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.
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.