Friday, November 22, 2013

Buller Brewing, Buenos Aires

Hola from Argentina, beer fans! My first day in B.A., I had dinner under a brand new nano brewery and today, after a day hitting some of the main tourist spots and ending up at the Ricoleta cemetery where Eva Peron's remains draw a steady stream of devotees, I wandered across the street to the Buller Brewing Company's pub. Buller has been here since 1999, an early pioneer for zymurgy down here in the land of classy Malbecs and Cabs.  Their sampler tray started with a Pilsner and ended with a stout, the two best exemplars of their styles that I tasted.

In between came a Hefeweizen, a Honey Ale, an Oktoberfest, and an IPA that were all competently made; the IPA was presented as "para las amantes de lupulo" but if the bitterness hit 65 on the IBU scale I'd be surprised.  The lovers of hops up in our Northwest might want a tad more.
The system is modern, a 10-hectoliter kettle and same sized fermenters.
The pub offered a pleasant dining experience with a spread of tables out front where folks could soak up the 75 degree sunshine.  Not missing soggy Bellingham today!
(Visited 11/22/13)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Puyallip River: fine tap list

  Another small production brewery with a wide range of own taps and guest taps has had a taproom open since February, d/b/a/ Puyallup River Alehouse.  It's in the downtown area, a couple miles north of the state fair grounds. and brewer Erik Akeson believes in keeping the own taps side full with a wide variety. Just look at the tap list on the board behind the bar.
Now, anyone who goes out craft beer tasting the weekend before Halloween is going to see a truckload of pumpkin ales--that just goes with the territory.  I took a sampler tray of four and started off with their Black Pumpkin Saison (sweet and yeasty, 5.8%), followed by their Dunkelweizen, with a nice deep amber color and good balance between malt and hops, 5.9%.  Third was definitely on the tart side, the Fryingpan Cascadian Red (70 IBUs, 7.6%) and dessert was the Meeker St. Madness, a smooth, sweet barleywine that hides its 10.5% abv under a deceptively demure surface.
Food choices are limited at present. They can steam up a variety of hot dogs.  But the downtown location offers many restaurant choices within a block or two.
(Visited 10/26/13)

Monday, November 18, 2013

Heathen-ish concoctions on Vancouver's north side

    Several miles north of urban Vancouver, but still in Clark County, Heathen Brewing is operating and doing a brisk business during its limited hours (Th-Fr-Sat afternoons).  The brewing goes in in a little metal building next to brewer Sunny Parsons' house.
Sales are limited to growler fills; no pints, although small tasters are free.  I sampled the Promiscuous Blonde (5.5% abv, 19 IBU), the Indulgence Ale (5.6%, 38), the Heathen's Pale (5.6%, 40) and the Transgression (7.5%, 85).  The latter was apparently the people's choice in an IPA-taste-off competition with a wide selection of Oregon and Washington IPAs run by a local TV station with online voting.
It was almost Halloween and like craft brewers everywhere, Heathen had cranked out a pumpkin ale.  "Sinderella" Parsons called it, and it was sinfully sweet.  Pumpkin pie, liquified.
Heathen is popular, no doubt about it,  Standing room only in the tasting area, no chairs or tables.
There are rumors of a possible pub in Heathen's future.  That would be welcome news for beer lovers in this area.
(Visited 10/25/13)

Monday, November 11, 2013

Downtown Vancouver (ours, the smaller one): Loowit, Mt. Tabor, & more

   So I drove down I-5 to Vancouver, Wash. a couple weeks ago, partly to scratch a history buff's itch and go through old Fort Vancouver, set up by a Hudsons Bay Co. predecessor in 1819, and partly to check out another burst of new brewing activity.  The National Park Service and some volunteers have done a nice job reconstructing the old fort. "Officers' Row" is a street of handsome gilded age homes just to the north, 1890s for the most part, reflecting the Army's continuing presence there until just a few years ago.
    Now to the beer.  First stop was the Salmon Creek Brewery and Old Ivy Taproom in the downtown area.  Not presently brewing, but with plans to do so again.  The previous owners have kept a bottle shop next door, and the Taproom did feature a nice choice of local brews from the Vancouver area and, of course, the mighty beeropolis known as Portland, just across the river.
   The new breweries open around four in the afternoon Thursdays through Saturdays.  First stop downtown was Loowit Brewing.  The logo suggests, and the name connotes, in one of the local Indian languages, Mt. St. Helens, the nearby and recently active volcano.  Posters on the walls promote hikes and other events on the slopes of the mountain.  Of the dozen or more brews listed on the website, they were pouring six  a couple of weeks ago. IPA, pale, stout, summer ale, red, and a  fresh hop pale called Judge Wopna. (A TV character a la Judge Judy, I was told.)
  The system looks to be in the 5- or 6-barrel range.  Loowit had just celebrated a first anniversary earlier in October.  They do bottle a bit of their IPA, Shadow Ninja. and have kegs here and there around town. I had a pint of Judge Wopna, a nicely hopped pale, and enjoyed the atmosphere.  Even got a pic of one of the brewers doing what they say 90% of brewing consists of, cleaning.
   The next stop, a couple of blocks north, was Now, Mt. Tabor is not another Washington volcano.  It is a sort of volcanic knob in a city park in Portland.  Distinctive lantern-type lights illuminate the park and inspire the brewery's logo.
I tallied seven styles at Mt. Tabor's taps:  Two porters, a CDA, an IPA, a stout, a red, and a pale.  The CDA was called Hudson's Bay, and it offered a nice maltiness up front for the bitterness later (68 IBUs, 6.4% abv).  They had been in this location just two years, since October 2011.  Whether the operation originated in Portland or just began here, I was unable to learn.
The Bridge Lifter IPA did spark an interesting chat with a bartender. I-5 crosses the Columbia on a bridge that everyone agrees should be replaced. for it is a vertical lift bridge that is raised to allow tall ships and boats to go upriver. Nothing is more aggravating, the server said, than to be one of 4,000 drivers sitting on the bridge while some yacht with an 80-foot mast sails below.  But what should replace it is not something everyone agrees on.  Oregon wants a bridge with light rail in the middle, which means the arc can't be too steep and the height over the water would be less.  Washington wants to keep boat access for some firms upsteam, and so the states have disagreed thus far.
     At some point, the downtown area will have another brewpub.  The Salmon Creek Brewery is listed in the Northwest Brewing News as active, but it is currently just a pub, the Old Ivy Taproom, with a number of taps of other brewers and some brewing equipment in the back currently being refurbished.
(Visited 10//25/13)