Friday, April 22, 2011

Hockey Night in Surrey, B.C. at Big Ridge Brewing

     Canada has a rep for being nuts about hockey.  After watching Barney’s Version at the cinema last month, in which Paul Giamatti, playing Barney, pays more attention to the playoff fortunes of the Montreal Canadiens than to important events in his personal life, I decided to observe real life fans.  I drove up to Surrey, BC, about 30 miles north of Bellingham, to the Big Ridge Brewing Co .  This is one of five microbreweries owned by the Mark James Group (the others are in Vancouver, Richmond, and Whistler) and the brew master in each location is free to create his own ales.

     More about the beer anon.  The pub was quickly filling up with fans of the Vancouver Canucks, who were leading the Chicago Blackhawks 3 games to one and needed a win at home tonight to win the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.  There was a bar side and a restaurant side, with a half dozen screens on each side.  The smallest screens were these three behind the bar.

     At the start of the match, one man sang the Star Spangled Banner and then another sang O Canada.  The crowd in the bar joined in singing the Canadian anthem, and they belted it out!  Chicago had knocked Vancouver out of the playoffs the last two years, and with Canada winning both golds in hockey in the Winter Olympics right near here, you had to figure the Van fans were pumped and hungry.
     Alas, singing the anthem was the most noise the crowd was able to make.  Their team was flat and Chicago whipped the puck in the goal three times in the first ten minutes. I munched a delicious pizza and sipped a nice foamy porter and did not think of letting on that I had a lot of family in northern Illinois. 
    The brewing crew had four regular beers working (the porter, an IPA, a lager and an amber) and one seasonal, a pale ale that logged only 3.5% abv but came with a nice clarity and aroma.  The porter had more heft and complexity.  The brewing works can be seen between the two giant screens in the bar area.
(Visited 4/21/11)


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Icicle brews in Leavenworth

   At last, Leavenworth, our fun faux-Bavarian village upstream from the apple orchards of Chelan County, has a brewery of its own. The town name has been taken for a series of German beers made by the Fish down in our state capital, but Icicle Brewing Co. sits right in the middle of the village in a handsome building.
Right across the street is the Fest-Halle, a special events space that hosted the Leavenworth Ale-Fest on April 16. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves at this event, in no small part because the sun came out and the temp reached 67--real treats for those of us on the wet side of the Cascades enduring a cold, wet spring.
   Back to Icicle: their own brews are a few days from being ready but for the festival they hooked up their taps to five other Washington breweries: Iron Horse, Big Al's, Alpine, Pike, and Pyramid. Bart Traubeck of Alpine, over in Oroville, brought his Marzen here and also to the festival next door, and a fine malty specimen it was.
  Icicle's high ceiling leaves plenty of space for its tall fermenters.
I didn't pick up the brewing capacity here but I would expect them to be able to keep a good number of taverns supplied with product once it starts rolling out.
(Visited 4/16/11)