Friday, August 31, 2012

Everett festival tidbits

    Downtown Everett saw its first-ever craft beer festival August 18, and it looked to be a great success.  The Beer Commission paid some staff to check IDs, take money, etc., and also signed up volunteers, folks like me who will work for beer.  I spent about four hours sticking wristbands on people coming in, and counting out extra tasting tokens.  It was fun, chatting with folks about the tee shirts they chose to wear (generally brewpub tees, of course).
    My shift ended, I collected my "pay" (seven wooden tokens and a tasting glass) and made the rounds for another hour-plus.  Woodinville, down the road, home of Redhook and umpty-ump wineries, has spawned three new nano-breweries that set up here.  Brickyard Brewing, Dirty Bucket Brewing, and Twelve Bar Brews.  At the last-named, I had to ask the ignoramus question: "what does your name mean? Is that how many retail accounts you have?"  No, the brewer answered patiently, it's a pun on 12-bar blues, a musical term any blues fan would know.
    I was happy to see Gallagher's from Edmonds there and pouring their fine Belgian trippel, The Monk.  I've always dreamed of brewing my own batch of ale that would taste sort of like Pike's Monks Uncle, and this may be my chance someday.
    Fremont Brewing was there, and showing off their three ales in 12-oz. cans.  I posted about them almost two years ago, going on about their plans to start canning beer. Since then, a number of Wash. brewers have come out with cans: Seven Seas, Two Beers, Hilliards, etc.  The folks at Fremont had run into obstacles of one sort or another, but finally got the cans out about a month ago.
(Visited 8/18/12)

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Twisp River Pub w/ cool jazz

    Where the Twisp River flows down from the mountains to meet the Methow (note to out of state readers, that's pronounced as two words, as in "she once sang at the Met.  How she made it there I can't imagine"), the Methow Valley Brewing Co. has a very pleasant location.  Their totemic creature is the crow, and a chainsaw carved rendition guards the front entrance.
   The pub has built a deck in back, extending over the river, and offers outdoor dining and live music several nights a week.  Wednesdays is jazz night and last Wednesday we caught the Nancy Zahn band; the lady doing vocals and four guys backing her up on guitar, keyboard, drums, and string bass.

   I enjoyed a Vienna Lager while we waited for a table, and then paired the Pilnser with a Salad Nicoise (with the little French gizmo under the c) with seared tuna on top.  Fine fare on a fine evening.
(Visted 8/22/12)

Friday, August 17, 2012

Updates: Elk Head, Airways

   Since I checked out Elk Head Brewery in Buckley and Airways Brewing in Kent last year, each place has acquired a new look.  The patrons of Elk Head have room to spread out in the same business park location as the licensed premises have expanded to warehouse space next door.  This allows Al the bartender to run wild with his growler collection.
    Al says he has 281 growlers up on display and maybe another 50-60 waiting to go up.  This calls to mind Bill Voight's impressive collection at Birdsview Brewery up in Concrete.  Birdsview lists 294 growlers on their website, each from a different brewery with a few duplicates from retail sides (for example, Anacortes Brewing and their Rockfish Grill).  Al doesn't have a published list but relies on memory to avoid picking up duplicates.  A few exceptions for artistic design in the growler medium get a special display area.
   Who thinks the question of which collection has the most craft brewers represented calls out for some objective research?  We will not say sober analysis lest that stretch a point.  But as each of these fine collections inches toward 300 breweries, half of each from Washington and Oregon, the race seems to have an allure for the beer tourist.
   There was time to taste a bit.  Rich is making Elk Dandee, among his dozen or so brews.  This is an exotic, with dandelion greens, ginger root, and lemongrass tossed in the boil.  Not soon forgotten!
(Revisited 8/03/12)
   On the way back from Tacoma the next day, I veered over to Airways Brewing in Kent to check out the bistro they opened recently in the downtown section.  Brewing continues in the business park on the north side, complete with brewer-owner Alex Dittmar's zany collection of commercial air travel accoutrements (see my Jan. 2011 post).  The bistro, in a set of offices that once housed accountants, does not lend itself to such--dare I say--flights of fancy?
On the other hand, the bistro offers food cooked in a real kitchen, as opposed to the bag of pretzels a sky hag stewardess may dole out at the brewery.  Nine panini and twelve pizze grace a nice pub fare menu.  I chose the sausage panini with a First Class IPA.
Of the twelve taps working, six were Airways brews and six were others, including some new nanobrewers striving for reputation.  It's a gracious move by Airways to give these guys some exposure.  Oh, everything tasted great.  This is a good stop.
(Visited 8/04/12)

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Pacifc Coast Brewing, Oakland--there is a there there

     Oakland, Calif. is the place Gertrude Stein was talking about when she said "there is no there, there."  She grew up there in the 1880s and 1890s and whether the knock was justified then, it sure isn't today.  Jack London Square is a nice touristy spot on the waterfront, and a few blocks in the warehouse district starts, a lot of it former warehouses that have become trendy lofts. 
     Pacific Coast Brewing is in this district, on the ground floor of the Nicholl Block, a building with an 1876 date and a nice gilded age look.
    The naming trend here goes with whales: they make Gray Whale Pale, Killer Whale Stout, Blue Whale IPA, etc.  I tried the stout, rich and malty with a head that stayed up like a well-poured Guiness. It paired well with the meatloaf. The patio area in the back is leafy and pleasant on a sunny day.
   The bar and side cooler inside are said to be from a saloon known as J.P. Cox', which opened in 1874; the plaque notes extensive restoration work to have it looking as it does today.
(Visited 7/30.12)

Friday, August 10, 2012

21st Amendment: after the ball game

    The 21st Amendment to the consitution is the one that repealed the 18th Amendment--Prohibition--thus ending the Great Experiment in 1933.  Another part of the amendment gives the states a lot of latitude to regulate the alcohol business as they see fit, explaining why laws about the sale of beer vary so much more than laws on the sale of pop or coffee.  Hence the name of the 21st Amendment Brewery in San Francisco.  The brewhouse and restaurant are on 2nd St., between the downtown section and AT&T Park, where the Giants play baseball.
   As I walked down 2nd toward this spot, a lot of glum fans were walking up, having seen the home team swept by their hated rivals, the L.A. Dodgers.  The media have built up the Yankees-Red Sox as the great baseball conflict (Mordor vs, the Shire this year), but in the 60s, in my college days around here, Giants-Dodgers was The Rivalry.  Koufax or Marichal.  The two Willies, Mays and McCovey.
   On to the beer!  21st Amendment ales have entered a lot of markets with their 12-oz cans.  All the canned beers they sell under their name are brewed under contract at Cold Spring Brewing in Minnesota.  Contract brewing has been a perjorative in some purist circles, but as Maureen Ogle points out in Ambitious Brew, her history of brewing in America, many successful craft brewers used contract arrangements to become successful, like Koch's Samuel Adams.  My server told me the Cold Spring folks also fill 21st Amendment's barrel and half barrel kegs for the draft trade.  The brewing equipment on the premises in San Francisco is in use, but only for mega-kegs (400 gallons or so) used right there on the premises.

  The restaurant was crowded on a sunny Sunday afternoon after a ball game; on days like that you can bet the bartender is happy the kegs won't run out anytime soon.
(Visited 7/20/12)

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Berkeley's Triple Rock: Deja vu in a U-district

    Strolling along Shattuck Ave. in Berkeley, just a couple blocks down from the Cal campus, appears the Triple Rock Brewery.  It is the fifth brewpub (preparing and serving food along with brewing) to open in the U.S., and the oldest one still owned by the same people and brewing on the same equipment.  The website lists its predecessors, starting with Bert Grant's Yakima site in 1982.  A sign hangs out over the sidewalk, with neon characters for the nighttime.

I had seen a brewpub sign like that somewhere else, but where?  I went in, ordered one of the three pale ales on tap that day, and mused aloud how familiar this pub--which I had never seen before--appeared. 

A regular customer on the next barstool, hearing I was from Washington and familiar with the Seattle scene, cleared things up.  The same folks who own Triple Rock own Big Time Brewery, in the heart of the UW campus in Seattle.

Here is Big Time's sign at 4133 University Way N.E.:

The interior at Triple Rock is also very much like what you seen in Big Time, dark woods, booths and a long bar.  This is Berkeley; I don't have an interior short of the Seattle pub
            (Visited 7/29/12)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Magnolia: on the Haight

   If they could make a year a National Park, a zeitgeist preserved as it were, the corner of Haight and Asbury in San Francisco would be its 1967 headquarters.  OK, no more puns, but just a block away, at the corner of Haight and Masonic, the Magnolia Brewing Co. is serving up groovy beer. 
That's Paul and Linda (last seen on this blog in Raleigh), who flew all the way out from San Francisco to join some old friends for a great weekend, and the three of us launched it with brunch at Magnolia.  I had to try the Kolsch-and-scrapple combo mentioned in the Great American Ale Trail, and was pleased to see them serving Kolsch in the proper glasses.
   The board listed a nice choice of styles, and the menu had some off-the-beaten path items.  We tried  beer ice cream, a scoop of vanilla-ish sweetness floating in a cup of stout. The Humphrey Slocombe Ice Cream folks really make this with some malts from the brewery here.
Visited 7/27/12)