Sunday, March 30, 2014

Redmond's newest: the Hi-Fi shop

  In one of those business parks in Redmond, a couple of miles north of Microsoft, the beer tourist can find Hi-Fi Brewing, about a block down from Black Raven.  John and Cathy Carothers and friends  opened Hi-Fi last August  and themed it to celebrate the days when music was distributed and sold on 33 ⅓ vinyl records. The decor is just right for the theme.
The wall shown on the right is a woofer and tweeter simulation (yes, children, there was a time when a tweeter meant a speaker just for the high frequencies) with some genuine turntables in a display case. The album covers shown above are just there for colors and shapes; no specific artists. There are even a couple of lava lamps for 70's junkies.
The beers are grouped under "Current Playlist" (the standard brews) and "Limited Edition" (the seasonals and specials). Standards are an Englsih Pale, a Kolsch, an IPA, a Porter, ESB.My choice was a Mix Tape #2, billed as a British IPA/American Pale blend. Decently hoppy but not over-the-top.
The system has a fifteen-barrel capacity and is visible through a glass wall in the taproom. A deli across the street is there for edibles.
(Visited 3/20/14)

Dirty Bucket: Woodinville tour complete (for now)

     En route to the Washington Brewers Festival last year, I visited four of the five craft breweries that opened in 2012 to keep Redhook company.  Wasn't able to catch Dirty Bucket Brewing then, as they had very limited visiting hours, just Saturday afternoons as I recall.  Since then, they have expanded their hours, their brewing capacity, and soon will expand their physical space.
     The setting: as locals know, Woodinville is Wine City for Washington, where all those good grapes from the dry side of our mountains go to ferment and be bottled. Dirty Bucket shares a business park with several of these vintners.
Steve Acord and his wife, Sharon Wagner-Acord, started out here with a half-barrel nano system in April 2012.  Within a year, they were able to put in a three-barrel system and seven-barrel fermenters and bring Ryan Lago on board as assistant brewer and tasting room manager.
(Steve leaving Ryan with some last minute thoughts before he heads out of town)
   The tap list on Feb. 15 appears over Ryan's head.  The name of the brewery is reflected in some of the beer titles.  Why dirty when brewers are so fanatical about clean equipment, waging constant war on bacteria?   You can't have really clean tanks unless you have a dirty bucket to show how hard you've been scrubbing, Steve says.
     I tasted a couple of brews with names outside this pattern.  Black Lab Chocolate Stout (5.5% abv, 38 IBU)  coats the tongue like a brownie just out of the oven.  Heart-healthy dark chocolate and something called cocoa nibs, husks left over from chocolate-making, impart special tastes to this one.  Full Nelson Hoppy Black Ale (7.0% abv, 100 IBU!) are named for Nelson, New Zealand, from which Dirty Bucket imports Sauvin hops.  In large quantities, no doubt.  These hops create herbal, earthy flavors in the mouth and after savoring a bit, one can hardly believe that IBU count.  It's a good reminder that this measures the parts per million of iso-alpha acids in the finished beer, not the subjective bitterness.  My go-to source for explaining this stuff is Tasting Beer by Randy Mosher: he explains that "bitterness tastes stronger in a weaker beer, so it's really the ration of bitterness to original gravity that matters."  And that 7.0 alcohol percentage indicates a high original gravity.  This was a beautifully balanced ale.
     Dirty Bucket bottles on premise and is in the process of contracting with a mobile canning service for their IPA.  I have one more pic of the tasting room in the back, with their apt motto writ large.
(Visited 2/15/14)