Ethan Stowell’s Bramling Cross restaurant is betting you’ll still have some energy and a hearty appetite left over after the end of Seattle Beer Week (SBW) on May 14th. That’s because just one day after SBW 2017 wraps up, on Monday, May 15th, they’ll be hosting a beer feast featuring beers from Fremont Brewing Company.
This evening of gastronomic delights, which Bramling Cross has described as a family-style feast, will feature several tasty selections from Chef Travis Post, all expertly paired with six different beers from Fremont Brewing Company.
Lowercase Brewing Company first opened their doors back in early 2014 in Seattle’s South Park neighborhood, sharing a building with another South Park newcomer, Burdick Brewing Company. If you’ve been following their stories, however, then you know that both breweries had to close their taprooms last year due to prohibitively expensive building upgrades the city demanded to keep the taprooms open in that location.
Burdick simply closed their taproom and decided to go the production brewery route. Lowercase Brewing, however, wanted to keep their taproom up and running so they started looking for a new location, which they found on Airport Way in Georgetown. After a few delays with permits and such, Lowercase was finally able to open their new taproom last November. The brewery itself stayed at their original location in South Park, allowing them to install an even lager brewing system and increase their capacity. Incidentally, I have also heard rumblings that Burdick Brewing might be looking for a new taproom location as well. I’ll keep you posted.
Deschutes Brewery out of Bend and Portland Oregon puts out a wide variety of Ales. Their most recognizable beers include Mirror Pond Pale Ale, Red Chair Northwest Pale Ale, Jubelale and, of course, their Black Butte Porter – both the regular and the annually-released, barrel-aged version.
The barrel-aged version of Black Butte is a bit different each year and can include additions like chilies, cranberries, orange peel, figs, vanilla beans or any number of other special ingredients. I particularly enjoyed this year’s release of Black Butte XXVIII. It had smooth well-blended flavors of vanilla and cocoa with just a touch of smoke, giving you a feel for the barrel the beer spent 12 months maturing in.
Now Deschutes has teamed up with Bendistillery, the same distillery that created the Crater Lake line of spirits, to bring to us a project 20 years in the making: Black Butte Whiskey. Double distilled from the wash of Black Butte Porter, it sort of brings things full circle.
Most craft beer enthusiasts have at least a few favorite breweries. I have several but two of my favorite breweries are Firestone Walker Brewing Company and Russian River Brewing Company, both from California. Unfortunately, Russian River stopped distributing to Washington state a couple of years ago; right around the time our state liquor laws changed and places like BevMo and Total Wine & More moved in. Personally, I miss their wonderful sours more than I miss Pliny The Elder (and Pliny The Younger).
One of Russian River’s reasons for halting distribution to Washington was due to the changes in our state laws (I heard rumors that BevMo wanted to try and buy out Russian River’s entire supply of Pliny The Elder the year they moved into Washington). However, it was also a financial as well as a supply and demand issue. The last Russian River Brewing Company beers were shipped to Washington in December 2012.
Nobody likes to see craft breweries fighting with each other. Unfortunately, however, disputes occasionally arise between breweries over beer names, label designs and other issues relating to intellectual property rights. Craft breweries are businesses after all, and must sometimes act to protect themselves. Thankfully, most of the time these disagreements are resolved amicably rather than through litigation and, in some cases, have even led to craft breweries collaborating with each other to produce a new beer.
Now, collaborative beers are everywhere. Avery Brewing and Stone Brewing gave us Collaboration Not Litigation (a strong, dark Belgian ale they collaborated on after discovering they had both named a beer ‘Salvation‘), Elysian Brewing did collaboration beer with The Bruery and Stone Brewing called La Citrueille Céleste de Citracado (an Amber Ale with pumpkins, yams, rye, toasted fenugreek, birch bark, and lemon verbena) as well as a whole series of collaborative beers dubbed the ‘Trip‘ series with New Belgium Brewing, and Fort George Brewing has had great success with their 3-Way IPA series, collaborating with different breweries for each iteration.
I never cease to be amazed at how much the Seattle craft beer community does for charity. Breweries, craft beer bars and, of course, all of us craft beer lovers can always get behind helping those in need. Of course, it’s nice when providing that help also gives us the added bonus of even more great craft beer to drink.
Two Beers Brewing Company (CBM Sponsor) is one of those breweries that loves to give back. They have teamed up with Lifelong, a leader in the fight against HIV/AIDS since 1983, to create Lifelong Lager, which will benefit Lifelong’s food program, Chicken Soup Brigade – providing nutritious meals in Washington to those living with serious illnesses like HIV, AIDS and cancer.
There will be a special preview event for Lifelong Lager at Two Beers Brewing’s tasting room, The Woods, on Friday, April 22. Then, Lifelong Lager will be tapped at more than 150 restaurants throughout Western Washington on Thursday, April 28, supporting Lifelong’s Dining Out for Life event. For every keg sold, Lifelong will receive a $50 donation to help fund the Chicken Soup Brigade.
Oregon and Portland in particular are already great craft beer destinations. By last count at the end of 2014, there were 221 breweries and 179 brewing companies in Oregon, spread across 71 different cities (58 of those are in Portland)*. Well, Travel Portland isn’t satisfied. They want even more craft tourism to come to Oregon and have partnered with Base Camp Brewing Company to introduce a series of limited-availability #PDXNOW beers as part of their larger “Portland Is Happening Now” Winter Tourism campaign.
Other participating breweries included: Baerlic, Breakside, Coalition, Ecliptic, Ex Novo, Fat Head’s, Gigantic, Hopworks and Strombreaker. Along with Base Camp, that makes 10 Portland area breweries, each contributing a beer to the series. Back on January 24th, Base Camp hosted #PDXNOW Presents Base Camp’s Collabofest, which was the public’s first chance to try these 10 brand new beers.
The craft brewing industry in Seattle and indeed across the nation owes a lot to the dedicated efforts of Charles and Rose Ann Finkel. After a chance meeting at a wine tasting in 1968, Charles and Rose Ann teamed up and founded Bon Vin, America’s first boutique wine distributor. A few years later, in 1974, Charles and Rose Ann Finkel sold Bon Vin to the owners of the St. Michelle Winery and moved to Seattle.
In 1978 there were only 40 breweries in the entire United States, and every one of those breweries but one were using corn syrup, rice and other fillers and adjuncts in their beers. Unfortunately, that also included most of the small, independent brewers, many of which Charles visited, dismayed to discover they they were copying the ‘big boys’ in their methods as well as their sub-par ingredients. That’s not what the Finkels were looking for. So Charles and Rose Ann founded a second importing company to bring in more of the authentic beers they craved from Europe. In the years that followed, the Finkels became the exclusive agents for such beers as Orval, Samuel Smith, Traquair House, Ayinger, Lindemans and several others. At the same time, they set out to educate the American beer drinker about the classic and authentic styles these breweries put out, and encouraged independent American brewers to do better.