I find beers on tap from breweries I don’t get to enough.
Between next Wednesday, January 17th and the beginning of February, Hellbent Brewing Company is set to release two beers and their first ever 16 oz cans. First us is a returning favorite: Big Island Toasted Coconut Stout. This beer was largely inspired by the fact that one of Hellbent’s owners, Randy Embernate, is from the big Island of Hawaii. Also on the way is their Sparrowhawk Belgian Blond and their House IPA and Dang! Citra IPA in 16 oz cans.
It took me a while, but I’ve come around to the can. I guess I had some bias to overcome. I grew up in the days when canned beer meant cheap, lousy, American light lagers in cans with pull-tabs that were littered everywhere and a real danger to anyone in bare feet. Even worse was the so-called innovation of the ‘push button’ top, where you’d have to push one small button on the can to release the pressure, then push the other ‘button’ on the can to open it (leading to many cut thumbs).
With improvements in can design (in both opening and in making sure the contents don’t pick up any metallic taste from the can), you can now find many excellent craft beer in cans. In fact, many of the more recent beer releases I’ve attended were to acquire beer that comes in cans. Firestone Walker Brewing Company has been canning beers for a while now (including those in their Luponic Distortion series, their Leo v Ursus series and, of course, Mocha Merlin), and now they’re pleased to announced the release of Nitro Merlin Milk Stout in cans.
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.
It took me a while to warm up to cans. I grew up in the era where the vast majority of beer that came in cans was horrible, mass-produced American Lagers. That likely tainted my response a bit, but I also still believe that beer tastes better out of bottles than out of cans. I’ve even read a few studies/blind tests that confirm this conclusion (albeit by a narrow margin).
Even so, I’ve come around on cans. The taste difference between can vs. bottle is virtually imperceptible to most and there’s also the fact that many new, highly sought-after beers only come in cans now (some also on tap, if you can find ’em). Now, Ninkasi Brewing Company has decided to jump on the can wagon and just announced that they’ll start canning their beers.
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.
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.
Seattle Beer Week is almost here. Things get under way next Thursday the 4th with the Kickoff night tour and, of course, the on-tap launch of the Official beer of Seattle Beer Week 2017: Fresh Off The Farm IPA from Bale Breaker Brewing Company.
Each year, Seattle Beer Week (SBW) partners with a different Washington brewery (or, in the case of SBW #6 in 2014, they partnered with six breweries), to produce the Official beer of SBW. This year Bale Breaker is honored to be the first brewery from Yakima Valley to be selected. In addition to brewing the official beer of SBW 2017, Bale Breaker also has several events setup throughout the week.
Sumerian Brewing Company has a lot on their plate right now. They continue to add new accounts, so you can now find their beers at 9 Costco locations, Xfinity Arena, 7-11, Haggen stores and Safeway stores, in addition to your local craft bottle shop. They’ve also worked to get their beers onto Washington State ferries and will also be one of several local craft beer choices available at Safeco Field for the coming 2017 Seattle Mariners season (watch for a Mariners 2017 Season Food & Drink preview coming in early April).
In addition, Sumerian is preparing for their 2nd Anniversary celebration and have also started to release their first canned beers thanks to their new canning line. The first of their beers up in cans will be Hopruption – formerly known as Eruption Double IPA.
Selecting an IPA these days is no easy task. With so many choices out there, many of them from right here in the Seattle area, how does one choose? I’ve never been able to select just one single ‘favorite’ IPA, but I do have several local favorites – most selected through blind tasting to ensure that I was listening only to my senses rather than giving allegiance (even unconsciously) to one particular brand over another.
One IPA that consistently found it’s way to the top of my blind tasting lists is Trickster from Black Raven Brewing Company (CBM Sponsor). Granted, I enjoy their Wisdom Seeker IPA even more (which recently made its return), but then I’ve always been more of a double IPA kind of guy. As single IPAs go, however, Trickster is high on my list, and now Black Raven is making it available for the first time ever in Cans.
I’m dating myself a bit with this reference, but there was a TV show that debuted back in the mid 90’s called The Drew Carey Show. Whatever your feelings about the show, the one thing I remember about it the most is that the main character, Drew, had a (likely illegal) microbrewery in his garage. His specialty was a coffee flavored brew, which was dubbed: Buzz Beer. If I remember correctly, the sitcom-ish tag line for the beer was: “Stay up and get drunk all over again!” (a reference to the supposed caffeine content of the brew).
Buzz beer may have just been a fantasy in a former TV sitcom but today many coffee flavored beers are quite popular. Two Beers Brewing Company (CBM Sponsor), for example, has been making their Jive Espresso Stout (seasonally available from November to February) for several years. Now, joining their seasonal can series of beers is their newest coffee inspired brew: Cold Brew Coffee Brown Ale. This new Spring seasonal can release joins Two Beers’ other seasonal cans: Day Hike Summer Session Ale (Summer) and Grey Skies Dark Pale Ale (Winter).