Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Goose Island--Bud Craft? Not exactly

    When Anheuser-Busch acquired Goose Island Brewing, one of Chicago's best-known craft brewers, a couple of years ago, it made waves in the small brewer community.  Since craft has been the fastest-growing segment of beer sales for some time now, would the big industrial brewers just buy up the most successful little guys, with who-knows-what effect on the experimental, adventurous micro scene?
     "Things are seldom what they seem/Skim milk masquerades as cream."  That G&S line from Pinafore popped into my head when I visited Goose Island's brewpub, hard by Wrigley Field, lately.  My server showed me a beer list with 24 entries, all Goose Island brews.  I noticed a little flag symbol in front of about half of them and asked what it signified.  "Oh, those are the ones we make here or at our other brewery, on Clybourne.  The ones without flags A-B makes in their Holton brewery and ships here."
     The unflagged beers were the Goose Island brands you see in bars all over Chicago and in bottles all over the country: 312, the "urban" wheat beer.  Honkers, the pale ale.  Green Line, Sofie, etc., if you've seen it in a bottle shop, it's Bud Craft.  But the giant acquired the established brands and the rights to distribute anything with the Goose Island name on it.  They did not acquire the brewing works or the brewers' ability to keep on makihng new beers--as long as they only sell the new stuff on these premises.  The flagged brands do not leave the premises other than in growlers.

(Visited 5/15/13)

Barley Mill Pub, Pendicton

Pendicton, British Columbia sits in the middle of the beautiful, wine-grape laden Okanagan Valley. The town also supports three craft brewers; I had time to check out one recently.  The Barley Mill has been a pub since 1982, a brewery since 1996.  They make two lagers, a "classic" with pilsner malts and a mexcian style; also a wheat ale, a pale, and a brown.  Jon Stott's Beer Quest West (2011), my bookshelf reference for B.C. breweries, says the upstairs area, where the brewing goes on, has a nice collection of NHL and other hockey memorabilia.  There was a poker tournament going on up there so I couldn't inspect it closely.  In the center of the first photo, one may be able to see the hockey uniform on a mannequin.  
(Visited 5/20/13)

Alpine Brewing, Oroville

   Oroville sits on the border, in the verdant Okanagan Valley.  Bart Traubeck,  the Munich-born brewer has been turning out fine German beers in this small town for a number of years.  His brewery is only open on the occasional Saturday, notice given on a blackboard by the door.
     Passing through the town recently, I learned that Alpine's lagers were likely to be on tap in a couple of nearby taverns, and found the pilsner at the Pastime, an attractive alehouse just a block south.  Braumeister Bart was sitting at a sidewalk table, enjoying a glass with a friend.
I saluted him and commended his pilsner --made to the high standards at Chuckanut we enjoy here in Bellingham.
(Visited 5/20/13)

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Carlisle brewing company Rockford, Illinois.

A ten year old brewery in a 100 year old building, Carlisle has a pleasant brew pub beside the Rock River.  It has a handsome facade on State St., pictured below as daughter and nephew enter.
Carlisle brews most of the popular styles: wheat, pale, Scottish, red, brown, IPA  (not as hoppy as Northwest tastes go for ), and a couple of more adventurous types. I tried Uncle Jules, a Belgian hybrid  , part Dubbel, part Trippel, with the sort of hops that gives a grapefruit flavor to the finish.
(Visited 5/16/13)

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Untapped Blues/Brews Festival in Kennewick

   Took in the Untapped yesterday, and Wow!  new breweries keep popping up all over the state.   I met folks from four outfits I had never heard of before, and they all brought excellent beers to the show.  Let's start with Richland, next door to Kennewick.  Last year I visited White Bluffs Brewing and noted it as the third in the city, along with Atomic Ales and Rattlesnake Brewing.  Now the nuclear city is up to five brewers!   First stop was at the Shrub Steppe Smokehouse Brewery: that's two lines of business, barbeque and brewing.  I did start out with a smoked dark lager, to muddle matters further.  Shrub Steppe is located miles out of the city limits, on the road that skirts the Hanford reservation. 

     Back in Richland proper, the New School Brewing Company had just opened for business. Owner/brewer Rob Hall and colleagues were doing a brisk business at their stand, curious locals checking them out.  They had commissioned some vivid artwork and have plans to bottle some of their intriguing ales.

     About 80 miles up the Yakima valley, in the hoppy town of Moxee, Bale Breaker Brewing had opened several months ago, complete with canning line from the get-go.  They displayed 12-oz. 6-packs of their IPA and their pale ale, Field No. 41.  The latter refers to the hop field in which they literally brew.  This pale has a very hoppy aroma, but the nose deceives the mouth: the bitterness tests out at just 38 IBUs. 

     The last new brewery had come all the way from the Columbia Gorge, from the little town of Carson.  Open about eight months, Backwoods Brewing has done such a brisk business they have decided to replace their seven-and-a-half barrel system with a twenty-barrel system.  As their neighbors at Walking Man Brewing and Everybody's Brewing are also doing plenty of business, one must infer that Oregonians are crossing the river in significant numbers to drink Washington beer. They may not admit in public that any other state can make quality craft beer, but their actions speak louder.
    Excellent blues bands were pounding out their music, both outside in the 90-degree sunshine and in the barn where most of the breweries were pouring,  It was a great time.
(Visited 05/11/13)

Monday, May 6, 2013

Ice Harbor in Kennewick: the marina site

   The newer parts of the Tri-Cities (which is to say, all their parts, hardly anything from before World War II as they were three villages then) are not really much to look at.  Unless you like looking at a lot of the same franchises you would see in recently developed parts of New Jersey, Illinois, etc.  The Columbia River is the main visual feature worth a snapshot, there, and the two bridges between Pasco and Kennewick--the Cable Bridge and the Blue Bridge--are the best man-made additions to the river.
    It's a good thing, therefore, that Ice Harbor Brewing folks with the brewery by the railroad tracks in downtown Kennewick have a second location they call the marina pub, on an island under the Cable Bridge.
This is a visually appealing spot with great views.
The kitchen does good work here.  Check out the garlic-pesto chicken flatbread with a pint of Uncle Herbert's Scottish Ale:
While there, last month, I picked up a ticket for the Untapped Blues & Brews Festival coming up May 11, so I will be back soon, en route to Spokane and then Chicago.
(Visited 04/18/13)