Thursday, October 28, 2010

McMenamins Queen Anne

  This McM location is just a block from the Seattle Center, the Space Needle and all the good things to see and do there.  It occupies the ground floor of an apartment building, in a structure of particular merit.
  Inside, the premises have the usual McMenamin artwork, including the surfaces of the three brew kettles.
My server said this location has enough capacity to keep its own taps going.  In other words, it does not rely on the larger capacity at the DadWatson brewery in nearby Fremont.
  This location is like several other outposts of the McMenamin empire: chosen not because the building has any great historical or architectural significance, but because it is in a cool location, the kind of neighborhood the brothers M enjoy. The Queen Anne filled quickly on a Sunday afternoon, with customers of all ages. I had a steak sandwich with a pint of Ruby's and was off to the opera, a block away.
(Visited 10/24/10)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Fort George in Astoria

  The Fort George Brewery in downtown Astoria shares a whole block with a bakery.  It gets its name from what the British called John Jacob Astor's fur trading post when the War of 1812 forced him to sell it for a while to the Hudson's Bay Company (or its predecessor, I forget which now). Inside, the pints are flowing, in the form of mason jars.  Honestly, this is the pub's standard method of serving a pint.  My server said it holds a bit closer to 17 ounces, thus a better deal than the usual 16-oz. bar glass.
My jar was holding some Co-Hoperative, a fresh-hopped ale using just hops grown in backyard gardens in the town. Some other interesting names: Cavatica Stout, named for Charlotte A. Cavatica, the star web-spinner of E. B. White's classic tale.Vortex IPA, named for a tornado in Nebraska which came that close to destroying the brewing equipment as it was being trucked west to Oregon.
  They make sausage on-site as well.  I had a daily special, a chantrel mushroom sausage with a salad, which was tasty. A pretty good band was playing near the bar. It was a friendly place and a good time (10/03/10)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Hazel Dell Brewpub, Vancouver

  Hazel Dell appears to be an unincorporated but developed area just north of the city of Vancouver. The brewery is on Rte. 99, in a newish building.
It started up in 1993, the first brewpub in Clark County, by brother and sister Phil and Teresa Stein.  A good name for brewers--and for two of their best selling beers, Steinweizen (the hefe) and Steinbock (the bock, not the author.  Although I do have a t-shirt at the Steinbock Center in Salinas, CA bearing a great quote from his friend Ed Ricketts: "There's nothing quite like that first taste of beer.")
  Inside, the atmosphere is friendly.  The decor is nothing noteworthy, although the back bar is a nice picture window looking in on the 7-barrel system.
 Some reviewers have been unimpressed by the food here. I didn't have time or space to try a meal; just ordered a cup of chili and a glass of Capt. Vancouver's Stout: creamy, 6.8 abv, on a nitrogen system, and delicious.  The chili was pretty good, too.
(Visited 10/4/10)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

North Sound Brewing: Mt. Vernon's second

It just opened August 27th.  North Sound Brewing, a couple of miles west of downtown Mt. Vernon on Rte. 536.  The first thing you notice is this tall, brooding stone standing out in front in a landscaped pattern.
There's a story, of course. It seems Kurt Ahrens, one of the owners, has always had a passion for dolmens, those ancient burial markers seen throughout western Ireland and in other ancient Celtic lands. While the typical arrangement is two upright stones supporting a horizontal one, a single stone like this is just as full of Celtic mystery. So his wife gets him a dolmen from a landscaping outfit and has it delivered the day before Christmas last year. Just as he wakes up with a kidney stone to pass.  So he gets two stones, one to keep and one to lose!
  Four of the eight beers on tap have been named; the rest are called X-batch for now. I started my sample tray with a Big Bend Blonde. Its a light ale, named for the bend in the Skagit, just across the road and behind a dike. Next I tried a Bitter Rain ESB, made with seven different grains and an enjoyable maltiness.  After that, the Slainte Stout, very smooth and chocolate-y with yes, the hint of toffee the tasting notes mention.  Last was some sips of the Hop Chops IPA, with a nice grapefruit finish from the Simcoe hops;
  The little patio looked like it would be well used on a sunny day, but not on this rainy one.
A pleasant stop with friendly servers and pleased customers.
    During a later visit, Kurt was tending bar and sharing more stories.  The Goosetown Brown is named for a neighborhood in Anaconda, Montana. It seems all the brewing equipment was purchased from a micro in Anaconda that had to liquidate after operating less than two years, a victim of embezzlement. They gave the Goosetown name to one of their beers and North Sound kept the name going as the equipment started up again out here on the coast.
   And during tulip festival time (Mt. Vernon always tunes up for this the whole month of April) I got another story from Lyra, frequent tender of the tasting room. The pale ale was a seasonal, named Pearl's Pale Ale, and a large poster showed a cute shar-pei puppy sniffing a big red tulip.  This was Pearl, the late and beloved dog of Kurt and his wife.  Pearl passed away at the good canine age of 12 and they had this fine picture among their memories.
(Visited 10/9/10; 2/26/11; 4/15/11)

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Everybody's doin' it in White Salmon

   Brewing, that is. Everybody's Brewing is in a nice old building on the main street of White Salmon, overlooking the Columbia River Gorge. The structure is called the Goodwill Lodge and was originally an Oddfellows' Hall.
  Inside, local art and photography adorn the walls and the back window looks out on a deck and a great view of Mt. Hood. Inside, Christine was pouring from ten of their own taps and one guest brewer tap: Diamond Knot's hearty Industrial IPA on the day of my visit.  I tried their Daily Bread Common Ale.  As they explain on their website, this is claimed to be the "only beer style indigenous to the west coast."  Does that statement predate the rise of CDA (Cascadian Dark Ale)?
  Inside, the place is as convivial as the front door suggests:
  Jen from Pike Brewing saw my Kilt Lifter T-shirt and toasted my good taste.  She and a friend had traveled out from Portland to help out with Oregon's hop harvest festival, held across the river in Hood River the same day as the Yakima hop fest. Jen  told me about WABL (Wash. Beer Lovers) and why I should join ASAP. Christine had a good story about how a Seattle publican came out to sample, decided to buy some kegs right then and there to take home in the passenger seat of his Miata, and his wife volunteered to ride the bus back home so the deal could be done. Good beer, good soup, good time!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Roslyn Brewing: history made tasty

  Up through Snoqualmie Pass and heading down the east side, one come on the well-preserved old mining town of Roslyn.  The brewery here sits in a nice little wood building that blends in with the block.
 They have been here for twenty years, making just two lagers: Brookside and Dark.  With an annual capacity of 600 barrels, and fairly wide distribution for their 22-oz. bottles, adding ales to the lineup hasn't been in the cards, but that may change in the future.
   The original Roslyn brewery was in a substantial-looking brick building, according to some old photos.  It closed in 1915 as the mines played out and the population dwindled. The recipe for today's dark lager was found in the records of this predecessor. Old photos of life in the town during its boom years adorn the walls. No food made here but pretzels are set out. A pleasant stop in a friendly place.

Snoqualmie foam by the falls

   Driving up the pass toward Yakima, I took the turnoff marked for Snoqualimie and soon was in a brand new town atop a hill.  This was new Snoqualmie and I soon got directions to old Snoqualmie down the hill east. Passing a spur with a lot of rusting old rail cars, apparently works in progress for the Northwest Railway Museum, one follows the tracks and soon reaches the brewery.  It's a cozy looking place from the street:
Inside, the decor consists mostly of paintings and photographs of the falls.  There is one old drawing, showing the Snoqualmie Hop Ranch, a spread of some 420 acres in Wash. Terr. (pre-1889) and captioned as the largest hops growing operation in the U.S. at the time.
   With the railroading introduction, I had to taste their Steam Train Porter, 5.0 abv and sweet but with a dry finish.  It went great with a bowl of butternut squash soup.  They were pouring ten taps, eight of their own regular brews and one seasonal, the Harvest Moon Festbier, and what appears to be a permanent guest tap for Chimay.  A copy of the latest Northwest Brewing News was on the bar, opened to the profile of  Rande Reed, who has been brewing here since 1998.  The interview nicely depicts his previous experiences at Pyramid Brewing as it was in the process of becoming corporate.
   Snoqulamie has become big enough to run their own bottling line and is found throughout the state and in parts of Oregon and Idaho now.
   (Visited 10/2/10)