Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Elk Head: good times in Buckley

   The first time I looked up Buckley, Wash. on the map was to find the spot where country music singer Blaine Larsen came from, after I heard him play at the State Fair in Monroe.  It was way back in Pierce County, where the eastbound roads dead end (in the winter) into Mt. Rainier.  The second time was to find the Elk Head Brewery.  It's in a business park on the way into town, open afternoons Tuesday through Saturday. The tap room area is framed by a fine collection of other brewers' growlers.
 At 157 displayed growlers, they haven't caught up with the collection at Birdsview Brewing in Concrete, but they may be gaining. The tap room was a snug little space in one corner, about to get bigger as soon as the state LCB inspector approves the expansion. For now, plastic sheeting covered one wall and Al, tending the bar, said the inspector should be by in the next few days.  Al was busy pulling pints for the regulars and samples for the uncertain.  They made most of the standard beers, named for the mountain and the wildlife (Glacier Pale, White Out Winter Ale, Black Stag Stout, Lone Bull Porter) and some downright exotic stuff:
Blast Zone is an ale superheated with five different peppers (Habanero, Jalapeno, Poblano, Ceranos, and Hungarian Waxed).  Chantrale sounds like a French perfume but is actually a strong (8.5%) ale with a bunch of chanterelle mushrooms added to the boil.
  Another impressive collection, coasters, lines the walls of the loo.
Al said most of the sales here are pints and growler fills; they have taps in three or four restaurants in Buckley and Wilkerson.  The owner, Rich, was away running kegs down to Ocean Shores, by Grays Harbor, where Elk Head also has a pub.
   Conversation was good here, and also at the Firehouse Pub downtown, a friendly spot with long tables, communal dining, and two Elk Head taps among the bar's array. A thoroughly enjoyable stop.
(Visited 2/09/11)

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