Thursday, March 31, 2011

Centralia redux: new stuff at both breweries

   Headed down to Centralia on a recent Friday afternoon.  This is the only time of the week that Dick's Brewing opens the brewery for tours, tastings and sales, although the store a couple of miles away is open most days.  They brew in a good-sized building in a business park.  They have so much room that they put an insulated brite tanks room in the middle.
There is room for two separate bottling lines.  On the left, the 12-oz. bottler can crank out about a case a minute.  On the right, they fill 22-oz. bottles with the four imperial ales that make up their new Dedication series.

The dedication is to the founding brewer, Dick Young, who passed away in 2009. The four hi-test concoctions are Dick's Double Danger and Imperial IPA, each at 8.5% abv, and Imperial Red and Dick's Scottish, each at 8% even. 

  Continuing down the road into town, I returned to the Olympic Club, where McMenamins had booked the Portland Opera Co. to put on a touring version of Donizetti's The Elixir of Love. Last year I had not been able to view the hotel accommodations upstairs; this time I booked a room for fifty dollars.  I had wondered what the McMs could offer at that price; it was something like a hostel, with bathrooms down the hall, no phone or television in the spartan rooms. But their indefatigable artists had scripted and illustrated the history of various people who had passed through in the lively era of the Club's first incarnation.
The opera, enjoyed with a pizza and a pint of Ruby in the theater section, was great fun, sung in English and very accessible.
(Visited 3/18/11)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Gig Harbor's Seven Seas and nautical trivia

   Drove over the Tacoma Narrows Bridge last Saturday, on a fine sunny afternoon, and found that Seven Seas Brewing's tasting room would not open for a couple of hours.  As I had not seen this pretty town for about 25 years, I strolled around the harbor until I reached the local museum.
The red building in the lower shot is the museum, not a boat storage barn.  Inside, they had curated an exhibition on the Wilkes expedition of 1838-1841, which did an extraordinary amount of mapping, ethnography, botanizing, etc., not just in Puget Sound but throughout the South Pacific, all the way down to Antarctica.  They had compiled a list of how all the places in the Sound got their names--some from the Vancouver expedition in 1792, some Indian names, some from earlier Spanish explorers (how Juan de Fuca has not lent his name to a contemporary rock band I don't know, just imagine Juan and the.....oh, well).  An officer in the Wilkes group opined that this spot was an excellent little harbor, just the size for a gig, and that name stuck.  And many other places in the sound got named by the Wilkes expedition, too.
   Seven Seas opened its doors at 2:00 and had a good crowd by 2:05.
The regular lineup consists of four beers: British Pale Ale, Port Royal Stout, Cutt's NW Amber Ale (named for nearby Cutt's Island, see the museum for who Cutt was), and Ballz Deep Double IPA.  This last is a hairy-chested brew for the hop-heads: 8.4% ABV and 82 IBUs. I had a taste to verify its pizazz, but for a pint I went with the Cutt's Amber.  This poured with a firm creamy head, much like a well drawn Guinness, and a piney aroma. 
   Two packaging aspects were noteworthy.  One is cans: Seven Seas appears to be the first Washington brewer to get its beers into cans (Fremont has been working on the same idea).  They fill 16-oz cans and sell them in four-packs: $10 for the British Pale and $14 for the Ballz Deep. With two people on the canning machine, they can fill about six cans a minute.  The second is their growlers. They sell for $80 each, empty.  The logo comes out raised on the glass, with the big number 7 and the compass rose effects, and then is handpainted and glazed. The cap is of that permanent type that levers down for a tight seal. The server said they sell these growlers pretty much at their cost.
   Seven Seas was started in 2009 by Travis Guterson and Mike Runion and the first plant was destroyed by fire soon thereafter.  They quickly rebuilt and have been running since April 2010, just about a year.
(Visited 3/19/11)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

An American in Par--in Edmonds, rather

    Got to call on the new American Brewing Co. in Edmonds last weekend; it has been open about six weeks. It was also a chance to check on Gallaghers since they had moved into the same building with American.  Was glad to see Denny Gallagher's WSU stuff and the coaster collection in the loo had all made the move.  The building they share is hard by the railroad tracks and the ferry terminal. As you wend your way to the back of this business park, you see Gallaghers first.  American is around the back on the same level, and has commissioned an artist to create an unmistakable trail in the parking lot.
   Inside, the tasting room had drawn a nice Saturday afternoon crowd. The shiny, brand-new brewing equipment is on display behind tall windows.
  They are making four good beers at the moment: Breakaway Caboose is their oatmeal stout and gets its name from the railroad tracks, literally twenty-five feet from the back door. They make a light (3.2 %) Blonde called American Blonde, of course.  Ed's Red and Breakaway IPA round out the selections. A nice addition to the Snohomish County beer scene.
(Visited 3/19/11)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Homebrew fun

  Last Friday I got to encounter real home brewing, thanks to my bowling league friend Nathan.  We met at North Corner Brewing Supply down on the Bellingham waterfront.
This is a most interesting building, with the Waterfront Artists Collective Studio on the second floor and Dairy Distributing wholesaling milk out of the back (the artists have done a fresco of a cow being milked over the front door, just past the lamppost).  Inside, the brewing supply business is very well organized, with malts, hops, and yeasts all put out for sale in scoop and weigh bins or pre-measured packets that go with recipes you can print out in the front.
  Nathan bought the fixins for a Scotch Ale and I chose the wherewithal for an Amber Ale, and we headed off to his place south of town. We spent a while rigorously cleaning his brew kettles, carboys, thermometers. hydrometer, etc. as bacteria is the great enemy of fermentation.  We stirred the cheesecloth-bagged grains and the malt extract in the simmering kettles for the specified times, with good country and western tunes to help us keep time.
If my neice-a Lisa in Rockford happens to see this, pls note that I am wearing the New Glarus hoodie from
Wisconsin she sent me at Christmas.  At any rate, we reached the point at which the last hops went in, Nathan dropped his copper coiled cooler into each batch and we strained our ready to ferment brews into the carboys.
I will let y'all know in two or three weeks how it came out.  Sure was fun makin'.
(Brewed 3/11/11)