Seattle is definitely a wonderful place to live if you’re a fan of great craft beers. The high concentration of excellent breweries in the city make it one of the best craft beer destinations in the nation. However, don’t forget to take a trip out of town every now and then, because there are several breweries outside Seattle – from the Oregon border all the way up to Canada – who are doing great work.
One outside-of-Seattle destination I don’t make it to very often is the Olympia area, which is home to several craft breweries including Top Rung Brewing Company in Lacey. You may not be as familiar with Top Run as some other Olympia area breweries, because they haven’t started bottling or canning most of their beers yet, but they’ve been brewing good beers in Olympia for nearly four years now, and it’s time to celebrate. This Saturday, April 21st, Top Rung Brewing Company will celebrate their 4th anniversary.
Fish Tale Ales has been cranking out craft brews in Olympia Washington since October of 1993. You know them as the most recognizable brand from Fish Brewing Company. What you might not be aware of though is that, through various mergers and acquisitions through the years, the name Fish Brewing Company now also includes the brands: Leavenworth Biers, Spire Mountain Cider and, added just last year, Vitis Spirits (Aka: Grapeworks Distilling).
Fish Tale Ales is popular with the organic crowd, thanks to their Organic IPA, which is made from 100% locally sourced organic malted barley and hops. Now, as part of their commitment to sustainability, Fish is expanding their organic line to include Organic Porter and Organic Red Ale. All three beers will now be available in both 12 oz cans and 22 oz bottles.
What do you do when you’re a firefighter with a passion for craft beer and you’re looking for a hobby to keep you busy in your down-time? You start homebrewing, of course. At least that’s how things got started for Top Rung Brewing Company founders, Jason Stoltz and Casey Sobol.
First opened in April of 2014, Jason and Casey launched Top Rung to fill a need they saw for more craft beer choices in the Olympia area. Now, they’re preparing for their third anniversary celebration.
A few years back, IPA fans in Washington were dismayed to discover that Russian River Brewing would no longer be distributing their beers to Washington State. That meant no more Pliny The Elder or Pliny The Younger for Washington (among many other great Russian River beers). That drought of Pliny (and the over-the-top clamoring for it during the years when we could still get it here) led many Washington breweries to start crafting their own Triple IPAs.
The first two Triple IPAs I recall seeing, which were intended partly as a joke due to the insanity surrounding Pliny releases, were Big Time Brewing Company’s ‘Whiny The Complainer’ and Naked City’s ‘Cry Me A River’. Super strong and over-the-top hoppy, I was an instant fan of both. Since that time, more and more Washington breweries started crafting their own Triple IPAs and soon after the Washington Hop Mob Triple IPA Roadshow was born. That first year, just 14 Washington breweries participated.
The craft beer scene in the Puget Sound is rather large, so there are a number of different writers out there covering it. Beyond Craft Beer Monger, of course, we have the Washington Beer Blog, Northwest Beer Guide, Northwest Brewing News, Two Brew Review, BrewDad and many more.
Each of these writers, including myself, have a passion for great craft beer. Now, BrewDad writer Mike Besser is taking his passion for great craft beer beyond writing and opening up his own tap and bottle shop. Next month, Northwest Caps & Taps in Bonney Lake will become BrewDad’s of Bonney Lake.
I finally had the opportunity to visit Top Rung Brewing Company down in Lacey a few weeks back at their 2nd Anniversary celebration. I had a fun, if extremely crowded visit (it was their 2nd Anniversary celebration, after all) and even went home with a growler of their delicious Shift Trade IPA.
Now, with Spring upon us and Summer not far behind, Top Rung Brewing is ready to release their Raspberry Wheat Seasonal Ale.
There’s no denying that IPA is the most popular style of craft beer out there. While most beer lovers I know enjoy a wide variety of styles, the IPA is still king for many. There’s just something about the right combination of malt and the right hops in a good IPA that can be quite satisfying with a good meal or all on its own.
Even with the incredible number of different IPAs out there though, many of them still manage to set themselves apart, particularly to those with more discerning palates. Piney, citrusy, dank, earthy, floral and herbal, along with fruit notes of all varieties and other undertones, are just a few of the many adjectives one might use to describe the dizzying array of aromas and flavors found in a well made IPA. Over time, some IPA lovers get to know the flavors of their favorite IPAs so well they an even pick them out blind.
I don’t get down to Olympia that often, so I have yet to visit Top Rung Brewing Company. With Summer on the way, however, I’m hoping to get my motorcycle back on the road soon. Then I can plan some day trips to visit several of the Washington State breweries that I haven’t had the chance to check out yet, including Top Rung.
Top Rung is the only 10bbl production brewery with a tasting room on site in the Lacey area and was founded by full time firefighters Casey Sobol and Jason Stoltz with the support of their families and investors. They’ve been at it for a while now and are pleased to announce their 2nd Anniversary celebration coming up later this month.
Would you like to feel like a kid again, but still have access to your favorite adult beverages? Then this might just be the event for you. Coming up on April 29th is the annual Adult Swim BeerCraft at the Hands On Children’s Museum in Olympia.
At this unique event you can explore the science behind beer, taste delicious craft beer from more than 10 different local breweries, learn about fermentation, investigate hops in the garden and chat with local brewing experts.